Ironwork, a dictionary and the man with Tourettes

St Werburgh's Church, Derby.

St Werburgh’s Church, Derby.

One of the reasons for the visit to Derby on Wednesday was to visit another Churches Conservation Trust Church for my Fifty before Fifty Challenge. Let’s face it, as the countdown clock on my blog has ticked down to 2.8 years until I’m 50, I’m going to have to go some to fit them all in.

There are only two of these churches in Derbyshire and St Werburgh’s is in the Cathedral Quarter of Derby.

The key is held at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery and is huge.


Now I’d never heard of St Werburgh … and was quite surprised to find out she was a woman. She was a nun, daughter of the King of Mercia and she died in 699. She is the patron saint of Chester and her feast day is on February 3. Around ten churches across the country are dedicated to her.


This isn't St Werburgh, it's a memorial inside the church.

This isn’t St Werburgh, it’s a memorial inside the church.

Only the tower and the chancel of the church remain in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, the rest of the building is in commercial use.

It was really dark in there so, unfortunately, I had to fire off the flash because I hadn’t taken the tripod.


There were memorials all over the walls and it looked as though they had been gathered up from other parts of the church and stored in here.

Now this church’s claim to fame is that the renowned writer and lexicographer Dr Samuel Johnson, of dictionary fame, was married here in 1735. He married a widow Elizabeth ‘Tetty’ Porter with three children who, at 46, was 21 years his senior.

Dr Johnson is an interesting character. Credited with being ‘the most distinguished man of letters in English history,’ he also had tics and gestures, which made people view him differently and led to a posthumous diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome. He is most famous for his Dictionary of the English Language. It took him nine years to complete and, although it wasn’t the first, it was the most commonly used until it was usurped by the Oxford English Dictionary 150 years later.

But apart from the link with the man of letters, what is special about St Werburgh’s Church is the ironwork it contains.

004bI have never seen a pulpit like this before and it looked amazing.

005bAnd this font cover is absolutely beautiful.

It was made by Robert Bakewell (1682-1752), who also made the Rood Screen at Derby Cathedral, which we went o see later. He was paid £12 for it.

So this was church 24 of the 342 I have challenged myself to go and see. In addition I visited two before I started this little challenge (but only have photographic evidence of one, so the other doesn’t count) and I added another two yesterday on my way back down south.

So, that will be 317 to go then … I’ll keep you posted :)



  1. did bakewell do the pulpit aswell they almost seem made to match

    • I don’t think he did, but they do match extremely well. I can’t find any record of him doing that as well anyway

  2. Each church has it ‘s own beauty and wealth of history…good for you as you visit each one and stir those lovely memories and facts up again so that others who would never see them on their own appreciate them

    ………………\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\30= ( this last bit has been sent as a message by my cat Frances who lays on the keyboard as i try to type…and as I lifted her off her nail has flicked off the F11 key on the keyboard!

    • I love all the quirky facts I’m learning at each of them and I’m glad others like them too :) And thanks Frances for your message :)

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