Derby Cathedral £2.5m refit to hunt its medieval origins

Image source, Derby Cathedral
Image caption,
The project will include the removal of pews which will be replaced with "flexible seating"

The mysterious origins of a cathedral are to be the focus of a five-year, £2.5m regeneration project.

Derby Cathedral dates back to the mid-10th century but has twice been demolished and knowledge of its history is limited.

Now the 1930s floor will be lifted and allow a study of its origins as well as the tomb of Bess of Hardwick - an aristocrat who rivalled Elizabeth I.

The work will also allow events and concerts of "a far larger scale".

Image source, Wikipedia
Image caption,
Bess of Harwick gathered wealth and titles with shrewd politics and advantageous marriages

A church was first built on the site in 943, but the building seems to have been flattened twice before it was rebuilt in 1723 by architect James Gibb.

Describing the work as "a unique opportunity", Adam Buss, Chief Executive of Derby QUAD arts centre said: "The Cathedral's most famous monument is Bess of Hardwick's tomb.

"We will be able to develop cutting-edge apps and interpretative technology which will allow Bess and others commemorated in the cathedral to tell their own stories.'

The wider project will see new seating, flooring and an upgraded organ.

Reverend Dr Elizabeth Thomson said: "At the moment it is a very inflexible space.

"It is a glorious space and it was designed by the original architect to be a big open space in the centre with some fixed seating to the side. What he envisaged is what we think the city of Derby needs."

An application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £1.6m has been submitted and fund raising is under way.

It is hoped to complete the work in time for the cathedral's 300th anniversary.

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