Iron Gate is counted amongst one of the finest Cathedral quarters in the city of Derby. Not only it boasts of several high quality restaurants and lavish stores, but accumulates plenty of spooky sites as well. Having said that, explore these top haunted places in Iron Gate, Derby-
Cathedral, Iron Gate
The rapid increase in the population of England in the late 19th and early 20th century resulted in the creation of new bishoprics and several hitherto ‘ordinary’ churches becoming cathedrals. There was neither the time nor the money to build the sort of grand new cathedrals which had risen in Norman times, and new bishops were designated existing churches as their seats. Thus, in 1927 All Saints’ Church in Derby became Derby Cathedral.
Thought to have been founded by King Edmund in 943AD, All Saints’ has been altered considerably over the centuries. At the beginning of the 18th century, the only thing that could have been said to have been striking about this church was its tower, 212ft tall – the second highest parish church tower in England – and built in the time of Henry VIII.
In 1723 the church was deemed unsafe and it seems that no one was prepared to do anything about it until a particularly courageous churchman, Revd Dr Michael Hutchinson, ordered that the entire structure – except the tower – should be demolished.
The decision was unpopular with local people but shortly afterwards plans for the rebuilding were submitted by James Gibbs, who became famous for many of his churches including St Mary-le-Strand and perhaps his most famous work, St Martin-in-the Fields, in London. The designs for a new All Saints, were accepted and work soon began, resulting in the magnificent church which we know today as Derby Cathedral.
Working in association with Gibbs was Robert Bakewell, an ironsmith whose striking wrought-iron screen remains one of the most notable features of the Cathedral’s interior. Other notable features include the remarkable baldachino; several memorial carvings, many to notable Derbyshire families, one of which is Bess of Hardwick’s monument which was built and completed within her own lifetime.
Another interesting memorial is a tablet on the south wall near the steps to St Katherine’s Chapel, which commemorates an historic visit from Prince Charles Edward Stuart, who visited All Saints’ in December 1745. The Young Pretender had marched with his army virtually unchallenged from Carlisle. On reaching Derby his troops were stationed about the town and the prince is said to have ordered the bells of All Saints’ to be rung and, with his officers accompanying him, he attended a service at the church.
Several ghosts are said to haunt the vicinity of Derby Cathedral including that of Charles Edward Stuart, seen by a lady who lived in a building, now a shop, across the road. She told me her story of how she often sees a man in Jacobite dress walk into the Cathedral: “On many occasions I had seen the vague ghostly shape of a man in Jacobite costume walking near the Cathedral. Being familiar with the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his visit to Derby I presumed that it was the prince recounting his footsteps, perhaps trying to understand how it had all gone wrong for him. My mother once saw this figure and she too was convinced that it had been the ghost of Bonnie Prince Charlie.”
It is interesting to note that a ghostly figure in ‘Cavalier’ style dress has also been spotted not too far from this spot at the Silk Mill public house.
Many other ghosts have been seen about Derby Cathedral including a ‘white lady’ seen walking down the steps at the back of the church, a young woman seen crying and a small boy.
Also said to wander the grounds is the unhappy ghost of John Crossland, a former executioner, originally himself a criminal, who was granted a pardon on the understanding that he become the executioner for the sentence of death passed on his father and brother. This he agreed to do and from then on became the busiest executioner in the county, frequently being used by several other shires. His ghost is said to be seen often wandering the grounds, at the side of the Cathedral, seeking to find peace for his tormented and guilty soul.
Dolphin Inn, Iron Gate
This is Derby’s oldest public house, dating back to around 1530. Of course, due to its great antiquity, it has various ghosts associated with it including a blue lady who walks through the old lath and plaster walls. She has been seen by many customers in the pub and also in the tea rooms upstairs. The most intriguing part of the Dolphin is its 18th-century extension on the left-hand side of the building in Full Street. This was not always part of the Dolphin, being originally a doctor’s house.
In the 18th century, it was customary for doctors to have bodies delivered to their homes for the furtherance of medical science. Part of the sentence of execution in those days was that afterwards, the body of the criminal would be delivered to ‘ye surgeons’ for dissection’. Many condemned prisoners were more in fear of the dissection then the death sentence.
Before the introduction of the new drop, around 1760, the victim was delivered to the hangman on a cart. The executioner then placed the halter around the victim’s neck and the cart was driven away, leaving the condemned man swinging. it could take anything up to 20 minutes for the person to die of slow strangulation from the weight of their own body, unless, of course, the executioner happened to be feeling particularly generous, in which case he would climb to the top of the scaffold or tree and put both feet on the hanging person’s shoulders and push down, or with his assistant, take a leg each – and this is where the saying ‘pull the other leg’ comes from – and pull down, thus tightening the rope around the neck and hastening the end.
Because of the length of time it sometimes took for the accused to die, some who were hanged and then delivered to the surgeons in the Shire Hall in St Mary’s Gate, woke up on the dissecting slab.
These poor wretches would be taken off and placed in a corner where a careful eye was kept upon them to see if they would later die or recover A particular incident of this kind apparently happened in the cellar under the doctor’s house, which is now part of the Dolphin.
One morning, so we are led to believe, our doctor came eagerly down into the cellar after a body had been delivered. He pulled the body on to a table and ripped the shroud from it, only to find life still present. No one knows what happened – whether the doctor died from shock; whether the person died; or the doctor in fact plunged his scalpel into the body; or even if the person recovered – but many bodies were dissected in that cellar under the Dolphin, and to this day it is haunted by a poltergeist which turns the taps of the beer kegs off in that part of the cellar.
Because of the unearthly atmosphere, two members of staff normally go down together, as no one wishes to venture there alone.
Looking forward to other neighbouring haunted sites? Have a look at some of these below-