Darley Abbey


DARLEY ABBEY, a chapelry in the parish of Derby St. Alkmund, hundred of Morleston and Litchurch, in the county of Derby, 1 mile N. of Derby. It is situated on the river Derwent, near the Leeds railway. There are traces of a small Austin abbey founded by the abbots of St. Helen's in the reign of Henry I., and given to the West family, from which the place takes the suffix to its name.

The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Lichfield value £150, in the patronage of T. W. Evans, Esq. The church is a modern structure, erected and endowed by the late Walter Evans, Esq., in which is a monument to the founder and his wife. There are also schools, erected by Mrs. Evans at a cost of about £3,000. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in the manufacture of paper, and in cotton spinning.”

from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868



  • The parish was in the Derby sub-district of the Derby Registration District.
  • The table below gives census piece numbers, where known:
Piece No.
1841 H.O. 107 / 188
1861 R.G. 9 / 2497
1891 R.G. 12 / 2738

Church History

  • A small Augustine priory was established here in 1137 during the reign of Henry I.
  • The Abbey was dedicated to Saint Helena (although there are references to Saint Sythe and Saint Mary).
  • Ashley DALE has a photograph of the Abbey at Geo-graph, taken in October, 2011.
  • This place was originally a Chapel of Ease to St. Alkmund in Derby.
  • The Anglican chapel of ease was intended for local workers and was built in the early 1800s. It opened for services in 1819.
  • The Anglican parish church is dedicated to Saint Matthew.
  • The ecclesiastical parish was created in 1847 from a portion of Derby St. Alkmund.
  • The church was restored during the period of 1886 to 1891.
  • The church seats 300.
  • Ian S has a photograph of St. Matthew's Church at Geo-graph, taken in January, 2012.
  • There is a photograph of the church (and other buildings) at Derbyshire Photographs.

Church Records

  • The Anglican parish register dates from 1819.
  • Michael SPENCER has provided a partial extract of Parish Register burials in a file for your review. Your additions and corrections are welcomed.
  • The church was in the rural deanery of Duffield.

Civil Registration

  • Civil Registration began in July, 1837.
  • The parish was in the Derby sub-district of the Derby Registration District.

Description & Travel

"DARLEY ABBEY is a small village and township, in the parish of St. Alkmund, about one mile N. from Derby; seated on the river Derwent, upon which are a cotton-mill and a paper-mill, affording employment to two-thirds of the inhabitants. The church, which has been erected within these few years, on the summit of a hill, is a beautiful structure; and from this situation the prospect is extensive. A large school-room has been built, in which the boys are taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the girls sewing; this school is supported entirely by Walter Evans, Esq. to whose munificence the village is also indebted, for the election of the church. The township contained at the last census, 1,170 inhabitants."

[Description from Pigot and Co's Commercial Directory for Derbyshire, 1835]

This place is also known as Little Derby. The parish is small, covering only about 325 acres. The parish has its own website, but there is no history provided there.

Darley Abbey has its own Village Hall. You may hire the hall for your reunion or to present an historical lecture and review. The Darley Abbey Historical Group meets here on the third Friday of every month.

You can see pictures of Darley Abbey which are provided by:






Historical Geography

  • Darley Abbey is named from the Abbey of St Mary of Darley, founded in 1137. After the Dissolution, its land was leased firstly to Sir Henry Sacheverall, then to Sir William West, who used its stone for building the first Darley Hall, in Darley Park. Only one small building now remains from the Abbey, and the first Hall is gone too, being replaced in 1727 by a building which in turn was demolished in 1962.

You can see the administrative areas in which Darley Abbey has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SK351386 (Lat/Lon: 52.943647, -1.479121), Darley Abbey which are provided by:


Military History

  • In 1895, Colonel James Charles CANVEDISH resided here in Darley House. He was born in 1839 in Yorkshire and can be found in this parish in the 1891 census.
  • In St. Matthew's churchyard is a War Memorial, a Portland Stone cross on a pedestal and base unveiled in 1921, for World War I. It has a plaque on the base for World War II and one for the Falklands Conflict.
  • The name of Iain BOLDY, a sailor killed during the 1982 Falklands War, was recently added to the memorial.
  • St. Matthew's churchyard also has one Commonwealth war grave from World War I and 2 from World War II.

Military Records

These are the Names listed on the War Memorial in St. Matthew's churchyard.

World War One:

  1. George Garfield BEESLEY, 1/4th Leics. Regt., age 32, died 28 Dec 1917
  2. H. A. BROWN, 5th Btln. Canadian Infantry, died 15 July 1916
  5. William Edward PARKER, 16th Btln. Sherwood Foresters, age 24, died 21 Mar 1918, son of William and Matilda PARKER

World War II:

  1. Robert John COCKSHOTT, Srgt. 149 Sqdn, RAF Vol. Rsrv., age 22, died 29 Jun 1943, husband of Sheila Cranston COCKSHOTT
  3. Cyril Henry HOLLINGSWORTH, Srgt. 7 Sqdn RAF Vol. Rsrv., age 28, died 23 Nov 1943, son of Harry and Clara HOLLINGSWORTH
  4. R. L. LITCHFIELD, Lance Corp. Royal Armoured Corps, age 24, died 1 May 1945, son of Frederick and Ellen LITCHFIELD


  1. Iain M. BOLDY

Missing from the War Memorial but buried in the churchyard:

  1. Alec William DEAN, Royal Marines, 16 Dec 1947, son of Mrs. L. DEAN, of Derby.
  2. Derek Stuart FLETCHER, Royal Navy Vol. Rsrv., 26 Apr 1944, on of Thomas and Norah FLETCHER, of Derby.

Politics & Government

  • This place was an ancient extra-parochial area of Derby St. Alkmund parish in Derbyshire and it became a modern Civil Parish in 1894.
  • This parish was in the ancient Morleston and Litchurch Hundred (or Wapentake).
  • In April, 1928, this parish was reduced in size by 134 acres transferred to Derby Civil Parish.
  • In April, 1934, this parish gained 106 acres when Markeaton Civil Parish was abolished.
  • In 1968, this Civil Parish was abolished and merged into the Derby Municipal Borough as a voting ward.

Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • Bastardy cases would be heard in the Derby petty session hearings.
  • There is an index of Darley Abbey Bastardy Papers held at the DRO on the Yesterdays Journey website. Select "Bastardy Papers" on the left side, then "Darley Abbey" from the list of parishes displayed.
  • As a result of the 1834 Poorlaw Amendment Act reforms, this parish became a member of the Derby Poorlaw Union.


A National School (mixed) was built here in 1876 for 100 boys, 90 girls and 70 infants.