In 1154 the second Earl of Derby, Robert de Ferrers, made a donation for a religious house to be set up outside the City. However, after much searching no suitable location was identified and so the Abbey was not built. It took another 6 years before Hugh, the Dean of Derby, donated some land by the River Derwent which the Augustinians decided was sufficiently suitable. Oddly, almost immediately the majority of canons at St. Helen’s Priory moved to Darley and St. Helen’s became a hospital instead.
In the early 1250s Ralph de Wistanton made numerous donations to the Abbey despite being described as ‘of quite limited resources’, the reason for this is that he was avoiding repaying money owed to Jewish money-lenders who could not seize church property. The Abbey provided Ralph and his family with good, clothing and lodging.
A hundred years later and the Abbey was failing, only a few canons remained and there is a suggestion that the Abbot at Darley had sold off too much of the Abbey lands and that it could no longer be sustained. It finally came to an end in the Dissolution in 1538.
Only two sections have survived; one is a private house in Abbey Lane and the other, pictured above, is now a pub – the Abbey Inn which was re-roofed in the 1920s and became a pub in 1978.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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