Melbourne Church, Derbyshire

A church existed here in the Saxon period, but there is no firm record of it until the Domesday Book in 1086 when a church is mentioned as already being in existence.

Early in the 12th Century this early church was entirely rebuilt on a rather grand scale. The church is one of the largest in the county and it may be related to the Castle which once stood in Melbourne, of which only ruins now survive. By the time Mary Queen of Scots was held here in the 16th Century the church was in poor condition and it remained that way until the inevitable Victorian rebuild, which was one of some taste.

One theory as to why the church is so large is that it was built on the instructions of the first Bishop of Carlisle, Adelulf, who need a bolt hole away from the vulnerable border town when the Scots invaded – which they did periodically. Hence the church was built on a scale to make the Bishop proud.

Thomas Cook – the founder of modern tourism – was born in Melbourne and probably baptised in the church. Lord Melbourne, who gave his name to the city in Australia, was also born in the town.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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