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Things to see for FREE in Derby

21st July 2016

Historically, the wonderful city of Derby is famous for setting in motion Britain’s Industrial revolution. It’s now a top destination for a city break with events and festivals for everyone. The good news is if you’re on a limited budget, this blog offers great ideas for things to see and do in Derby for FREE.

Chapel of St Mary’s on the Bridge - Sowter Road, Derby, DE1 3AT  T: 01332 341201

A hidden gem of Derby’s history, the Bridge Chapel is one of the few chapels of its age remaining in the country and has records that date back to the beginning of the 14th Century. In days gone by, travellers leaving the city would stop at the chapel and say a prayer to ensure that their journey was a safe one. The interior is notable for its quaint simplicity. Of particular interest are the east window, designed by Mary Dobson and the altar designed by Ronald Pope. The chapel is open May to September, Tuesdays and Saturdays 2pm – 4pm and is FREE entry.

Derby Silk Mill – UNESCO World Heritage Site - Silk Mill Lane, Derby, DE2 3AF  T: 01332 642234

Derby’s stunning Silk Millbuilding stands on the site of the world’s first factory and is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mill became the centre of the first-ever industrial espionage, as John Lombe travelled to Italy to steal the secrets of spinning silk. The Silk Mill is a wonderful venue which is home to several creative events for children and adults, as well as showcasing photography and art exhibitions. 

The Silk Mill will be closed on a regular basis at the moment for redevelopement, but the building is still available to hire through our Business Hub team, will be open for Derby Mini Maker Faire in October 2017, FIGMENT Derby 2017 in August 2017 and for Poppies: Weeping Window in June 2017. The Silk Mill is currently undergoing a process of significant development to reinvent the Silk Mill for the 21st century through the creation of Derby Silk Mill – Museum of Making.The new museum will display fascinating items from Derby’s rich industrial history, celebrating the makers of the past; and will be designed to empower makers of the future through inspirational environments for learning programmes and activities. The project is timed to be completed in 2019/20 and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Derby City Council and Arts Council England.

Please check the website before planning your visit and keep up to date with the progress of the development by checking the project blog 

Derby Museum & Art Gallery - The Strand, Derby, DE1 1BR  T: 01332 641901

Derby’s Museum and Art Gallery is home to the largest collection of Joseph Wright paintings in the world as well as a huge collection of intriguing treasures including an Egyptian Mummy. Joseph Wright of Derby is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and innovative British artists of the 18th century and is recognised for his exquisite use of light to capture the spirit of the enlightenment; a period when art, philosophy, science and industry seemed to be part of the same story. There are always lots of fun activities taking place too. The Museum and Art Gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm and Sunday 12pm – 4pm, closed on Bank Holidays and entry is FREE.

Pickford’s House - 41 Friar Gate, Derby, DE1 1DA  T: 01332 715181

Come and experience the unique Museum of Georgian Life and Costume at Pickford’s House. Pickford’s House is a stunning townhouse and garden from 1770, designed by prominent Derby architect Joseph Pickford and used as both his family home and as a professional showcase of his architectural skills. This charming museum relives the elegant Georgian times through fine style furnishings and decorations. You will also find exhibits, including a wonderful collection of toy theatres, children’s dressing-up costumes and a new porcelain collection. The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm. Closed Sunday’s and Bank Holidays and entry is FREE.

Derby Cathedral - 18 - 19 Iron Gate, Derby, DE1 3GP  T: 01332 341201

Derby Cathedral towers above the city and has the second highest perpendicular church tower in England. A family of peregrine falcons has nested here for many years and several chicks have been raised. Bird watchers and visitors are kept entertained with regular aerial displays. The Cathedral is a fascinating place to visit, you’ll be amazed at how light and airy it is. Discover the awesome tomb of Bess of Hardwick - a creation designed by the powerful lady herself. The Cathedral is open Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm and Sunday 10am – 4pm and entry is FREE (donations welcome).

Derby Arboretum - Derby, DE23 8FZ  T: 01332 293111

Whilst in Derby you must visit Derby Arboretum, famous for being the first public park in Britain. The park was a trend-setter in that Central Park in New York was based upon its design. Located just south of the city centre, it is a Grade II listed picturesque park with a fine collection of trees. The park is open daily and is FREE entry.

Find out what’s on in Derby


Author Joanna Fisher