Visit Darley Abbey and Derby
This is a place of ancient settlements, natural beauty, making and Enlightenment.
It is the birthplace of the modern factory, in a city which has been a powerhouse of creativity and manufacturing for over 300 years – where new ideas and technologies follow in the footsteps of pioneers who transformed the industrial world with their ingenuity and vision.
It is the site of an ancient community, rich in legends and a gateway to the open countryside of the north, where the Derwent once powered a model industrial village of mills and homes – now transformed, cherished by its residents and thriving with new businesses and entrepreneurs.
The river’s rushing waters which once powered the mills widen and slow in this place. It is a serene haven for wildlife alongside Darley Park – a peaceful green breathing space for the city, ever changing with the seasons and loved by generations who have joined here to celebrate nature and life through music and song.
The village contains the most complete 18th century mill complex in the world, built by the Evans family. The mill complex has been sympathetically restored and now houses several businesses, including a spectacular wedding venue. Wander through the tranquil streets of former millworkers’ houses. However, please be respectful to the people who live there.
Stop for a while at St Matthew’s, built by the first Walter Evans in 1819 as a church for the Evans family and the villagers. Exploring the graveyard, you may notice slate tablets identifying past millworkers and their children, and some Evans family graves. Below the church is a crypt, the final resting place for nine members of the Evans family.
Take a stroll in Darley Park, which was once the parkland setting for the Evans family home. Now it’s home to the National Hydrangea Collection, as well as a Butterfly Garden, children’s playground and a terrace cafe.
Darley Abbey, as its name suggests, was once the location of a religious community, and you can find the one surviving building from that time in the centre of the old village. Find out more about The Abbey in Hidden Heritage.
The Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill
Following the path through Darley Park, you will arrive at The Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill, southern gateway to the World Heritage Site, located in the Cathedral Quarter of the City. It is now home to the Museum of Making, having undergone major redevelopment and re-opened in May 2021.
The Joseph Wright Gallery in Derby Museum and Art Gallery
Along the historic streets of Iron Gate and Sadler Gate, you will find the Museum and Art Gallery, with its impressive Joseph Wright Gallery. This showcases portraits, landscapes and scenes of industry that will help you understand the stories of the Derwent Valley Mills. The Joseph Wright Study Centre holds drawings, prints, letters and other information relating to Wright’s life and work. Visit the Coffee House and treat yourself to drinks and snacks surrounded by Royal Crown Derby, Pinxton ceramics and Derby Porcelain.