In 1706, he started working at Melbourne Hall for Thomas Coke, and living in the town of Melbourne. In the gardens at the hall, a wrought iron arbour created by Robert Bakewell can still be seen today: it is known locally as 'the Birdcage'.
Following an affair with a local woman, Elizabeth Fisher, resulting in the birth of a son, Bakewell Fisher, he moved from Melbourne to Derby, where he set up a workshop and forge at Oake's Yard in St Peter's Street. Later, he married Mary Cokayne and had a family of three sons and three daughters. He died in 1752 and is buried in St Peter's Church, Derby.
Examples of his work can be seen at Derby Cathedral, where he made the wrought iron rood screen and the gates at the west door. There are also wrought iron gates by Bakewell at the Derby Industrial Museum, and ironwork by him in a number of churches in Derbyshire towns and villages: Alvaston, Ashbourne, Borrowash, Duffield, Etwall, Foremark, Radbourne. In Leicestershire at Staunton Harold church, a splendid screen by Bakewell can be seen.