Parwich & District Local History Society

Newsletter number 10 (Sep 2002)

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Recollections of Alsop en le Dale Station

By Charles Allen (compiled by Stewart Williams based on Charles Allen’s notes and conversation)


Copyright © 2002 Stewart Williams

Historical note: The Ashbourne - Buxton line was built by the London & North Western Railway.  It opened throughout in 1899. It was absorbed into the London, Midland & Scottish Railway in 1923 and British Railways in 1948.  Regular passenger services ceased in 1954 and ultimately the southern part of the route became the ‘Tissington Trail’, for the use of walkers, cyclists and equestrians.

My father was Stationmaster at Alsop from 1913 to 1938 and I worked as a temporary porter at Thorpe, Tissington and Alsop Stations, and at Fenny Bentley Sidings from 1930 to 1934.  The Ashbourne – Buxton railway was single line with double track at most stations (including Alsop) to enable trains going in opposite directions to pass one another.  On each platform there was a long wooden building, equipped with oil lighting and heated by coal fires.  In addition to the booking office, there was a general waiting room, ladies waiting room and toilets.  In addition to my father at Alsop there were two signalmen and two porters alternating for the early and late shifts.

There were 4 passenger trains each weekday going in the Ashbourne direction and 5 to Buxton, with an extra train in each case on Saturdays.  Excursion trains ran to Blackpool for the illuminations on Sundays in September and October (5 shillings return) and 3 times a year to Alton Towers (2 shillings including admission) and an occasional special through train to Glasgow around midnight on Friday returning on Saturday night (25 shillings).

Passengers from Alsop Station mostly walked or cycled to and from the station, including Grammar School pupils and other regulars going to work.  Some would come from 3 miles or more, getting a lift on lorries or carts carrying parcels or milk churns.  Ladies going to Ashbourne for weekly shopping trips would arrange for the shops to send their parcels on the train to be collected later.

One regular passenger I remember particularly. She lived in Parwich and kept a Greengrocery and General Store, and was known to everyone as “Ma Pollit”.  Once a week she went by train to Manchester.  She had a light horse and a 2-wheeled cart.  The railway staff tethered the horse on a flat bit of embankment where it grazed all day and then harnessed it ready for her return on the 6.35pm milk train from Buxton, loading up the goods she had purchased in Manchester.

Some local people would go further afield on holiday from Alsop Station and we also had visitors from elsewhere coming to stay at the new Inns Hotel and at Parwich Lees.  For some years in the 1930s we had a “Camp Coach” in the sidings at Alsop, convenient for access to the station toilets.  Camp Coaches were old railway carriages containing 2 berths in each of 3 compartments, a dining room (converted from 2 former compartments) and a utility room for cooking and washing.  Paraffin was provided for cooking, heating and lighting.  Equipment included crockery, cutlery, glasses and bedding, all of which had to be checked each Saturday with the change of visitors.  Bed linen arrived in a hamper from Derby Midland Station.  The rental was £6 per week.  I remember parties coming from London, Birmingham and Bristol.  We had a gallon can of water ready for the visitors, together with any groceries they had ordered, and had a kettle boiling when they arrived.

The passenger trains also conveyed parcels, newspapers, mail and milk in churns.  The milk was sent out each evening on the 6.35 p.m. train to arrive in London at 4 a.m. the next morning.  Two large milk vans left in the siding were loaded during the day as the milk arrived in 17 gallon churns, in all about 90 churns each day.

Boxes of cakes, chocolates and sundries arrived by train for the shops at Wetton, Alstonfield and Parwich, and in springtime boxes of day old chicks which had to be delivered on the same day.  There was a 6 pence delivery charge for those not collected, and I remember getting out after going home from work to cycle as far as Hartington Moor.  Even this small delivery charge was disputed on one occasion, although fortunately it was resolved satisfactorily in the end.

The newspapers, arriving on the 8.10 a.m. train, were collected by Esther Lees who cycled over from Parwich, leaving her cycle by the roadside near Alsop village, walking up the footpath across the fields to save going round by the main road.  Esther was to marry Samuel Flowers, who still lives in the village, and their daughter Valerie Kirkhams’s recollections of Dam Farm were featured in the previous issue of this Newsletter.  Letters for dispatch from the post boxes at Wetton, Alstonfield and Milldale were brought to the station in a large leather delivery bag by Miss Mycock, which was sealed at the station with sealing wax, and sent to Ashbourne Post Office on the 6.35 p.m. train.

In addition to the passenger trains there were also two freight trains in each direction calling at Alsop.  Freight traffic handled at Alsop included coal, grain, beet pulp and animal feeding stuff, all dealt with at the one siding which also served the warehouse.  Adjacent was a cart weighbridge.  Some of the freight was delivered by the two railway lorries based in Ashbourne, and a railway parcel van, also from Ashbourne, delivered the parcels.  A particularly busy time was when electrical installations were being installed in Parwich and other places in the area by Balfour Beatty.

The freight trains also served the Quarry at Alsop Moor (controlled from Alsop), as well as the Buxton lime firms.  Access to the Quarry Siding was across the main Ashbourne-Buxton road, controlled by gates. The Quarry Manager (Major) Hubbertsy) lived at Alsop Hall, and some years later moved to Burbage Hall at Buxton.  At the Quarry there was a large building containing about 20 kilns with a chimney about 275 feet high to provide the necessary draft.  The lump lime produced went out by rail to several steel works, including the Earl of  Dudley’s Round Oak Steel Works.  The open wagons had to be sheeted with heavy canvas sheets which were dressed with a weather proof coating, and as these were expensive the Quarry was charged if they were not returned promptly.  It was the task of the Alsop porter to check the sheet numbers and the Quarry staff  were not averse on occasion to hide them under rubble or earth to avoid paying the demurrage charges.

The winters were much more severe in those days.  I recall occasions when snowploughs had to be called in to reach trains stranded in snowdrifts.  I remember having to go out in one snowstorm to relight the lamp in a ‘distant signal’ which had blown out.  (The oil lamps of all the signals normally burned continuously and were serviced once a fortnight by the district lampman.)  The walk of three-quarters of a mile in the snow, the climb up the signal post ladder to the lamp, and the trek back to the station is not something you easily forget.

Editor’s note: for more information on the Ashbourne to Buxton railway, including a number of photographs of Alsop en le Dale Station the reader is referred to J. M. Bentley & G. K. Fox (1997) “Scenes from the past 32: Railways of the High Peak: Buxton to Ashbourne” Foxline Publishing, Stockport.


An A to Z of Parwich Families in the Nineteenth Century

Copyright © 2002 Peter Trewhitt

Over a number of  Newsletters we hope to look at the families that were in Parwich or came to Parwich in the nineteenth century.  Some families have been here for far longer than there are records, but others were here for only a short time.  The sources of our information are the Censuses, the 1843 Tithe Map and the Parish Registers.  If you have any further information on any of the families we cover or have yet to cover do let us know.  Also if you would like to prepare anything on a specific family, it would be most welcome.  Starting with A, we have some nine surnames in the nineteenth century censuses, of which, Alsop is the most frequent and has been in the area for nearly a thousand years.  (Note: spelling in the records, especially before 1800 varies enormously.  Variations will be listed, but when dealing with a single family I will on use one version of the name.  )



Although there are no Abels in Parwich by 1841 when the first census to list people’s names was taken, there were members of this family in Parwich in the eighteenth century, and one or two just made it into the nineteen century.  The bulk of the family in the parish registers are the children of the John Abel who married a Margaret Swindell in 1732.  The second John Abel who married Ann Gould in 1762 is likely to be their son but we can not be certain as his baptism is not recorded in the registers, as with the second Hannah Abel.  An interesting feature of the family tree shown below is the number of illegitimate children, though we will have a clearer idea when we have looked at more families if this is much higher than the average for this period.

There seems to have been other Abels in the area, as an Elizabeth Abel of Bradbourne married Edmund Platts of Parwich in Parwich Church  on 13th Dec 1780.  Also the only members of the family to have stone grave markers in the church yard were the second John (died 1803) and his wife Ann (died 1799), on which the surname is spelt Abell.

It is perhaps frustrating relying only on the parish registers as we gain very little concrete information about this family that appears to have, at least in the male line, disappeared from  Parwich by 1841.  Perhaps when we come to look at  the Shaws and the Gibbons we will find that some of the daughters have descendants, as these were not followed up for the tree below.


There is only one representative of this name in the nineteenth century censuses: Francis Adams, aged 23 years appears on the 1841 Census as a servant of Isaac Saint at Hallcliffe.  The name however crops up in the parish registers a number of times.  An Alice Adams of Parwich married a Benjamin Bowler on 6th November 1754.  In the nineteenth century there were three Adams baptisms in Parwich: Thomas Adams (farmer in Parwich) and his wife Mary had two children baptised here, Mary Ann on 2nd July 1835 and Eliza on 28th May 1837, and John Adams (labourer in Alsop en le Dale) and his wife Emma had a daughter baptised here, Ada on 25th February 1883.  Thomas Adams, the farmer, does not appear on the 1841 Census or on the 1843 Tithe Map, so he must have moved on by then.

It is not known if they are connected with the Adamses that people will remember.  This was Vera Cundy’s family, who are thought to have come from Burton.  They first came to Bradbourne, but later settled in Parwich.  There are two grave stones in the church yard relating to this family, that of Charles Adams, who died 1st October 1942 aged 73 years together with his wife Ellen Bennington, who died 21st December 1936 aged 58 years, and that of Edgar    Adams, who died 4th June 1973 aged 68 years, and his wife Violet who died 11th June 1951 aged 46 years.  Edgar and Violet were Vera’s parents.


The name Aidon occurs in the 1841 Census but it is thought to be in error for Ardron.  See Ardron.


On the 1841 Census there is a William Allan aged 22, servant to Thomas and Elizabeth Gould in one of the houses on Lenscliffe.  Also in the household is a Hannah Allen aged 20 years, they were both born in Derbyshire.

The Parish registers also give us several Allens.  A Henry Allen was buried in the church yard on 25th January 1706.  He is listed as a vagrant, so was presumably given a pauper’s funeral at the expense of the parish.  Also given that he died in January one can imagine a cold death in a hedge row or barn.  A James Allen, labourer of Alsop Moor toll Bar and his wife Mary had their daughter Martha baptised in Parwich on 25 February 1843.  A William Allen, labourer of Parwich in 1842 and of Alstonfield in 1844, and his wife Harriet had two sons baptised in Parwich: Joseph on 17th July 1842 and George on 29th September 1844. Presumably, Thomas Gould's servant William is the husband of  Harriet.  Also perhaps Hannah and Harriet are the same person, the two names being easily mistaken for each other when written by hand.

On the 1861 Census there is a Thomas Allen aged 14 a servant of Isaac Saint at Hallcliffe.  He was born in Parwich.  Given that he was born in Parwich, perhaps Thomas was the son of William and Harriet, although he does not appear to have been baptised here.  Also at Dale End Farm there was a Robert Allen aged 14 and born in Alsop-en-le-Dale.  He was a shepherd for William and Elizabeth Dale.  Further in 1871 we have a Fanny Allen aged 15 years and born in Alsop-en-le-Dale.  She was a servant to James and Ann Johnson at Dam Head (Is this Dam Farm?).  Perhaps this Robert and Fanny were the children of James and Mary.  Anyone investigating the Allens will need to look at the Alsop censuses and registers, as well as the Alstonfield 1851 Census.

There are still Allens in the area, as illustrated by Charles Allen’s account of Alsop-en-le-Dale Station, when his father was station master there in this issue of the Newsletter.


This name occurs just once with an Alice Allcock aged 25 years in 1861, listed as a servant to George and Elizabeth Brownson.  She was born in Doveridge.  She may have remained in the village as a Mrs. Alice Etherington appears on the 1871 Census born in Doveridge, though her marriage did not take place in Parwich.  Perhaps checking the marriages for Doveridge will clarify this.


In the Domesday Book ‘Alsop’ is spelt ‘Elleshope’ which is Old English meaning the “valley of a man called Aelle” (Mills, 1998).  By 1535 the place name had become ‘Alsope in le dale’ giving us the tautology ‘Aelle’s valley in the valley’.  Initially people took their surname from the place they lived, though here we have the interesting possibility that the Alsops, as inhabitants of Alsop, could also be descendants of Aelle, who gave the place its name.  In 1086 Alsop was attached to the Manor of Parwich, which was held from the King by a man called Colne, who Craven & Stanley (2001) suggest was the ancestor of the Alsops, his son being the first to be styled ‘de Alsop’.  The Alsop family held the Alsop estate from the beginning of the twelfth century, and they had the current Hall built in the late sixteenth century.  Craven & Stanley suggest that the house may have then been larger than it is now.  The family crop up at various times in English history: a Hugh de Alsop went on Crusade to the Holy Land with Richard I; a John Alsop provided shelter for Thomas Becon, when he fled the persecution of Protestants by Mary I, Thomas Becon commented in one of his books on John Alsop’s fine library at Alsop Hall; and another Alsop was in the Light Horse at the time of the Spanish Armada in 1588 (see Tiley, Vol. 2.p.205).

In the late seventeenth century, the estate was sold by the creditors of Anthony Alsop.  It passed through various hands including the Beresfords and Brownsons, before being purchased in the 1880s by Sir Samuel Allsopp, Bt., later 1st Lord Hindlip, a Burton brewer and a descendant of the original family.  By this time there were Alsops scattered across the globe, and anyone with a general interest in the Alsop family is referred to ‘Allsop Ancestors: the Allsop Family Journal’.  (The Local Studies Library in Matlock has the full run from issue 1 which was published in 1985 to the present day.  Issues 6, 50 and 51 are relevant for Parwich.  Also a web search for Alsop will produce a wealth of information.)

There have been Alsops (variously spelt) in Parwich since the start of records.  In the seventeenth century it is not possible to workout the families, but by the end of the eighteenth century there seem to be one or two main lines which die out by the start of the twentieth century.  A Sampson Allsop moved from Alsop en le Dale to Parwich in the late nineteenth century, and it is from him and his wife, Jeanette Catherine Brownlee, that the Allsops/Allsopps currently in Parwich are descended.  Given the number of different Alsops lines in Parwich, the space required to consider this family is too great for one issue, so we will cover this family in more detail in the next issue.

See issue number 11 due out in December 2002 for more information on the Parwich Alsops.


On the 1861 Census a Lydia Alton, aged 9 was living with her uncle, William Kirkham, at Low Moor Farm.  She was born in Chadderton, Lancashire, which is just north of Manchester.  There do not appear to have been any of other members of this family living in Parwich, though one resides in the church yard.  Lydia, wife of Philip Alton and daughter of John and Elizabeth Kirkham (see Kirkham in a future issue), died on 15th March 1851 in Chadderton, aged 25 years and was buried in St. Peter’s church yard.  The dates are such that it would seem likely that Lydia wife of Philip died giving birth to Lydia, niece of William Kirkham.


In the censuses we have only one representative of this name Sarah Anable in 1891.  She was a widow aged 67 years and born in Ashbourne.  She was living with her younger brother Thomas Hand, a farmer in the village.  The Parish Registers list several Annable weddings in the eighteenth century:

30th July 1702             Joseph Annable of Carson married Elizabeth Brake of Carson

18th Nov. 1779           John Annable (W) of Kirk Ireton married Ellen Gee (W) of  Parwich

9th Sept. 1781             Henry Alsop (W) of Parwich  married Mary Annable of Parwich

(W) indicates widow/widower.


There are a number of Applebys in the Parish Register for the eighteenth century, but they do not appear on the nineteenth century censuses.

28th May 1722            William Appleby married Elizabeth Taylor

16th Apr. 1723            William Macconnell married Dorothy Appleby

11th Aug. 1723            Anthony Appleby married Sarah Bonsal

23rd July 1723            Dorothy Appleby daughter of Anthony & Mary baptised

18th Apr. 1725            Ellen Appleby daughter of Anthony & Mary baptised

25th Aug. 1723            Dorothy Appleby died

10th Apr. 1725            Thomas Appleby died (buried 13th April)

24th May 1732            Dorothy Appleby died (buried 29th May), daughter of Anthony & Mary

The entries for this name occur over a short period of time, suggesting that they were a family brought here for a while by work, though given that the grave markers were stone, perhaps they were tenant farmers.


This name appears on the 1841 Census, where there is one family farming Whitecliffe on the Newhaven road, here it is written as Aiden but this is thought to be an error.  The household consists of Joseph Ardron aged 35 yrs, his wife Mary aged 20, their daughter Sarah aged 2, and two live in servants.  The servants are likely to be farm servants.  The family are listed in the 1841 Census as being born in Derbyshire, but it is not more specific as to where.  The 1843 Tithe Map indicates that Joseph was a tenant of William Henry Brownson, occupying over  130 acres of land, a sizeable farm for that time.

The parish register indicates that a James and Mary Ardron had a son called Joseph, baptised 14th February 1841, but buried only a few days later on 24th February.  The daughter of Joseph, Sarah Ann, died on the 6th May 1843 followed some seven months later by Mary, her mother, who died on the 28th December.  They were buried together with a second unnamed daughter who died in infancy, presumably Mary’s death was related to the birth of this infant.

On 16th February 1845 there was the baptism of a James Ardron, son of James and Sarah Ardron of Whitecliffe.  This is confusing as only four years earlier there was a James and Mary.  Are there two James or is this James a relative of Joseph who also had a wife called Mary who also died, or (as I suspect) are James and Joseph one person who remarried between 1843 and 1845?  Joseph/James have moved on by 1851 and the name does not crop up again in the nineteenth century Censuses in Parwich.


This name occurs once in the Parish Registers on 2nd November 1719 when an Ellen Ashmore of Tissington married a William Brownsort of Parwich.  It is possible that ‘Brownsort’ is an older form of ‘Brownson’.


In 1891 a Frederick Ashton, aged 19 years, single and born in Ashbourne is listed as farm manager to William Fernihough at Foufin Side.  A Florrie Ashton aged 18 years, single and born in Ashbourne is also listed as housekeeper here.


A Mary Atwood of Parwich married George Lees also of Parwich on 23rd Sept. 1779, but the name does not appear again in the records.


This name crops up throughout the nineteenth century in Parwich, though it is not clear how many families we are dealing with.  In the Parish Registers we have one or two families at the start of the nineteenth century (see opposite page), but these have no immediately obvious connection with the Austins that appear in the later censuses.  Here are the Austins that appear in the censuses:-

1841 John Austin aged 14 years was a servant of William Alsop (at Close Farm?), he was born in Derbyshire.

1851 Samuel Austen, aged 56 years and born in Alstonfield was cowman for George Brittlebank at Newton Leys (now called Parwich Lees).  This Samuel could possibly be the Samuel living in Parwich in 1826 and listed below.

1861 Margaret Austin, aged 15 years was servant to Thomas and Ann Gould at Hawkslow. She was born in Alsop-en-le-Dale.

1881 Walter Austin aged 50 and born in Alstonfield with his wife and children was farming 147 acres at Whitecliffe.  He appears to have moved here from Thorpe around 1880.  He is listed as a farmer here in Kelly’s Directory in 1881 and 1887, but appears to have moved on by 1891.  This family is detailed below.


There are currently two Austin households in Parwich, Bill and his grandson Neil.  Bill came from Alstonefield originally, though he settled here as a young man.  Initially Bill was at Foufinside.  To clarify the above and to say if they are related to the Austins currently in Parwich it is necessary to look at the Alstonfield records.


Ayre (see also Eyre)

The name Ayre does not occur in the Parish Registers, but on the 1841 Census we have one household consisting of Thomas Ayre, a farmer aged 28 years born in Derbyshire, a Jane Ayre aged 40 years not originally from Derbyshire, and Henry Ayre aged 5 years born in  Derbyshire.  The 1843 Tithe Map lists Thomas Eyre as the tenant of one of two houses between Slate House and Townhead now demolished.  These houses were the property of William Evans Esq.  They do not appear to still be in the village by the 1851 Census either as Ayre or Eyre.


“Memorial Inscriptions in St. Peter’s Church Yard, Parwich” Derbyshire Memorial Inscription Society

Parwich Censuses 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, and 1891

Maxwell & Craven (2001) “The Derbyshire Country House” Landmark, Ashbourne

Parish Registers for Parwich, based on Brian Foden’s transcription.

Tiley Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire” Vol. 2 Parwich Tithe Apportionment of 1843

Our next issue (number 11) will cover the Alsop family in more detail, and the issue after that (number 12) will start on surnames beginning with B (including Beresford, Blackwell, Brailsford, Brownlee, Brownson and Bunting), so do let us know if you have any information on any of these families.


Copyright © 2002 Gill Radcliffe

As a child, I hated porridge, a cereal cooked into a watery mush, or a congealed mass bearing the colour and taste of its sojourn on the bottom of an aluminium saucepan; but throughout history, oats have been an important part of the Derbyshire diet. From Roman times and earlier, through to the nineteenth century, porridge or gruel was a staple meal of the poor. Philip Kinder, writing in the 1600s, noted that the “common inhabitants [of Derbyshire] doe prefer oates for delight and strength, above any other grain...It is observed that they have for the most part fair long broad teeth, which is caused by the mastication of their oat bread.” Stephen Glover, Derbyshire historian, agreed with him, saying that “Oat bread and Havercake is the food of a large portion of the Derbyshire peasntry.”

Food made with oats has the advantage of being filling as well as nourishing, a factor which endeared it to those labouring in the mines, especially in the cold, damp winters characteristic of the Peak District. Before the era of the railways, diet was limited to what could be grown in such a climate, but as Sir Humphrey Davy declared in 1813, “The Derbyshire miners in winter prefer oatcakes to wheaten bread...such nourishment enables them to support their strength and perform their labours better.”  The dealers in oatmeal were called ‘swalers’ or ‘mealmen’. The grain was kiln dried and stripped of its husk at the shelling mills, then ground up. ‘Havercake’ was mixed in a wooden tub called a ‘doshen’. During the winter, a small amount of batter was left in the doshen to induce fermentation in the next batch. In the summer months, the doshen was washed lightly in cold water after each baking, leaving enough sourness in the tub to raise the next leaven. As Glover says, “In making this sort of bread, the batter, somewhat thicker than that which is used for pancakes, is poured on the bakestone or on an iron plate... and is spread with the back of a ladle to about one fourth of an inch thick, and sixteen or eighteen inches in diameter. Each cake is baked in about seven minutes on an iron plate, but on the bakestone, two or three minutes more is requisite”. This traditional way of leavening the bread is said to give it a distinctively sour flavour which is superior to that obtained from modern yeast. Cultures were passed from mother to daughter and friend to friend, rather like the dough of a ‘friendship cake’ that was passed to me in the 1970s.

The poor were ingenious at finding tasty ways to cook and serve their oatmeal: Parkin, Thor Cake, Hasty Pudding, Frumenty and Lumpytums, the latter possibly a name for the indigestion which might follow such a meal! All would be eaten with cheese and washed down with ale; or a cold posset made from milk, eggs, spices, and currants with ale used as a curdling agent. A strange custom was to put a wedding ring into this mixture, so that whoever retrieved it with a ladle would be the first to marry during the coming year.

The most characteristic use of oatmeal in Derbyshire is to make oatcakes, a misnomer which causes much confusion among our bed and breakfast guests who see it on our menu and think they are ordering the Scottish biscuit variety. I first encountered the oatcake in Stoke on Trent, where it was served with jam and whipped cream. The Derbyshire version is thicker and heavier, and in my opinion, best served rolled up and toasted with a savory     filling such as mozzarella and mushrooms, or cheese and apple. In Lancashire, the cakes are rolled out very thin and hung up in the rafters to dry. The Derbyshire version is leavened and soft, and needs to be eaten fresh.


There are many recipes with ingredients of slightly different proportions. Here is one of them:

                        8 oz oatmeal
                        8 oz plain or wholemeal flour
                        1/2 oz yeast
                        1 level teaspoon sugar
                        a good pinch of salt

Sift dry ingredients into warmed bowl. Cream yeast and sugar and add about 1/2 a pint of warm water. Add this to dry ingredients and mix all to a thin batter consistency. Cover and leave for 3/4 of an hour. Pour a small teacup of batter onto a hot, well greased griddle or bakestone* and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn it and cook the other side. Cook first side a further 2 minutes. Cool on a wire sieve. The oatcakes will keep 2 or 3 days.

To serve: reheat in frying pan and serve with fried bacon; or with lemon and sugar; or spread oatcake with savoury filling, roll it up and crisp it in the oven. (This makes a tasty starter for a meal).

(1/2 oz baking powder added to the flour will make a lighter, but less traditional mixture)

*Bakestones were made of gritstone which could withstand great heat.

Strew oatmeal into boiling milk so that it forms into small lumps. These may be eaten with treacle and butter. Joyce Douglas describes these as “like tiny, irregular snowballs...releasing a puther of dry oatmeal when chewed.”


                                    2lb fine oatmeal                                  1lb syrup
                                    8 oz butter                                           2 oz candied peel
                                    8 oz flour                                            rind of 1 lemon
                                    8 oz brown sugar                                2 oz ginger
                                    8 oz treacle                                         1 teaspoon baking powder

Mix oatmeal and flour and rub in fat. Add other ingredients with a dash of warm water and knead thoroughly. Place in a greased baking tin and cook for 1/2 hour in a moderate oven. Leave in the tin to cool. Cut into squares before or after turning out.

These are said to come from Bakewell and Wirksworth, and are traditionally made on November 5th.

                                    8 oz oatmeal                                       1 oz candied peel
                                    8 oz flour                                            pinch of ground ginger,
                                    8 oz sugar                                           salt and coriander seeds
                                    8 oz golden syrup                               1 teaspoon baking powder
Grease a baking plate with butter. Rub butter into dry ingredients and add the warmed treacle. Knead lightly, then roll out thinly and cut into rounds. Bake for approximately 10 minutes.  Thor was the god of thunder, so for a more powerful version of the cakes you might try substituting medium oatmeal for fine, and either Demerara sugar or black treacle for golden syrup!



Here is another recipe for ‘Beestings’ (the milk from a cow which has just calved) collected from an original source by Joyce Douglas in “Old Derbyshire Recipes and Customs”.


Weight a dairy bowl with some sugar, the juice of a lemon and glass of white wine and pull into it as much beestings as you consider. Stir and abandon overnight, when, with a dusting of nutmeg on top, it will be ready to serve.


For this article I am chiefly indebted to Old Derbyshire Recipes and Customs, by Joyce Douglas, Hendon Publishing Co. Ltd, 1976. (This little book is full of fascinating information taken from original sources).

Derbyshire Cookery, collected by Janet Arthur, Dalesman Books, 1976

Parwich and its Prehistoric Burial Mounds

Copyright © 2002 Rob Francis

On a clear day from the top of Parwich Hill you can see Blackstones Low (above Ballidon), Wigber Low (near Bradbourne), Cracklow (Tissington), Moot Low, Wolfscote Hill, Hawkslow, Crosslow (Alsop), Cat Low and Minning Low - each of these a significant burial mound and marker to the past. These burial mounds provide  archaeologists with evidence about life as it was in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, whilst they have exerted a strong fascination on past generations as well. The Anglo-Saxons reused these mounds as their own (Wigber Low is a good example) and through the centuries many of the mounds were robbed for building stone walls. This article attempts to look at all the recorded barrows in Parwich, most of which have disappeared. During my research I found that there are numerous and contradictory references to a variety of barrows, and my aim is to disentangle these to create a clearer understanding of what exists now and in the past.

John Barnatt observes that there are about 500 existing barrows in the Peak District with at least 150 lost or disappeared sites – possibly more.  The Neolithic barrows (Minning Low is an example) are likely to have been ritual sites visited by semi-nomadic inhabitants of the Peak; the Bronze Age sites reflect a population that had become more settled and who buried their dead close by. Thomas Bateman, the renowned Victorian antiquarian, excavated many of  these mounds (sometimes six in a day) and though he was not always precise as to the    location of the site he did leave clear records of what he discovered. In the last thirty years Barry Marsden has excavated parts of Minning Low, John Collis has extensively uncovered Wigber Low, Richard Hodges in Royston Grange and John Barnatt at Liffs Low near Biggin.  For the purposes of this article I have used ‘The Sites and Monuments Record for Derbyshire’ (SMR), Barry Marsden’s ‘The Bruial Mounds of Derbyshire’ , ‘Barrows in the Peak District’ by John Barnatt and John Collis and Thomas Bateman’s ‘Ten Years Digging’. I have also visited most of the sites myself and have attempted to reconcile apparent contradictions in the records.

Site name


Grid ref

Other information

1 Sitterlow



Not a barrow

2. Cat Low



Barnatt & Collis


Human bones found 1835

3. Saints Low



Barnatt & Collis



No evidence to suggest a barrow. Nothing found by Bateman

4 Hawks Low



Barnatt & Collis



Bateman open in 1843. Previous excavation identified.

5. Parwich Moor






18 57 (approx)

Little evidence. Possibly no barrows

Bateman found 2 female skeletons. Was he referring to new site 7?

6 Low Moor




Barnatt & Collis


Two possible barrow. Bateman 1849. Fragments of pottery and bone

7. New site?





Is this the Parwich Moor site dug by Bateman?

8. Gotam



Barnatt & Collis


Bateman dug in 1847. Two cists containing single inhumations

9 Parwich Hill




Barnatt & Collis


Coin hoard found BEFORE Bateman’s visit. Two human teeth and rats bones.

The number of barrows in the Parwich area  (all with a bronze age origin) suggests that there was a busy population who would have been farming, trading and possibly mining for lead. These people would have close family ties, following local annual rituals together that expressed considerable reverence for their dead. Many of the barrows in Derbyshire end in ‘Low’ meaning ‘hill’ or ‘raised mound’. Since many barrows were sited on hill tops burial mounds and lows have become closely linked, though one does not necessarily imply the other. It provides a good starting point in identifying potential barrows. Parwich has the following ‘lows’: Sitterlow; Catlow; Saints Low; Hawkslow.

1. Sitterlow is described as a marginal site in the SMR.  Neither Marsden or Barnatt & Collis include it in their survey and on the ground there is no apparent evidence of any barrow.  Most barrows have an elevated position and this appears low down in the valley. It therefore seems that this should not be considered as a barrow site.

2. Cat Low stands close to valley overlooking Parwich but in an  elevated position. Human bones were found here in 1835 and this information is given on the ordinance survey map of 1879. There appears to be no record of who made this find and despite numerous visits to Parwich, Bateman seems to have taken no interest in this barrow. Though it is not easy to see the mound as you walk up from the village, if you walk south up the field and look back towards the barrow and the village there is a marked rise that suggests a burial mound of some size. Barnatt & Collis catalogue it as a destroyed or lost site.

 Above is a photograph of Cat Low  in the field behind Blanche Meadow Farm.  The dotted line indicates the site

3. Saints Low (not to be confused with the low on Saint’s Hill) is classified in the SMR as ‘probably natural’. It is located in a field with the name Saints Low, on a slope that runs down to the Bletches. Bateman visited it on 6th August 1849 and wrote:

‘…we made a section into the smallest of the two mounds, near Parwich, situated in a field, called, I believe, from the owner or occupier, Saints Low, in a low situation near a small watercourse. The composition of the mound, notwithstanding its affix of “Low”, indicating no artificial origin, the investigation was relinquished without our interfering with the larger mound close by.’

It seems that this may be another example where wishful thinking and the field name ‘low’ may have created further confusion. On a visit to the field I found no evidence of any mounds, though summer undergrowth made identification even more difficult. Certainly its low lying position would count against this as being a likely site.

4. Hawks Low is the most conspicuous and recognised site in this survey. Bowl shaped with a ditch it clearly stands out on the skyline and can been seen easily from all directions.   Bateman visited in 1843 but noted that it had also been previously excavated. He found human bones, pieces of flint and urn, horses teeth and rats bones.

Another small cluster of mounds is situated on:-

5. Parwich Moor. It is now difficult to distinguish anything but the SMR and Barry Marsden cite five potential barrows. Bateman is said to have been there in 1845, finding two female skeletons with flints and other fragments of two skeletons and coarse red pottery sherds. However Barnatt & Collis in their survey discount these sites and claim them to be either natural or possibly spoil from quarries. I could see no possible barrows at the grid reference suggested by OMR and Barry Marsden. This leaves the question of where Bateman found his remains noted above.

6. Low Moor. On 5th May 1849 Bateman excavated two mounds somewhere on Low Moor. The first had had its centre destroyed by a lime kiln and he found nothing. However with the second he describes:-

‘About two feet from the surface we met with fragments of pottery, pieces of human bone, burnt and unburnt, and traces of decomposed wood which lay in a regular    stratum amongst the stones by which the grave was filled’.

He went on to find a child’s skeleton and fragments of pottery. Marsden describes these barrows as unlocated and Barnatt & Collis catalogue them as lost or destroyed.  This gives a very good example of the confusion that can arise in trying to match Bateman’s records with what is on the ground. I discussed these sites briefly with William Bunting who said that he was not aware of any mounds in the area suggested by SMR. He did know of another       barrow, one that I had identified from a distance when looking for the barrows on Parwich Moor. William confirmed this as a site and believed that Bateman had dug there. I can find no modern reference of this site (I give it as 185565 and 184565). There are three barrows occupying a ridge between Low Moor Farm and Middle Moor Farm and within a hundred yards of the Ringway track. Set in a very prominent position it is possible to view the whole valley from here as well as other key sites such as Minning Low, Parwich Hill and Hawks Low. Was Bateman in his description of his excavations on Parwich Moor really referring to these?

Bateman also opened a large mound ‘near Gotam’ (8) when two cists were discovered containing single inhumations covered with numerous large stones. One of the skeletons was accompanied by a flint spear head and a small bronze pin. The SMR speculates a possible reference (184583) but states the tumulus was not located.

Now finally

9. Parwich Hill, or Saints Hill, as it was when Bateman visited on 9th August 1849 (just three days after his fruitless dig overlooking the Bletches). This site demonstrates more than any other the difficulties in identifying  barrows. When I first came to Parwich I could not understand why this was not a more prominent and important burial site. There was no indication of a barrow on any ordinance survey map. In the 19th century however there was certainly an identifiable mound. Bateman excavated it and the visit was renowned because it is believed that he found a hoard of Roman coins. This fact is mentioned both by Barry Marsden and the SMR. Bateman’s notes are ambiguous BUT careful reading suggests that the coins had been found previously when the mound was robbed of stone to build the wall round the plantation. This unrecorded find created further interest from treasure hunters who further damaged the barrow in attempts to find further treasure. Bateman writes:

‘On the 9th of August we made an examination of the remains of a tumulus in a plantation on the summit of Saints Hill, near Parwich, which had been destroyed by getting stone for the walls enclosing the plantation, when about 80 small brass coins of the later Roman Emperors were found scattered about the barrow.

Owing to the double destruction caused by the stone getters, and the persons tempted to search by the discovery of the coins we were unable to find a single inch of undisturbed ground, and the sole evidence of former internments was afforded by two human teeth and some rats’ bones.’

Today it is possible to see what must be the barrow on the east side of the plantation wall about twenty yards from its southernmost end. The wall crosses the mound, the main part of which is outside the plantation. Standing on top of this today it is possible to see all those sites mentioned in my introduction. It must have had considerable importance in Roman times when coins were sunk into the side of the barrow. What this barrow looked like then and how it was viewed by a long succession of inhabitants can only be guessed at. However the discovery of these coins 1500 years later set in train an army of treasure hunters, who with stone wallers almost contributed to the disappearance of the barrow all together.

Although not a Parwich barrow, this illustration of Bateman’s gives us an idea of what we might have seen

The difficulty of identifying barrows in Parwich is one that bedevils anyone interested in the search for the burial mound of the past. It also demonstrates that the barrows have been an active part of the lives of peoples through the centuries. Our interest is merely a continuation of an abiding attraction to these strange and secretive mounds of earth.

This list of sites is not definitive. I have omitted Will Low (175554) and Little Low (184589) as they appear only in the SMR, though others may find further evidence to take these references more seriously. I would be interested to have any suggestions or observations particularly the ones identified between Low Moor and Middle Moor Farm. The search continues!


Thomas Bateman  “Ten Years Digging in Celtic and Saxon Graves” Reprinted Moorland Publishing 1978

Barry Marsden “The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire” Private Publication 1994

The Sites and Monuments Record for Derbyshire

John Barnatt and John CollisBarrow in the Peak District: Recent research” J.R.Collis  Publications 1996


The Lost Village of Ballidon

Copyright © 1988 The South Peak Archeaological Survey

This is a continuation of our series of extracts from The South Peak Archaeological  Survey conducted in the area fourteen years ago. In this newsletter we print information about Ballidon: Ed.

Settlement evidence for this parish is richest in the survey area. This is particularly so of  Minning Low and its environs which have yielded material from the Late Upper Palaeolithic to modern times, a period spanning some twelve thousand years. The bulk of the features recorded by the survey however, date from the Middle Ages or later and take the form principally of traces of the open-field system or industrial activity. The reason for this is that most of the prehistoric material has been discovered in the past through walking ploughed fields whilst the survey has concentrated upon recording above-ground features…

Ballidon itself appears in the Doomsday Book as Belidene. However a recently discovered seventeenth century copy of a mid-tenth century charter provides an earlier date for settlement of 963, when  King Edgar granted five hides at Ballidon to one Ethelferth. The estate described seems to have been large and may well be greater in extent than recorded in Doomsday… The only settlement  remains visible today are those associated with the shrunken medieval village site which lies in the vicinity of the chapel thought to be of early Norman origin. It takes the form of numerous  earthworks representing building platforms, enclosures, holloways and tofts and crofts which were the house plots and the enclosed ‘gardens’ extending in strips behind the houses. The ridge and furrow associated with the settlements’s open field system is not as well defined as in, for example, Tissington and Parwich, probably as a result of the cessation of ploughing when the village was abandoned. Of particular interest, however, are earthworks noted by the survey in a field on the south side of the B5056 on land belonging to Cow Close Farm. The track from the SMV to Bradbourne runs through this field where faint traces of enclosures and platforms can be seen against the boundary of the road. The area is bounded by a bank and ditch, barely visible in places, which  corresponds with the current parish boundary running through the field. On the Bradbourne side of the boundary the field is cut by a series of low banks which seem to be the old field boundaries, though they could be connected with drainage, whilst on the western slopes of Hipley Hill overlooking the site strip lynchets and ridge and furrow are clearly visible. There is also faint ridge and furrow in the north-western part of the field. Further work would be needed to identify these features securely but it is possible they represent an outfarm of medieval Ballidon.


Roystone Rocks and Roystone Grange

Copyright © 2002 Peter Trewhitt

Images Copyright © 2006 Michael Radcliffe


Permission has not been granted by the copyright holder to publish this report on the website.  A hardcopy of this report may be obtained by emailing the website editor.


Sheep grazing below Roystone Rocks View from the farm at ancient walls
Roystone Farmhouse Sentinel guarding the Grange

Note: The Society has a few copies of ‘Wall to Wall’ available, it is now out of print.  If you are interested in buying one please contact the Website Editor.


Wrestling with t’owd man!

A visit to the Good Luck mine - Wednesday July 10th.

Copyright © 2002 Rob Francis

The Good Luck Mine is situated in the Via Gellia on the road between The Holly Bush Inn and Cromford. You may have noticed the spoil heap and various pullies about 400 yards after the turning to Middleton. This visit we made was one postponed from last year when, Ron Amner, the owner of the mine, was unwell. Ron, now recovered, showed 11 members of the society down the mine, a mine that provided valuable supplies of lead in the 19th century.

The Goof Luck Mine was reclaimed by Ron in the 1972. Abiding by the ancient laws relating to lead mining in Derbyshire he was able to present his dish of ore (the King’s Dish) at the Barmote Court in Wirksworth, thus claiming his rights  to access and the lead in the mine. This is now to be done on an annual basis though the amounts of lead gained from the mine are minimal and the profits to be found only in the interests of visitors such as the Parwich History Society.

The mine was begun in 1830, initially as an exploratory vein, being driven straight into the hillside.  From the level it was also intended to intersect a number of existing working lead veins at a much greater depth than they were being worked at that time. Having cut these veins, the miners working them were then allowed to bring their ore out through the new level, using the wagons and tramway, instead of laboriously hand - winding the ore up the various shafts to the surface which had been the case previously. They could also use the adit for easier access to their workings instead of using the climbing shafts. Levels and veins were worked throughout by hand drilling of shot holes for gunpowder blasting. This was an extremely arduous task, as each hole took around 1 ½  hours to drill. Left - handed miners were in great demand, especially in the extremely cramped conditions in the mine workings.

The hey day of Goodluck Mine was around the 1850's during which years, considerable quantities of ore were mined, but the following years saw a decline in mining activity in Derbyshire, as the price of lead continued to fall, due to cheaper lead being imported from Europe and other sources. The mine continued to be worked for galena and other mineral such as barytes, calcite and fluorspar, right up to 1952, after which time the mine was finally abandoned. The adit entrance became derelict and finally collapsed, sealing the workings for another twenty years until 1972, when the mine was reclaimed by Ron.


The entrance to the Good Luck Mine

The mine drives for at least 800 metres into the hillside. We were able to see the initials of miners gouged into the rocks, the bore-holes driven by hand to enable gunpowder to be packed and then detonated; the soot marks of the candles high on the rack face and the abandoned passageways and shafts. Whilst the mine was being worked many of the shafts were backfilled so that fresh stone did not have to be lugged out to the entrance. The dumping of this ore created “t’owd man” which was the miners slang for such waste – whether thrown down empty shafts or left as heaps of waste outside the mine.  Since reclaiming the mine Ron and volunteers have systematically excavated these shafts – though the legendary lost bucket of pure ore has not yet been unearthed!

I have been visiting the mine for the last 25 years, taking groups of children down after reading ‘Whistling Clough’ at school. This novel, though fiction, gives an excellent introduction to lead mining in Derbyshire; its laws, customs and challenges as the new technology of the Newcomen Steam Engine, late in the 18th century,  took over the draining of  mines putting many smaller concerns out of business. A visit to the Good Luck Mine gives an insight into the tough world of lead mining and the daily remorseless struggle of the lead miner’s life and work.  Our particular thanks go to Ron Amner for the tour of the mine.

Some of this information is taken straight from the Good Luck mine’s website which can be visited at .

The book ‘Whistling Clough’ by Walt Unsworth was published by Gollancz.



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