Parwich & District Local History Society

Newsletter number 12 (February 2003)

Free to members (£1 to non-members)



Copyright © 2003 Brian Foden

Nearly two hundred years ago two untimely deaths lead to the trial and execution of a Parwich man for murder.  Here is the information behind that gruesome event, though what led up to these murders remains a mystery.

Close to the west door of  Parwich church stands a gravestone bearing the inscription:-


George Dakeyne who departed this life January 19th 1800 in the 81st year of his age

Also Elizabeth wife of Thomas Dakeyne and Daughter of John and Sarah Roe she

departed this life February 17th 1807 in the 23rd year of her age.

 Under the chestnut tree at the east of the church is another gravestone that reads:-


John Roe who departed this life 7th February 1801 aged 67 years

Also Sarah his wife who died September 7th 1823 age 80 yrs

Likewise Mary their daughter who died 17th February 1807  in the 31st year of her age.

The link between the two memorials seems to be that Elizabeth Dakeyne and Mary Roe were sisters who died on the same day, and when the Burial Registers are consulted they were both buried over two weeks later also on the same day. The entries in the register read:-

21st February 1807.

Mary Roe.

Coroner’s Inquest, supposed to have been poisoned by persons unknown

21st February 1807. Elizabeth Dakeyne, wife of Thomas Dakeyne

            Coroner’s Inquest. Supposed to have been poisoned by persons unknown

The Derby Mercury reported on Thursday 5th March 1807, that William Webster of Parwich was charged with the suspicion of poisoning Elizabeth Dakeyne and Mary Roe, by administering a mineral poison into their tea, which also made Thomas Dakeyne, Jane Fern and four children extremely ill.

DERBY MERCURY Thurs 12th March 1807

On Monday next the Assize for this County will commence before the Hon, Sir R Graham, Knt., one of the Barons of his Majesty’s Court of Exchequer, when the following prisoner is to be taken to his trial, William Webster, for administering poison to eight persons, whereby two died and the lives of the others were in great danger.

DERBY MERCURY Thursday 19th March 1807

Before Sir Robert Graham, Knt., Tuesday 24th March 1807, William Webster, charged with administering poison to eight persons, two of whom died, and the lives of the others endangered, was put upon his trial at 12 o’clock this day, which it is expected will not be concluded till late in the evening.

DERBY MERCURY Thursday 26th March 1807

The following prisoners took their trials at our Assizes which concluded on Thursday at noon: William Webster for administering poison, after a trial of 13 hours, was found guilty – Death.

William Page, for sheep-stealing, guilty – Death.

Joseph Beeson, for sheep-stealing, acquitted.

George Jones, for stealing 11 bank notes, and a great coat, imprisoned – 12 months.

William Webster the unhappy person who was convicted of poisoning Mrs Dakin  and Miss Roe of Parwich, near Ashbourne, in this County. Suffered the dreadful sentence of the law on Friday last.  The evening before he was executed he persisted in his innocence in the most solemn manner, and said he would address the people in his last moments, and declared himself not guilty.  The next morning however, previous to his receiving the Holy Sacrament he acknowledged (to the Chaplain and three other gentlemen) having put poison into the ale with intent to poison Mr Dakin, and that he, and he only, caused the death of the two women.  On being asked, at the place of execution, if he had anything to say to the people, he replied “no, I cannot speak” I AM GUILTY.

There is little background information regarding the reason for the murders but they don’t seem to have any financial motive. It could be that William Webster’s intended victim was Thomas Dakeyne and the others suffered as a consequence and that he was of unsound mind at the time.


Funeral Biscuits

Copyright © 2003 Peter Trewhitt

Many thanks to Brian Foden, Brian Rich and Isobel Combes, who all passed on information in response to the Editorial in the previous issue of the Newsletter.

Rev. Jack Cooper had included information in the Parish Magazine (February 1994) on the Ironmongers and their funeral biscuits, triggered by the card from the funeral of Thomas Gibbs, that cites Hannah Ironmonger as a maker of funeral biscuits in Parwich.  It is worth quoting Jack:

Know your Ironmongers

Last month Len Gibbs asked for information about his ancestors and their ‘funeral biscuit’ making business.  I now have it on good authority that the Ironmongers used to live in a cottage in the area we now know as ‘the Quarry’ and what is now a very nice rockery area amongst the rocks adjacent to where Mark and Debbie live (formerly John Evans).  Mrs. Ironmonger died about 60 years ago and her husband ten or so years later.  The house has long since been demolished.

In Memory of



Therefore be ye also ready:

for in such an hour as ye think not the son of man cometh.

Matthew, c. 24, v. 44.


Funeral Biscuit Baker,


The practice of making funeral biscuits is in fact a Staffordshire custom and (they) were long thin finger biscuits.  The custom was to give the men a clay pipe and half an ounce of tobacco and the ladies a funeral biscuit.  In these days of being politically correct (Saints preserve us!) no doubt the ladies would be puffing on their clay pipes and the men would be munching the biscuits.

Funeral biscuits were particularly common around the Warslow area.  Obviously Parwich is almost on the boarder of Staffordshire and it is hardly surprising that the biscuits had at least part of their home in Parwich.  Crumbs!

I wonder who made the clay pipes.”

Brian Foden forwarded the following information on the Ironmongers.  The first mention was in the will of Mary Lees, late of Dilhorn (Staffordshire) then of Parwich, who died 31st March 1842.  “Also I give and bequeath to my sister Hannah Ironmonger and Benjamin Ironmonger her husband both of Parwich the sum of £20 each for their own individual use and benefit.  Also I give and bequeath to my sister Hannah Ironmonger and my two nieces Elizabeth Cordon and Sarah Lees all my clothes and wearing apparel to be equally divided amongst them share and share alike.”

The next mention is in the 1843 Tithe Map for Parwich where Benjamin is shown as the owner occupier of the house mentioned in Rev. Jack Cooper’s article, and of a small meadow near by.

That Benjamin Ironmonger was an ‘Oddfellow’ is shown by the mention of him in their minutes for 1858 “21st June 1858 That Benjamin Ironmonger be excused from walking in the procession”, and in their 1880 accounts “That Brother Benjamin receive a gift of 10s from the Lodge, also a subscription be made to him on the Lodge night in December, both amounts to be expended on coals”.

Finally from the Parish Registers we have no relevant baptisms or marriages but we do have the following burials:-

Hannah Ironmonger

24th Oct 1852

Age 76 years at Parwich

Benjamin Ironmonger

1st Feb 1883

Age 84 years at Parwich (‘natural decay’)

Elizabeth Ironmonger

22nd May 1899

Age 76 years at Parwich

Isobel Combes pointed out that we find Benjamin in White’s 1857 Directory of Derbyshire listed both as a confectioner and as a carrier (to Ashbourne on Saturdays and Hartington on Wednesdays).  Checking the nineteenth century trade directories, the only other entry I found for Benjamin was in Harrison, Harrod & Co.’s 1860 Directory of Derbyshire.  Does this mean the business was only sufficiently large enough to warrant such advertising at this time?

The nineteenth century censuses give the following information on the Ironmonger household:







Place of Birth


Benjamin Ironmonger






Hannah Ironmonger






Gorge? Cordon






Benjamin Ironmonger



Ag. Labourer



Hannah Ironmonger






Benjamin Ironmonger



Ag. Labourer



Elizabeth Ironmonger






Sarah Ironmonger






Benjamin Ironmonger



Ag. Labourer

Tutbury, Staffs.


Elizabeth Ironmonger






Charles W Keeling






Benjamin Ironmonger



Ag. Labourer



Elizabeth Ironmonger






Charles W Keeling






Alice Keeling





1891? There is no mention of Elizabeth in this census, nor of the grandchildren above, though there is a household in the right area where there is no head of household but a daughter Edith Keeling (aged 18) and a grandson James W Keeling (aged 8).

From all this information we can put together a partial picture of the Ironmongers.  Benjamin was not a native of Parwich, and though there is some confusion as to where and when he was born, it is likely to have been in Mercaston around 1799.  He married a Parwich woman, Hannah, some 15 years his senior.  They owned their own house and a paddock near by, suggesting they had some capital behind them.  The confectionary business must have been started before Hannah’s death in 1852, but it appears to have continued until at least 1860.  Benjamin fairly promptly remarried.  His second wife Elizabeth, also born in Parwich, was some 24 years his junior.  The girl Sarah who appears on the 1861 census was born in Hartington around 1850, prior to Hannah’s death and Benjamin and Elizabeth’s marriage.  We do not know what happened to her, but she seems to have at least two children, Charles and Alice Keeling, that were raised by their grandparents.  By 1857 Benjamin was also running a weekly carrier service to Hartington and Ashbourne markets.  We do not know if he was excused from walking in the Odd Fellows procession in 1858 because of ill-health or because he had to be else where.  We do know that by 1880 he was becoming elderly and frail, and the Odd Fellows felt the need to buy coal for him.

What & Where?

Len thinks that the Thomas Gibbs who’s funeral was supplied with Hannah Ironmonger’s biscuits may have been from Alstonefield or Wetton, which are in Staffordshire, supporting Jack’s linking the custom to Staffordshire.  In contrast Isobel Combes gave me the results of a web search she had done which indicated that funeral biscuits were being produced in Yorkshire in the mid nineteenth century ( ) but also as far afield as the USA ( ).  Dobson’s factory in Elland in Yorkshire was founded in 1850 and still makes sweets today, though no longer funeral biscuits.  Kathleen Purvis in her book “To die for: the ultimate comfort food”, suggests funeral biscuits were in use amongst the Dutch settlers of the Southern States.  A further web site ( ) gives the following quotation on Victorian funeral customs in America:

“Entire families mourned the deceased, even the servants, and most funerals were held at home as opposed to a church. After a death the house was darkened, crape was draped on the front door. The public floor of the house was draped with crape, mirrors and windows were covered, and clocks were stopped at the hour of the death. The crape was tied with ribbons, black for adults and white for children. The corpse was laid out in the parlour or a downstairs bedroom, and vigil was kept twenty-four hours a day until the burial which was held one to four days later. The vigil, held out of respect of the dead, also had practical implications; a great fear existed of being buried alive and the vigil helped to alleviate this possible problem. Candles were lit around the room and flowers were brought in. The flowers were not only for remembrance, but they served to  mask the odour of the decaying body. Funeral biscuits, wrapped in white paper and sealed with black wax, were served as favours for the guests. Burial was done either in a public or private cemetery.”

(From Virginia Mescher’s article “Mourning in the nineteenth century: an overview” in the March 1998 issue of “The Campbell Crier” the newsletter of 42nd Virginia Infantry Regiment”)

Brian Rich sent me further information on the biscuits.  F. Moss in his 1898 book “Folklore: Old Customs and Tales of my Neighbours” describes in Cheshire “small rich sponge cakes with a smell of ammonia were wrapped in   tissue paper and then in a black-edged notepaper, and addressed to those who were bidden to the burial, or sent away to those who could not come.”  He goes on to say that the special sponge cakes went out of favour by the 1880s when they were replaced by plain biscuits in both Cheshire and Shropshire.  Peter Brears, in his 1987 book “Traditional Food in Yorkshire”, devotes some eight pages to funeral biscuits.  He quotes the costs of a funeral in 1869:-                                       

Laying out








Grave clothes




Grave making








Bidding to funeral




Standing at door












Peter Brears also gives a number of recipes for funeral cakes, buns and biscuits.  The biscuits used in Yorkshire were both finger shaped and round.  Often the round biscuits were a short bread stamped with a purposely made wooden print carved with a heart motif surrounded by zigzag borders.  The various traditions in Yorkshire of cakes, sponge fingers and biscuits date at least to the eighteenth century and continued up to the 1920s in places.  The earlier recorded occurrences tended to be at the funerals of wealthy people, though as the nineteenth century progressed they became more widespread.  Here is one of the recipes Peter Brears cites:-

Funeral Biscuits

12 oz flour

½  teaspoon baking powder

10 oz butter

½  teaspoon caraway seeds

9 oz sugar

Sift the flour and the baking powder, add the sugar and caraway, and rub in the butter. Press out the mixture, stamp with a wooden mould and bake for 30 minutes at 300 F, mark 2.

There seems to be variation in the types of biscuit, so although funeral biscuits were not specific to Staffordshire, or this part of Derbyshire we may find that there were specific types of biscuit or associated customs that were.  H. Lee & Son, Ashbourne Undertakers, recollect talk of a local tradition of buns, rather like hot cross buns, but with a black cross.


Clay Pipes

Copyright © 2003 Denis Laycock

The Jack Cooper’s article in the Parish Magazine on funeral biscuits quoted above prompted the following by Denis Laycock, that appeared in the July 1994 Parish Magazine.  Denis has kindly agreed for us to reproduce it here:-


I was intrigued by the article in the February issue of the Parish Magazine about Mrs Ironmonger and the Funeral Biscuit business, or more especially the custom of giving the men a clay pipe and an ounce of tobacco at funerals.

For many years my brother & I have collected the remains of clay pipes, especially the bowls, as these are of considerable interest and value in 'dating' other finds. We have a collection of well over 500 such bowls. I have found a number in the village and, it so happens that one of them turned up on the very piece of ground where Mrs. Ironmonger's cottage used to stand. So I pose the question:



The pipe (illustrated above) is a large thick-walled one, with a scroll & diamond decoration underneath a basket weave. There is a leaf decoration up the front seam. We think the pipe originated from Staffordshire, & was made between 1870 & 1890.

It seems that pipes played a very important part in funeral customs going back many years. The pipes were given the nickname of a 'dredgy' on these occasions. This is probably a corruption of the latin word 'dirige', the first word in Medieval Latin 'Dirige Domine, Deus meus, in conspectu tuo viam meam,' which is an antiphon in the office of the dead, and is adopted from Psalms 5:9. Translated it means 'Direct, O Lord, my God, my way in thy sight.'  The word 'dirge' -a funeral hymn or lament -comes from the same source, of course.

In 1691 a child's funeral in Scotland would require the consumption of three pints of brandy, twelve dozen tobacco pipes & four pounds of cut tobacco. What an adult's funeral would require does not bear thinking about!

Fleming, writing in 1923 (yes, there are entire books written on pipe bowls) said that the custom of 'dredgies ' at funerals was then still customary in some country places, especially in the Midlands.

Some of the other pipe heads collected in Parwich include:-


A small pipe head, probably a 'Churchwarden', with small leaves on the seams. The spur has the letters S N, probably indicating the maker.  Made about 1810 to 1840.


This is a Masonic or Friendly Society Pipe. No doubt our own Lodge of the 'Oddfellows' would have had their own pipe with emblems. This one was made about 1810 to 1850.

This pipe was found on the Tissington Trail near Tissington. Are the footballers anything to do with Shrovetide, I wonder? The pipe dates from 1880 to 1900, although the Nottingham Tobacco company of Players are known to have made some ‘football’ pipes in the 1920’s to promote the sales of their products.


A spurless pipe with raised mounds and leaves along the seams. Dates from 1870 to 1900.



The Old Church in Parwich

Copyright © 2003 Rev. Jack Cooper

The ‘Know your Parwich’ series in the Parish Magazine in the 1990s contains a lot of fascinating information, as can be seen by the sections on funeral biscuits and clay pipes quoted above.  Rev Cooper has kindly agreed for us to reproduce material from the series, so we also include in this issue information on the old St. Peter’s Church in Parwich, that was demolished to make way for the current building in 1873.  I had wondered how people in the village regarded the rapid demolition of their old church, by a young enthusiastic vicar, the Rev. Leighton Buckwell who had only been in the village for a year, and by an absentee (though very generous) landlord.  See below in this issue for a drawing of the old church. The following appeared in the Parish Magazine of September 1994, obviously in turn quoting a much older source:

A word or two of explanation is necessary before reproducing the articles supplied to me this month.

The items which follow were supplied to me by Donald Shields of the Hall, Parwich who in turn had received them from Mrs. Patricia Bagshawe, the daughter of the late Sir John Crompton-Inglefield, formerly of course from the Hall.

The notes were written by Joseph Thompson 1833-1909, son of Elizabeth Alsop 1806-1875 in turn the daughter of George Alsop 1770-1819. Mention is made of various items that used to be in the old Church, e.g. the sun dial and an old oak chest, plus the stocks that used to be situated outside the Church gates. The writer asks the whereabouts of these and I wonder if anybody can help with this. The Church may seem an odd place to have stocks but in times past it was not uncommon for the local clergyman to have some say in matters of law and   order in his parish.

"1833: In my boyhood (and later) there was a small but interesting Norman Church, but the parsons have ‘Restored’ this off the face of the earth. First of all, the heavy pillar and round arches which supported the roof, dividing the Nave from the Aisle were pulled down and a meaningless round plaster arch of no ornamentation was substituted. But that was not enough. In later days (1872) a reforming person came. The church had an unusually long chancel for the size of the building. This was not placed in the exact middle of the eastern wall but rather to one side; it therefore prevented the parson from seeing all of the congregation when he read from the communion table, moreover he had to lift up his voice to be heard. So the decree went forth: a faculty was obtained, the dear old Church was pulled down and a brand new one was built. How often I mourn over this!

Where is now the low ivy covered, square tower, through which one entered and saw the sexton toll the bell? Where is the sculptured sword, thought to be a crusader’s? Where the outside staircase up which we used to climb to the 'Family Pew'? Where the pulpit for the parson with the desk under it for the clerk? Where the choir with its divers instruments of music in the gallery? Where the square pews that belonged to the several farms and gave a special and personal interest to the occupants? All gone! All swept away to satisfy the ritualistic fancies of a sacerdotal parson. Thus is England being spoiled of its glory! Inside this new church there are comfortless benches, a raised 'Sanctum' and 'Altar' forsooth and externally it is a spick and span new building which might just as well be a Methodist Chapel. But, this is not all. Our fathers long indulged in a little paganism including nature worship. Among the ornaments of this Church was an entablature covered with animals symbolic of phallic worship. This evidently had been taken down at a later period and been obscured by whitewash or plaster. On pulling down the Church it has been built into the porch of the new Church as the tympanum of the arch above the main door.

The notes then go on to talk about a parson Beetham………..

There was a parson Beetham here before parson Roe - parson being not a sneer but a compliment of the day - the person. There were so few other PERSONS then. The Parwich people must have been a lawless crew then, especially at WAKES and at Christmas. My father remembered this parson Beetham preaching a sermon after one Wakes Sunday when he had a personal fracas with some of his unruly parishioners and he took a very appropriate text, but it must have been from the Apocrypha for I don’t remember it in any of the canonical books and it was rather shocking.  “And I caught certain of them and smote them and plucked off their hair and made them swear by God”. So he vindicated himself for his share in the affray and made out a good case for himself. What would be thought of such proceedings today? What has become of the outspoken parson? - I do not know, nor is there any anxiety apparently. He has gone the way of all flesh generations since, but there should be some ancient records kept in every parish that in time would be very curious and make interesting reading…….

I used to see two old oak chests in the chancel and wondered what they contained. It was said that the candles for lighting the church were stored there because the mice played havoc with them when they were stored in the cupboard on the wall. I used to see one, bolder than the rest from my perch in the gallery. It used to run out of its hole and take a nibble from the candlestick placed in its holder ready for lighting. This it did repeatedly and these attacks left visible marks on the candle. But it must have satisfied the hunger of the poor little thing that looked as small and famished as any church mouse must do!

I often wonder what became of the old sun dial that so long dominated the porch door of the old church, around which a circle of expectant worshippers, men and boys, used always to be standing waiting for the service to begin?

There used to be a little odd-looking square old man, by the name of Isaac Saint, who had a chronic weakness for always being Church warden, an honorable office in that day and he generally had his desire satisfied. Being then in power he decided that certain ‘Improvements’ be made at once. First the private pews in the gallery were cleared away followed by the clearing of the Norman arches and one circular plaster arch was substituted for them. A vestry meeting was called to discuss the improvements. Some said it would not be safe and would put the church in danger. Nothing daunted the little man who declared it would be such an easy thing to do "To turn-er-arch" that he could do it himself! -so the thing was done and the great wide, hideous flat arch took the place of the two beautiful Norman arches with their corbels and zig-zag chiselling, in keeping with the architecture that the most iconoclastic dissenter would never have wished to have had swept away. Then the font stood inside the chancel. The stove was in the middle of the Church. Women clattered up the aisles on their pattens and men used to cover their faces reverently with their hats during their private devotions before the service. There was no merit then in turning to the East, though a low curtsey towards that point was dropped by several women. In the square pews each knelt with his back to others, unaware of the bad orthodoxy of such a practice. Nor did I often hear the sermon discussed, for, like Tennyson's hero "They though 'a said what 'a ought to' a said and then they coomed away".

Christenings were managed by means of a pewter dish containing a little water. Weddings were celebrated before the High Alter, that was, a plain oak table. Communion Sunday was an event of importance coming, as it did only once every three months. All the respectable couples walked in, arm in arm, dressed in Sunday best - drab knee breeches and gaiters and black coats with such a display of pure white neck cloth that no other occasion warranted. The Church warden at this time was diminutive, who by some irony of fate had a very tall, handsome wife; she was caught in a tangent I suppose having been much disappointed in a former love affair.

The tithe was taken in kind then. So every tenth animal not paid for was lawful prey. The animals were shut up in a building and cautiously let out one by one and great was the delight of this little man when the tenth happened to be a fine beast - but sometimes the contrary was the case and he was quite down in the mouth and full of sorrow if the beast were weak and sickly.

Mr. Fisher was here then, you remember him? - poor man - he was harassed with poverty all his life, overworked and had a plague of a wife who drove him crazy. I do not know if we have ever improved on him!

The village stocks stood close to the Church gates then. Where have they gone?

The exodus from the country to the town is still going on and of the four sons of my grandfather, only one, William, remained on the farm. They got tired of pulling turnips on the Moor when the frost made the buttermilk solid - their usual beverage.

There were the Harvest suppers then - a large table was put outside the big house place with large joints of meat and a huge plum pudding. Many toasts and a song or two was the regular finish and big jugs of home made ale circulated freely and I am bound to say that I never saw anyone eating or drinking to excess although we had no temperance societies then.

Another man I recollect was Mr. Wright, a character who took time by the forelock with a vengeance, his clock being as often as not a full hour too fast. Indeed, that used to be a rather common thing whilst others had their’s an hour too slow. The hour of the day required frequent explanation. It was quite a mathematical calculation to know the hour "It was such an such by Mr Keeling’s clock " and so much by Mr Saint’s clock and such an hour by Mr Awsup’s. ..and so on. One day the Vicar gave notice with very considerable emphasis that the service began at 10.30a.m. ASHBOURNE TIME!!



Copyright © 1912 Mrs. Curtis, of ‘Uplands’, Ledbury (Privately printed in 1912)

Thank you to Mr. Ian Brownson who forwarded the following extracts from Mrs. Curtis’ autobiography.  Mrs. Curtis was the daughter of the Rev. Carr, Vicar of Parwich from 1822 to 1828 (Foden & Robinson, 2002), which is confusingly inconsistent with her dates below, and with Gerald Lewis’ claim that the Rev. Carr came to Parwich in 1823 and that his wife was responsible for planting the cross shaped wood on Parwich Hill in 1836 (see Newsletter 7 p. 9).  She inherited a half share in the Parwich Estate from her Uncle, Sir William Evans Bt., but did not reside here.  Her nephew the Rev. Claud Lewis lived at the Hall at this time.

I was born on April 23, 1830, in the Derbyshire parish of Parwich where my grandfather was the principal landowner, my father acting as clergyman.

My parents left the parish when I was three years old, so of course I have no memories of my own connected with the place.  But on my first visit there, after coming into possession of half the property in 1892, I found several old inhabitants still living who had vivid remembrance of the eleven years my parents had spent in the district.

An old woman talked to me and my husband with unbounded gratitude of the benefits which accrued to the parish during their abode in it.  She told us how my father and his curate used to invite all the men of the place to be present at “family prayers,” which for their benefit were held in the large kitchen.  There the men who could not read heard nightly a passage from Scripture with a short exposition, and learnt to join in prayer.  Our informant told us how when prayers were concluded, my mother gave to each man half a loaf of bread and “a good big piece of cheese,” on the supposition that they might have missed their supper at home through being present.  No wonder the kitchen was crowded!

She told us also how every Christmas a waggon with four horses appeared in the village, sent by my grandfather from Derby, laden with the useful and homely produce of a draper’s shop, not for sale to the people, but for simple distribution, and there was always material for every need.  “Most demoralising, most destructive of all spirit of independence,” no doubt would be the comment of the modern political economist: but, as my husband afterwards remarked, the people in that remote northern village were hungry, and poor, and ignorant, and in those simpler days the one remedy appeared to be to comfort them and supply their needs.  Somehow I do not think that the benefactors, now all gone aloft, will miss the final commendation, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” 

I was shown a substantial cottage which my mother had built for a schoolhouse for small children, the elder ones being at work.  Here a “dame” of excellent quality was installed, and diligently she taught the children to read their Bibles, to write, to work out easy sums, and in the case of the girls, to sew admirably. 

Reading was always taught from the Bible itself, starting with the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John, which had mostly only short words in the early verses.  I well remember a remark of my mother’s, that children or grown people should always be taught to read from the Bible, as then, afterwards, they would naturally turn to it as their familiar book, and not be tempted to read other books which might do them harm.  The whole system was Feudalism pure and simple, but the experience of a very long life leaves me with the impression that Feudalism, rightly worked by the right people, may conduce to the greatest happiness and the greatest virtue of the greatest number of mankind.  In its best form it is the parental system on a large scale.

A great event during my parents’ residence at Parwich was a visit from Mr. Wilberforce, the great philanthropist politician, and religious reformer.  At the time when his influence first made itself felt, religion appeared to be almost extinct in the upper circles of Society.  His book, A Practical View of the Christian Religion, had a wonderful effect in awakening careless persons to a sense of their responsibilities.  I have heard the remark made that this book, combined with Mr. Wilberforce’s personal influence revolutionized London Society.  At the time I speak of he was a Member of Parliament, together with my uncle, Mr. Evans, of Allestree, a kindred spirit, and they worked together for the suppression of the Slave Trade.  To the great joy of my parents, Mr. Wilberforce accepted an invitation to visit them.  The day after his arrival, my mother had asked her most distinguished neighbours to meet him at dinner, probably at any time between five and six o’clock, and the previous hours were spent in a visit to Dovedale and Ilam Hall.  In the library at Ilam, Mr. Wilberforce discovered some ancient volumes or manuscripts, in which he became so engrossed that my mother (who was growing uneasy at the lateness of the hour) could not induce him to leave them.  The London gentleman had evidently no idea of the earliness of country hours.  He was so absorbed in the ancient books that he would not listen to any persuasions, and when at last they did make the start for home my mother realised with dismay that it was impossible for them to reach home before the guests should have arrived. 

On entering her drawing room she found the company, in full dress, sitting round the room awaiting her arrival.  “What could I do?” she asked, in telling me the story; “I could only say to them, ‘I have brought him, he is here, I could not help it, you must forgive me’.”  I never heard what happened to that dinner.  In spite of this inauspicious commencement the evening was a grand success.  Mr. Wilberforce put forth his most brilliant conversational powers.  The guests were delighted, impressed, carried out of themselves by his gifts and eloquence, and went away expressing to my mother their warmest appreciation.  They left about ten o’clock, and my parents supposed it was bedtime, but the Londoners considered that the evening was only just begun, and more conversation ensued.  Towards midnight Mrs. Wilberforce, quite unaware of the exhaustion of her hosts, got out her drawing materials!  Here my recollections of my mother’s narrative of this interesting episode come to an abrupt close – memory will help me no further.

The terrible Napoleonic war was over before I was born, but my mother had vivid recollections of the misery then endured by the country, when bad harvests were added to the other causes of distress.

Sound bread was difficult to procure, and she had seen loaves on her own table from which, when the crust was cut through, the contents ran out like treacle.  If such were the inconveniences of the rich, it is fearful to think what the sufferings of the poor must have been.  In one respect taxation took a most unwholesome form.  The tax on light, causing all windows to be as small as possible, must have acted most unfavourably on the health of the populace.  Early sketches taken of the village show what mere peep-holes the windows of the cottages were at that period. 

My mother also remembered the attitude of Radical politicians during the war.  She herself had heard men of wealth and standing rejoicing over Napoleon’s victories, and over every disaster that threatened the British forces.  But the old-fashioned Whigs, to whose party my uncle and several of the “Clapham sect” belonged, were as a rule patriotic, loyal, and philanthropic persons.  England felt safe in those days, whether Whigs or Tories were in power.  There was no risk that a Whig Government would pass revolutionary measures or attempt to upset the Constitution, though their aims were more democratic than those of the Tories.  I recall one occasion when Lord Palmerston was kept in power by the votes of Conservatives and Liberals united.

Our experience of Radical mill-owners, and of those who worked for them, was that they were most oppressive employers of  labour.  I mention one instance in detail, the particulars of which were peculiarly harsh.  A young woman, far advanced in consumption, was ordered by her doctor to discontinue her work.  She did so, and was at once told to return by her employers, the order being enforced by the threat that if she left the work, the whole of her family would be turned away.  She returned to the mill, and remained as a worker until she died.

In contrast to these mill-owners, we always had before us the object-lesson of the mills at Cromford, owned by the Arkwrights, excellent Conservative people, whose “hands” were cared for, and had no cause for complaint.

When I was a child chimneys could only be swept by climbing boys, a miserable and oppressed race whose hard lot it seemed impossible to ameliorate.  Attempts were made to sweep chimneys with long-handled brushes, but these could not be used except in straight-up chimneys, and were useless where the flues turned at an angle.  It must have been about 1838 when a circular brush with a jointed handle which could turn corners was invented by a man named John Jephson, who advertised it with much blowing of trumpets, and wrote a poem in his own praise :-

“My name is John Jephson,

I have a machine,

Which will sweep all your chimneys

Remarkably clean.”

We may not admire John Jephson’s taste or his poetry, but he should be remembered, for his invention put an end to the miseries of “climbing boys,” and was a real boon to humanity.

I should like to record the following instance of the mystery that grown people’s devotions are to children.  My old home stood at the foot of a rocky hill, and was surrounded by terraced gardens, beyond which was a “plantation” of Scotch firs and other trees which ran for a considerable distance up the hill.  My elder sister Bessie, four or five years old, failed to understand the petition, “Lead us not into temptation,” and wishing to make her prayers a reality, she substituted habitually, “Lead puss not into the plantation” – a place of danger where she thought the cat might get lost.

Most people would imagine the Pilgrim’s Progress  to be a harmless book, but it was near to costing the lives of my two brothers.

The hill, behind Parwich Hall, diversified with rock and bushes of gorse, was an ideal playground for children, but developed at it’s summit into a desolate tableland, walled everywhere and of great extent.  We had all just been saddened by a painful event.  Our gardener’s little child had wandered away up the hill, and had been found dead under a wall.

Imagine the consternation when, a few days after this accident, the two boys from the hall went missing.  Our mother was in an agony.  The church bell and all neighbouring church bells, and every house-bell were rung, and the whole district was speedily dispersed in search for the missing children.  They were discovered in the lone country energetically climbing a wall.  “We are on a pilgrimage,” they announced, “the Celestial City is only a   little way off now, we shall be there directly.”

I fear their mortification must have been great on being carried home.  They were quite small children, about five or six years old.

I feel little doubt there was a thanksgiving service for their return, but the tale as told to me ends here.

In 1833 my parents moved to Holbrook Hall, six miles north of Derby, being unable any longer to bear the severity of the Parwich climate.  Our new home was a beautiful place, which at that time belonged, like Parwich, to my grandfather……….

………I have in my possession a pencil sketch of Parwich Church, made by a little girl cousin, a few years older than myself.  In the foreground the child has introduced a large tombstone with this inscription: “Here lies the Duke of Wellington, who hanged himself for having let the Roman Catholics into power.”  This was the child’s own idea, and gives a glimpse of the passionate indignation aroused by the admission of Roman Catholics into  Parliament.


Extracts from

‘The South Peak Archaeological Survey’.

This is the third extract from the extensive survey carried out between 1986 and 1988 with the aim of providing a field-by-field topographical record of earthworks and other features of   archaeological interest in the area. This extract comes from the survey of Ballidon.

Copyright © 2003 Rob Francis



Ballidon itself appears in the Domesday 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 that recorded in Domesday.

The only settlements remaining visible today are those associated with the shrunken medieval village site which lies in the vicinity of a 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 enclosed “gardens” extending in strips behind the houses. The ridge and furrow associated with the settlement’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 the earthworks noted by the survey in a fields on the south side of the B5056 on land belonging to Cow Close Farm. The track to Bradbourne runs through this field where faint traces on enclosures and platforms can be seen against the boundary with the road (Ref: 207538). The area is bounded by a bank and ditch, barely visible in places, which corresponds to the 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 in the western slopes of Hipley Hill overlooking the site strip lynchets and ridge and furrow are clearly visible. There is also a faint ridge and furrow in the north-western part of the field, it is possible they represent an outfarm of medieval Ballidon.

The land overlooking White Edge to the west (Ref: 209548) produced well defined ridge and furrow in association with possible medieval enclosures. This ridge and furrow runs east-west and is bounded to the north and west by earth banks whilst another runs down the centre, parallel with the ridges. A short section of bank also flanks the northern earthwork forming a possible droveway which may have run westward to a rectangular enclosure with the small square incorporated into its south-east corner. (Ref: 210548). The larger enclosure butts against the dry stone wall that forms part of the modern boundary. The date of the banks is uncertain, but the presence of a few large surviving footing stones of dolomitic limestone is very reminiscent of those identified by Martin Wildgoose as medieval in the walls at Roystone Grange.

The following diagram (below) made for the survey looks at the earthwork patterns in the vicinity of the church, which is in the centre of the diagram.

Plan of the shrunken medieval village of Ballidon from “The south Peak Archaeological Survey” showing the house platforms by the modern road and the church, as well as trackways and the patterns or ridge and furrow ploughing.


Parwich School Log Book

1 August 1870 – 15th March 1892

Here are some of the extracts from the Parwich School Log Book that were used to create the School display board in last summer’s exhibition.  We hope to include more in future issues.

2nd August 1870

The order of the school disturbed by some men bringing a dancing bear into the yard.

5th August 1871

Attendance very bad on account at the rain during the month of July which prevented the  haymaking.

4th December 1871

Attendance still much below the usual thro’ the small-pox — another case has broken out — Many children are also absent thro’ a custom of begging meal from the farmers.

8th April 1872

One of them, twelve years of age, does not know any of the Commandments.

30th September 1872

Punished Harry Blore and Frank Gibbs, for stealing the vicar’s apples.  These boys are sadly neglected by their parents and allowed to go where they like when out of school. The consequence is they are the pest of the village, and a great trouble to the teacher.

5th May 1873

One little boy left school ill and in a few days was dead.

23 February 1874

The boys broke a window with the football. I prohibited them from playing in the playground, till they got it repaired.  Punished a boy for swearing in the playground.

2nd March 1874

Standard 2 seem very defiant —four of the seven have no intellectual capacity.

8th March 1875

Diphtheria prevalent in the village — Two scholars Helena Frith and William Twigge died in consequence.

16th March 1875

Several scholars staying at home in consequence of the fever being prevalent.

8th November 1875

Punished James Prince and Frank Bloore for discharging a cannon in the school-yard.

20th January 1881

The ashpits attached to the boys and girls closets emptied and thoroughly cleansed.

23rd March 1885

Serious outbreaks of mumps. In this Depart’t on the Friday; twelve children were absent suffering from this complaint. The vicar paid a visit of surprise.

14th April 1885

Annual Inspection.  The master appears to have worked hard and the order of the school is creditable. The reading should be more correct and more fluent, the handwriting is cramped and irregular. Spelling was on the whole fair some of the children failed to understand the phrases of the dictation. Some improvement may be looked for in arithmetic especially in the arrangement of the sums and in writing the figures.  The class subjects were creditable and showed intelligent teaching.  Needlework good. Because of the want of thoroughness in elementary subjects, I do not recommend a good merit grant.  I am of opinion that it would be well for the master to have some assistance, especially if the children are again presented in two class subject.

13th February 1886

School saving Bank Deposit for month of January £1. 4.0.  Administered corporal punishment to two boys for fighting.

1st March 1886

Report of Religious Education.  Very great pains are evidently taken with the religious instruction as is shown by the carefulness of the written work, and the unusual forwardness of some of the elder children. The result is satisfactory throughout, though all should be encouraged to answer.  I was particularly pleased by the Catechism and Prayer Book knowledge of the Upper Division.

6th May 1887

Hannah Dakin having fulfilled the necessary conditions, her engagement as Pupil Teacher dates from Apri1st 1887 to March 31st 1891.

20th June 1887

Queen Victoria’s jubilee.  Gave medals to all the children.  Holiday given in the afternoon to allow of a School Treat.


Christmas ‘Do’ and Photograph Auction

The Sycamore on Thursday 12th December.


For the third year running we repeated the successful formula of mulled wine and mince pies in the Sycamore Inn followed by a quiz.  As always the home-made pies and the wine, provided by the Sycamore, went down a treat, thank you to Janet and Phyllis.  This year there was an addition: an auction of mounted photographs.  One hundred of the copies of old photographs, mounted and with captions were auctioned to raise money for  the Society.  Alan Oldfield generously agreed to act as auctioneer.  Further photographs will be on sale at future meetings.  Approximately 80 people attended at least part of the evening.  The auction raised over £120.  Some seven teams took part in the quiz.  The local section was as follows, with answers at the end of this newsletter.


The Society’s 2002 Quiz

Copyright © 2003 Peter Trewhitt and Rob Francis

1. The following extracts were written in the school logbook. Which year are the following taken from:

i. ‘All children are vaccinated against meningitis C’.

1954     2000   1996    2002

ii. ‘During the afternoon Major Crompton Inglefield presented a wireless set to Mrs Yates, who is retiring after 28 years service in the school’

1949    1955   1945     1936

iii. As I (Fletcher Booth Hampson) leave shortly for military service my duties in connection with the school terminate today.’

1900    1914    1916     1940

2.  What metal was stamped with Lutudarum?

3.  In what year was Parwich and District Local History Society founded?

4.  In Parwich there live two women; one is qualified in bomb disposal and the other in jungle warfare, who are they?

5. In what is now the British Legion, Ernest Webster had:

A. a Carpenters shop    or B. a Butchers shop

6. The parents of  which film star lived at Rettlendon (the house on the corner of Creamery Land and Church Walk):

Donald Sinden   Donald Sutherland    Donald Calthrop    Donald Michael

7. What in Parwich was consecrated by the Bishop of Derby in 1964?

8. Why is Creamery Lane so called?

9. What instrument of punishment (no longer extant) was situated outside the church gates?

10. How long did a single journey take from High Peak Junction to Whalley Bridge by train?

    Less than an hour    1 –2 hours    5 – 6 hours     Over 9 hours

11. In 1880s Alsop Hall was bought by Sir Samuel Allsopp, later 1st Lord Hindlip – a Burton manufacturer. What did he make?

12. It is said that German bombers used a local landmark before bombing Derby. What was this landmark?

13. Who bought Parwich Hall in 1975?

14. Which local authority housing was built in 1928 on the lane formerly know as Birchant’s Meer Lane?

15. The Parwich Institute was demolished to make way for what building?

16. Which is the only building in Parwich to be constructed entirely of dressed sandstone? 

17. Where was the 1930s youth hostel in Parwich?

18. Which house, in the centre of Parwich, was at various times: a workers’ institute with outdoor skittles, a school for young ladies – specializing in painting and music: and a guesthouse?

19. What date was the last beacon lit on Parwich Hill?

20. Colonel Crompton Inglefield was involved is testing amphibian tanks developed for D – day.  What were they called?

Sillies   Funnies    Floaties    Bunnies

21. to 29. Identify the location of the photographs shown below.  They are sections taken from some of the old photographs used in the exhibition last summer.

21          22         23

24  25  26

27       28       29


Answers to the Quiz

1.         i.          2000

ii.         1949

iii.        1916

2.         Lead

3.         2000

Nia Linell

            Flo Harris

5.         A Butchers shop

6.         Donald Calthrop

7.         Extension to the graveyard

8.         Because of the cheese factory that was there (now Knob Hall) in the early years of the 20th Century.

9.         Stocks

10.       5 – 6 hours

11.       Beer

12.       The cross on Parwich Hill

13.       Donald Shields.

14.       Church Walk

15.       Memorial Hall

16.       Methodist chapel

17.       Flaxdale House

18.       The Fold

19.       3rd June 2002

20.       Funnies

21.       The old smithy, behind the dam

22.       Knob Hall (the Creamery)

23.       The Crown, Smithy Lane

24.       The bottom of Creamery Lane

25.       The Methodist Chapel

26.       Stains Cottage, Alsop Lane

27.       The bottom of Kiln Lane

28.       The cave near Flatts Style

29.       Interior of the Church tower



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