Parwich & District Local History Society

Newsletter number 17 (July 2004)

Free to members (£1 to non-members)

Production of this issue sponsored by Bennetts (Irongate) Ltd

Meeting places in Parwich

The Parwich Church Institute and the Memorial Hall

Copyright © 2004 Peter Trewhitt

Given the current investigations on how best to update village hall facilities in Parwich, it seems appropriate for us to look at the history of the Memorial Hall.  This article is a fuller version of the one that appeared in the April issue of the local Group Magazine.

A major factor in community life is the places villagers are able to come together.  Initially gatherings would have been out of doors.  Before the coming of Christianity there may have been some form of ritual site where St. Peter’s Church is now.  It is said that the old church was built on an even older mound, and that this was part of a larger enclosure surrounded by a bank.  In the Saxon period Moot Low, a Bronze-age burial mound above the Dove valley, was used as a meeting place for the area.  Here local land disputes would have been sorted out and activities that required co-operation between communities.

The first church in the village may have appeared in the Saxon period as the carved stone tympanum over the west door in the present church is thought to date from then.  Also there would have been a manor court in Parwich from the late Saxon period.  Whether the court met at the Hall or the church or somewhere else isn’t known.  With the coming of Christianity the main social festivals would have been the main religious festivals including Christmas and Easter.  The Normans built the stone church dedicated to St. Peter.  This medieval church, demolished in 1873, would have been the main venue for meetings and gatherings in the village.  Church festivals gave the impetus for village celebrations.  For example Parwich Wakes originates in the celebration of the feast day of Saint Peter (29th June).  Many of the local Wakes will date to well before the Reformation, including Parwich Wakes which could date back well into Medieval times.  Indeed during Cromwell’s Commonwealth a number of churches lost their original dedication, and much later the dates of their village wakes were used to identify their original patron saint.  In the Tudor period as the power of the Lord of the Manor declined, the role of the Parish and the Vestry increased.  Though now we have a distinction between the Parish Council and the Church Council, then they would have been one body.  There would also have been out door processions and celebrations, and this revolving of village life around the church and the manor house would have continued into the nineteenth century.

Through the Victorian period people became more sensitive about what churches were used for.  The Evans family, who then owned the Parwich estate and built the present church, also built the School in 1861. With the restricted use of the Church the village saw the new School as a possible venue for more secular celebrations.  When Sir William Evan’s died in the 1890s, the Parwich estate passed to his two cousins Mrs. Lewis and Mrs. Curtis.  Sometime after the building of the present School a village reading room was established in part of what is now Stable Cottage in the range of buildings including School View and Parwich Hall’s coach house.  This range of buildings, between the 1830s and 1861, had been used as the School and belonged to Sir William, and then to Mrs. Lewis.

Mrs. Lewis’ son, the Rev Claud Lewis, became vicar of Parwich in 1904.  He lived at the Hall and managed the estate.  In 1907 he bought the Sycamore Inn.  The Crown Inn and the Wheatsheaf Inn had closed in 1907 and 1908 respectively, and although the large club room at the Sycamore was built in 1889, the village sought to use the School for the planned celebrations of George V’s coronation.  Presumably at this time a public house would not have been seen as at all suitable for events involving women and children, though all male groups such as the Odd Fellows regularly used it.  Also although the Parwich Unity Club was inaugurated in 1910, it was housed in what is now Hideaway Cottage, which would have been too small for any large events.  George V came to the throne in 1910, but the Rev Lewis refused to allow the School to be used for the celebrations.  The School still belonged to the Estate at this time; it was not sold to the local authority until 1918.  The village had not had a resident squire for two hundred years and did not take kindly to the Rev. Lewis’ role as Vicar and landlord.  This refusal was a breaking point in the already tense relationship between the village and the Rev. Lewis.  A number of villagers created an effigy of the vicar, which they burnt in full view of the church porch as the vicar left the service.

This scarecrow indicated with the red arrow and photographed here at the market garden in Monsdale Lane is said to have been used to create the effigy of the Rev. Lewis.*

By the time King George was crowned in 1911, the Rev. Lewis was no longer vicar and it had been arranged for the celebrations to take place in a marquee on Parson’s Croft.  Gerald Lewis, the vicar’s younger brother, lived at Hallcliffe, and owned the creamery in Knob Hall and the market garden in Monsdale Lane.  It is said that the effigy of the vicar was made from a scarecrow that came from his market garden.  Obviously Gerald Lewis felt committed to finding a solution to the problem of a venue for village events.  After the First World War the Parwich Church Institute was built on what is now the Memorial Hall car park on land that belong to Gerald Lewis.  Gerald Lewis lived with his sister, Lucy, who ran the Sunday school and they both continued to be active in village life for a number of years after Claud Lewis had sold the Estate in 1915.  Gerald Lewis married a village girl, Edith Hopkinson, and moved to Guernsey in the 1920s.  Gerald’s daughter (Mary Whitechurch) recalls her parents talking frequently of their memories of the church choir and of the Parwich Institute during her childhood on Guernsey.  As well as a venue for Lucy Lewis’s Sunday School, there were regular dances at which the then Miss Hopkinson played the piano.  The building was a corrugated iron shed that was said to have been used by the army during the war.  It is interesting to speculate if it came originally from ‘Tin Town’, a complete village of corrugated iron sheds created to house the navvies that built the Derwent and Lady Bower reservoirs.  Tin Town was dismantled shortly before the War.  In 1921 Gerald Lewis formally gave the land to a specially created trust within the Church of England.

The Parwich Church Institute, can be seen here on the right hand side of the main village street.*

*These pictures are from the set of 8 post cards produced by the Society and available from the Shop, the Sycamore and the Legion.

The Parwich Church Institute, with its large cast iron stove in the middle provided a venue for village meetings, social clubs and dances.  People would walk across the fields from Tissington and Bradbourne for dances in the Institute.  Ken Wayne a former landlord of the Sycamore Inn is one of many who have fond memories of the Institute: “It was a great place for social gatherings.  There were weekly dances with Mrs. Yates playing the piano.  Every evening you could play billiards.  The billiard table was across the top end and it cost 6d an hour to play.  I and my brother made a stage that went across the top of the billiard table”.  It housed the first flower and vegetable show in 1951.  By then it was definitely too small, and must have been becoming somewhat decrepit.  Perhaps also the war years would have seen a period of neglect and deterioration in the building.

There was a move in the village to create a suitable memorial to the dead of both Word Wars and a feeling of creating something for the future.  The Parwich Royal British Legion Club was established in 1951, replacing the old Unity Club that had closed in 1936.  In 1956 the Church of England sold the Institute for £60 to a newly created Trust with Parwich Parish Council as trustees.  In effect it became a village hall rather than a church hall.  The Church used the money from the sale of the Institute to extend the churchyard, with the new section being consecrated in 1964.  Sir John Crompton-Inglefield the then owner of Parwich Hall was a member of the Parish Council receiving the Institute.  Sir John made the offer to the village that he would match each £1 raised by the village to re-build the Institute.  This set in motion fund raising that resulted in building the Memorial Hall, so called as it was a Memorial to the dead of the First and Second World Wars.  The fund raising included garden fetes, dances, motor cycle racing at White Meadow, raffles, a barbecue in Bell’s Yard, and a Christmas fair.

The placing of the Memorial Hall along the plot’s boundary meant that building could commence before the demolition of the Institute.  The building work took place in 1962, the builders, Tyler & Coates, charging just over £6,000.  The materials from the old Institute were sold off, the corrugated iron going for 7s 6d (37.5p) per sheet.  The fitting out of the new building took place over the next year, interspersed with more fund raising.  Col. Sir Ian Walker of Oakover formally opened the new hall on 5th November 1963.  Since that event 40 years ago the Memorial Hall has served a major role in village life, being used by most groups in the village.  A full set of minutes of the Management Committee survive from 1957 that detail the fundraising for the Memorial Hall, its opening and running.  Here are the minutes from one meeting in 1963:-

“A meeting was held at the Hall (Parwich Hall) on Wednesday 11th September at 8pm.  By kind permission of Col. Sir John and Lady Crompton-Inglefield.  Members present were Mrs. Dodds, Mrs. Calladine, Mrs. L Weston, Mrs. Webster, Mrs. S Weston, Mrs. Ratcliffe, Mrs. Fearn and Mr. Edge.  Apologies from the Vicar, Mrs. Hansford and Miss. Steeples.  The new Hall (Memorial Hall) was now in its finishing stages and Sir John said he thought it better to have the work done in the car park before it was opened  He had renewed an estimate from Mr. Plumby which would cost £178.  The committee thought it was a good thing to have this done.  Sir John said he would pay for this and that the money could be paid back by using various efforts.  Later on the committee thanked Sir John and Lady Crompton-Inglefield very much for their kindness.  It was agreed to put up a notice in the carpenter shop window (Brentwood see p.6) about a caretaker required for the new Hall at a sum paid 12/6 (twelve shillings and six pence or in ’new money’ 62.5p) per week plus a …(illegible word) New   furniture 50 to 60 chairs at a cost of £1-7-6 each and 12 tables which would cost about £3 each.  Mr. Westcome (spelling?) said the Education would give a grant of a third the cost towards the furniture.  A date to open the new Hall and November 5th was agreed at 7 pm and Sir John said he would try and get the Duke of Devonshire to come (in the end it was Col. Sir Ian Walker).  A sub committee meeting was arranged for Monday September 16th at 8 pm to arrange the hiring charges for the Hall.”

The current users include: Stepping Stones (pre-school), Parwich Primary School, the new mother and baby group, the Youth Club, the Carnival & Recreation Committee (primarily the Pantomime), the Church (including Junior Church, Parwich Praise and fund raising events), the WI, the Horticulture Society, the History Society, the Parish Council, the Over 60s, the Odd Fellows, Elections (unless local polling booths become a thing of the past), the Peak Park Authority, Parwich Village  Action Group and private functions.  For many people in the village these private functions have served to mark the key stages in their lives: wedding parties, significant birthdays, and funeral gatherings.  Funerals have always been seen as an important function, and regular day time users are willing to accommodate their bookings to fit in funerals.

The policy has always been to keep rentals as low as possible, which has meant that the committee has never built up reserves, which in turn means that any changes or improvements had to be funded by the village, as happened when the Memorial Hall was re-roofed  by local residents.

Over recent years people have begun to find the building ‘old fashioned’ in the facilities it  offers: the kitchen is too small, there is no adequate meeting room and the toilets do not meet new standards for disabled access.  People are beginning to look outside the village for venues for private functions, and village groups are looking for storage facilities, and new possibilities such as a computer/IT room have been raised.  The then Memorial Hall  management committee investigated what people wanted from the Hall and had plans drawn up to improve the existing  building when Lottery Millennium Funding for village halls was available in 1997/98.  Unfortunately the application missed the January 1998 deadline.  Further investigation of alternative funding, including the Britannia Foundation, failed to identify an alternative funding source.  The village raised some £10,000 towards this proposed redevelopment, which is currently held in a reserve account pending a decision by the community on the Hall’s future.

In 2000 as part of the Peak Park’s Discovering Villages Initiative, a survey of the village was undertaken with a response rate of 70% of households in Parwich.  The question that related to the village hall facilities indicated that for 87% of people replying a ‘new village hall’ was ‘important’ or ‘very important’.  Also 61% wanted improved sports pavilion facilities at Parson’s Croft.  As a result of this survey the Parwich Village Action Group was established in early 2001.  The Group investigated the possibility of a combined sports hall and community hall on the Parson’s Croft site.  There was enough space for a suitable building, but additional land might be required for the parking and vehicle access required by the Peak Park Planners.  Despite this it was felt these difficulties could be over come if there was sufficient support for the move.  But a further survey of user groups identified that a majority of them were opposed to moving away from the present site.

European legislation on facilities open to the public have made a decision about the Hall’s future more pressing.  In 2003 the Memorial Hall management committee set up a feasibility study looking at what could be done on the existing site, inviting response from the whole catchment area of the Hall and not just the village of Parwich.  They again surveyed user groups and in May 2004 presented plans for a new building on the present site that attempted to answer everyone’s wishes.  It was quickly apparent that there is a range of conflicting strongly held views on the way forward, so a ballot of the Memorial Hall’s catchment area (Parwich, Alsop, Pikehall and Ballidon) on all the possible options is now underway.

The History Society would welcome any recollections of the Institute or the Memorial Hall, and any pictures of both for future issues of the Newsletter.


The West Doors of St Peter’s Church

Copyright © 2004 Michael Radcliffe

Anyone who read the Derby Evening Telegraph edition of March 15th 2004 may have read the feature article on Parwich – Pictures of the Village and Walk – “Its neat limestone houses of various shapes and sizes stand in picture-postcard fashion along winding lanes and narrow ginnels. In the summer, the cottages with their attractive gardens, window boxes and hanging baskets provide a vivid splash of colour against the green background of the steeply rising hill”.  In particular readers may have noticed the picture of the west door of St Peter’s Church with its ancient tympanum above it under the Norman herring bone arch.  Much has been written about the tympanum in the pages of past editions of our Newsletter but I wonder how much is known about the origin of the door itself with its splendid decorated hinges.

In the early nineteen fifties, Jack Cundy was employed by Tyler & Coates, Joiners of Ashbourne.  Jack lived in Parwich and at that time he was joint scout master with the vicar, the Rev. Purser who asked Jack whether he could make some new doors for the church.  Lady Crompton-Inglefield had agreed to pay for these doors.  Tyler & Coates were working at the time on alterations to Ashbourne Hall* where a pitched roof over the Hall flats was deemed to be unsafe and it had been decided to remove the pitched roof and replace it with the flat roof as it is today.  The purlins and roof trusses from this roof were scrap – “good oak as hard as nails” as Jack said, and these were used by Jack to make the church doors which he then treated with linseed oil and waxed.  Not much has been done to these doors over the last 50 years and they are still as good as new, ageing to a delightful silvery hue.  The hinges with their traditional pattern are the same hinges from the old door.

The West Door of St. Peter’s Church showing the traditional hinges from the original door

Jack’s work on the doors came to the notice of Sir John Crompton-Inglefield at the Hall.  Bob Jackson, the estate joiner had just left to go to Rhodesia, so Sir John asked Jack if he would join the estate staff, which he did and he remained in the estate’s employment for the next 30 years. About 10 years later Lady Crompton-Inglefield paid for new gates to the church and these were also made by Jack.

Jack Cundy hails from Biggin.  He served as a Leading Air Craftsman in the RAF from 1941 to 1946, training as a gun armourer on Hurricanes and then transferring to 90 Squadron, Bomber Command, as an armourer on Stirlings and Lancasters, based at Tuddenham, Wratting Common and Mildenhall air bases.  He still keeps in touch with his service colleagues through the Ridgewellian Society.

Jack married Vera Adams in St Peter’s Church in 1946. Vera’s father hailed from Bradbourne and her mother was Violet Twigge.  Vera was cub mistress, “Akela” for a while and later secretary at Parwich School under Mr Fearn and Dennis Laycock.  Their home at Brentwood was used as a film set when “Jane Eyre” was filmed in Parwich in 1983, the shop being converted to “Drakes Bakery”.  Jack watched it all from Flaxdale House which he was painting at the time.  Japonica House and Hallcliffe were also used as film sets for “Jane Eyre”.

*Ashbourne Hall was the seat of the Cokayne family, who sold it to the Boothby’s in 1671.  It was rebuilt by Sir William Boothby who entertained Bonnie Prince Charlie there in December 1745.  The roof timbers removed are likely to date to this eighteenth century rebuild.  Only part of the original building still stands, half of which houses Ashbourne Library.  It is over the Library section that we see the flat roof mentioned here.  Ed.


Parwich Buildings: When, Where, What & Why?

Photographs Copyright © 2004  Rob Francis and text Copyright © 2004 Peter Trewhitt

Ray Williams the Headmaster of Parwich School approached the Society to ask if we could support the School in relation to a project they were planning looking at why the village is here and why the buildings are as they are.  Peter agreed to pull together information on this for the School and Rob took some 70 photographs to illustrate the main points.  Mike Radcliffe generously pulled out all the stops to pull all this together on a CD to be ready in time for the School.  We are waiting to get feed back from the School on how useful the information and format are, but hope to put it on our website in full with some suggested activities for children to use exploring the village.  If you have any suggested activities that relate to this do let us know.  Also we want to add a glossary of definitions for the more technical terms in the text and would welcome your views on which words need explaining.  What follows is the text in full and a small selection of the photographs.

The history of Parwich is mainly the history of farming.  After the last ice age this area would have been completely covered in forest.

Mesolithic (Early Stone Age)

9,000 years ago people were nomadic.  They travelled around following the herds of wild animals (deer, reindeer, wild boar, ducks geese, etc.).  Archaeologists have found traces of these wandering hunters at Roystone Rocks near by.  Sometimes you can find their stone or flint arrowheads in the ploughed fields.  These people made clearings in the forest and ate the wild fruit and plants they found.  They cut the top branches of holly and ivy where the leaves were soft to attract the animals they hunted.  But they did not build houses or farm.

Neolithic (Late Stone Age)

7,000 years ago people start to settle down in one place.  They built round wooden huts, with thatched roofs made of straw or reeds.  They kept sheep, goats, and pigs, and started to grow crops (oats, barley, rye, beans and peas).  They cleared the trees to make room for their farms.  First they lived on the tops of hills where it was easier to cut down the smaller trees.  We do not know where they lived in this area, but we do know they were here because we can still see the places they buried their dead.  One of the best known is Minninglow where there are three large mounds of earth and stone.  These are burial mounds, with rooms inside where they put people when they died.  They also put up their mysterious standing stones and stone circles like Arbor Low some five miles away.  There are no standing stones left in Parwich, but some of the big knobbly gateposts you can see might be re-used Stone Age standing stones.


4,000 years ago people were learning how to make things out of metal.  We don’t know where these people lived but we do know where they buried their dead, and there are lots of their burial mounds surrounding Parwich.  People were clearing more trees and moving down into the valley bottoms where the deeper soil would be better for farming and where there was plenty of water.  Their houses would still have been round wooden huts, with thatched roofs.  They are likely to have lived and farmed where Parwich village is now.   Parwich is in a sheltered valley.  The hills to the north are made of limestone, which is porous, letting the water run through like a sponge.  In the bottom of the valley the ground is made up of shale and clay, which does not let water through so easily.  So the water runs through the limestone, but comes to the surface on the clay in springs and brooks.  This means there is always plenty of water in Parwich.

One way to get an idea of where the ground is limestone and where it is clay and shale is to look at how the fields are divided up.  North of the village where there is limestone the fields are divided up by dry stone walls, but south of the village, off the limestone, they are divided by hedges.

Roman Parwich

The Romans came to Derbyshire only a few years after they conquered Britain.  The reason they came was lead mining.  There is lots of lead ore in the limestone rocks, and the Romans used it for all sorts of things including lead water pipes.  The centre of Roman lead mining was a place called Lutadarum, which is probably now lost under water at Carsington Reservoir.  There has been some lead mining around Parwich, and we think the Romans mined lead at Lombard’s Green at the back of Parwich Hill.  There were also Romano-British settlements at Roystone Grange, Rainster Rocks and perhaps in Eaton Dale.  Roman coins and a Roman sword have been found on Parwich Hill and in the village, so we are fairly sure there was some also farming happening in Parwich in Roman times.

We are not far from the Roman road that ran from Derby to Buxton.  It went from Brassington, through Longcliffe, near Minninglow, to Pikehall and on to Buxton.  This road was still in use up to the 1770s.

Medieval Parwich

After the Romans left Britain, the Anglo-Saxons from Northern Germany and Denmark invaded the east of England.  Indeed ‘England’ means ‘the land of the Angles’.  They settled in Derbyshire, and took over this area.  Lots of place names tell us that Anglo-Saxons were living here:-

‘Parwich’ comes from two words: ‘pever’ which is thought to be the ancient Britons’ name for the brook in the village and ‘wic’ which is a Saxon word for a ‘dairy farm’.  So Parwich means ‘the dairy farm by the brook’

‘Alsop’ comes again from two words: a Saxon man’s name ‘Aelle’ and the Saxon word ‘hope’ which means valley.  So Alsop means ‘Aelle’s valley’.

‘Ballidon’ also comes from two Saxon words: ‘belg’ meaning ‘bag’ and ‘denu’ meaning ‘valley’.  So Ballidon means ‘bag-shaped valley’.

The Saxons developed an approach to farming that was used here for over five hundred years.  The people lived together in the village, which would have been surrounded by a fence or a hedge, with gates where the roads went through.  There would have been a number of gates; one at Townhead, one on the Alsop Lane near Brook Close Farm, one on the road to Ashbourne and perhaps another on Monsdale Lane by Littlewood Farm.  The houses would have been built with timber frames with the walls filled in with ‘wattle and daub’ (that is panels made up of sticks, with the holes filled in with mud and straw), and with thatched roofs.  These houses were rectangular, with the people living at one end and the animals living at the other.  The house would be built on a garden plot, called a ‘toft’ and would have next to it one or two small fields or paddocks called ‘crofts’.  There may have been fruit trees (apples, pears and plums) and some herbs grown in the tofts.  The only stone building in the village would have been the church.  The Saxon church was rebuilt in Norman times, then in 1873 the Norman church was knocked down to build the present church.  All that remains of the Saxon Church now is the carved stone above the west door at the base of the tower.

The land surrounding the village was not divided into lots of fields as it is today.  There were three huge fields used for growing crops (beans, peas, carrots, parsnips, and grains).  These fields were divided into long strips, which would be ploughed by teams of four or even eight oxen.  This ploughing created what is called ‘ridge and furrows’ that is bumps and hollows in the ground.  We can tell where these fields were because we can still see the bumps and hollows in the fields today.  Families would have strips in each of the field.  Hedges would have gone all round these big ‘open fields’.  These hedges would have lots of holly, which would be cut for winter-feed for the animals (sheep, goats, cattle and pigs).  There would also have been a piece of woodland at Parwich Lees where coppice hazel or willow and   perhaps timber would have been grown.  There was a water meadow by Wash Meadow and Blanche Meadow.  In winter people would flood these fields on purpose.  The water would act like a blanket keeping the ground warm, so that when the meadow was drained in the spring the grass grew quicker here.

There were no fences in the rest of Parwich.  It was roughly divided into large areas of rough grazing.  This meant the sheep and cattle could more or less wander where they wanted.  This included Hawkeslow, Parwich Hill and the Bletch Valley.  Each family would have so many ‘beast-gates’, that is the right to graze an animal on that land.  People were still leaving their beast-gates on Hawkeslow in their wills in the 1600s and 1700s.  Because everyone needed to work together in this system of farming, they would meet regularly at the Parwich manor court, presided over by the lord of the manor.  This court dealt with everything from organising when the farming would be done to punishing criminals.

We know very little about the history of Saxon Parwich, but the shape of many fields, the layout of the village, and our roads date from this time.  This system of farming would have developed in the 800 and 900s.  Sometime after 1017 Parwich became part of a large royal estate including Ashbourne and Wirksworth that belonged to King Canute.  This will not have made much difference to the everyday life in the village, except that the headman, the lord of the manor, had to pass a share of his profits on to the King.  The Norman Conquest seems to have had little impact on Parwich.  A man called Colne was the Saxon lord of the manor before the Conquest and he still was here ten years later in 1086 when the Doomsday Book was written.  Only he was now reporting to the Norman King William.

In the Doomsday Book Parwich had some 8 main farming households, and probably a  population of between 50 and 60 people.  As well as farming Parwich was producing enough honey to sell outside the village.  It is possible that some lead was being mined, though this would be on a small scale.  Anyone working as a miner would only be doing this part time, and his main work would have been farming.  It is interesting to compare the farming village of Parwich, where the houses are spread out, with Winster or Brassington, mining villages with the houses squashed together.

The ‘open field’ system of farming continued into the 1500s and 1600s.  For most of this time the houses continued to be built of wood.  Some of these houses still exist today, though the outside walls have been rebuilt in stone (Rookery House, Dam Farm, Village Farm and perhaps Close Farm).  Other houses were pulled down completely and new houses were built on the same site (e.g. Hallcliffe).  A number of local families, such as the Allsops and the Dales have been living here since this time.  People lived in the village and went out to farm pieces of land scattered around the village. They would have to carry on their backs or on packhorses anything they wanted to sell or buy at market in Ashbourne or Hartington.  Nearly everything that came in or out of the village would have to be carried, because for most people the only way to travel was to walk.  Only the wealthy had horses.

Not everywhere had the same way of farming.  Sometimes great Lords would have large farms producing just one thing, such as John of Gaunt’s big cattle farm.  This was on ‘Cow House Lane’ on the way to Belper.  This would have supplied beef and cheese to his castle at Tutbury and his other big houses.  Also the monasteries were very wealthy and there were a lot of sheep ranches around Parwich, belonging to a number of monasteries (Roystone Grange, Mouldridge Grange, Newton Grange, Hanson Grange, Bostern Grange, and more).  Many of these are still farms today.  In Hanson Grange the cellars may be part of the monks’ medieval farmhouse.

In the 1300s and 1400s the climate got worse with long cold winters.  A plague called the Black Death spread through the country, killing many people.  There was the constant fighting as various people tried to seize the throne in the Wars of the Roses.  Some villages like Lea Hall near the ford at Bradbourne Mill disappeared or others like Ballidon shrank.  In Ballidon many people wonder why the church is in the middle of a field.  Six hundred years ago it would have been on a street with houses all round it.

Tudor & Stuart Parwich

After the horrors of the Plague and the Wars of the Roses England began to recover.  The forests in Derbyshire were nearly all gone and it was no longer possible to get the large trees needed to build the traditional timber framed houses.  The Levinge family became lords of the Manor of Parwich.  They built a limestone manor house in about 1550.  We can still see bits of the house in the basement of Parwich Hall.  The mullions (the window surrounds) were carved from limestone.  Other stone buildings began to appear in the village over the next hundred years or so (Knob Hall, the Fold, Slate Farm, Farm View and The Old Farmhouse in Creamery Lane).  The stone would have been quarried in the village (e.g. Dodd’s Hill).  Many houses would still be thatched, but a few might have had sandstone-roofing flags imported from outside the village.  Only the very rich would have been able to afford this, though the size of Knob Hall suggests by the late 1600s when it was built, there was a least one other family nearly as rich as the Levinges at the Hall.

In 1563 Parwich had 30 households.  It is surprising how many buildings in the village when you start investigating date back to this period.  A good example is the Sycamore Inn. Although the front of the building is mainly from the 1700s, one window is from the 1500 or 1600s.  It might even have been a pub then, as we know in 1533 there were two pubs in the village.

The picture above reveals a timber cruck beam in Shaw Lane House (also known as Village Farm).  This indicates that the building was originally timber framed, possibly of medieval origin.

Some ridge and furrow in the open field to the west and north west of Parwich, dating back to medieval times.

At this time, some 500 years ago, people wanted to have their own separate fields.  The big open fields were being divided up and parts of the common grazing were being enclosed.  Still the farmhouses were in the village and people were farming plots of land scattered around the parish.  Parwich seems to have largely ignored events in the outside world.     During the Civil War in the 1640s, Parwich’s main involvement was to complain to Parliament that the various armies were making it difficult for people to get their goods to market.  Parwich did experience some of the religious upheaval of this time.  In 1682, a  Parwich man, Henry Gibbins, a Quaker emigrated to America to avoid persecution for his religious beliefs.

Georgian Parwich

Around 1700 the Levinge family moved to Ireland where they made a large fortune and built several large country houses.  They kept Parwich Hall, but would have been less interested in what happened here, and other local families were becoming richer.  Farming methods were improving, and with the Industrial Revolution there was an opportunity to sell more food to the growing towns.  Also in the 1700s turnpike roads were being built, making the roads better for carts and wagons.  So it was much easier to get your goods to market.

Parwich was obviously very wealthy at this time.  In 1747 the Levinges had Parwich Hall  rebuilt in brick.  This would have been a very expensive, as all the bricks would have to be brought in by horse and cart, which is why they only used brick on the front and sides.  Most people could only afford local limestone, but they were importing sandstone door and window surrounds from Clifton and Stanton Moor.  There was a surge in building grand farmhouses (Fernlea, Flaxdale, Town Head, Flatts Style, Hallcliffe, Church Farm), other houses were changed a lot (Orchard Farm, Blanche Meadow, Dam Farm, Sunnyside/The Old Post Office, and Close Farm).  Fernlea built in the 1740s originally had a thatched roof, but most of the new houses were being built with tiled roofs, the man-made Staffordshire blue tiles being brought in by cart.

Above) Foufinside Farm, described in 1815 as a new farm, is probably one of the first farmhouses to be built outside the village in the middle of the land it serves.  This contrasts with Flaxdale (below) built in the centre of the village some fifty years earlier  and serving land up to a mile away.

In 1789 Parwich had 91 households.  There would have been 400 or more people living here.  By the end of the 1700s landowners were seeking to get more out of their land.  One way of doing this was to enclose the common grazing, improve the land and create new farms.  By 1800 all the land around Parwich had been enclosed (divided up into fields).  New farms were being built with the land surrounding the farm buildings.  One of the first was Fouffinside, but other followed quickly (Parwich Lees, Peak Way, Low Moor, Upper Moor, Hawkeslow, Sitterlow, Hill Top, etc.).  These farms would have been much easier to work and more profitable than the village farms with their scattered land holdings.  In 1841 Parwich had at least 32 farms, with most of the people in the village working in farming.

Victorian Parwich

In 1814 the Levinge family sold the Parwich Estate to William Evans of Darley Abbey.  He was a rich Derby industrialist and banker.  Parwich exchanged one absentee landlord for another.  The Evans family never lived here.  They used Parwich Hall as the Vicarage for Parwich.  The Evans family was very rich and generous.  They paid for the building of Parwich School in 1861 and the demolition and rebuilding of St. Peter’s Church in 1873/4.  The Evan family’s money created a lot of change in Parwich.  It also meant that things were lost.  Many people would have been sad when their old church was knocked down.

The coming of the railways (Cromford & High Peak Railway in 1830 and the Ashbourne to Buxton Railway in 1899) meant that farmers could get theirs goods to the big towns much more easily.  Parwich milk was on Manchester and London breakfast tables the day after the cows had been milked.  Also goods were coming in from London and Manchester.  Shops were opening in the village (Green Gates, Jasmine House, and Parwich Shop), and people expected a better quality of life.  This also meant that people were looking to jobs in the towns for higher incomes.  The following was written about Close Farm in the 1890s: “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.”  Despite this Parwich continued much the same.  Most people still worked on the farms.  The buildings in the village, though mainly built in Georgian times, were in the same places that the houses had been for 1,000 years.  Outside the village though there were new farms built in the 1800s.

In the 1800s the number of houses and the population of Parwich (around 500) remained fairly steady with around 110 households.

Twentieth Century

By the end of the twentieth century only the bigger farms had survived.  One by one the ancient village farms with their scattered land holdings went out of business.  The last, Dam Farm, stopped being a working form with the death of Arnold Lees in 1995.  The development of tractors and farm machinery meant far fewer jobs on farms. Travelling shops and buses to Ashbourne in the 1920s and 1930s meant that people could get more variety and cheaper goods outside the village.  This meant that many businesses in the village could not compete and they closed down.  More and more people were working in the big quarries or further away in Ashbourne.  As cars became cheaper people even commuted to Derby and Sheffield.

There were big changes in the number of houses in the village.  The biggest builder was the local council with council houses being built; West View 1913, Church Walk 1928, Sycamore Cottages 1946/7/8, Chestnut Cottages 1954/5, Rathbone Croft 1981 and Smithy Close late 1980s.  These council houses were originally rented to local people.  But in the 1990s people got the right to buy their council houses and now most of them belong to the people who live in them.  The use of motor cars also meant that people find it easier to take holidays and the number of second homes and holiday cottages in the village has dramatically increased in the last 40 or 50 years.  Many of the cottages let out to holidaymakers are converted farm buildings.  Also it has become much more fashionable to live in the country.  The demand for houses in the Peak District makes it increasingly difficult for local people to afford to live here.  Now there are some 220 households in the village, though the population of over 500 people is not much more now than it was in 1901, when there was half the number of houses.


An Etherington Family Gathering


Copyright © 2004 Russell Etherington

This picture was sent to the Society by Russell Etherington.  The family Etherington family settled in Parwich in the nineteenth century, living in several houses including the Square.  As can be seen from the above photograph of an Etherington family gathering sometime around 1900 it was a prolific family.  Despite this there is no one remaining in Parwich with this surname.  We hope to have more information on this family in a future issue as  there two different descendants of this family (Russell Etherington and  Joyce Horsfield) both working on their family history and in touch with the Society.  Nevertheless, in advance of that, we would like to hear from anyone who has any information on the Etheringtons in general and this picture in particular.  The family tradition that came with this photograph was that it was a family gathering in Parwich, but the steps on which they are gathered and the stone monument behind are not in Parwich.  Does anyone recognise the location or know anything about the Etherington family?


Richard Greatorex and the Crown Inn

Copyright © 2004 Lisa Miller & Peter Trewhitt

Lisa Miller contacted the Society asking about the Crown Inn at Parwich.  Her husband’s grandfather, still alive at 91 years old, is the grandson of an Anne Greatorex, who in turn was the daughter of Samuel Greatorex, the son of a Richard Greatorix who was landlord of the Crown Inn here in Parwich.  The Quarter Session records in the County Record Office reveal that Richard Greatorex or Greatorix was landlord of the Crown Inn from around 1806 to at least 1827.  There are gaps in the records for the Crown Inn before this date and the records after this date are missing for some years.  Shortly after this in 1829 and presumably still at the Crown, he made his will (transcription provided by Lisa Miller) as follows:-



In the Name of God Amen I Richard Greatorex of Parwich in the County of Derby, Publican, being at this time of sound Body and mind blessed be God for the same. Revoking all former Wills do make this my last Will & Testament in manner and form following Viz

First I desire to be decently Buried and all my just Debts and Funeral Expenses paid in manner hereafter directed, the rest of my Property of whatever description I give & bequeath to my loving Wife Jane Greatorex during the term of her natural Life and at after the death of my said Wife I direct my Property to be divided as follows

I give and Bequeath to my son William Greatorex the sum of Twenty Pounds

I also Give and Bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Kirkham the sum of Thirty Pounds

I also Give and Bequeath to my Daughter Sarah Blood the sum of Thirty Pounds,

I also Give and Bequeath to my son John Greatorex & Daughter Jane the sum of Ten Pounds,

I also Will & Direct that the money arising from a Property now in dispute situate at Macclesfield in the County of Chester known by the sign of the White Horse Inn near the Old Church When received shall be equally divided amongst my then surviving children Share & Share alike, the Residue and remaining part of my Effects I Give & Bequeath to my Son Samuel Greatorex and I further direct all my Just Debts & Funeral Expenses to be paid by my said Son Samuel out of this Property.

And I also direct the above Legacies to be paid within Twelve Months after the death of me or my Wife or the survivor of us by my Executors hereafter named.

And Lastly I do hereby Nominate Constitute And appoint my two Sons Samuel & William Greatorex Executors of this my Last Will & Testament In Witness whereof I have hereto set My Hand and Seal this fifth day of March One thousand eight Hundred and Twenty nine  Richard Greatorex                    x                                           His mark

Signed, Sealed, Published & declared by the said Richard Greatorex the Testator, to be his Last Will & Testament in the presence of us, who in his presence and at his bequest & in the presence of each other, have subscribed our names as Witnesses thereto

                                    William Smith, Samuel Swindell & James Keiling


By the 1843 Tithe Map the Crown Inn was tenanted by Thomas Kirkham but still in the ownership of Samuel Greatorex, son of Richard, who does not appear to be living in Parwich at this time.  Though we do have in the 1841 Census other Greatorexes in Parwich,  presumably Richard’s other sons: John at  Sitterlow Farm with 65 acres and William at Alsop Road Farm (Flatt’s Stile?) with 90 acres.

We will return to the Greatorex family in a later issue of the Newsletter, though would like to hear from anyone with further information on the family, including any other descendants.  Also we would welcome any further information on the Crown Inn.  From the Quarter Session records, the nineteenth century censuses and the later Petty Session records we have the following list of innkeepers:-

Jasper Tantum




(not certain if this was the Crown)

Ruth Caldwell




(not certain if this was the Crown)

? unknown





Richard Greatorix




or later

? unknown





Thomas Kirkham

pre 1841



or later

Benjamin Lees

pre 1861



or later

William Wayne

pre 1871



or later

Mary Wayne

pre 1881



or later  (William Wayne’s widow)

John Boden

pre 1891



or later

William Baker Allsop

pre 1901



(went to Sycamore Inn)

William Bradbury




(went to the Wheatsheaf Inn)

George Degge





John Prince





The Petty Session records surviving from 1903 indicate that from at least then to its closure the Crown was owned by James Lees of Oldham with Hills Cromford Brewery of Cromford.  The Crown closed in 1907.  There seems to have been a general reduction in the number of inns in the area around this time, certainly the Wheatsheaf Inn in Parwich closed in 1908.  We would welcome any further information on the Crown Inn or the other Parwich pubs.


“Monks and Monasteries of Derbyshire”

A talk by Keith Blood on 13th May 2004

Copyright © 2004 Peter Trewhitt

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.

Visit to Ballidon Quarry

 Copyright © 2004 Rob Francis

A small  family project started in the late 1940s by a local butcher has since grown into a  massive industry that brings employment to many local people in and around Parwich.  The Plumleys were a local family and it was they who set up the quarry on a very small scale, reputedly to give employment to soldiers returning home after World War 2.  Taken over in the late 1960s it was then owned by Tilcon until taken over by Tarmac. It now removes over 1.25 million tons of stone each year.

Darren Middleton, the quarry manager, gave a tour to 22 members of the society on the evening of  Wednesday May 19th. He explained that 40% of the stone quarried goes to the industrial market – including the manufacture of glue, glass, explosives, carpet backing and animal feeds (which includes the added calcium in Winalot). The other 60% goes to general construction which will include asphalt and general filler – though the stone is not suitable for surfaces because it polishes easily and therefore becomes very slippery. The carboniferous limestone in Ballidon is very pure and belongs to the Beelow limestones that were formed in a tropical lagoon 330 million years ago when the area was much closer to the equator. The sediment which accumulated is almost entirely made up of tiny fragments of marine animal shells giving it an exceptional chemical purity of 99% calcium carbonate. The whiteness of the stone makes it ideal for high quality facing on modern building, and not a few in the London docklands area are faced with stone, sometimes know as poor man’s marble, from Ballidon.

Ballidon Quarry North workings
Sign on the Parwich track Minninglow dominating the skyline

The stone was also used in the building of the relief road around Birmingham. Darren explained that a new process involves mixing the crushed stone with recycled paper. (If you travel on a new motorway you can have the satisfaction of riding over the remains of 1000s of unread and remaindered Mills and Boon novels as well as perhaps a few by Proust!)

The quarry has become a centre for wildlife. There are numerous badger sets; one set is said to house 40 badgers – and there are 7 sets on the site. The sheer rock faces are ideal for birds. Ravens and buzzards have returned to Ballidon and a peregrine falcon nests there. It is not unknown for an unsuspecting racing pigeon making its regular return flight home to be taken out unexpectedly by the falcon.

Tarmac have a licence to quarry until 2042 – but it is also a  Site of Special Scientific Interest which means that there has to be careful and sustained restoration to its activities. This includes “rollover” restoration which aims to blend the outer rim of the quarry into the surrounding hills and the upper bench scree slopes with tree planting.  Ballidon is surrounded by classic grassland and in one year alone £9,000 was spent on grass seed.   A leaflet produced by Tarmac explains: ‘The fully integrated restoration scheme provides a mosaic of habitats including 16 hectares of calcareous grassland, 12 hectares of native deciduous woodland, a 12 hectare of open water, 7.5 hectares of Daleside landscape and rock faces and 4 hectares of Alder woodland’.

The future beyond 2042 will see Ballidon returned to its natural – though much changed state

By that time it will have been a quarry for almost 100 years and have contributed to all kinds of changes in the busier world beyond it horizons.

The society would like to thank Darren Middleton and others at Ballidon who made this visit possible and for the hospitality and buffet that was provided at the end of the tour.


A Celebration of Rural Life and Landscape

Planning is moving a pace on the first year of this project that is being undertaken jointly by ourselves, Parwich Art Group and the Rural Education & Arts Project or REAP.  Funding is coming primarily from Awards for All (Lottery Grant) and the Arts Council:

Focus of Art Work

The various art related components of project will focus on 8 specific locations and associated themes.  These are:


Map ref.


Lombard’s Green

555 188

Rocks, minerals & mining

(It is across the road from Hill Top Farm, but there is no public access so it should be viewed from the road.  There was a Romano-British settlement here attracted by the lead rake.  There was further lead mining here in the medieval period by a Mr. Lambard of Parwich; hence the name as ‘green’ is here a corruption of ‘grieve’ meaning ‘a lead working’.)



The Sledging Field

545 193

Fields & land use

(Take the footpath from Dodd’s Hill across the fields, east towards Highway Lane.  This area known as the Wings was part of the medieval open field system.  Originally it would have been one large field, the ridge and furrow showing where the ox plough went.  Gradually it became divided into smaller fields, though the hedges still follow the boundaries of the medieval strips.)



The Whether Way

544 182

Plants, trees & crops

(This is the medieval holloway, running up from Alsop Lane (near Flaxdale Holdings) on to the Flatts.  The sunken track with the over hanging trees gives a feeling of great age.)



The Dam

543 187


(The pond in the centre of the village is known as the Dam.  It is thought to have been originally created as a sheep wash.)



Middle Hills Barn

547 176

People in the landscape

(You can see this field barn from the footpath that goes from Alsop Lane (opposite Flaxdale Holdings) towards Eaton Dale.  It is one of the many field barns that are scattered across the White Peak.)



St. Peter’s Church

544 188


(There has been church on this site from at least Norman times, though it is argued that there was a Saxon Church here.  The present church was built in 1873/4.)



The Ringway

550 184

Trackways & roads

(The Ringway is a footpath running north from Townhead.  The section that is our site is only a short way along the path where it runs between two field walls.  It is thought that this is an ancient trackway, which is supported by the fact that here it was important enough to have a wall on both sides.  The name ‘Ringway’ has not been adequately explained, though it does go through some fields known as the Rings.)



View from the Flatts

542 185

Weather & seasons

(Take the footpath to Tissington from the centre of the village, you can start either at the Dam or by Flatts Style.  Stop just before you go down into the Bletch Valley and admire the view looking south.)



 The Parwich Art Group will be doing work inspired by these sites and themes, as will the children of Parwich School.  The Arts Council grant includes professional artists doing work in Parwich School and holding open workshops in the village (see below).  Also if you feel inspired to do any creative work (painting, photography, writing, etc.) or historical research on your own inspired by these sites and themes do let us know.  Also, in the autumn and over the winter, we plan to have some sessions in the Memorial Hall and other locations gathering people’s memories linked to the sites and the themes.  If you want to help organize these reminiscence contact Website Editor.


Walks around Parwich

At the end of the project we hope to produce a booklet making use of material (creative and factual) that comes out of the whole project.  In order that the booklet will have an ongoing practical use it will contain eight walks around Parwich linked with these sites and themes.  Over the summer we will be trying out the routes and sharing information about any points of interest on the way.  Anyone is welcome to come along with us to try out the routes:

7pm Tuesday 6th July ‘Gibbon’s Bank and the Wings’

(Theme land use, duration between one and two hours, there are some steep paths coming down from the Hill to Monsdale Lane)

7pm Wednesday 21st July ‘Parwich Lees’

(Theme trees and plants, duration approximately 2 hours)

7pm Thursday 29th July ‘Lombard’s Green & Hill Top’

(Theme rocks and minerals, duration between 1 and 2 hours)

7pm Monday 9th August ‘The Flatts’

(Theme springs, wells and streams, duration approximately 2 hours)

There is no charge for these walks and all will start in the Sycamore Inn car park.  If you want to come, just turn up on the evening.  For further details contact Rob Francis tel. 390373.  We would welcome anyone wanting to be involved with preparing the booklet, taking photographs, drawing the routes and gathering information to our next planning meeting at  7.45pm Wednesday 11th August at the Sycamore Inn.


Kitchen Art Workshops

Over the next two years there will be a series of art workshops open to anyone.  The reason for the title of ‘Kitchen Art’ is that the techniques explored do not require studios or too much in the way of specialist facilities. The following open sessions, led by professional artists, have been arranged to give people a taster of different art forms:

-‘Relics’ led by Eileen Coult 10am to 4pm Saturday 7th & 10am to 1pm Sunday 8th August (exploring ceramics)

-‘Imprints’ led by Imelda Hatton-Yeo 10am to 4pm Sunday 15th August (exploring printing)

-‘Celebration of Place’ led by Andrew Robinson (not the Parwich Andrew Robinson) 10am to 4pm Saturday 4th September (exploring digital photography)

- ‘Words on the Wall’ led by Pam Sandiford 10am to 4pm Saturday 25th September (exploring creative writing)

These workshops are open to anyone and the main cost will be met by our Arts Council grant, but there will be a small charge (£5 per workshop) to contribute towards materials.  For more details on the workshops and to book a place on any of them contact Janette McSkimming at REAP.  If you know anyone not a member of the History Society who might be interested do let them know.


‘Voices: Women of a White Peak Village’

Gill Radcliffe has worked incredibly hard editing the recordings she made around the Festival of Parwich History in 2002, and the additional material she has gathered since then.  The resulting book of reminiscences and photographs of the changing lives of women, entitled ‘Voices: Women of a White Peak Village’, is now complete and will be launched in September at:-

7-30pm Friday 17th September An evening of readings from ‘Voices Women of a White Peak Village’ in Parwich Memorial Hall.

The book is to be given free (funded by Awards for All) to each household in the parish of Parwich, to households outside Parwich that have a child at Parwich Primary School, and also to members of the History Society living outside Parwich. 

Rural Crafts and Lost Domestic Skills Day

Sunday 19th September in and around the Memorial Hall

This exciting day of craft demonstrations (horse shoeing, dry stone walling, spinning, bee keeping, and much more), circus performance, music and refreshments should be in everyone’s diary.  The costs of the day have been sponsored by Awards for All so admission is free.  For further details contact Peter Trewhitt

Voices Website, Reminiscences and Post Cards

Awards for All have also funded the setting up of a website drawing on materials from the ‘Voices’ book and a project with Parwich School to take place in the autumn term, involving the children sending post cards about life in Parwich to children in very different schools.  If you want to help with the School post card project contact Rob Francis (tel. 390373). The website is aimed at enabling people to share their experiences of rural life, and will have a notice board where people can post their own comments.   Mike Radcliffe is to begin setting up the website over the summer and would welcome input from anyone interested in being involved.

Where Next?

The art aspects of the project will continue next year, when we hope to have further workshops and build towards an exhibition and a weekend of art events.  We are also looking at the possibility of an artist in residence.  From the History Society point of view we hope to continue the collection of information and memories, but with a focus on working and  commercial life.  Also we hope to have a final draft of the walks booklet, which will include images and work from the art projects as well as historical information.


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