Parwich & District Local History Society

Newsletter number 22 (December 2005)

Free to members (£1 to non-members)


The Evans Family of Darley Abbey

Copyright © 2005 Mary Whitechurch (neé Lewis)

The Evans and their descendants were owners of the Manor of Parwich for 100 years having bought it from the Levinge family in 1814. It was sold by the Rev Claud Lewis, grandson of Ellen Carr, née Evans, in 1914.

Until recently I knew very little of the Family, except that among items inherited from my Father were some furniture and several small pieces of silver with the boar’s head crest, all said to have come from Darley Abbey. What was the family connection? During the last three or four years as the result of visits to cousins, the Derby record office at Matlock, and most of all, the finding of a book “Darley Abbey from Monastery to Industrial Community” by Don Peters (copies in the Derby Library), I now know much more. It was fascinating to find on the Parwich History Society visit to Darley in September, that Keith Blood was using the same book as his main information source. It was a remarkable coincidence to then meet Don Peters himself during our walk round the village. He has lived in Spain for the past twenty years, and was visiting the area as he was updating his book, which will be reprinted in the near future. I did take the opportunity to ask his sources of information and was reassured that they were ones I would have used myself. Some of my information also came from book of my Father’s called Memories of Long life, written and privately printed by my great aunt, Francis Curtis.

At the present time my knowledge of the Evans family begins with Anthony born 1650 (see pp. 2-3). He was a yeoman’s son of Winster, North Derbyshire. He married Hannah Fearne, an heiress, who brought with her lands rich in lead and calamine, an ore of zinc used in making brass, and copper. These assets were passed to his son Edmond (1690-1746), husband of Rebecca Gell. They had two sons, Thomas (1723-1814) and George (1726-1808) who married Anne Nightingale. Their daughter Mary married William Shore who later changed his name to Nightingale in order to inherit his great uncles’ cotton mill. His daughter was the famous Florence Nightingale.

A grand Evans lady, perhaps Aunt Evans (see below), pictured here at Darley Hall, Darley Abbey near Derby

Family tree left hand side

Family Tree right hand side

*William Evans, purchased the Parwich Estate in 1814, and on his death it passed to his son, Thomas William, later Sir William Evans.

** Ellen Evans married the Rev John Carr, and their daughters, Mrs Frances Curtis and Mrs Susan Lewis, inherited the Parwich Estate on the death of their cousin, Sir William.  See below.


The Lewis family photographed at Parwich Hall following Susan Lewis’ (nee Carr) funeral in 1914. Back row from left to right: Rev. Edward Harcombe, Ernest Lewis, Susan Lewis (daughter), Arthur Lewis and his wife Margaret, Gerald Lewis and Frank Lewis. Front row from left to right: Elizabeth and her husband Rev. Claud Lewis, Lucy Lewis and Alice Harcombe (neé Lewis)

Thomas married twice, first Sarah Evans (no relative) by whom he had three children, Sarah, Edmond, and William. Edmond became an attorney at law, so it was William (1755-1796) who was mostly involved in running the mills. Thomas’ second wife Barbara Stubbs (said to be related to the Plantagenets) also bore him two sons and a daughter. The eldest son Walter (1764-1839) would later build the church and school at Darley Abbey.

Other successful Derbyshire Families, the Arkwrights and the Strutts were business associates and friends and in 1785 William married Elizabeth Strutt. They are my twice great- grandparents. She was the daughter of Jedediah Strutt. I find Elizabeth a fascinating ancestor. In 1774 her mother died suddenly in France while travelling with Jedediah. Elizabeth was only sixteen when she had to take over the running of the household. At the time she was struggling with French, writing to her father that  “with care, mention and practise I shall be able to translate any French book that falls in my way, but as to conversing in that language the pronunciation is so very difficult that I am afraid I shall never do it with elegance and fluency.”

When Elizabeth married William he already had an illegitimate baby son, Samuel, whom she took on as her own. Elizabeth and William had six children. Sadly two of the sons died young, Thomas aged two years and George, born 1785, who died aged fifteen when away at school; he lost a wager to swim across a weir and tragically, drowned. This information answered a query for me, for I have a mourning ring with pale pink enamel, the human hair it once held has long gone, but the name George and the date told me whom it commemorated. The gold ring is well worn, perhaps Elizabeth wore it all her life.

After eleven years of marriage, and aged forty-one William died. It was during the next year that Elizabeth met Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whom Elizabeth had hoped might tutor her boys, and invited him and his wife to stay with her. He later wrote to a friend, “Perhaps you may be so fortunate as to meet with a Mrs Evans, whose seat is about a mile from Derby. Blessings descend upon her! Emotions crowd upon me at the sight of her name. We spent five weeks in her house, a sunny spot in our lives. She is without exception the greatest woman I have been fortunate enough to meet in my brief pilgrimage through life.” He was thirty-four years old. The other guardians felt that the boys should go to a public school, so nothing came of the arrangement.

After one year of widowhood Elizabeth married William’s half brother Walter. Three years later they had a son, Arthur. Sadly he was never strong and died aged twenty- one. In his memorial in Darley church he sounds almost saintly, but some of this must have surely have been due to the many tragedies that had occurred in the family. It was Walter who paid for the building of both Saint Matthews’ Church and the school at Darley Abbey. Previously the people had had to walk two miles to St. Alkmunds church in Derby.

When the Boars’ Head Mill had first been built one of the Evans’ main difficulties was to attract a large and loyal workforce from the agricultural land surrounding the district. To overcome this, in 1795 they built 60 cottages. By 1830 there were nearly 200. In 1840 there were 1059 inhabitants of which 759 men, women and children worked in the cotton mill and 80 in the paper mill. The cottages were well built, the rent being 3d to 1/6 per week. A milking cow was provided free, as was a pigsty. Coal, meat and vegetables were subsidised. Medical treatment was also free, but in practise this was funded from fines extracted from the wage packets. These fines were imposed for lateness and poor work, also drunkenness, swearing, parents allowing children to miss Sunday school (held in the attic of the mill), or people returning home after ten pm. The girls would throw their long skirts over their heads to prevent detection. Walking through the churchyard at St Matthews’ one can see many of the small memorial plaques to the workers and their families. They were all given free funerals and burial, even tiny babies; the youngest I noticed was three days old.

The Evans’ were early pioneers in industrial relations, they were perhaps over restrictive and paternalistic, but their Christian ethic and beliefs were very strong within the family and they truly cared for the well being of their workforce.

William and Elizabeth’s eldest son, also William (1788-1856) married Mary, daughter of the Rev Thomas Gisborne, which began the connection between the two families. It was this William who bought, with many other properties, the Manor of Parwich in 1814. He lived at Allestree and became Liberal Member of Parliament, representing Retford, Leicester and eventually, North Derbyshire. During this time he worked closely with William Wilberforce for the abolition of the slave trade. His son Thomas William (1821-1892) married a second Mary Gisborne, daughter of the first Mary’s brother. He built the school at Parwich, and later rebuilt the church in 1872. He was a man of considerable stature amongst his contemporaries, much loved by his associates, workers and the villagers of Allestree. He was knighted in 1887 and thereafter was known as Sir William. His wife had very poor health, and they had no children.

Williams’ illegitimate son Samuel was also a very good businessman, but is described as being very withdrawn. He married Caroline Wollaston and had three sons and one daughter. It was his eldest son Walter (1806-1893) who, in 1886, was responsible for alterations, improvements and renovations to St Matthews’s church at Darley Abbey.

William and Elizabeth’s daughters Francis and Elizabeth never married, but Ellen married the Rev. John E. Carr. He was the first vicar of Darley Abbey and later became vicar of Parwich and lived at The Hall. They had six children, two sons and four daughters Ellen, Elizabeth, Francis and Susan. These four were certainly born in Parwich. I do not have records for the others, but they were all born during their parents’ occupancy of The Hall. The family left in 1833 complaining of “the severity of the Parwich climate “. It was Ellen, the wife of the Rev. John E. Carr, who arranged for the planting of the trees on the top of Parwich hill in the form of a cross. I do not know the reason for the planting, but I am sure it was governed by the strong religious beliefs of the family.

Francis Carr married George Curtis in 1866 and Susan married Samuel Lewis in 1861. These two ladies inherited the Evans estate in Parwich in 1892. Susan and Samuel are my grandparents. My father Gerald was the eighth of their nine children. Susan died at The Hall in 1914, and her grave is in Parwich churchyard. It was Susan’s son Claud, vicar of Parwich who sold the estate in 1914.

Susan Lewis’ eldest son, the Rev. Claud Lewis, lived at the Hall while he was vicar of Parwich, and he was responsible for the major redevelopment of the gardens. Her eldest daughter, Lucy, and her brother the fifth son, Gerald, lived at Hallchffe. In order to provide employment for the villagers, Gerald set up Parwich Creamery, the cheese factory at Knob Hall and the market garden in Monsdale Lane. Claud settled in Wales after the sale of the Estate, and Gerald moved to Guernsey in the early 1920s. He later married Ethel Hopkinson, who was a Parwich girl.  Mary Whitechurch is their daughter.



* Mrs Frances Curtis and her younger sister Mrs Susan Lewis jointly inherited the Parwich Estate from their first cousin, Sir William Evans. It was later sold by their heirs, Commander Curtis and Rev Claud Lewis in 1914

* * Both the Rev Carr, in the nineteenth century, and his grandson Rev Claud Lewis in the twentieth century were vicars of Parwich.


The Old Church in Parwich

Brian Foden and Andrew Robinson, in their “A history of Parwich Church”, have included some description of the old church of St. Peter’s in Parwich, which was demolished to make way for the present building. They also reproduce a watercolour and a photograph of the exterior of the building. Here is some of the information that they drew on, giving us a more detailed feel for this lost building. (See also Thompson’s mention of local unhappiness at the loss of this venerable building in Newsletter February 2003 No. 12 pp. 8-11.)


In Lichfield Cathedral Library

“Incised slab at Parwich sketched in 1855”

Image Copyright © 2005 Malcolm Burrows

Malcolm Burrows has copied this sketch for the Society. It appears to be the largest of the ‘Crusader’s graves’, three 12th century gravestones, now built into the south wall of the tower of St Peter’s Church in Parwich. However it is possible this is an additional slab, now lost, as there is a slight difference in the handle of the sword though the cross is very similar. Cox (see below) mentions an incised stone over a window in the old church before its demolition in 1873. He also refers to the old church having windows similar to that above. So it is likely that this sketch was made in the old church.


J C Cox (1875) “Derbyshire Churches” p406-410

The Chapelry of Parwich

Parwich (the Pevrewic of the Domesday Survey) was originally a Chapelry of Ashbourn. The manor, which formed a portion of the ancient crown lands, passed with Ashbourn to the Earls of Derby, and then to Edward, Earl of Lancaster. It was conveyed to the Cokaynes in the reign of Edward III, with whom it remained till the commencement of the seventeenth century, when it was conveyed to Thomas Levinge, from whose family it was purchased in 1814 by Thomas Evans, of Allestree1.

In the post-Reformation days, the appointment of the minister seems generally to have rested with the lord of the manor, but in early times it was undoubtedly in the hands of the Vicar of Ashbourn. The first definite mention that we have found of the chapel of Parwich occurs in the Endowment Charter of the Vicarage of Ashbourne, made in 1240, wherein it is stipulated that the vicar is to supply a fit chaplain for Parwich. There are numerous early charters still extant at Lincoln, relative to lands and tithes at Parwich, which formed part of the possessions of the Dean and Chapter of that city in connection with the rectorial manor of Ashbourn2.

When the inventory of Church goods was taken in the reign of Edward VI, Parwich was visited on the 19th September, and the following report drawn up:- “Parwyche. Thomas Underwood, curat. A chalis wyth ye paten—ij vestements, j is grene silke, ye odur broken sylke—if albs with their amyssis—j corporas ijj towelss—ij bells—j payx of tyn—j coupe of yellow sylke—j surples—j hand bell—iij banner clothes—j cruyt—j crosse of wood and plate—j holly water pott of bras.”

At the diocesan registry at Lichfield is preserved the will of Thomas Levinge of Parwich, dated 15th January, 1639. He directs that he is “to be buried in the chancell att Parwich as neere unto my late deere wife as convenient may be.” It is a lengthy and curious document; and the following extract relative to an increase in the very insufficient salary of the minister may be of interest:- “And whereas I am lawfully possessed of all the Tythes and Tenths of Parwich, Cold Eaton and Alsop-in-the-Dale, together with some glebe, and Easter Dole, oblacions, abvencions, and convencions (except wool and lambe) for diverse years yet to come and unexpired, if Edward and William, the sonns of Michael Jesson deceased, or either of them shall live, yeilding unto them £18 yearly, and towards the maintenance of a minister at Parwich £6 13s 4d, which is neere the full valew of the same—yet in respect that it is a very small maintenance for a minister, and I have often laboured with my neighbours that they should have joined mee in augmentation of the same, which they have refused to do, and whereas there is yearly paid 14s 2d foe tyth hay which I conceive to be onely for the Antient Math meadows, and my neighbours and I having made many several incomes of the Common fields for which no tyth hay is paid neither are they willing to pay any for the same, whereas I consieve wee do wrong, I do therefore give and bestow toward the better maintaining of a minister there in lieu of such tyth hay as I ought to paid the said 14s 2d yearly, and all such tyth hay as is or shall be dew unto mee in Parwich during all such terme as I have therein, humbly praying the Rt Revd Father in God, the Lord Bishop of this Diocese that now is, and his Chancellor, and their successyrs, that they will be pleased to take the same into their due consideration, and from time to time place there an honest discreet preacher, that there may be delivered the word of God amongst them who have great need thereof and also to take such order for the maintenance of a minister from time to time as they shall think fitt—Provided always that when my neighbours of Parwich shall be constrained to allow and shall yearly pay 2s for every oxgange towards the maintenance of a minister there, that so long my gift of Tyth hay shall only cease.”3

At the time that the Inquisition into the state of the benefices was undertaken by Parliament in 1650, the following report was made by the Commissioners sifting in Ashbome on 10th June of that year:- “Parwich is a parochiall chapell foure myles distant from Ashburne, the farmers of the Rectoryes of Ashburne and Wirksworth under the Deane Of Lincolne have usually procured the cure supplyed, the salarye payed hath beene six pounds thirteene shillings and foure pence per annum, the place wyde.” The Commissioners recommended that Alsop should be united to Parwich, the latter being made a parish church.

Bassano visited this church in 1707, but found no heraldic display or ancient monuments to chronicle. He contents himself with mentioning, at the east end of the north aisle, a monument to William Beresford, 1699, in “Buckley’s Quire”, and that “the present Dean of Lincoln is charitably inclined to ye curate of Parwich to ye summe of £6 6s 8d per annum out of ye tythes”.

William Beresford left certain lands in Parwich, the rents of which were to be used “for the performance of Divine Service and preaching one or more sermons in the church of Parwich, according to the Protestant religion, with certain stipulations as to how the proceeds should be applied if any other religion, other than the Protestant religion, should be established or exercised in the Parish Church”.4

The old church of Parwich, much of which had stood the wear and tear of more than seven centuries, was pulled down in 1872 to make way for a more commodious structure erected on the same site. Fortunately, we had taken some rough notes of this building in the previous year, which enable us to give a brief description of the church as it formerly existed. The church, which was of very limited size, was dedicated to St. Peter, and consisted of a nave with a north aisle, a south porch, chancel, and low tower at the west end. Its dimensions, as given by Mr Rawlins, were as follows:- Nave, thirty-six feet eight inches by nineteen feet ten inches; north aisle, thirty-seven feet by eight feet; and chancel seventeen feet eight inches by fifteen feet four inches. The edifice was thickly shrouded in ivy, or, otherwise, the late square windows and generally debased style of the exterior, would not have redeemed it from the charge of ugliness. Entrance was gained through a clumsy south porch of last century design, surmounted by a square mural sundial; but the porch covered a good Norman doorway of effective design. The archway into the chancel was also Norman, ornamented with the chevron or zigzag mouldings, the jamb shafts having their capitals carved in the cable pattern. The two rounded arches that separated the north aisle from the chancel were also of this period. The only sign of antiquity on the exterior was the row of small, quaintly-carved corbel heads under the eaves of the chancel, ten on each side, though those on the north side were nearly hidden by the ivy. All the windows were of the debased style that succeeded to the Perpendicular, and need no comment; and the south side of the church was rendered still more uncouth by an exterior staircase built against the wall which led by a doorway into the gallery. The tower, too, had been similarly spoiled at a comparatively modern date, and the summit was crowned with a plain parapet and four equally plain pinnacles.

Of objects of interest inside the church we noticed two pointed niches in the north wall of the chancel, utilised as cupboards; and a sepulchral incised slab, that had been built in at the top of the west window of the north aisle, ornamented with a cross fleury and a sword5. The font, too, is somewhat remarkable, being a Norman one of a very unusual shape. The stone itself is two feet six inches in depth, and two feet three inches in diameter across the top, where it is quite circular; but, after some twelve inches of this dimension, it tapers down and is divided into sixteen sides or surfaces. The stone is not pierced through the centre of the base according to the usual practice, but a spout comes out at the side, just where it begins to taper. On the font is the date 1662, which was probably carved on it to commemorate its restoration to the church, from which it had doubtless been ejected during the Commonwealth.

Beside the large incised slab just mentioned, two smaller ones of a similar description, about two feet six inches by one foot, were found in the masonry when the church was pulled down, and fragments of several others. A piece of a churchyard head-stone, with a cross incised, was also found at the same time, and it is of interest, as the crosses of that description are so rarely met with. It closely resembles one in the Bakewell collection. These various incised slabs point to an extensive sepulture here at an early date, and are all of them at least coeval with the oldest portions of the late structure, in the first half of the twelfth century. But the most interesting discovery was in connection with the tympanum, or semi-circular stone, that filled up the upper half of the north doorway. This had been so coated with plaster and whitewash that it presented a plain surface, but, upon being cleansed, was found to be covered with rudely incised grotesque figures, after the fashion of these on stones in a similar position at Hault-Hucknall, Hognaston, and other churches of the county, or like those on the font at the adjacent church of Tissington. The centre figure is intended for a stag with branching horns; to the left a hours with a cross having a circular head in front of it; to the right a wolf with a strangely foliate tail; in the upper portion a boar, and a bird with a long beak; and at the base two serpents with intertwined heads.

It should be mentioned that the old north doorway and chancel arch have been happily preserved in the tower of the new building. There is one bell, inscribed “Smith and Co., Chesterfield, 1804”, and on the sound bow the initials B T rudely scratched. The first legible entry in the Parwich registers is under the year 1640.


1. Certain lands were also held in Parwich by the families of Sutton, Segrave and Foljambe.

2. These are to be found in an ancient Lincoln Chartulary relating to the chapter estates.

3. The document abounds in curious particulars; e.g. “Two poor women to occupy two little houses in Linchclffe craft and to receive on the first of every month one gallon of oatmeale by the measure now used in Ashborne.” Amongst the numerous bequests, he leaves to his son his armour, “the armour to remain in my house as heire loomes unlesse it shall please God that there shall be occasion to use any of it in the defence of the Kingdome”; to Mrs. Ann Cokayne, widow, “ watch which was my old Lady Cokaynes, and to her worthy sonne Mr. Aston Cokayne a scarlett nightcapp laced down with gold lace”; and to his nephew, Simon Pecke, parson of Grindon, he left “fortie shillings in gold and a paire of white long gloves faced with changeable Taffata, and I do desire him to preach at my buriall at Parwich, and at his convenient leasure after at Ashborne and All Hallowes in Derbie.”

4. Charity Commissioners’ Reports

5. This slab was engraved in Lysons’ 1817 Magna Brittanica, and also on a smaller scale in Bateman’s Antiquities.



J C Cox (1907) “Memorials of Old Derbyshire”

(see pp. 230-231, pp. 241-242 and pp. 247-249)

 …………It is recorded that there was in the nave (19ft 10th wide) of the old church at Parwich (pulled down in 1872) a sort of rood-loft projection similar in construction to that at Wingerworth, and that in the course of demolition the ends of four stout, squared timbers were taken out of masonry about two feet above the crown of the Norman chancel-arch, a low-pitched one like (although, being more richly ornamented, of a later date than) the Wingerworth example itself…………… (It was a regular medieval custom to burn lights before the rood or crucifix, which would be for most the main focus of their worship, as the rood-screen served to divide the congregation from the mysteries of the altar. The rood loft often would house the organ and/or singers, facing into the body of the church. During the English Reformation, in the mid-sixteenth century, the rood-screens and their appurtenances were stripped from most of our churches. Editor)……… It is a highly instructive object- lesson, and one not unprofitable eke for our own times, to note what ensued; nor can I, with the facts of the case before me, impugn the logic of the extreme reformers, who were so ill-content with the disappearance of the rood-loft that they never ceased to agitate for the prohibition of church organs as well. This, then, happened. The opponents of instrumental music in divine service were not allowed to have their will; and yet the retention of an organ after the organ-platform, the rood-loft, to wit, had been done away with, was very quickly found to be unworkable, unless some other provision were made for it and the singers, whose voices the organ was meant to accompany. The removal of the rood-loft at the east end of the nave, was inevitably followed, sooner or later, by the erection of a gallery at the opposite end of the nave. In some instances, indeed, portions of the old rood-loft were actually re-erected, being incorporated in a new organ-gallery at the west end of the church. Thus, at Parwich, when, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the old west gallery came to be taken down, the main beam of it was found to have a carefully chamfered edge and to have been enriched with painting and gilding, thus proving beyond all question that it must have formed one of the timbers of the ancient rood-loft, if not the original rood-beam itself………… Between the earliest recorded instance of a gallery being built, in 1614, to the latest, in 1840, represents a lively stream of tradition, uninterrupted for just 220 years, until the influence of the Tractarian movement set the tide flowing in the contrary direction, and eventually succeeded in compassing the doom of the old-fashioned organ-gallery altogether.


Editor’s Note: “Rood (Old English word = in branch): The cross upon which Christ suffered; the cross as a symbol of the Christian faith; ... A crucifix, especially one stationed above the middle of a rood-screen. Rood-beam: a transverse beam supporting the rood, usually forming the head of a rood-screen. Rood-loft: a loft or gallery forming the head of a rood-screen. Rood-screen: a screen, properly surmounted by a rood (crucWx) crossing a church beneath the chancel-arch and separating the nave from the choir.” The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.


Further extracts relating to


Following on from the last two issues here is the final selection of extracts relating to Alsop-en-le-Dale for the present. We start this section with Brian Rich’s response to the previous extracts, and some extracts he sent relating to place names. Then we follow with some land charters. These mainly thirteenth and fourteenth century charters relate primarily to the Alsop family and to ownership of land. The majority of people mentioned are of the gentry class, and though they tell us little of the day to day life of most people, it does give some idea of the social networks of this class across the county. Perhaps for me what stands out most is that saints’ days are used rather than dates, suggesting that, even if an individual is not particularly devout, the Church calendar would have governed how they looked at the year, and Saints would have played a much more intimate role in everyday life.


Letter from Brian Rich dated Leek 2/10/05

Copyright © 2005 Brian Rich

Thank you for sending me the latest two editions of the Society’s journal. It is much more than a Newsletter and I strongly feel that it should rightly have the name ‘Journal’. To my research interests you can add Place Names. With regard to this, I enclose Margaret Gelling’s ideas on hop. I think the remoteness of Alsop has to be emphasised as this is probably how the Anglo-Saxons encountered it. I also include her thoughts on eg.

I am sure Brian Foden will agree that we have to be careful how we use the 1986-88 survey by Hill & Hill. As far as I know, the 1986-88 survey is all we hear from the “South Peak Archaeological Group”. Their labelling of the Ringway is almost certainly wrong. It is likely that the Peakway dropped down to Alsop from Gag Lane, as the present A515 does seem a more modern construction and not the place for a medieval road, and the Kingsway (via regia) referred to an important road, so it is feasible that the Kingsway equals the Peakway. LeRuggewaye definitely means Ridgeway—I have seen this <u> in a ridgeway in Atlow as well. I have spoken to Brian Foden about finding a suitable ridge in Alsop, but we are struggling with it. Of course the section of the Peakway as it approaches Alsop could be called Alsopewaye. I would agree that Lamestiddesway is likely to be just a local sheep drove way.

Margaret Gelling & Ann Cole (2000) “The Landscape of Place

Names” Stamford

Marsh, Moor and Floodplain

The place-name elements studied in this chapter all have predominantly or exclusively watery connotations. Some are words for marshes, others refer to patches of drier ground in wetland areas……….

ēg (West Saxon īeg) ‘island’. This word is used for islands in the modern sense ..., but the characteristic usage in settlement names is for an area of raised ground in wet country…………

…………In the northern tip of Derbyshire and regions north of that it seems necessary to postulate other meanings such as a ‘hill jutting into flat land’ and ‘patch of good land in moor’………

………Some other sites in Derbyshire and counties further north suggest a meaning ‘hill-spur’. Cold Eaton in Derbyshire is on a spur overlooking the Dove and Little Eaton, north of Derby, has a clear ‘hill-spur’ site………

Valleys, Hollows and Remote Places

hop ‘remote enclosed place’. The origin of this word has not been established. The only certain occurrence in Old English is in Beowulf where the monsters’ lairs are called fenhopu and morhopu, ‘marsh retreats’. There is, however, abundant evidence for a range of meanings in place-name usage………

‘Remote valley’ names in the Pennine group include a concentration north of Manchester (Bacup, Cowpe, Hope in Eccles, Hopwood), several examples of narrow valleys running in from the western edge, and a line (Bradnop, Hope, Stanshope Staffordshire, Alsop, Hopton Derbyshire) along the southern edge of the chain………

W R Holland (1886) “Alsop and other Charters” Derbyshire

Archaeological Journal Vol. 8 pp.98-130

A number of ancient deeds, relating to the family of Alsop or Allsopp, of Alsop-en-le-Dale; to the family of Kynnersley, of Loxely; and to other families connected with Derbyshire and Staffordshire, have been entrusted to me for transcription and translation. Most of these little parchments ... are what are termed feoffment, i.e. grants of freehold property. Some are much faded and defaced………

Several of the undated charters clearly belong to a period anterior to 1290. ……… Two of the charters afford the fanciful tenures which were in vogue in early times. Thus, Henry, son of Ranulph de Alsop, granted land to his brother Thomas, who in return was to deliver once a year to the grantor one pair of white gloves. Again, in return for the grant of the Manor of Lee (near Matlock) by William de Kynardesey to William de Dethek (Dethick), the latter was to present to the grantor annually, for a term of six years, a rose in flower, and after that term the grantee was to pay a certain annual rent in money.

………It is observable that the name Alsop is spelt throughout these charters either Alsop or Alshop. The original form was Ellashope or Elleshope, i.e. the hope, or valley belonging to Ella.  Hope, in the Midland district, means a hollow or valley, generally without water ………It is curious that on the back of almost everyone of the charters, there is founded the word Allsopp in a peculiar style of writing ... much later than the documents themselves, and believed to be of the period 1600 to 1700. In the title deeds of the 18th century relating to lands in this hamlet, the name therof was frequently spelt Allsopp.

In the Chartulary of Burton Abbey, the names Henry de Alsop, Ranulph de Alleshope, occur among witnesses to various charters dated in or belonging to the thirteenth century. (Vol. VII. (1885) of this Journal, pp. 127, 128, 145, 146 and 147.)

The original form of the family name Kynnersley appears to have been Kynardeseye. Eye means an island; Eyot (as in Chiswick Eyot), a small one. The territorial name seems to have been corrupted into Kynardesley, and then Kynnersley. There can be no doubt of the one form with the order, for in one of the charters mention is made of Lokkeslegh, which is evidently Loxley, near Uttoxeter, the ancient and present seat of the Kynnersley family. There was a branch of this family, bearing the same arms, at Brailsford, Derbyshire, at the visitation of 1611.

Note: the charters are transcribed in Latin in Holland’s article and then the translation is given in full followed by notes, for reasons of space only the translations are reproduced here, and where there is a lot of repetition they have been shortened.


No. 1  Know (all men) as well present as to come that I Henry son of Ranulf de Alsope have given and granted and by this my present charter confirmed to Thomas my brother and his heirs or to whomsoever he may choose to assign except to a house of religion all that land which Matilda de Sypele (Shipley?) once held in the vill of Alsope. To hold and to have in right heredity to him and his heirs or assigns of me and my heirs freely unrestrainedly and quietly with all liberties and free commons and easements to the aforesaid land belonging. Rendering thereout annually to me and my heirs for every secular service and exaction or demand one pair of white gloves on the day of Saint James the Apostle (25th July) saving foreign aid-service but for this grant and confirmation the aforesaid Thomas has given to me four marks (one mark corresponds to 13s 4d, or in today’s money 82p) of silver by way of a fine. And in strength and testimony whereof this present writing with the affixing of my seal I have corroborated. These being witness Jurdan de Snytterton Roger de Wencleff Robert de Thorpe Robert de Huntesdon (Hanson) John de Crumphord (Cromford) Adam de K’sint (Carsington?) William his son Walter Nore de Carsington Rachenald de Carsington and many others. (Probable date of this deed is during the reign of Henry III 1216-72)

No. 2 Know (all men) present and to come that I Henry son of Thomas de Alsop have given granted and by this my present charter confirmed to John Morkoc de Esseburne (Moorcock of Ashbourne) for his services twenty acres of land and one croft with the appurtenances by divers small parts lying in the fields of Alsop which croft indeed lies between the land of Ranulph de Alsop nearest on the one part and the common quarry (foveam) of the vill of Alsop of the other part. I have given moreover & granted to the same John Morkoc two edifices with their appurtenances within my courts in the vill of Alsop namely one grange and two cowhouses. To hold and to have to wit the whole of the aforesaid land and the said edifices of me and my heirs and assigns to the aforesaid John Morkoc and his heirs or assigns and their heirs for ever in fee and inheritance freely quietly well and peaceably with all liberties freedoms commons easements rights and commodities everywhere to the said vill of Alsop appertaining with free entry to the edifices aforesaid and regress from the same whensoever and as often as it shall please them with cart and waggon and with every kind of their animals. So that they may be able to have their easements within my aforesaid lands in an ample manner. Rendering therefore yearly to me and my heirs and assigns one silver penny on the day of the assassination of the blessed John baptist for ever. And I truly the said Henry and my heirs and assigns the whole of the aforesaid land with all liberties freedoms commons easements rights and commodities everywhere to the vill of Alsop appertaining as is aforesaid and the said edifices with all their aforesaid (appurtenances) to the aforesaid John Morkoc and his heirs or assigns and their heirs against all nations for ever will warrant acquit and defend for the service aforesaid. In testimony whereof to this charter my seal I have affixed. These being witnesses Stephen de Ireton Henry de Kniveton Roger de Bradeburne Ranulph de Alsop Thomas de Mapilton and others. Dated on the Friday next after the octave of the Epiphany. In the year of Grace one thousand two hundred and eighty-seven.

No.3 Know (all men) present and to come that I Richard son of Peter de Huncedon (now Hanson) have given granted and by this my present charter confirmed to Henry son of Thomas de Alsope for his service three acres of arable land with all their appurtenances in the territory of Huncedon. Those three acres of land namely which Ranulf son of Henry de Alsope once held. And they lie next between the land of the Abbot of Burton on the one part and the land which Roger Cokayn held next on the other part. To hold and to have of me and my heirs to the aforesaid Henry and his heirs or asssigns and their heirs in fee and inheritance freely quietly well and in peace with all the liberties free commons and easements to the aforesaid tenement appertaining. Rendering thereout annually to me and my heirs one silver farthing at the Nativity of (our) Lord for all (things) to me or my heirs appertaining……… These being witnesses Stephen de Ireton Geoffrey Martel de Peverwiz (Parwich) Hugo Bonseriant de Thorpe Richard Merecrofi William de Bentlegh (Bentley) the clerk and others. (Probable date, 1200 to 1290)

No. 4 Know (all men) present and to come that I Henry son of Thomas de Alsop have given granted and by this my present charter confirmed to sir Walter de Lichfield the chaplain and his two dependants (nutritis) namely Avicia and Margaret the younger one of her daughters one loft with all edifices standing thereon which Toft indeed lies next to my Toft in the vill of Alsop and next to the toft of the daughters of Herbert on the one part which Toft indeed extends itself from the King’s way (via regia) as far as the croft above my house in length and in width from the loft of the daughters of Herbert as far as to the wall next to my house and to the other bounds between me and him placed and inter-fixed and as far as one fence at the head of that toft which fence indeed makes the division between us. And I the aforesaid Henry have given him three acres and one rood of land out of my own land lying in three fields with all their appurtenances of which three (acres) one half acre lies under le Rewestones between the land of Ranulf the lord of that vill and Richard de Morleye and one rood in Rewestonesboveme between the land of Ranulf on the one part and the land of Richard de Morleye on the other part and one rood next to le Ceppidelowe between Richard de Morleye on the one part and the land of Ranulf on the other part and in Bovemfeld two roods lying whereof one lies next to Livelesranhus between Ranulf and Richard de Morleye and between the two Pinehulles one rood lying between Ranulf and Henry son of Herbert and one rood above le Ruggeweye (Ridgeway?) between Ranulf and Richard de Morleye and one rood lying in the head of Hovedale namely the last rood of that place next to the four last half acres of that place. Also in the Heefield one half acre beneath the Spenelowe between Ranulf and Richard de Monte. Also in Nedrakes one half acre between Ranulf on the one part sand Henry son of Herbert on the other part with their appurtenances. ………Rendering thereout annually to meI ……… by the year one silver farthing at the feast of Saint Michael for all secular demands and exactions according to the charter and for all foreign services discharged or given ………These being witnesses Ranulf de Alsop Richard de Morleye Richard de Monte Herbert son of Herbert and his son John son of Thomas William Marestall de Eyton (Cold Eaton) Radulf Scherecroft of the same and many others. (Probable date, 1200 to 1290)

No. 5 Know (all men) present and to come that I Henry Wilchar de Alsop by the consent and assent of Agnes my wife. Have given granted and by this my present charter confirmed to Ranulph son of Henry de Alsop my capital messuage and six acres of arable land lying in the fields of the same vill. To have and to hold of the chief lords of that fee to the aforesaid Ranulph and his heirs and the aforesaid six acres of land with all their appurtenances as well within the vill of Alsop as without to the aforesaid tenements belonging freely quietly fully well in peace and heredity for ever. Doing therefore annually to the aforesaid chief lords the services for the aforesaid tenements due and accustomed for all services customs and secular demands……… These being witnesses Ranulph de Alsop John son of Thomas of the same John son of Simon of the same William son of Henry of the same Ranulph Schercroft de Eyton Robert the clerk and others. (Probable date about 1300)

No. 6 To all the faithful of Christ to whom this present writing may come Margaret daughter of Ranulph son of Henry de Alsop (sends) greeting in the Lord. Know ye that I in my place have made Thomas de Thurmeston my attorney to receive my seisin of all the lands and tenements which the aforesaid Ranulph my father by his charter hath given to me in the vill of Alsop as in the charter to me sufficiently more fully is contained. In testimony whereof to this present (writing) my seal I have affixed. Given at Casatern on the Monday next after the feast of the Purification of the blessed Mary the virgin (Candlemas i.e. the 2nd February). In the year of (our) Lord one thousand three hundred and twenty-six.

No. 7 To all the faithful of Christ to whom the present writing may come Beatrix who was the wife of Ranulph son of Henry de Alsop (sends) greeting in the Lord know ye that I have granted remised and altogether for me and my heirs for ever quitclaimed to Margaret daughter of Ranulph once my husband her heirs and assigns the whole right and claim which I have or in any manner could in all the lands and tenements which belonged to the said Ranulph once my husband in alsop so that neither I nor anyone in my name in the aforesaid lands and tenements with all their appurtenances any right or claim in any manner howsoever hereafter may be able to exact or levy so that from every action for ever may we be excluded, In testimony whereof to this present (writing) my seal I have affixed. These being witnesses William Cordel de Castern William le Eyr of the same Nicholas Morel of the same William Waryn of Eylesworth Gilbert son of Roger of the same and others. Given at Castern on the Monday next after the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter (22nd February). In the year of our Lord one thousand three hundred and twenty six.

No. 8 To all Christ’s faithful (people) to whom this present writing shall come Deonisia daughter of Henry de Alsop (sends) greeting in the Lord. Know ye that I have granted remised and absolutely for me and (my) heirs for ever quitclaimed to Margaret daughter of Ranulph the son of Henry de Alsop (her) heirs and assigns all the right and claim which I have or can have in all the lands and tenements with their appertenances which were (belonging) to the aforesaid Ranulph my brother in Alsop. So that neither I the said Deonisia nor anyone in my name……… These being witness Ranulph de Alsop Thomas de Stafford of Aswhbourne in the Peak Thomas Adams of the same (town) Geoffrey the son of William Lynestre of the same Thomas Hervey of the same. Given at Ashbourne in the Peak on the Thursday next after the feast of Saint Matthew the apostle (21st September) in the year of (our) Lord One thousand three hundred (and) twenty-six.

No. 9 Know (all men) present and to come that I Margaret daughter of Ranulph de Alsop have given granted and by this my present charter confirmed to Sir John de Kynardsey all the lands messuages and all my tenements with their appurtenances which I have of the feoffment of the aforesaid Ranulph my father in the vill of Alsop……… These being witnesses Thomas Wychir (or Wythir) Sir Hugo Mene (Meynell?) William de Byrchovyr Roger de Tystyngton Ranulpho de Alsop and others. Given at Stanford on the Friday next after the feast of Saint George (23rd April). In the first year of the reign of King Edward the Third from the conquest. (1327)

No. 10 Know (all men) present and to come that I Richard Aleyn de Alsop have given granted and by this my charter confirmed to John de Kynardeseye two messuages nineteen acres and one rood of land and meadow with appurtenances in the vill of Alsop. To have ad to hold ………of the chief lord of that fee by the rents and services which to the aforesaid tenements appertain These being witnesses William de Bientelegh (Bentley) Richard de Ia Pole Robert Foucher Nicholas Wythcr Robert de Bientelegh William Brand Richard de Huncyndon (Hanson) and others. Given at Alsop on the sabbath day in the feast of the beheading of Saint John baptist (29th August). In the year of (our) Lord one thousand three hundred and twenty-seven and in the first year of the reign of King Edward the Third since the Conquest.

No. 11 To all Christ’s faithful (people) this present writing seeing or hearing Ranulph lord of Alsop (sends) greeting in the Lord. Know ye that I have remised granted and quitclaimed for me and my heirs to John de Kynardeseye (Kynnersley) and his heirs all the right and claim which I had or could have had in those tenements which the same John had in the gift of Margaret daughter of Ranulph de Alsop my kinsman in the vill of Alsop ………And I also admit to have received corn by me sown in part of the aforesaid tenements before the seisin of him John of the gift and grant of himself and in no other manner whatsoever……… Given at Alsop on the Sabbath day next after the feast of Saint Giles (1st September). These being witnesses John de Migners William Brian John de Kynardeseye the younger Robert de Bentley and Richard Aleyn. In the year of our Lord One thousand three hundred (and) twenty seven in the first year of the reign of King Edward the third.

No. 12 To all the faithful of Christ these presents seeing or hearing Hugo de Kynardesaye eternal health in the Lord Know ye that I have remised released and entirely for me and my heirs for ever quitclaimed to William son of John de Kynardesseye my brother and Elizabeth his wife all my right and claim which I had or by any means could have in all my lands and tenements with the appurtenances which I had of the gift of John de Kynardesseye in the vill of Alsop in the County of Derby. S indeed that neither I the aforesaid Hugo nor my heirs in the aforesaid lands and tenements with the appurtenances any right or claim hereafter may exact or levy but by these presents hereafter we may be excluded. In witness whereof to this quitclaim my seal is appended. Given at Brustowe (Bristol) on Sunday in the feast of the circumcision of (our) Lord (1st January). In the nineteenth year of the reign of King Edward the third since the conquest. (1346)

No. 13 Know (all men) present and to come that I Hugo del Wycheges (or Wytheges) have given granted and by this my present charter confirmed to Sir John de Dene Knight all the lands and tenements which I have in the vills of Perwych (Parwich) and Alsop by descent of Master Andrew de Esseburne (Ashburne) whose heir I am. To have and to hold to him and his heirs or assigns the said tenement with all its appurtenances freely quietly well and in peace by right hereditary for ever. Doing therefore annually to the chief lord of the fee the services therefore due and of right accustomed. And I truly the said Hugo and my heirs or assigns to the aforesaid sir John de Dene Knight and his heirs or assigns the said tenement with all its appurtenances within the vills of Parwich and Alsop whatsoever belonging will warrant acquit and for ever defend. But for this donation concession and the having the confirmation of this charter the aforesaid sir John has given me a certain sum of money in hand. In testimony whereof to (this) present charter my seal I have affixed. These being witnesses Sir roger de Bradbourne Knight Sir Henry de Kneveton (Kniveton) Knight John de Bradeburne Rondulf de Alsop Roger de la Dale and many othes. (Probable date beginning of 14th century.)

No. 14 (This charter is not included as it does not relate to Alsop. Richard de Dethek (Dethick) granted two thirds of the manor of Lee (Dethick and Lee near Ashover) to John de Kynardeseye the younger and his wife Johanna. The other third was held by Ranulph de Snitterton and his wife Cecilia, who had it as dower from her sometime husband Thomas de Ferrars. This will revert to the John and Johanna already mentioned on the death of Cecilia. If John and Johanna die without heir then the whole will pass to Geoffrey son of Robert de Dethek knight. It was witnessed by Sir John de Heriz, Sir Adam de Rerisby, Geoffley de Dethek, William de Birchover, Peter of Wakebridge, John de Snitterton and others, at Lee on 24th August 1327. Editor)

No. 15 Know (all men) present and to come that I Ranulph de Alsop son of Henry de Alsop have given granted and by this my present charter have confirmed to Roger Chaumberleyn parson of the Church of Rerisby (Rearsby in Leicestershire) all my land and all (my) rent with the messuages and all other their appurtenances within the village of Alsop and without. To have and to hold to the said Roger and his heirs or assigns of the chief lords of that fee by the services thence due and accustomed freely quietly well and in peace and by way of inheritance without any with-holding for ever……… These being witnesses Ranulph de Alsop John son of Thomas of the same John son of Simon of the same William son of Henry of the same Radulph de Sherecroft de Eyton Robert the clerk and others. Given at Alsop on Tuesday next after the feast of Saint Ambrose the Confessor (4th April). In the year of our Lord one thousand three hundred and eleven.

No. 16 Know (all men) present and to come that I Radulph son of John de Alsop have given granted and by this my present charter have confirmed to Ranulph son of Henry de Alsop the third part of one messuage and two acres a half (acre) and one rood of land with the appurtenances in Alsop that is to say the third part of that messuage which Henry son of Herbert (Henry Fitz-Flerbert) once held and half an acre of land lying above the Bugweye (Bigway) between the land of Ranulph son of Ranulph de Alsop on the one part and the land once of John de la Launde on the other (part) and half an acre of land lying above the Pykestonlondes (Pikestonelands) between the land of Ranulph son of Ranulph de Alsop on the one part and the land of William son of Henry on the other (part) and half an acre of land lying above the Hukkiforlong (Hillyfurlong) between the land of Ranulph son of Ranulph de Alsop on the one part and the land of William son of Henry on the other (part) and one rood of land at le Oldeofene (Old Oven) between the land of Robert son of Hugh on the one part and the land which is of John de la Launde on the other (part) and one rood of land lying above Pynhull (Pinehill) between the land of Ranulph son of Henry de Alsop on the one part and the land of Robert son of Hugh on the other part. Moreover I have granted to the same Ranulph son of Henry the reversion of two roods of land with appurtenances in Alsop which Laetitia who was the wife of John de Alsop holds in dower by the dotation of the aforesaid John heretofore her husband so that they which ought to revert to me after the death of the said Laetitia may remain to the said Ranulph. ………These being witnesses Ranulph son of Ranulph de Alsop Henry son of Robert de Alsop Henry Parfrey de Fennibentileye (Fenny Bentley) Henry son of Radulph de Eyton Robert le Mareschal of the same and others. Given at Alsop on Sunday next before the feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross. In the sixth year of the reign of King Edward son of King Edward. (3rd May 1313)

No. 17 (Again this is not reproduced in full as it does not refer to our area. William de Kynardesey granted his manor of Le Lee to William de Dethek Knight in exchange for a rose in flower given annually on the feast of John the Baptist (24th June) for six years and then after the sum of 20 solidi of money. The grant also mentions the following areas of Lee: Schokthorn, Wetecroft (Wheatcroft), Plastowe, Wake brug (Wake bridg) and Holewaus (Holloway). Sealed at Dethick in 13th January 1392.)

No. 18 Know all men that I John Shepherd de Alshop otherwise John son of John son of William de Stanshope have remised released and for me ad my heirs quitclaimed to Robert Kynardeseye de Lokkeslegh his heirs and assigns for ever all the right and claim which I had or could have had in one messuage two bovates of arable land and pasture land with the appurtenances in Alshop which John de Dale holds. ……… Given at Uttoxhatre on Thursday in the vigil of the Apostle Peter and Paul. In the ninth year of the reign of King Henry the fourth since the conquest of England. These being witnesses Thomas Dethek de Uttoxhatre Tho Alshop de Alsop William Walkere de Uttoxhatre John Dale the younger de Alshop John Dale the elder de Alshop and others. (29th June 1408)


I H Herbert (1906) “Descriptive Catalogue of Derbyshire

Charters in Public and Private Libraries and Muniment Rooms”

Bemrose & Sons Ltd, London & Derby

Alsop-Le-Dale pp.4-6 (we have only copied those charters not already included from Holland’s article above. We hope to reproduce the other sections relevant to our area in future issues.)

27. Grant from Roger de Huncesdon to Thomas de Bradeford, of Richard and Adam, filii Walter fil. Gadfridi de Huncesdon, his nativi, with all their following, goods and chattels in Huncesdon (Hanson Grange). Witnesses Robert de thorp, John de Thorp, Adam de Thorp, Ralph Rufus, Ralph fil. Ranulfi, Richard fil. Nagge, Richard fil. Rad. De Thorp. Early Hen. III (Oakover.)

28. Up to 42., as in Holland above

43. Lease for 60 years from Sir Henry Sacheverell, of Morely, to Thomas Alsop, of Alsop-in-le-Dale, of a messuage in Alsop-le-Dale, in which he now dwells, at a yearly rent; and to find the said Sir Henry “an able horse and harnes foe oone man to do the kynge seruyce” when demanded. Date 24 March, 26 Hen. VIII [1535] (Drury).

Alsop v. also under Parwich

There are also a number of Parwich charters given in Herbert (1906) and also further local charters in the papers of the de Kniveton family that have also been published. Perhaps these are something we can include in a future issue. Also we would welcome any attempt to analyse what we can learn about medieval Alsop from the above.


Book Review

At the 2005 AGM Dr. Isobel Combes came to sign copies of her book. It was published as part of the ‘Landmark Collector’s Library’, by Ashbourne based Landmark Publishers. Since then two more books in the series have been released by authors who have spoken to the Society on the same subjects: Duffield Frith and Ticknall Ware. Therefore we have included reviews of both.



by Mary Wiltshire, Sue Woore, Barry Crisp and Brian Rich.

2005 Landmark Publishing, Ashbourne ISBN: 1-84306-191-0 £19.99

Copyright © 2005  Rob Francis

Members of the society with long memories will recall that Brian Rich (one of the coauthors of this book) ran a course on Parwich and the surrounding area in the Memorial Hall over six years ago. Indeed it was the interest generated by this course that was the spur to starting our own history society. Brian encouraged participants to read the landscape by consulting maps and documents, both new and old, and then to go out into the landscape to look intelligently at what was on the ground. In making this sort of comparison and by utilising knowledge such as place name origins he demonstrated that it is still possible to make new and relevant discoveries about the past.

Duffield Frith was initially inspired by another such course and admirably shows what can be achieved by a committed group of local historians. Duffield Frith is the land that lies in the area circled by Belper, Hulland Ward, Wirksworth and Duffield. Duffield Frith charts the changes in its use over the past 2000 years that reflect the historic transitions and changes experienced by ordinary people living in the frith during that time.

The book covers the stories of the owners and proprietors of the land as it moved from Anglo Saxon to Norman to Lancastrian ownership. It looks at the management of the land and at the numerous deer parks developed during that time. The authors demonstrate how it is still possible to see evidence of these parks on the ground including the ditches dug to keep deer from escaping and the deer leaps to encourage the deer into the parks. Following on from this the book examines in detail how the deer parks were managed and the various occupations necessary to maintain them. The research carried out by this group has identified numerous features in the landscape not previously recognised including a deer race in Ravensdale Park (just west of Hulland Ward) and the likely hunting lodge used by John of Gaunt. These are just two examples of how careful reading of the landscape can render up new historical discoveries.

Although this is not a book for the casual browser it does reward careful attention. Some of the research is very dense (I think particularly of the chapter on Norman origins and the de Ferris Earldom) but the maps and photographs are excellent and these make the book accessible to anyone interested in extending their knowledge of local landscape and it use. Ultimately the book demonstrates the importance of research carried out by informed enthusiasts. As far as I’m aware the expertise of each of the contributors is one that has developed over the years and is not backed by university research grants and other academic paraphernalia. However through their own resourcefulness and commitment they have produced a book that demonstrates the importance of individuals, groups and local history societies in widening our understanding of the past.



by Janet Spavold and Sue Brown

2005 Landmark Publishing, Ashbourne ISBN: 1-84306-172-4 £2499*

Copyright © 2005  Peter Trewhitt


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


A Storytelling Evening with Graham Langley

Copyright © 2005  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.


A Walk Around Darley Abbey led by Keith Blood

Copyright © 2005  Gillian Radcliffe

Images Copyright © 2005 Michael Radcliffe

In early October, members of the society assembled in the car park near the church in Darley Abbey to meet with local historian Keith Blood who was to take us on a guided tour of the village. I was delighted to see Mary Whitechurch, who had travelled all the way from Frant to be with us, and whose family, the Evans, were so closely involved with Darley Abbey, as may be seen from her article which is included in this edition of the newsletter. She came with her twin brother, Richard.

The church of St. Matthew, built in the Gothic style, was endowed by Walter Evans in 1819. Prior to this and following the dissolution of the monastery at Darley Abbey, villagers had had to walk two miles to St. Alkmunds in Derby. In the churchyard we noted the tombstones of those who had died in infancy, like Thomas Whitacre, who died February 8th, 1820, aged 7 weeks.

Richard Lewis, Gill Radcliffe and Mary Whitechurch (née Lewis)

St Matthew's Church

Boars Head Mill

From the church we walked to the impressive looking red brick cotton mill which is sited on the east bank of the river Derwent and called ‘The Boar’s Head, after the Evans family crest. Water provided the power for industry at that date, and a weir was constructed diagonally across the river. We crossed the water by means of a bridge a few yards farther up which linked village to mill. Further along on the opposite bank a paper mill, corn mill, red lead mill, and brick works, now demolished, were also built. -

In factories and mills fire was always a major hazard: the combination of wooden beams, floors and machinery, combined with oil and dust and poor ventilation led to a fire in 1788, only five years after the cotton mill’s construction. Within 3 hours the mill was razed to the ground. Fortunately it was insured and Walter Evans immediately set about the task of rebuilding it. In the same edition of the paper reporting the fire was an advertisement for stone masons, carpenters, joiners, ‘a quantity of oak ash elm and alder plank’ and of course, clockmakers who understood the gears needed to regulate the machines. Although the mill was rebuilt in wood, the beams were later clad in tin, including the attic of the Long Mill, where Sunday school classes were held. Evans died in 1903 and the mill passed into other hands.

Only surviving monastic building from Darley Abbey, now a pub

Terraced millworkers cottages

Darley Hall Gardens

Compared with the cruelties perpetrated at Litton Mill in North Derbyshire, the regime at Darley Abbey was humane and enlightened. There was still a lot of antipathy on the part of the hand-spinners to the mechanisation of their trade, so to attract people to work in their mills, the Evans family built new brick and slate cottages with gardens, and provided a cow for the milk. They also provided free healthcare. The houses were terraced, or built in blocks of four joined side to side and back-to-back. We saw some of the cottages at West Row and The Hill Square. Privies and pigsties were built a few yards from the house and, according to Don Peters *, the village was one of the first to have its own sewage disposal system installed at the expense of the Evans family who also provided free lime for a team of painters to paint the cottages, which was said to keep the villagers healthier than in other places. Land was given for football and cricket and a safe part of the river bank was used as a bathing beach.

Darley Abbey, a rich and powerful religious foundation dating from 1137, was surrendered to the Crown on 22 October 1538 and all that remains of it is a small stone building of considerable charm, possibly a chapel or guest house originally, but now a public house. While such change of use might be thought to desecrate the sanctity of the building, it has secured its preservation (it had sunk into a dilapidated state) and means the public are free to enjoy the architecture and medieval ambience along with their beer!

*I am indebted both to Keith Blood and for his source of information, “Darley Abbey: from monastery to industrial community” by Don Peters, which will hopefully be reprinted soon.

Following the Dissolution of monasteries, Darley Hall was built from the remaining stone in what is now Darley Park. This stone house was dismantled in 1727 and rebuilt in brick by the Mayor of Derby, William Woolley. In the 1780s Thomas Evans built Darley House near by, this is now demolished. In 1835 Thomas’ grandson bought the Hall as well, which became the family’s main seat. The family remained here until the death of the last Mrs. Evans in 1929, when the Hall was bought by Derby Corporation. The park and garden combined with the grounds of Darley House were made into a public park. Later the Hall itself fell prey to the demolition frenzy of the l960s. We strolled round the gardens of the Park and admired the fine view from the rise on which the house was built. The foundations of the Hall and what remains of the building have been turned into a cafe in which we were able to view photographs and memorabilia concerning the Evans family.

Having thanked Keith Blood for what had been a most fascinating insight into the life and times of Darley Abbey, some of us returned via the road in front of the imposing building of the school, also endowed by Walter Evans. It had apparently large, well lit, airy rooms with high ceilings. At each end was living accommodation for a schoolmaster and schoolmistress, the latter being much smaller as women teachers were spinsters who had to give up their post on marriage.

So ended a most interesting afternoon walk through history.



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