Parwich & District Local History Society

Newsletter number 8 (Feb 2002)

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Copyright © 2002 Rob Francis

"Everything that is found is always lost again, and nothing that is found is ever lost again."   Russell Hoban

The Beaker pot - found at the bottom of the garden where I was born in Chesham

As a child, in the middle of cold winters nights I would be woken by the sound of hammering. Old Mr Stratford, joiner and undertaker, would work through the night to fulfil contracts to provide coffins – in winter the demand was always higher. Stratford’s Yard was adjacent to our garden and the site itself had been inhabited since Neolithic times being next to the River Chess. Old Stratford’s grandfather dug up an old bowl, in perfect condition, with zig-zag shapes around the rim in 1890. He liked its size and shape and for fifty years kept his nails in it: until some historians recognised it as a perfect Beaker jar – 5000 years old.

I still find this extraordinary; that something made at that distance in time can be used unknowingly thousands of years later as a utensil for holding an undertakers nails. Aware of this incredible find I would pan flowerbeds in our garden and though not uncovering a perfect Beaker jar would discover a variety of bits and pieces; the cheek and nose of a Victorian doll, bits of flint, traces of pottery, an assortment of patterned bits of plate and even more recently a bone cut to a zig-zag shape!

There is something exciting, something almost magical about finding objects that have been discarded or lost many years before and I suspect that many of us at some time or other have scrubbed around in abandoned wasteland, or secluded parts of the garden or the middle of a ploughed field.

The bronze age  wooden spade used for mining

The author Alan Garner describes how he returned to his primary school as a student to retrieve an old wooden spade once used by the caretaker. Made entirely of wood it matched a description of spades used in early mining at Alderly Edge. Dismissed as a crank he kept this spade through the years convinced that its origin reached back beyond the Victorian education acts. As a successful author thirty years later he was finally able to have it carbon dated and it did indeed date back to the Bronze age and must have been a spade used by those early miners 3000 years before.

A couple of years ago I remember Brian Foden and myself eagerly climbing a style of a farm just above Parwich. I’d not got both feet on the ground before he had reached down and picked up a perfect late Neolithic early bronze-age arrow head, as if it had been carelessly dropped yesterday.

So why is there ‘magic’ in objects found and not touched by another human hand for all those hundreds or thousands of years? Certainly the modern view is to view time as an arrow; it flies without flinching from A to B; straight as a footpath across a field off which we are unable to step, imprisoned as we are by time’s relentless forward march. In finding something, in touching it for the first time since another warm human hand thousands of years ago, allows us for one minute to step off that narrow path and merge with a changeless timeless zone, unfettered by that un-remitting arrow, where we can touch our ancestors, feel the warmth of their breath and the beating of their hearts as if in that very moment.

Ray Stone’s bell found in the brook

This approach to history is not strictly scientific but it does point to an important reason for participating in the whole project of historical research that includes the excitement of uncovering discarded facts or artefacts. It is not to escape into some lost never-never land but rather to confront all those who have, as human beings, loafed about, chatted, gazed at the stars and shared the spaces we now occupy and wondered about the sheer strangeness of it all.

Last summer Ray Stone showed me his collection of objects found in the brook over the past twenty years. There were bits of pot in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes; there was an old bell that had possibly been washed by the brook for a hundred of  years.  Standing there looking at his collection I realised we are surrounded in Parwich by the   nick-knacks of many thousands of years. So why not bring some of these together to find out what else has been dug up or picked up or been discovered at the back of a cupboard or bottom of a draw.   Let me or someone else in the History Society know about them, as we are mounting an exhibition as part of our celebrations of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

The Neolithic flint found by Brian Foden

Which brings me back to my own recollections of those winter nights when old Stratford’s hammer rang out over the garden. In an excavation of the site thirty years ago they discovered  a wealth of finds to suggest consistent use since Mesolithic times and almost uninterrupted through to today. They found broken microliths, backed knives and saws, scrapers, axes and piercers amongst many other artefacts and tools. The persistent noise as Stratford knocked up his coffins could have been joined by all those other craftsmen and those  eking out a living through those cold winter nights. Looking back now those nights seem as if they should have had a real element of mystery; at the time, I remember,  all I wanted  was  for him to stop his hammering so I could  get to sleep.


Alan Garner: ‘ The Voice that Thunders’ The Havill Press 1997. This has a full account of the bronze age spade he discovered under the stage at his school.

The Buckinghamshire Archaeological Journal (1983?) carries a detailed account of the excavation of Stratfords Yard.

The Fold, Parwich

Copyright © 2002 Peter Trewhitt

Whilst collecting information on the various gardens of Parwich, for the book ‘Gardening in Parwich’ that we are producing jointly with the Parwich and District Horticultural Society, Hugh Gibson gave me a great deal of fascinating information on the Fold.  As well as notes by C. L. Collenette, written in the 1940s, and notes by Mr. Parker, written more recently, he has recently obtained plans and specifications for the 1859 alterations of the house.  An elderly American gentleman arrived in Parwich with some plans of a building, thought to be in Parwich that had belonged to his ancestors.  Showing them to Peter Rawlins, who happened to be outside his house as this Mr. Mason got off the bus, he was directed to the Fold.  It transpired that these were the plans of the 1859 alterations.  Given all this information it seemed worth writing a longer article on the Fold than appropriate for ‘Gardening in Parwich’.

We know there were a number of medieval ‘farms’ in the village, and the name is potentially Anglo-Saxon, but so far no early reference has been found associated with the house that far back, and as the word continues in use today it is not strong evidence for it being the site of a medieval house.  Locally it is reputed to be one of the oldest house names in the village (See notes by Helena Birkentall in Newsletter no. 6) and it is possibly the site for one of the medieval village farms.  The southern part of the house is mid-eighteenth century, though the stone work around the French window and the two windows above it, in the south face reveal that part at least dates back to the seventeenth century.  The garden front has an unusual long stair window, in that the top is arched.  This alteration to the house may have been in 1762 as there is “J.S. 1762” carved in a fire-place lintel.

It is not clear what the two other seventeenth century cottages on the plot were used for in the eighteenth century.  The coach house in the nineteenth century, and the studio in the 1930s were adapted from these cottages.  Some of the timber in these buildings was reused from older cruck frame building(s), supporting the suggestion that the sight is medieval in origin.  The stables were built in 1770, with pigsties on the side towards the road, and an external stone stairway  to the upper floor, suggesting that a reasonable amount of agricultural activity was taking place here.

The property is considered as ‘an ancient freehold of the Swindell family’.  The family does not appear in the list of Derbyshire freeholders in 1633, but were established locally by 1640, when the earliest surviving church register begins.  By 1734 a James Swindell had  acquired sufficient property to entitle him to vote in parliamentary elections, and it is likely that it is his initials on the lintel.  This James Swindell I (died 1780) and his wife Ruth had at least two sons James II (born 1723) and Thomas.  Ruth died in 1730, so they may not have had a large number of children.  The younger son, Thomas, was the father of a John Swindell, who by 1843 owned the freehold of Japonica, though he did not live there.

The elder son, James Swindell II had several children including, another Thomas who’s son James Swindell III  (1779-1858) inherited; and Samuel  (1768—1851) who married a Lydia Kirkham and farmed from Flaxdale House.  In the 1841 census, the property is occupied by James Swindell III (listed as of ‘independent’ means), his housekeeper (Sarah Crichlow, who was his widowed sister) and two servants.  The house contains a fine Hopton Marble fireplace, identical to one in Hallcliffe.  The style of these fireplaces is possibly Regency, but more likely to be early Victorian.  C. L. Collenette’s notes mention that a similar fireplaces were exported to Italy at this time, though by the late eighteen hundreds it was the import of cheaper Italian marble that put the local industry out of business.


The 1843 Tithe Awards shows that James Swindell III had some 71 acres, but that they were scattered throughout the parish as was typical for pre-enclosure farms.  This will have made the farm less competitive when contrasted with the post enclosure farms such as Foufinside, where the land would be in a single block.  On the 1843 tithe map the garden plots including yard, garden and orchard were more or less as they are at present, though now there is an additional strip of land along the east side of the property that was formerly part of the paddock behind Dam Farm, and some alteration to the boundary, adjoining the plot on which the modern house, Stanworth, was built.  It is likely that the orchard continues much as it was in Georgian times, when the kitchen and flower garden is likely to have been to the south and perhaps east of the house.  In the southeast part of garden is a well that can still be seen by the brook, similar to the one at Brook Cottage, both allowing water from the brook to be accessed in the garden.

A section of the 1843 Tithe Award map copied by Brian Foden with 710 Brentwood, 882 Flatts Stile, 883 the Fold, 884 Dam Farm and 887 Japonica


The figure, above, of 71 acres was calculated by Mr. Parker from the 1843 Tithe Awards.  Some 9 years later on the 1851 Census James Swindell III is described as a “landed proprietor of 80 acres, employing two labourers.”

James Swindell III died a bachelor in 1858, and his widowed sister Sara Crichlow inherited the house and the land.  The rear part of the house was dramatically remodelled in 1859, which developed the houses role as a working farm with a modern kitchen, a new dairy and a substantial cheese store upstairs.  There is a second well to the left of the gate leading from the farmyard area to the garden, which in the nineteen and early twentieth century had a pump on it.  The plans for this extension show that care was taken to match it in with the existing building, and that the responsibility for directing this was in the hands of a William Mason.  This Mr. Mason had married Sara’s daughter, Anna Harriet, during the 1850s and the lived at the Fold with their children.  Sarah Crichlow died in 1862, aged 74, and by 1863 the Masons had ‘gone abroad’.  Some connection with Parwich must have been maintained, as in the new church built in 1873 the east window in the chancel is dedicated to James Swindell, Sara Crichlow and two of her grandchildren (Sarah and William Mason).  It was a descendant of the Masons that arrived in the village in late 2001 with plans of an unidentified building in Parwich.

A Mr. Lomas was tenant of the land from 1863 to 1871, and the house now owned by a Miss. Graham was let to William Roby Lomas, surgeon.  Presumably Mr. Lomas and William Roby Lomas were the same person.  In the 1870s the house and land were let to a Mr. Hardy.  In 1882 the property was rented by William Hadfield who farmed on a smaller scale than Mr. Hardy.  During the 1880s the property was divided and sold:

32 acres at Hilltop bought by William Evans and attached to Hilltop Farm 

The Delves was sold to a member of the Webster family

The house was sold to a Mr. Morgan of Manchester, “who repaired watches”

In 1843, a Hannah Brownson, daughter of Ben. Brownson, gentleman of Parwich, had     married a Thomas Morgan, watchmaker of Manchester.  In the 1880s a Miss. Morgan, their daughter, occupied the house and opened it as a private school that specialised in music and painting.  The school does not appear to have lasted long.  Between 1891 and 1893 the house was empty and somewhat dilapidated.  There does appear to be some confusion about what happened next.  Bulmer’s Directory of 1895 has a Miss Ann Alsop resident at the Fold, though this seems to conflict with the information from Collenette given below.

Wright Greatorix putting hay into the stables at the Fold (these steps are now gone)

The house was let to Wright Greatorix from 1893 to 1921.  During his tenancy, Miss   Morgan died and the house was left to a Capt. Guy Vandercipen Hurd of Blackhill, County Durham.  Wright Greatorix, with his wife and two nieces, the Miss. Gadsbys, opened it as a guesthouse, taking up to 20 paying guests.  Also near the road he built a wooden shed that was used as a hardware and general store.  Wright Greatorix (was he the gardener/groom listed on the 1891 census?  See section on Parwich Hall), also bought eggs and poultry for Robinson’s of  Manchester (see Rob Francis’ article in Newsletter no. 5).  Wright Greatorix also kept a pair of horses and a carriage for hire, “it was said that he was the first person to run a road service to Ashbourne”.  After his death in 1921, the Miss. Gadsbys continued the shop for a few years but in 1926 moved to the Orchards on Monsdale Lane, where they continued selling “paraffin, shoelaces and other odds and ends”.  They are buried next to each other in the churchyard in 1960s.

In 1926, the house was bought by the Parwich Workingmen’s Club for £490, when a skittle alley was set up on old railway sleepers opposite the front door (to the east of the house).  The expense of the property proved too much for the Club, and it was again sold, this time to Col. Crompton-Inglefield, the new owner of the Estate for £630.

For a number of years the Fold was the home of Edward Halliday, the famous painter.  One of his works, a drawing of a member of the local home guard in uniform, can be seen in the Memorial Hall.  It was to accommodate Edward Halliday that Sir John Crompton-Inglefield had the studio converted.  Edward Halliday was active in the local Home Guard, during the Second World War.  For many years the house was rented to Capt. Beal and his family, but when he moved south to live nearer his married daughter it was again put on the market.

The present owners bought the property in 1969 and have developed the garden in its current form.  On either side of the drive behind the beech hedges are the kitchen gardens.  The kitchen garden to the right was reduced in size to add to the garden of Stanworth in Shaw Lane in exchange for the plot of land by the back door to the Fold to create a secluded garden behind the Studio, when the recent rear extension was built.

Landmark Publishing – A Local Publisher for Local People

Copyright © 2002 Andrew I Lewer  (Landmark Publishing)

Readers familiar with the BBC series ‘The League of Gentlemen’ may recognise the above title, taken from the programme’s ‘local shop’ that would only serve people if they actually lived in the village. Landmark Publishing, however, far from having such a narrow and parochial focus manages to serve the market for local history with books of a national standard, both in terms of design and content.

Most of the Society’s members will be familiar with Landmark’s books already, notably ‘Spirit of Ashbourne’ and the revised and updated edition of ‘The Derbyshire Country House’ which the company published recently. ‘Spirit of Hulland & Hognaston’, ‘Spirit of Ashbourne: 2’ and, yes, ‘Spirit of Parwich’ is to appear soon. This last is being written by Dr Isobel Combes of the Vicarage in Parwich. The book will be a most important ‘landmark’ in the history of the village, celebrating through pictures and well-informed text the history of Parwich from c.1900 to the present day. Anyone who has information, and particularly photographs, of Parwich - old and new - is cordially invited to contact Isobel.

Although Landmark has only been in existence for half a decade or so, its staff are very experienced in the ways of book publishing, particularly the Managing Director, Mr Lindsey Porter, who has well over twenty years of experience in the industry (or ‘vocation’ as it often seems), notably with his former concern Moorland Publishing, also of Ashbourne. Landmark has now moved into suitably historic offices at Ashbourne Hall, indeed the front office is thought to be the bedroom where the Young Pretender spent the night before abandoning his attempt to seize the crown in 1745.

The primary focus of the business was until fairly recently the Landmark Visitors Guides, colour illustrated travel books covering a wide range of destinations from Iceland to Sri Lanka, from Scotland to Jersey, and indeed, these are still a vital part of the business and new titles continue to be produced, most recently the Landmark Visitors Guide to the Algarve.  The emphasis has moved more recently, however, to the Landmark Collector’s Library, a category that can itself be divided into two, the ‘Spirit of…’ titles and the more general histories.

‘Spirit of…’ books have proved to be tremendously popular and have now been published on a surprising range of towns and villages, from quite large industrial towns like Macclesfield to close-knit villages like Tideswell. Each takes as its theme ‘the twentieth century in photographs’ and depicts both people and buildings long gone and those that are very much with us. The thrill of seeing oneself or a relative or friend ‘in print’ combines with an understandable fascination with scenes from by-gone days of parades and school photographs and of homes and shops that have either changed drastically, or have disappeared altogether.

Just as the ‘Spirit of…’ books are now starting to move beyond Derbyshire and Staffordshire into North Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, so too have the general histories broadened their horizons. Industrial and social histories of this locality are still very much  present in the range, with recent titles such as ‘Packmen, Carriers and Packhorse Roads’ and ‘Peakland Roads and Trackways’, but Landmark has also recently published books on ‘Collieries of Somerset & Bristol’, ‘Colwyn Bay: Its History Across the Years’ and four  volumes in an eventual ten volumes set of Stationary Steam Engines of the whole of Great Britain. We are in touch with authors from varied walks of life, from academics to industrialists, librarians to engineers and all have appreciated the support they get from a small publishing house, from committed people who know their name and do not have to ask for their ‘ISBN’ to answer an enquiry.

It is always a pleasure to work on truly local subjects however, and our new book - ‘Well Dressing’ - could not be closer to the hearts (and we hope, in a modest way, the wallets) of Ashbourne and district. This colourful large format hardback will be both a visual delight and contain some serious and scholarly analysis of the well dressing phenomenon; it thus encapsulates the essence of Landmark and what its books are able to supply to their readers.

Editor’s note.  Thank you Andrew for providing us with this article, both Rob and myself were impressed with the work done by Landmark, and approached them with a request to write this.  A leaflet on the Landmark Collector’s Library should be delivered with this Newsletter to members.  Landmark Publishing has kindly offered members a discount on any books purchased through the Society (See Editorial on p23 and enclosed leaflet).

*Also if you are interested in purchasing this book you can do so at a 15% discount through the Society (See Editorial on p23 and enclosed leaflet).

Book Review

“Peakland Roads and Trackways”

A.E Dodd and E.M.Dodd

2000 Revised and enlarged 3rd edition Landmark Collectors Library

Hardback cost £19-95*

I remember when Moorland published the first edition of this book by Dodds back in 1974. It was in many ways a revelation; here was a book that looked in detail at the development of the trackways and roads of the Peak District from the very earliest times and made the subject alive and relevant. The Doddses demonstrated that with a few old maps, a modern ordinance survey map and an eye that was attuned to looking at the shape of the landscape and the pattern of roads and tracks you were able to piece together the way people criss-crossed Derbyshire over the past 3000 years.

The book starts by making carefully judged speculation about the tracks of the Neolithic farmers passing by the main henge sites, including Arbor Low (this track can still be clearly seen today passing by Minning Low and through Pike Hall). It then moves on the looking at the system of Roman roads that linked the main fortifications and then on to rutted medieval tracks and then to the packhorse ways, drovers’ roads and finally turnpikes. The book demonstrates that far from being a backwater the Peak District has been at the hub of activity from the earliest times.

The new edition has been updated by a number of enthusiasts, including Brian Rich (who ran the local history course in Parwich a couple of years ago). It has the same detailed maps as the first edition but has a larger format and includes numerous new photographs, many in colour. Whilst it is ideal for reading by the fire in the middle of winter it consistently encourages and entices the reader to get out of the house to go and explore for himself. This is the greatest strength of the book and indeed it has been the inspiration for a whole new focus of road and track way research over the past twentyfive years. The result is that a further volume is in preparation that includes the results of recent research and extends understanding of the complexity of the old and varied system of roads in the Peak.

We may have to wait a year or so for this next book, but in the meantime you can compensate by rooting around some of the paths and tracks that this book so vividly reveals through its detailed maps and careful descriptions. No journey will be quite the same again!

Copyright © 2002 Rob Francis

Editor’s note.  This is a new departure for us to undertake a book review. Do let us know what you think about it, and also if you want to review any books yourself.


The influence of building materials on Parwich Architecture

Copyright © 2002 Kim Jurgens

The first assignment for my Architectural History course was to “Briefly identify the characteristic building materials of a locality and indicate how their nature has influenced local architectural development.  I chose Parwich as the locality because I like it.  Brian Foden and, especially, Peter Trewhitt were extremely helpful.

Nowadays, we decide on the design the house and then obtain the building materials.  Before the Industrial Revolution, and the development of transport systems, only the very wealthy could import building materials from outside of their immediate locality.  The rest of us built our houses according to what was available locally - and local really meant local.  To write this essay on Parwich, I first had to ascertain what the houses were built of, then establish where the likely sources for these materials were, and finally, examine the effects of these sources on specific architectural features.  If, for example,  materials were used which were not from within, say, a 5 mile radius, then other factors such as the   preferences of the (wealthy) inhabitants, fashion, etc. would have had more influence on the architectural development of the village than local materials.

This is the edited version of the essay I wrote. Initially I considered the locality and building materials, and then moved on to look at specific architectural features - roofs, chimneystacks, dressings, doors and windows, and walling.  In each case the influence of the building materials is discussed.

The locality and building materials

The houses examined in this essay are all ‘Small Houses’ or ‘Cottages’, using Brunskill’s size types (Brunskill, 1978).  The houses are of limestone rubble, with sandstone or gritstone dressings.  Chimneys are, with a few exceptions, brick and the roofs are clad with blue Staffordshire plain tiles.

There is evidence to suggest that Parwich has been occupied (continuously or not) since Roman times (Trewhitt, 2001).  However, the earliest surviving buildings are seventeenth century (C17), although a few houses retain C16 walls.  It is likely that earlier buildings would have been of timber. “In general it seems that timber-frame construction was the normal construction method for vernacular architecture over virtually the whole country stone succeeded timber-frame wherever it was at hand” (Brunskill, 1972 p.79).  

Photo 1 - The Square

So, what materials were ‘at hand’ in Parwich?  The British Geological Survey of the area shows that Parwich lies on a bed of carboniferous limestone (Dinantian rock) with Millstone Grit immediately to the east and west.  Less than 2 km to the south are mudstones and shale.  Within the bed of Dinantian rock, “Varying proportions of interbedded mudstone and sandstone…..also occur”  (British Geological Survey, 1982 p7).

According to Brian Foden there were two village quarries - one at Monsdale Lane and one at Doddshill - where the rubblestone for the walls was quarried.  The sandstone had to come from slightly further afield - from quarries at Mayfield, Sheen and Stanton - approximately 10 miles away.  Millstone Grit is still quarried at Stanton Moor approximately 10 miles away.

Again according to Brian Foden, the nearest source for building brick was Ashbourne which is less than 7 miles away. 

The houses in the village are then built of locally available materials - limestone rubble for walling, sandstone/gritstone for dressings, lintels and jambs, and brick for chimneys. 

Photo - 2 Flaxdale House

This leaves the question of the roofing    material.  Despite the proximity of Millstone Grit, it seems that sandstone flags were not available locally - certainly the English Heritage (1998) advice note on stone slate roofing indicates that Parwich is outside the area of general use.  Although it could be argued that the Staffordshire plain tiles are a local material by present day standards (it is approximately 25 miles to Stafford) this cannot be said to be true by seventeenth and eighteenth century standards - especially when we consider that Parwich was only accessible by road.

There is evidence that at least some of the houses were thatched originally, and flax, a “thatching  material…..formerly favoured in Derbyshire” (Clifton Taylor, 1972 p337) was grown in the parish, according to the recollections of H. Birkentall (2001).  So, were all houses thatched originally?  Or are we looking at the use of an imported building material?  These questions are discussed in more detail below.

Architectural features and the influence of building materials

1. Roofs and chimneys

There is visible evidence on the older buildings of altered rooflines, raised eaves, and so on.  Generally, the larger C18 houses have raised gable ends and chimneys with water tabling.  In photographs (1) and (2) the water tabling can be clearly seen.  Fernlea, an C18 house retains two sets of joists - one for the current roof, and another for the original thatch (Trewhitt).  In photograph (3) the evidence for the altered roofline is clear, and what appears to be water tabling is visible on the stack of the adjoining house.

Photo 3 The Rookery and Rose Cottage

This would all seem to suggest that these houses were originally thatched, and that the thatch was replaced with the plain tiles when importing them from Staffordshire became viable.  However, some houses, Hallcliffe for example, show no evidence of having ever been thatched.

We are left with two possibilities:

a) all the older houses were originally thatched

b) wealthier inhabitants imported roof tiles, but incorporated features associated with thatched roofs.

Either way, we can see the influence of the traditional building material - in the water tabling on the chimneys, high above the tiles.

It would also appear that brick chimneys replaced the original stone stacks on the older houses - see photograph (1) - but became the standard material on later houses. Clifton Taylor and Ireson (1983) state that limestone’s “direst enemy” is pollution.  Specifically, sulphur, soot and dust deposited on the stone are converted to sulphuric acid in the rain.  So the limestone chimneys may have begun to do badly when coal was burnt.

2. Dressings, doors and windows

Dressings on those houses Listed (Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest 1984, vol. 18.3) are described as being either gritstone or sandstone.  There are two predominant colours of stone - the “pinkish” colour described in Pevsner (1978 p413) and a browner, dun coloured stone.

Generally, the larger C18 houses have stressed quoins - on one building (Flaxdale House, photograph 2) they are rusticated - and the dun or reddish sandstone/gritstone contrasts strongly with the grey limestone walls.  Smaller houses and older houses place less emphasis on the quoins - using rough dressed limestone, or intermittent quoins (photograph 6), or have no quoins.

All of the houses with raised gable ends have stone coping on the gables, and most have kneelers at the front elevation.  Again, these are either sandstone or gritstone.

The only other ornamentation on most of the houses is around the windows and doors.  There are some problems with examining the doorways because many houses have C19 or C20 porches added.  However, all the doorways are square with a sandstone/gritstone lintel (with one exception).  Some have no jambs, some have stone jambs, others have a Gibbs surround.  Lintels tend to be large, with proportionately broad jambs.  (See photographs 4 and 5.)

Photo 4 - Sunnyside (Old Post Office)

Photo 5 - Hallcliffe

The windows are broadly of three types - flush mullioned (square sectioned or chamfered), massive lintel with jambs, and massive window without jambs (see sketches, and photograph 4).  It seems safe to assume (and there is visible evidence of alteration) that on the older houses these massive lintel tall windows are replacements of the original mullioned windows.  Brunskill’s (1978) time scales for window shapes show mullioned windows going out of use around 1740 and tall windows coming in around 1725  - before many of these houses were built.  However, as Tarn (1971: xii) points out, the Peak District is “far away from the influence of the fashionable attitudes followed in London” and again, there may have been practical reasons for Parwich being slow to change.

These carboniferous sandstones and Millstone grit are freestones, easily worked and dressed (Clifton Taylor and Ireson, 1983) making features like the kneelers possible - at least for the wealthier residents of Parwich.  However, sandstone (and gritstone) is extremely weak in tension - perhaps making features like the massive lintels necessary if they were to do the job previously done by the mullions.  This would also explain why the lintels are so short, that is, do not project into the wall on either side of the window, and consequently appear out-of-proportion in some cases. Since all windows have large, if not massive, lintels we can see the influence of the nature of the local material.

3.  Walling

All of the pre C20 houses, apart from Greengates (ashlar) are built of rubblestone - square and coursed on the larger houses (at least on the front elevation) and random rubble on the smaller houses.  A number of houses have projecting stones in walls of random rubble, which are presumably bonding stones.  (See photographs 6 and 7.)  Mortar joints are wide, as they have to be with limestone rubble.  A glance at an OS Map of the area shows numerous disused kilns around the northern perimeter of the village where the quicklime for the mortar could have been prepared.

Photo 6 - Orchard Farm

Photo 7 - Church Cottage

Either because it took so much labour to work the hard limestone, or because the softer stone from the quarries was more expensive, or took longer to select, the wealth of the house owner would seem to be the determining factor in whether the rubblestone was squared and coursed or random. 

The dry stonewalls around the plots are also of rubblestone.  Interestingly, to the south of the village, on the shale and further from the quarries, field boundaries are marked with hedges.  To the north, on less fertile ground and in close proximity to the stones, field boundaries are marked with dry stonewalling.

A general description of the houses in Parwich shows how the nature of the characteristic traditional building materials has influenced the architectural development in the basic features of the houses.  More elaborate features, such as the kneelers and quoins, have also been influenced by the wealth and tastes of the inhabitants.  Fashion and practical issues have demanded alterations and replacement of, for example, windows, roofing materials and chimneystacks.  In Parwich we can see the interaction of all these influences, and in the most modern houses in the village how characteristic building materials continue to influence architecture today.

Bibliography & Other Sources

Birkentall, H (2001) Parwich & District Local History Society Newsletter No. 6, September 2001

Brunskill, R W (1992) “Traditional Buildings of Britain: An Introduction to Vernacular Architecture” Victor Gollancz

Brunskill, R W (1978) “Illustrated Handbook of Vernacular Architecture” Faber & Faber 1978

Chisholme, J I, Charsley, T J and Aitkenhead, T (1998) “Geology of the Country Around Ashbourne and Cheadle” British Geological Survey HMSO

Clifton Taylor, A and Ireson, A S (1983) “English Stone Building” Victor Gollancz

Clifton Taylor, A (1972) “The Pattern of English Building” Faber & Faber

Derbyshire County Sources of Building Stone for Use in Derbyshire Council 1999

Department of the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest Environment Peak District National Park Vol. 18.3 1984

English Heritage (1998) Technical Advice Note: Stone Slate Roofing

Harris, H (1971) “Industrial Archaeology of the Peak District” David & Charles

Mercer, E (1975) “English Vernacular Houses: A Study of Traditional Farmhouses and Cottages” Royal Commission on Historic Monuments HMSO

Penoyre J & J (1972) “Houses in the Landscape” Faber & Faber

Pevsner, N; Cherry, B; Nairn J and Williamson, E (1972) “The Buildings of England: Derbyshire” Penguin

Pilkington, J  (1789) “A View of the Present State of Derbyshire” J Drewery

Tarn, J N (1971) “The Peak District National Park - Its Architecture” Peak Park Planning Board

Trewhitt, P (2001) Parwich & District Local History Society Newsletter No. 5 May

Woverson Cope, F (1998) “Geology Explained in the Peak District” Scarthin Books


Personal Sources
Peter Trewhitt   Parwich & District Local History Society (tour of village and invaluable general information on buildings)

Brian Foden  Parwich & District Local History Society (information about local sources of building materials)

Ordnance Survey 1:25000 White Peak Outdoor Leisure Map 24
Ordnance Survey 1:2500 1879 Map of Parish of Parwich

Mark Edmond’s feeds back on University of Sheffield  Archaeological Excavations at Bradbourne

Copyright © 2002 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.

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