Parwich & District Local History Society

Newsletter number 6 (Sept 2001)

Free to members (£1 to non-members)

Production of this Newsletter Sponsored by Tarmac (Central) Ltd


The Parwick Hall Great Western Railways Steam Locomotive (no.6985)

Copyright © 2001 Peter Trewhitt

Earlier this year Robert Shields forwarded to the Newsletter a copy of a photograph of the Parwick Hall Great Western locomotive in full steam that had been sent to him by a GWR Researcher (John Racklyeft). No one I spoke to in the Village knew anything about this locomotive, so what if any were its links with Parwich? I contacted a friend, Mike Daniels, who is interested in steam trains and he supplied me with some information on the class of locomotives to which Parwick Hall belongs.

The Hall class of locomotives was introduced in the 1920s with some 219 in the original class. This was a very successful class used for mixed traffic, and medium passenger work for fast sprints between stations close together. They were comparatively light so could get down small branch lines, and for heavy loads two engines could be used. This was generally regarded as a successful design and appeared in various forms (e.g. the smaller Granges of which there were 76).

Parwick Hall was a modified Hall built in February 1948. There were some 70 modified Halls. Decked out in rich dark green livery lined with black and orange, they would have been a splendid sight. The top of the chimney was burnished copper and the brass work would be kept highly polished.

The modified Halls were 76 tons, with a 47-ton tender. They had outside cylinders; a 4-6-0 design (four wheels on a bogy at the front, six drive wheels and no wheels under the cab); and a one piece main frame and plate frame bogies. This innovative design was striking looking with very clean lines. It had a tractive effort of 27,000 lb. (that is the force applied at the point where the wheels touch the rails). This mid range engine, designed by Hawksworth a Great Western Engineer, who made the Halls more efficient with a new device called a steam super heater that raised the steam to a much higher temperature.

The Hall class was used through out the Great Western Area- Paddington down to Cornwall, Wales, West Country, Oxford, Birmingham, Chester, though the closest Parwick Hall is likely to have come to Parwich is Crewe. So how did it end up with its name? In general the Hall locomotives were named somewhat arbitrarily by searching through maps in the areas they served, and taking the names of anything called Hall on the map. But as already mentioned the nearest they came to here was Crewe. Coincidentally I was with several members of the Local Horticultural Society going round the Open Gardens route when we were stopped by someone looking for Parwich Hall. It transpired that he had owned one of the nameplates from the Parwick Hall locomotive for some years and was tracing the origin of the name. There were only five or possibly six Derbyshire Hall names used and apparently Great Western took their names from a 1935 book of gardens open to the public. They were Foremark Hall 7903 (now part of Repton Preparatory School), Haddon Hall 5920, Holbrooke Hall 6948, Thornbridge Hall 6964, and possibly Wooton Hall 4979, though this could be Wooton Bassett in Gloucester rather than the local Wooton. This book included Parwich Hall gardens, but the entry contained the mis-spelling Parwick.

Also thanks to John Racklyeft, for supplying the photos of Parwick Hall, and further information. The locomotives first shed allocation was Wolverhampton Oxley, then in August 1950 it was moved to Old Oak Common, and then again it was moved to Gloucester in March 1959. Finally it was withdrawn from service in September 1964 and scrapped at Cashmores in Newport.

St. Peters Church, Parwich

 Copyright © 2001 Brian Foden

The following is taken from a guide to St. Peters Church, which is available in the Church at a cost of 20p. There are plans to produce a fuller guide early next year.

The Manor of Parwich

Parwich (Pevrewic in the Domesday Book) formed part of the ancient Crown lands, and together with Ashbourne was granted, soon after the Conquest, to the Ferrers, Earls of Derby. Robert de Ferrers the grantees son took a prominent part in the de Montfort Rebellion against the king, after which Edward I seized his lands. The king conferred the manor upon Edward Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster and henceforth it became an appendage of the Duchy of Lancaster under which it was held by the Cokayne family of Ashbourne Hall. It was purchased from Sir Edward Cokayne in 1603 by Thomas Levinge, Esq. and remained in the possession of the family until 1814 when it was sold by Sir Richard Levinge, 6th Bart, to William Evans of Allestree Hall. The Levinge family held the manor for over 200 years but even though they built Parwich Hall in 1747, they spent little time in Parwich after acquiring estates in County Meath in Ireland. The son of William Evans, Thomas William Evans, later Sir Thomas William Evans, used Parwich Hall as a summer residence to escape the smoke and grime of Derby. It was he who built the present church; it was erected in 1874 at a cost of £4,500. The Evans family line died out in 1892, and the estate was split between the Carrs and the Gisbornes. Rev Claude Lewis, son of Samuel Lewis and Susan, daughter of the Rev John Edmund Carr, was vicar of Parwich 1904-11 and lived at the Hall. After World War One, the Estate was sold to the Inglefields, by marriage heirs of the Cromptons of Flower Lilies, Windley, and was for many years the residence of Col John Crompton- Inglefield. His widow sold it in the 1970s to Mr. Donald Shields whose family still reside there.


The present church was built in 1874 at the sole expense of Sir William Evans, to replace the old Norman building that had stood on the site for nearly 800 years. This had fallen into disrepair and had become too small for the growing population of the village. The new church is a handsome Norman style building of limestone with yellow sandstone dressings, and consists of a chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south chapel and a western tower surmounted by a six-sided spire. When built the church was probably one of the best lit in the county, but since then most of the clear glass has been replaced by stained glass memorial windows. In the clerestory above each are three small window lights geometrically designed and enriched with two carved pillars, and in each aisle are three double light windows. The chancel window comprises three lights and is filled with stained glass to the memory of Sarah Critchlow, who died in 1862, James Swindell who died in 1858, and others. The chancel arch is lofty and pointed, but the four arches on each side of the nave, separating it from the aisles, are semi-circular, resting on cylindrical pillars. The front pair of these pillars has carved capitals relating to the dedication of the church to St Peter in the form of keys, fishing nets, and a crowing cockerel. The coat of Arms is that of the Lichfield Diocese under whose jurisdiction Parwich came until the formation of the Derby Diocese in 1928. The south chapel was added at the same time as the north door and porch in 1907, together with the fine oak screen separating the nave from the chancel. Major Alfred John Gainsforth installed a carillon of eight tubular bells in the tower in 1919 in memory of the men who served and died in the Great War. Many features of the old Norman church were saved and incorporated into the new building, including the tympanum, Norman arch and font.


The tympanum, which is thought to be of Saxon origin, is situated on the outside of the church above the west door, and is supported on two carved pillars of the same period. It was discovered under many layers of whitewash over the south door of the old Norman church before it was demolished. The stone is covered with rudely carved figures unfolding the story of the Redemption. On one side is a Iamb bearing a circular-headed cross symbolising Christ as the Lamb of God; above the head of the lamb is a dove, typifying the Holy Ghost. The central figure is a hart, representing the Christian convert or true believer, and under the feet of the hart and lamb are two serpents with protruding tongues symbolic of the Evil One. Above is the swine into which the Unclean Spirit entered, and the remaining figure is a wolf, with tail expanded into a trifolium or shamrock. The latter is the emblem of the Trinity, and the wolf is represented devouring one of the leaves, symbolising the Denial of the Divinity of Christ.


The Lady Chapel was added to the church in 1907, enclosing the grotesques from the old church that had been built into the external wall of the chancel. These can be seen high up on the north wall of the chapel. The two millennium windows on the south side are inscribed with the names of all the children under the age of 14 who were living in the Parish during the year 2000.


The Norman arch is situated under the tower leading to the west door. It was originally the chancel arch of the old church, and is a fine example of zig-zag moulding of this period. The two capitals at the west end of the nave are also Norman, and two more can be seen on the floor near the west door.


The font is Norman work and of an unusual shape. It is round at the top, but a few inches below tapers down to sixteen sides, and stands on a circular shaft. It is inscribed with the date 1662, probably the date it was reinstalled to the church after Cromwell’s commonwealth.


The parish chest was discovered in the boiler house under the church in the late 1900s. It was in very poor condition, but after cleaning and drying out it was returned to the church, but unfortunately only the lid could be saved. The Chest was dated as 17th century, and is almost certainly the work of an itinerant wood carver making his living by making such chests for the local churches.


The Church Registers begin in 1646, but contain some gaps. They can be consulted at the Public Records Office at Matlock.


Extracts from the 1950s Parish Magazines

(With the agreement of Rev. Christopher Harrison, Vicar of Parwich)

Copyright © 1951-2 Helena Birkentall

Helena Birkentall, the daughter of Fletcher Booth Hampson was born in the School House (now part of the school), Parwich, July 3rd, 1875. She wrote a number of articles on Parwich history and tradition for the Parish magazine in 1951 and 1952. Here are some of those articles, apologies if they are not in the correct order, not all were dated. As they seem of general interest, so we have included all we have. An incomplete run of magazines was used as the source so there are gaps. If anyone has any more articles by her we would be interested in hearing from you. Also in the 1950s G W Lewis who had the Creamery and lived at Hallcliffe wrote a number of articles in the Parish Magazine, which we hope to reproduce in a future edition. If anyone has any Parish Magazines from before the 1950s we would also like to hear from them.

The Old Families (Including extracts from an article by the Revd Wm. Berrisford, R.D., printed in the Derbyshire Advertiser, April l0th, 1910).

The Manor House Families.- Three names stand out in the history of the Manor House; Thomas Levinge, William Berrisford, and Sir William Evans. The first of these bought and lived in Parwich Hall after he had married Dorothy Berrisford of Newton Grange in Queen Elizabeths reign, whilst Sir William Evans bought the property in 1814 when the Levinge family sold it. He was a descendent also of the Berrisfords of Newton Grange. These three men, out of their abundance, gave great and generous gifts to the poor and the aged sick; to the Church and its Minister and for the education of Parwich. They gave because they considered it their duty to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of Parwich people.

            Thomas Levinge gave his manorial tithes to the poor and needy. He ordered in his will that “I be buried as near as may be to my dear wife Dorothy in the chancel of Parwich Church”.

            William Berrisford, Dorothys cousin, was very concerned about the Vicar of Parwich whose yearly stipend was only £6 18s. 4d. He left land to increase that salary with rents from “the Copleys”, Long Rakes, Pingle, Nether Bletches and 12 "beastgates" in a pasture at Hawkslow; £8 was to be paid every year for the education of 8 children of the poor; and the remainder of the rents was to be given to the poor.

            The Levinges and the Berrisfords went to Ireland. Lord Charles Berrisford, the famous admiral, was a descendant of this family.

            The third of these generous men was Sir William Evans; his ancestor had bought the property from the Levinges, and in 1861 he built and endowed the present school and school-house. Again Sir William came to the rescue when the old Norman church was declared to be too small. The noble edifice which replaced the 900-year-old church was finished in 1874 and, like its predecessor, dedicated to St. Peter. Many cottages and farmhouses were built of the local limestone and rented to the villagers for as low a rental, in some cases, as 1s. per week.

            When Sir William Evans died his estates were divided between his relatives, Rev. Claud Lewis, living at the Hall. He constructed several terraced gardens. Major Gainsford followed him, and the present owner and occupier, Colonel Crompton-Inglefield buying the Hall from him.

Since the Colonel came some 17 years ago, the terraced gardens have become very beautiful, a lily-pond with a cool fountain and grass surround, and borders of sweet-scented tobacco-plants, and night scented stocks, is the picture left in the memory of the last year.

The Alsop Family.- The first member of this family is mentioned in the old registers of 1639. The last of her line was Miss Anna Alsop, died at the Close in 1912. At her death, the beautiful and valuable heirlooms of the Alsops were sent to Christies of London to be sold. They included a spinet; a tall-boy; a fine dinner-service of pewter on an old oak dresser; fine china and carved high-backed chairs of great beauty .Two of these fine chairs are now in the Chancel of Alsop Church: a gift from Miss Alsop.

The Brownsons came from Scotland with Mary Queen of Scots in 1568; after her execution a branch of their family settled in Parwich and there is still residing in the village a descendant of the family, Mr Godfrey Brownson. They lived in various houses: Hall Cliffe, the Hall and Alsop Hall. Miss Mary Brownson lived and died at Town Head. After her death at the age of 96, a sale of many Jacobean relics attracted buyers from far and near. The Duke of Portland secured many of them, including the Portland goblet and a beaded pin-cushion, which bore the words embroidered in beads, “Up with Prince Charlie and down with the Parliament”. Peacocks strutted across the lawns of Town Head, nesting in a great box high up in a tree. Their raucous cries heralded throughout the village the approach of bad weather.

The Briddons.- Mrs. Suffrin of Luton, a direct descendant of this family, came last June with interesting family deeds to search out the records of her family. They lived at Newton (now called Parwich) Leys. Humphrey Briddon was living in the village in 1683, and the family appear to have left the village before 1848, when Andrew Brittlebank inscribed his initials and the date on the bells, still in position, used for calling in the farm hands of Newton Leys to their meals. Humphreys son Abraham went off with Thurstan Dale to Bentley to sell land of which they were joint owners. He then joined Captain Cooke on one of his voyages. Whether he was the first son of Parwich to visit the new found lands of Australia and New Zealand is not yet known. He did not return. Amongst places mentioned in the deeds were Newton Leys, Blanche Meadow, Sally Croft, Bassetts-Croft, Beast gates and Grazing at Hawkslow.

The Dales.- A Thurstan Dale gave land for Parwich Charities in 1653; with other Thurstans and members of the family they rest in two long lines in Parwich Churchyard. Two Thurstans, father and son, live at Peakway (in the village) today.

The Goulds were the proud tenants of Hawkslow for 200 years, but the name occurs in the old registers for at least 300 hundred years before the last Gould, John, died at Hawkslow in 1910.

In the Census taken of the village, a 100 years ago ( 1851 ), the village population is given as 493. Amongst the names of the ancestors of present-day Parwich folk mentioned in this directory are:-

The Websters, farmers and cattle-dealers, have many descendants in the village, the name runs through the 300 years records.

Also in the records, in the 1851 directory, and the village today, is the name Lees. Edward Lees was at the Post Office and he also kept a shop. Ruth lees, a memory of 70 years ago, wore a frilled white muslin cap, the traditional indoor headgear of a married woman.

The Brownlees came from Ireland sometime in the nineteenth-century. In 1851, John was the village Schoolmaster, who taught in two rooms given by the Evans family, and received £40 annually from them and £8 from the Berrisford Charity for teaching 8 poor children. There are many descendants of the Brownlees in the village today.


Parwich was Pevrewic in Domesday Book 900 years ago - that means a village in an enclosed space, and it is shut in by the hill and the moors on all but one side. This is true today as it was when first the name was applied. All old places are like that. Monsdale means mountain valley, but - Birch-ith-Lake, the old place-name of the road running north of the churchyard, has lost the birch and apparently the lake which gave the road its name. To the writer it seems as though the lake was now underground, bubbling out in various places after rainstorms, such as in Ball-Croft, the farm- yard of Nether Green Farm, and in copious streams into the brook from the churchyard.

Moor-Edge, now called “The Bent”, is literally on the edge of the moor. Blanche or White Meadow; White Meadow; The Dulands or Dewlands. These three names have been given long ago to three farms lying in the Plain of  Parwich. All three names indicate quite rightly low-lying lush meadows, enshrouded in autumn by thick white mists. Minninglow is the dominant high “Low” of the neighbourhood. The name, of course, means mining-mountain, and the Romans obtained lead and stone from the quarries and lead-mines of Minninglow.

Roystone Grange. Surely the great stones which covered the graves of Stone-Age kings on the summit of Sunninglow gave the name of Roystone (or Kingstone) to the farm lying snugly at the foot of the mountain.

Two of the oldest place-names in the village are:

The Close, which was given over a thousand years ago to the village itself, when it was enclosed by a high fence to keep out wolves and thieves. There were only three large fields in this enclosure in which all the villagers worked. The Fold, where the sheep were enclosed (still a Parwich name).

The Oats (still a Parwich name) where the chief food of the village folk, i.e. oatmeal, was produced.

The Pasture, where cattle were fed and reared. This last place-name has disappeared. Priest-roods (that is church land) was ruined and deserted just over the Bletch Brook in Tissington parish. It is included in this list of names because of the beauty of the placename, and also because people now living in Parwich were born there. Parsons Close must also have been a meadow of church lands. Hawkslow is the mountain of hawks., Indeed, a caged hawk, when released many years ago flewstraight back to the Low which bore the name of its kind.

The ridge rising between Bletch Brook and Dam Brook has in its area remarkably interesting names; it stretches from the Tithe Barn to Sitterlow.

The Tithe Barn was filled years ago after the harvest with the tithes (tenth part) of all produce. The tithe was paid according to the Divine Command, and was sold for the upkeep of the church. Janes Acres (in the dialect Jinny Akers) are delightful fields at the top of this ridge. Who was Jane?

The Bletches go down to their brook. As the name suggests they are fields with barns The Copleys are fields with scrubby little bushes. This seems to indicate that the original name was "The Coppices".

Weather-way-side and The Flaxdales lie together near the Alsop Road. They may be the fields where flax for linen was grown older folk now living have seen linen which has been grown, spun, and woven in Parwich.

The Island in the same neighbourhood had the same damp conditions for flax-growing. The Wings with a number of fields gradually sloping up to the shoulder need but a glance to understand the fine meaning of the name.

Parwich, l066-1875 - By H. Birkentall

In the porch to the right-hand side of the West door is a stone slab incorporated into the tower of the church.  It was in the old church formerly on the north wall, and it was said to be the tomb of a Crusader The slab is coffin shaped, and carved into the stone is a cross and a sword, the long lines of which terminated in a fleur-de-lis (Lily of France). If the story is true, this brave warrior set out from Parwich with the cross and sword to join the company of brave self-sacrificing men to rescue Christian pilgrims and the Holy Places in Palestine from their enemies (the fleur-de-lis may be for a Norman Frenchman). Christian faith of this man who traveled through forests, across seas and a hostile continent at the great risk of his life is amazing. Whether more Parwich men joined him we have no knowledge. He was said to be a Levinge of Parwich Hall.

In Bentley Church there is the tomb of Thomas Berrisford of Newton Grange who died in 1473, and on whose tomb is inscribed the word “Agincourt.” As the great English victory (when the odds were 15 to 1 against us) was fought in 1415, he must have reached a great age. He was a relative of William Berrisford of Newton Grange, the great benefactor of Parwich where the Berrisford charities are dispensed to this day.

The Civil War of 1642-9 does not seem to have affected Parwich very much, except that farmers going to Ashbourne Market complained to Cromwell that the Royalist troops proceeding from Tissington Hall to Ashbourne were blocking the roads. A chase of the offenders ended in a brisk encounter at Sharplow, then the practical women went about their business. Ashbourne Church was a target for some of Cromwells cannon-ball, and evidently another skirmish took place near New Haven for cannon-balls of the period have been picked up by Biggin folk. In 1643, the old register recorded the first (and succeeding) baptisms, weddings and burials, and we see such old Parwich names as Webster, Alsop, Briddon, Gould, Brownson, Brownlee and Dale among the first entries. There are no entries during the years when Oliver Cromwell was Lord Protector of England.

There was in the old church a Rood-beam, together with a gallery along which the priest passed. The beam was gilded and chamfered, and said to be of unique beauty in the county .Attached to the beam was a crucifix with statues of St Joseph and the Virgin Mary on either side.

The gallery was transferred during the Cromwellian period to the back of the church, where it remained until the destruction of the building in circa 1872. The beam with its appendages disappeared altogether.

The rood-loft was removed from the chancel to the back of the church, and it became the minstrels gallery. Here bass fiddle, flute, viola and the old box harmonium led the choir until the new church was finished, when the present fine organ replaced the old orchestra. The harmonium for many a long year was the chief musical instrument in the school. The musical part of the services was keenly appreciated by choir, orchestra and congregation alike. It is related of one enthusiastic chorister that his wifes patience at the length of the choir practice had completely given out. She sent her small son, who called at the foot of the stone steps leading to the gallery, "Is our father up there ?"

Mr. Samuel Twigge, aged 87, was another of these keen choristers. As a boy he climbed the stone steps outside the old church, and often at the end of the choir practice the boys would climb to the roof of the tower and watch the birds flying backwards and forwards from the ivy. For forty years he and other members of his family went Christmas caroling, and he will tell you that he can still sing " While shepherds watched" to five different tunes.

The march of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his followers from Scotland to Derby in 1745 does not appear to have touched Parwich at all, for both the forward and the return journey appear to have been by way of Swinscoe Hill, Hanging Bridge and Ashbourne.

In 1846 there was a disastrous flood in Parwich following a cloud-burst on Alsop Moor. The raging waters swept down the back of Cross-Low, through the Middle Hills, and along the Alsop road to the Meadows. Cattle, pigs, fowls, outhouses, and the good top soil of the Moor were swept away. The occupier of Staines Cottage was desirous of saving both himself and his Christmas pig, so he sat on the back of the pig and rode triumphantly to safety. For six months horses and carts were busy carrying back the top soil to the Moor. Even so, it is certain that the Meadows have always been famous for their abundant productivity Sluice gates were used to flood the warm spring water from Ball

Croft over the Meadows, and the youth of the writers generation skated and slid over the ice under the shadow of Gorse Hill.

In 1861 the school and school-house were built and splendidly equipped by Sir William Evans, a generous gift to the people of Parwich. The school was said, at the time, to be one of the finest village schools in the country, and looking at the good stone walls of local limestone the mullioned windows and the firm buttresses supporting the building and the clock (bell) tower, one realizes that the grateful people of the village may well be proud of their school many years after the death of Sir William, the school was sold and became a council school.

In 1872 the Vicar of Parwich, the Rev. Leighton Buckwell, wrote in the yearly parish magazine, "We must restore the present Norman church or build a new one." In 1874 the present church of St. Peter was dedicated to the use of the villagers. Again Sir Wm. Evans had given us a noble building of the same type of architecture as the school. It was on the same site as the old church.

As the Normans had done 800 years before, the church had as its patron saint St. Peter, and it was fitting that a church built of local stone, surrounded by cottages built of local stone, and backed by a great block of stone (Parwich Hill), should be called St. Peters Church, of whom his Master said,

"On this rock will I build My church ," As has been recorded before the "Crusaders"  slab, the Norman arch and the tympanum were all incorporated into the building. The best way of describing the interior of the church to-day is to describe it as it appeared to those who attended the "Odd-fellows" service on Wakes Monday morning, 1951. The West door which had been closed for over 40 years was opened once more, the font was back near the Norman Arch as it had been before its removal, the draperies which had hidden the clean stone walls were removed, and above all the whole building was a blaze of light and beauty in its superb cleanliness.

To my readers who are of my generation it seemed to be as it was three-quarters of a century ago, when it was in its first pristine freshness. To all those who have worked to bring this about our grateful thanks are due.


The aim of all those responsible for the education of Parwich children is the same to-day as it was when first the school was built 90 years ago, that is, to give every child a good working knowledge of every subject likely to be useful throughout life.

The great effect of newspapers, radio, and most wonderful of all, television, in the national and international education of children was plainly visible in Parwich. The Daily Mail was the first of these cheap national newspapers, and it was not issued until1897. Few of these papers, however, reached the village until the railway between Ashbourne and Parsley Hay was connected and communication between London and Manchester via Tissington and Alsop established. Now the daily papers are delivered to almost every house in the village.

Of old scholars of Parwich School who went out into the world, one thinks first of the little band of volunteers who went in 1899 to fight in the Boer War. Most of them are dead now, but one who sent greetings to his folk in Parwich this last Christmas, fought in both World Wars as well as in the Boer War.

Most of those who went from the village to the First World War were natives and schoolboys of Parwich. Eight did not return, and the cross erected by the people in memory of these sons of Parwich bears the familiar names of people who have lived for generations in the village. The carillon of bells erected by a lord of the manor is rung every Sunday, and should remind us that it rings in memory of these gallant men of ours who gave their lives for all that Parwich meant to them. As the years passed by one saw the terrible effect on the anxious and bereaved parents and relatives of the long years of war. Most of these people were themselves scholars of the school and had sent one, two, three, and even four sons from the village overseas. They were never the same again.

Of other old scholars who left the village, head and assistant teachers in London and the provinces, university students who have taken their degrees, and three in residence now, Local Government officials and civil servants, and countless others remember their old school and the part it has played in their lives.

There is no Parwich name entered on the Roll of Honour of the Second World War, but there are on the Memorial Cross the names of men who, coming into the village, were living useful lives in the community .They are men who will be missed not only by their relatives, but also by all here who knew them as good citizens of Parwich.

The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel celebrated its centenary two years ago, and the Vicar of Parwich took part in the services celebrating the event.

High up on the rock known as Lenscliffe, it has stood for over a century, and across the road is a rock of similar height which appears as though some convulsion of nature had split the original rock.

Here week by week the services to the Glory of God have been carried on by god fearing men and women. The late Mr. Wm. Wright was such a man, so was Mr. Moorcroft. Of the latter the Vicar of Parwich said at his memorial service, "He was a man of devoted zeal to his religion". Three times on every Sunday he went to Chapel, and spared neither time nor trouble in the furtherance of this good cause. His family has worthily followed in his footsteps, assisted by many who have for many years worshipped in the Chapel on the rock.

Seventy years ago the outward appearance of Parwich was very much the same as it is today. There are, however, fewer trees now, and the village looks bare in consequence.

Along every hedge in days gone by, trees were planted at regular intervals, elm, sycamore, and ash, but one by one they have fallen or been cut down, and have not been replaced since Sir William Evans time. They were shelter for cattle, and pleasing to the eye. Above the "Moor Edge" in the stone- wall country trees do not flourish so well, and are grown only in plantations round farms and in exposed places for protection from wind and weather .

Which reminds me, about 20 years ago “The Moor Edge” - a road dividing stone walls from hedge rows, appeared under a new name “The Bent.” One loyal native living on the road has called his house “Moor-Edge.” The old name is fully descriptive, as all centuries old names are, and therefore right, but the new has so little significance as to be almost meaningless. Some of the old cottages have gone, but new ones not of local stone have been built in rows in the village.

In former notes it has been shown how slowly the evolution of man took place from cave to cottage, and from skin-clad savage to the woolen-clad, stone housed and well fed villager of a century ago. During the last seventy years, however, the wheels of progress have turned more swiftly than at any time in the history of Parwich.

Electricity with its gadgets of light, heating, cleaning and cooking, has ousted the farthing dip, paraffin lamp, dolly tub, dolly pegs, and the old-fashioned wasteful kitchen range of the old homesteads of the village. It seems as though the modern housewife has emerged from a period of dull, cold darkness to a life of light and radiant heat.

On the farm intensive mechanization has followed the introduction of petrol-driven engines. Tractors have taken the place of horses. On the roads the internal combustion engine has replaced horse- power. The first motor car to run through Parwich caused an amusing rush into the streets. What was not amusing was the terrified rearing of horses when they met the first petrol-driven engines. From that time the horse-population of the village gradually dwindled to its present low level.

One of the most memorable sights of my early life was the procession of farm-horses from the smithy to their respective homes. They were in most cases brought down under an escort, but the return journey was very different. The escort returned to the farm, and after shoeing, the blacksmith slapped the leader on the back and away they all trotted to Hawkslow, Low Moor, Hill- Top, and so on. No loss or accident ever came to my knowledge. From Newton Leys the road to Alsop was a field-road, therefore horses both coming and going were led by a farm hand for there were gates to open and shut.

The village had no daily newspapers, but weekly local and occasional dailies were the only source of current news available. The cheap daily newspaper was introduced in 1896, and when radio appeared in 1923 the country, and even the world, were opened before us.

The village was practically self supporting in all the essentials of life when I was young. It could provide its own food, clothing, and houses for itself.

Milk could not leave the village proper because of transport, but was made into butter and cheese, and the by-products of whey, skimmed milk, and butter-milk were fed to the pigs of the farmer and his men. This meant bacon, ham, pork and at pig-killing time savory dishes for the larder. The number of pigsties in Parwich is amazing. There are seven at Hawkslow alone. Those farmers who could take their milk in floats to Minninglow Sidings were lucky. And to this day the siding is called “The Farmers Parliament.”

Parwich Customs Old and New. By H Birkentall.

Christmas Eve was posset-time. There was milk at all the farms free for all, and it was a common sight to see children going early in the morning with can and pail to collect the milk.

Most children preferred the bread and milk before the spiced-ale was put into it, but all enjoyed the hot mince-pies which followed. I was reminded while writing these notes that the word posset had not died out of the Parwich language. A friend of mine rang up to tell me that on returning from a cold drive they had posset for supper, and slept well and warm.

St. Valentines Day means nothing today in the village, but the shop windows - five of them - of years ago, were packed not only with the “roses red, violets blue” variety, but also ridiculous caricatures intended to convey a nasty insult to the recipient.

Shrovetide was a joyous occasion after boasting of the number of pancakes they had eaten many of the children joined their parents and went off to see the traditional Shrovetide football game at Ashbourne.

I went once, saw the barricaded shops, and the shivering men going in and out of the river. Saw a mans coat torn up the back, and was one of a waiting crowd who wondered where the ball was while the cunning downards had put it on the train and goaled it at Clifton. But still this old game goes on, rough and tumble as ever.

The old custom, still prevailing in Lancashire towns, of “Sunday School” processions in Whit-week, was observed in Parwich on Whit-Sunday. Every girl wore a white dress with brightly coloured silk sash and hair-ribbons to match. In all there would be 100 children or more, in those days.

Social Life and Conditions. 1850-1900. By H. Birkentall

In days gone by, long before improved rail and road communications opened up the village to the world, the social life of Parwich was that of an isolated community.

It was isolated, being so far from the beaten track, but it enjoyed to the full the great blessings of plentiful, wholesome food; healthy, beautiful surroundings, and above all the warm friendliness which prevailed here in those days.

People returning to Parwich looked out first for the tree-crowned summit of the hill. Once, both trees and slopes were blackened and yellow. This was in 1921, when the great drought of a fierce, hot summer burnt everything up. The water supply which has been brought to the village of late years would have been very useful to us then, when the rainwater supply was soon exhausted and we had to depend on the old wells to keep the village going. It is strange to remember that there was no bathroom or back-boiler in Parwich in those days.

Of social events, both grave and gay, there were many. Of the happier memories one is reminded forcibly by a programme of the celebration of the restoration of peace after the Crimean War. The event took place on June 5th, 1858.

The celebration was almost exactly like those of the 1887 Jubilee and the 1897 Jubilee of Queen Victoria, and of the Coronation of Edward VII. In the Peace celebration there was a procession which included every phase of the village folk. Starting from the School Green, they marched to church with flags attached to each section, also a band, and a banner preceding the Odd-Fellows, to finish what must have been a very colourful, impressive sight. Lunch and tea followed, and as everyone was asked to bring a knife and fork, one can guess the good cheer there was.

The later celebrations were followed by a huge bonfire on the top of the hill, and it was a wonderful sight to see the fires all being lit up on the surrounding hills in the same way. As the fires died down, torches were thrust into the dying embers, and a chain of fire winding and curving down the hill-side could plainly be seen by those waiting on the Green to begin the firework display which brought a happy day to a close.

The last night of the old century was another happy occasion. The church choir gathered and went round the village singing appropriate hymns to astonished people who volubly protested that. they had already had the carol singers. The reply given to this protest was "A Happy New Century" to you. England was at war with the Boers, and with the wonderful optimism of English people, we all thought that the end of that war was the finish of all wars.

How sad it all seems. "The blood and tears and toil and sweat" which have been our lot in Parwich (as elsewhere) since that mild winter night when the 1st of  January, 1900, dawned.

Christmas was a very busy time for the farmer, for the farm-hands went on holiday from Christmas Day to New Years Day, but the local events which came before and after Christmas were many and various.

A moonlight night was necessary for the success of the occasions, and concerts and dances organized by local people for local needs were greatly appreciated by large gatherings. The dances were of the old-time variety, and a goodly number of square dances such as Sir Roger de Coverley, the Country Dance, Lancers, Quadrilles, Spanish Waltz, and many more interested the happy gathering. The musicians appear to have been what was left of the orchestra of the old Normal Church, the violin, the flute and the cello, aided by the piano and the accordion.

The concerts rehearsed for months, were given by local people, and every item was appreciated by the crowded audiences. We heard many songs (which are still great favorites) for the first time in Parwich, for example, "Loves Old Sweet Song" and "My Grandfathers Clock."

The Wakes has already been described, but the annual gathering of the Womens Club, which followed on exactly the same lines on Whit-Monday, has faded from memory.

The last memorable day in this history was the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, when the Armistice was signed which closed the First World War.

Bells were rung, we saw the German prisoners of war leaving Alsop Moor for the last time, and in the evening the first Thanksgiving Service was held in Parwich Church. The church was crowded, and all were as one in grateful Sympathy when the Vicar exhorted us to "Rejoice with those that do rejoice, And weep with those that mourn," for the "bereaved" were with us, also the "anxious" who would not know for some days whether their loved ones would return to Parwich. THE END.

N.B. - It is hoped to publish, beginning next month, various extracts from records and documents relating to Parwich life, such as the handbill describing the Crimean Peace celebration mentioned above.

The Self-supporting Village. By H Birkentall

The chief cereal of the village throughout the years was oats; very little wheat was grown, neither the climate nor the ground being suitable for its successful production. But oats provided good wholesome food for man and beast. Porridge, “lumpitums,” oat-cakes, and also various forms of treacle and oatmeal gingerbreads have given way to imported white bread and flour. Maize also was imported, but provided cheap good feeding-stuffs for cattle and poultry. Eggs were 24 a shilling in summer, and in winter they were thought to be expensive at 2d. each.

Sheep throughout the history of Parwich had provided, until recent years, wool for clothing and mutton and lamb for excellent food, all this at very little expense and trouble to the farmer. A little care at lambing time and a rich harvest for the village and country was reaped. As a broadcaster remarked recently, “A farmer who keeps sheep is kept by them”.

Sheep washing time was in June, and hundreds of sheep were driven to the sheep wash. Excited school children spent their dinner hour watching the sheep dropped from the pen into the water, where men stood waist-deep vigorously rubbing them. Then they were started up the ramp to the green to dry in the sun and chew contentedly after their ordeal. (In later years the sheep-dip took the place of the sheep-wash, which now is derelict and empty.)

The last sheep in Parwich disappeared in the autumn of 1947. They were heard bleating their way contentedly along the bottom of the hill on their way home for the night. I have neither seen nor heard one since then. The “crippe” gaps are being walled up. They were the gaps through which the sheep stalked majestically from one side of the wall to the other. They were also called “hobble” gaps because obstreperous wall-climbers were hobbled together to “frustrate their knavish tricks”.

Sheep have gone, in spite of their great contribution to the food and clothing of the self-supporting village. The farmer will tell you that it is because stone walls are easily climbed by sheep, especially if they sense green crops on the other side of the wall. If the green crops belong to a neighbour, the sheep must be marketed.

Flax also has disappeared, and again an imported raw material has replaced the natural product of the district - that is, cotton.

Woolen and linen cloths of home-produced materials - homespun as well as hand-woven - were to be seen in use when I was young. The self supporting village has disappeared during my life-time. Mechanized transport takes away all milk except just enough to cover rations for Parwich folk. Along with the milk depart also butter and cheese, and the good staple food of pigs, i.e. whey and butter- milk.

The loss of sheep at a time when meat and wool are so scarce is a great calamity not only here but in the country generally.

Oats are grown to eke out feeding stuffs, and good wholesome food for humans is replaced by reinforced white bread. So the sorry tale goes on.

The change that has taken place can best be realized by recalling the very severe winters in the last seventy years.

In 1883 or thereabouts, a terrible storm struck the village. The windows of the ground floor rooms of the school house were blocked up by a snowdrift, and as in all such storms, Parwich was completely cut off from the rest of the world. For a few days before the storm the usual warnings had gone out - the falling temperature, the ominous pointers of the weatherglass, the terrified flight of birds against the background of a dark, forbidding sky, and above all, the huddled gathering of horses and sheep under the south side of the stone walls, from which they had to be forcibly driven to a safer place. These were the warnings, and they were promptly acted upon by the villagers. Fuel was stored in every available space indoors, ample supplies of food were secured, and the big farms had three months emergency rations for man and beast gathered in the autumn in readiness to meet any such storms which might come. On that day, nearly seventy years ago, we were snug, warm and well-fed.

At the farms the making of butter and cheese went on as usual. During this snow storm, Sanson Copestake, the village postman, who walked to and fro from Ashbourne to Parwich by way of Tissington, was snowed up. Search parties went out and found him buried in the snow in the Bletches. In spite of several happenings of this kind he reached a ripe old age.

Another terrible storm took place at the beginning of the present century. A villager was found buried in the snow up the Alsop Road. His friend carried him home shoulder high. He, too, lived on for many years and died only a few years ago.

The railway extension from Ashbourne to Buxton had just been opened, and Ashbourne Grammar School boys traveling home by the school-train found the line blocked up. They report that they had a good time. In 1933 another severe blizzard struck Parwich, but there was food and fuel in plenty, so all was well.

In 1947 a 15 ft. snow-drift blocked up the entrance to the village in Thorns Lane. Severe rationing was still going on, and fuel was so scarce that trees were felled and distributed. Of food there was one weeks meager ration in hand, and the plight of the farmers, who could not use their milk and could not send it away all because transport was completely at a standstill, was deplorable. Some scrubbed out rain-water tanks and filled them with the rapidly accumulating milk. The centuries-old self-supporting village was, for better or worse at an end.

PARWICH. Historical Notes, 1875-1951- By Helena Birkentall.

Since the last notes on Sheep were written three months ago, visible signs have shown that the production of sheep has begun to revive again in Parwich. With this revival everyone will hope that much needed meat and wool will be provided here, and in the country generally.

Professional, Industrial, Educational, and Social life in Parwich, 1875-1951. Every man, woman, and child in the parish, as elsewhere, worked hard and long.

The Vicar added to his income by tutoring young resident pupils as well as writing theological books, while the school-master, in addition to his teaching duties, with the help of his family heated, cleaned and generally managed the school premises until the State relieved them of these extra duties.

The Doctor and Local Government Official traveled round a large district, which included Hartington, Bentley, Bonsall, and Middleton-by- Wirksworth. They journeyed on horseback or by horse drawn vehicles.

The elder children in the larger families, tended the younger members of the family, gathered fire-wood, and helped their parents considerably; the mothers work was never done. They cleaned, cooked, mended, and made garments, and their great reward was happy, contented men-folk, and rosy-cheeked children.

Farming was then (1875), as it is now, and as it has always been the major industry of the parish. So much has been written about it in previous notes that there seems very little more to add except that the farmer and his men, without the aid of petrol and electricity, worked long and arduous hours, and that the women-folk on the farm, besides ordinary household work made butter and cheese, and in the case of the former, took their produce to the Ashbourne Town Hall, where buyers bought from the clean linen-covered baskets fresh farm-house butter. Eggs and green cheese were also sold, and Saturdays shopping filled the baskets on the return journey.

Boys and girls leaving school were mostly absorbed in this industry (in those days), the farmers children as a matter of course, and the former farm-workers sons and daughters, also as a matter of course.

The young farm hands were hired by the year as residential workers, and thus relieved the pressure on the over-crowded cottage homes. The hiring took place at the "Statutes" Fair on the 2nd Saturday in December. All farm hands claimed the privilege of going to this Fair, where they met their former masters. The farmer with a good home and reasonable conditions to offer kept his maids and men for years, often at increased wages. Hard masters with poor homes found it difficult to hire help except from discontented poor workers.

Pay day was on Christmas Day, and then for a week the workers had a holiday. The Saturday in this week was Gawbys (Gay-boys) market and a jolly occasion it was. On New Years Day they took up residence for the years work. When they married they became tenants of the cottages provided by Sir William Evans, and the rent, as an old rate-book shows was often only 9d a week.

Lead Mining in Parwich: a brief note on a metal plaque found below Gibbons Bank

Copyright © 2001 Peter Trewhitt

In the last Newsletter, I wrote some notes on what little is known on the lead mining that took place in Parwich. As several people pointed out, including Professor Young and Brian Preece, I had failed to mention the metal plaque that can now be seen affixed to the front wall of Willow Cottage, on the Green. This plaque was found by Belinda Lowe in the 1970s in a garden below Gibbons Bank when she was a child. It reads as follows:

The Success, Rushy Cliff and Nancy Consols Lead Mining Company mined in Tissington and they dug some exploratory shafts on Parwich Hill in the late 1800s. It is likely that these are the shafts in the wood on the south side of the Hill to the east of Gibbons Bank, which should be avoided as they are hidden by undergrowth and any wooden covers are likely to be rotten. Presumably these shafts did not reveal sufficient lead to make further work commercially viable. Again we would welcome any further information on this topic.

Evening visit to the Lumsdale Valley, Matlock

Copyright © 2001 Rob Francis

The continuing foot and mouth crisis meant that we rearranged planned visit to rocks and instead went further afield to Matlock.

The Lumsdale valley  is a unique valley that starts near the Chesterfield road by Highfields School (ref:313612) and runs down to the Tansley Road (ref:313601). The stream running down the valley, the Bentley Brook, has provided the power for mills from medieval times and is unique because there has been no further industrial development to cause past buildings to be destroyed. Therefore the evolution of the numerous mills in the valley can be deciphered without difficulty. Three years ago Drabbles Dye mill (where I worked 30 years ago as a student) closed bringing to an end a history of industry going back almost a millenia.

Since 1976 the valley has been preserved by The Arkwright Society and we were given a guided tour by Martin Gillie.

The first mill is recorded as working in 1600s though it seems likely that it was functioning many years before that.  The pit where the wheel turned can be clearly seen as can the leet that feed it water. It is known as the Bone Mill as bones were calcinated in crucibles here and  then crushed to produce pigment for paint. Above this mill are the remains of the mill pond, now overgrown.

Travelling down the valley you then pass the second pond and carry on down to Pond Cottages, these were originally built as a cupola for smelting lead. Opposite these cottages is the third mill pond  renovated recently by the Arkwight Society. This is a picturesque spot on a quiet summer’s evening but 80 years ago there were well over 300 people working in the valley and the clatter of machinery, rush of water and smell of smoke from chimneys would have provided a very different atmosphere.

Below the third pond are numerous mills. First the saw mill with a huge millstone of French origin, constructed in sections and held together with a metal band. Then down a steep path to the bleach mill which latter became a bone crushing mill for paint. After this comes the grinding mill where limestone was crushed to produce day slaked lime for bleaching.

Further down is the smithy where most of the repairs to machinery in the valley would have been carried out. Next to the smithy are the ruins of a bleach and spinning mill, designed on a rather grander scale than the previous mills;  built on two floors it is similar to those built at Cromford. Recent investigations have also unearthed an old stone tramway which would have carried trucks with bleached material to the drying rooms at the higher bleach mill. Across the road is the imposing house of one of the mill owners, Lumsdale House, with gardens designed by Thomas Paxton (designer of The Crystal Palace).

Crossing the valley are numerous flues that lead to the tall chimneys on higher ground, situated  to provide a good draught for the furnaces. Young boys used to climb up the flues to clean them out.

Research and renovation are still continuing in the valley and this brief synopsis can only give an impression of the richness of these ruins.  For a more details you can go to  which has a guided tour and much of the information is based on this, including the photographs. Though now only ruins, these mills offer a fascinating glimpse of  Britain’s industrial past.  If Derbyshire really was the crucible for the industrial revolution, as some suggest, than this hidden valley has traces from the very beginning of that time.


Editors note. .  If you want a full copy of this Newsletter please send £1 plus postage (50p) if necessary to the Website Editor.

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