My beau and I capitalised on a day off together – and the glorious weather – by a trip into Derbyshire. Home to the Peak District and beautiful Pennine hills and mountains, I believe this county is one of the most stunning in our country.
First stop was Woodhead – a high upland at the end of the long valley of Longden – and so called from being the head of the great forest that existed here in the time of King Stephen. Now it is the home of only a scattering of houses – supposedly, there are only 40 inhabitants within a 4 mile radius. I’ve driven through this area countless times, as it’s beautiful landscape connects Manchester to Sheffield. Each and every time I drive along the route I always slow down to take in the sight of an isolated chapel, high on a roadside bank; but today we decided to stop.
We found a tiny patch of land to pull in from the busy road (driving out of which we were nearly killed – but that’s another story!!) and walked up the short but steep hill to the church.
Surrounded by a small burial ground, St James’ Church is also known as Woodhead Chapel. Situated 800 feet high, there has been a church situated here (and also possibly slightly further up the valley) for over 500 years. Sir Edmund Shaa, Lord Mayor of London, left money in 1487 to pay the yearly salary of a priest to service the little chapel. This is most probably in reference to an earlier wooden church, as there are no gravestones in the church’s present position dating before the 18th century.
The churchyard is most notable for its graves of the 28 navvies killed in a cholera outbreak during the building of the nearby Woodhead railway tunnel in 1849. The poor living and working conditions of the navvies – and occuring deaths – earned Woodhead the reputation of being ‘the railwayman’s graveyard’.
Next, we went onto Buxton, Britain’s highest market town which is situated over 1000 feet above sea level – and famous for its bottled water. Buxton is one of only two places the Romans pre-fixed with the term ‘Aquae’ Latin for ‘Waters’ (the other being Bath) and is also famous as an ancient spa town due to its geothermal spring, which rises at a constant temperature of 28°C. The pagan tradition of ‘well-dressing’ occurs here yearly along with many other folk, opera, theatre and musical festivals – some situated within the nearby beautiful Opera House.
Buxton is truly stunning with landscaped gardens, Victorian parks, water features, grand architecture, glass pavillions, spa house and crescent buildings. It was my first time there and I truly enjoyed every minute of it.
Another reason for us going, is that Buxton is the birthplace of my beau’s grandfather – and through the 1911 census, had found out his address. It appears the house where he lived has been demolished – although we spoke to a neighbour who showed us a photograph of the original row of houses. I took a photograph of it – against how the row looks today. My beau’s grandfather lived in the middle house, next to the smaller white house which still stands today. This street stands behind the oldest church in Buxton which dates from 1625.
On the way home, we called into the Derbyshire villages of Charlesworth, Hadfield and Glossop – all home to some of the Victorian photographs I’ve been researching for my latest blog ‘Identifamily’. Finding their addresses on the census – we were able to locate exactly where each family lived. Find out more information about this site HERE – and about the murder of Jane Eliza Robinson in 1880.
Finally we passed one of the many reservoirs that are situated around the area we live – one photograph from which, on our return, made the ‘Wordless Wednesday’ post below. A beautiful day.