Updated 24 May 2002
WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900
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By the middle of the l9th century the village was a thriving community with a wide variety of shops and tradespeople. The majority of the inhabitants were employed in the Bage Mine and other mines in the area.
When lead mining was at its peak the miners' holiday was a great event. It began on l2th or l3th May and lasted for a week. Country dancing took place on the green, the dancers making their way up the village and back again. There was a gingerbread stall, donkeys to ride and a greasy pole to climb - with a prize at the top, a leg of mutton.
The decline in the lead industry forced the people of the village to seek employment in the quarries, the mills and on the railways, and the growth of employment brought newcomers into the area. Today, although a few people work in the local quarries, most people travel further afield following a variety of occupations.
The Bage Mine was explored in 1980 by the Wirksworth Mines Research Group. They found the shaft very wet, but beautiful, showing yellows, blues and greens in its lower reaches. The group covered 9,000 ft of level passages and descended to a depth of 376 ft. One of the members, John Jones of Kegworth, found two rare specimens of Cromfordite, a very rare mineral formed from translucent green crystals. Its name derives from the place where it was first discovered 160 years ago.
The only buildings of any size are the chapel, the Men's Institute, the one remaining pub and the WI hall. The latter, which is used as a village hall, was erected on its present site in 1924 after use as a First World War army hut.
The High Peak Trail (the disused Cromford/High Peak mineral railway), which is officially designated a public leisure facility, skirts Bolehill's northern boundary. Today many people are attracted to this area to walk the Trail and visit neighbouring Black Rocks and the many other tourist attractions in the White Peak.
(from Lewis, 1848, Vol 1, p.348)
A chapelry, in the parish of Bradborne, hundred of Wirksworth, southern division of the county of Derby, 3 3/4 miles west-by-north from Wirksworth; containing 776 inhabitants [in 1848]. One of two manors here belonged, at the time of the Domesday Survey , to Henry de FERRERS, and passed to the NEVILLS, TALBOTS, and various other families. The second manor, called the King's or the Duchy manor, from having been parcel of the duchy of Lancaster, was granted in 1630 by Charles I to Charles HARBOD and others, by whom it was conveyed shortly afterwards, to the PEGGE and LEES families; it subsequently passed, in moieties, to the LOWES, HAYNES, NEWTONS, &c. The chapelry is situated on the road from Hognaston to Winster, and a short distance south of the Cromford canal. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income 87 pounds; patron and impropriator, John BAINBRIGGE STORY, Esq, of Lockington Hall. The chapel exhibits various styles, from the Norman to the later English. A plot of about five acres of land, given by Thurston DALE, in 1742, is now in the occupation of a schoolmaster, who instructs twelve children free in a national school.(Back to the MENU)
(from Glover, vol 2, 1833, pp.146-9)
BRASSINGTON (Brazinctune). A village, township, constabulary and parochial chapelry in the parish of Bradbourn, deanery of Ashbourn, and wapentake of Wirksworth. It is situate in a deep valley, surrounded by limestone hills, 5 1/2 miles north-east of Ashbourn, 4 miles north-west of Wirksworth, and 16 miles north-north-west from Derby.
This village contained, in 1821, 148 houses, 149 families, and 689 inhabitants : now increased to about 750, who are chiefly employed in agriculture, mining and the trades connected therewith, except a few females who figure lace.(Back to the MENU)
The extent of the township is 4,017 acres of good dairy land, chiefly meadow and pasture, on a limestone sub-stratum, divided among 168 proprietors; the land is principally freehold, but there is a small portion of copyhold. At the time of the enclosure, which took place in 1803, an allotment of 354 acres was given in lieu of tithes. Some land in this township is let for 5 pounds an acre, and some for 1 pound : but as there is much occupied by the owners, it would be difficult to ascertain the average rental with accuracy; it may however be stated at 35 shillings an acre.(Back to the MENU)
The principal proprietors [c.1830] are:
- Mr William ALSOP, 150 acres;
- Rev German BUSCKSTON, 70 acres;
- William CHARLTON and George GREGORY, gents, Lords of the Manor, 200 acres;
- Robert DALE, esq, How Grange farm 200 acres;
- Philip GELL, esq Grange Mill Farm, &c, 300 acres;
- Mr Benjamin GREGORY, 160 acres;
- Mr William HODGKINSON, 40 acres;
- Robert MILLINGTON, gent, 100 acres;
- Mr John PRESTWIDGE, 40 acres;
- Lord SCARSDALE, 120 acres;
- Mr Robert SPENCER, 200 acres;
- The late Rev P. STOREY, the Trustees of, who own the tithe farm;
- Bache THORNHILL, esq, 250 acres;
- Mr George TOPLIS, 60 acres;
- Mr James TRUEMAN, 30 acres.
- Mr Joseph WATSON, 150 acres;(Back to the MENU)
The remainder is in numerous small freeholds. The estimated annual rental value of all the buildings and land is 4,662 pounds, 10 shillings. The average of seven years Poor Rate, &c, is 327 pounds, 14 shillings, 8 3/4 pence. The paupers are maintained in the House of Industry, which is subscribed to by several other townships. The pauper children are sometimes apprenticed to trades.
There are but few protestant dissenters in this village, and they have no regular place of worship. There is an endowed parochial day-school; a Sunday-school, supported by the Rev German BUCKSTON and the inhabitants; one friendly society, consisting of about 125 members, and four victuallers in the township.(Back to the MENU)
There is a cave called Harborough Hall, situate about a mile from Brassington, on the road to Wirksworth, in the lands and near to the house belonging to Mr B. GREGORY, that will contain from 200 to 300 people; and above it is a remarkable stone chair.
Near the road leading from Brassington to Pike Hall, is an ancient tumuli or barrow, called Mininglow, situate on a hill, now covered with a fine plantation. Mr PILKINGTON, who in 1788 described this ancient monument, says it is different to any he met with in the county. He found the higher part of the mound removed, and several of the vaults fully exposed to sight. The diameter was 40 yards; and he supposed the vaults, carried round the circumference, were about 40 in number. The vault he measured was between 6 and 7 feet long, 3 wide and 6 deep; it consisted of only 5 stones, one on each side and end and the other for a cover : some a foot and some 18 inches thick. At the time of the enclosure, a quantity of human bones were found on the moor.(Back to the MENU)
The town is supplied with excellent water from a never-failing spring, formerly called Coole Well, now Green Well. The houses are chiefly limestone.
Doomsday entry: In BRAZINCTUNE, Siward had four carucates of land to be taxed. Land to four ploughs. There are now in the demesne three ploughs, and sixteen villanes, and two bordars have six ploughs and 30 acres of meadow. Coppice-wood, three quarentens long and one broad. Value in King Edward's time 6 pounds, now 3 pounds.
There are two manors in Brassington. (Back to the MENU)
One belonged to Henry de FERRERS after the Conquest, and was held by SIWARD; after the fall of that noble family, it became a part of the lands belonging to the Duchy of LANCASTER. Lysons says, it was given in frank marriage by one of the first Earls of DERBY, to an ancestor of the FURNIVALS, from whom it passed, by female heirs, to the NEVILLES and TALBOTS. In 19 Edward II [1325/6], Stephen de SEGRAVE died, and left an estate here to his son John. In 29 Edward III , Elizabeth de MONTACUTE, widow of Thomas de FURNIVALL, who held it of the honour of Tutbury, died seised of it; and William, Earl of Salisbury, her son by a former husband, was her heir. In 32 Henry VI [1453/4], John TALBOT, Earl of Shrewsbury, died seised of the manor, and left it to his son John, whose mother was eldest daughter and co-heir of Thomas NEVILLE, who married Joan, daughter and heir of William Lord FURNIVALL. In 1628, on the death of Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury, it passed to his three daughters, married to William, Earl of Pembroke, Henry Earl of Kent, and Thomas Earl of Arundel. The Earl of Kent, in 1639, conveyed one third of the manor; and in 1640, Philip Earl of Pembroke, being possessed of his mother's and the Earl of Arundel's share, conveyed the other two-thirds to Mr William SAVILE. In 1749, his great grandson, John Gilbert COOPER, esq, sold it to Henry COPE, esq, of Duffield, on the death of whose grandson, it devolved to his cousin, Henry SHERBROOKE, esq, of Oxton in Nottinghamshire; in 1804, Robert LOWE, esq, purchased the manor of William SHERBROOKE, esq, and has sold the land in parcels.(Back to the MENU)
The King's or Duchy manor, was granted by Charles I, in 1630, to Charles HARBORD, esq, and others; who in 1632, conveyed it to Edward and George PEGGE and George LEES.
John BUXTON, of Brassington, by Will, 22nd June 1699 (proved in October following, by his nephew, legatee and executor, John BUXTON, of Ashbourn) gave his moiety of the Manor of Brassington and all his messuages and lands there, to such issue as his testator's wife should then be with child with [sic], and its heirs; and after death of such issue, to his said nephew, John BUXTON, and the heirs male of his body; and for want of such issue, to his nephew, William NEWTON. Some years after John BUXTON's death, Richard BUXTON, but we cannot state with accuracy in what degree he was related to John BUXTON, the donor; (probably son of John Buxton, the above devisee, in tail male) this Richard, by his will in 1722, devised this estate to his cousin, William NEWTON, for life; with remainder to his son, William NEWTON, in tail; and remainder to his younger son, Thomas NEWTON, in fee. William NEWTON, the father, died in 1725; and Thomas NEWTON, his younger son, died a minor in 1729. William NEWTON, the son, had three daughters, and after levying a fine in hilary term, 12 George II [1738/9], he, by his Will, which was proved at Lichfield, in 1748, devised his moiety of this manor, and all his messuages and lands there, to his two youngest daughters, Elizabeth and Frances, in fee, as tenants in common; having, in a preceding part of his will, given other lands to his eldest daughter, Mary; of these daughters Mary NEWTON married Richard HAYNE, esq; Frances married William LOCKER, esq, now of Tillington, Staffordshire, and Elizabeth, died about 1780, unmarried, intestate, in consequence of which her share descended to her two sisiters, as her co-heiresses at law. After the decease of Richard HAYNE, Mary HAYNE, his widow (who died about 1802) devised her share of this estate to her son John for life (who died about 1808) with remainder to her son Thomas, in fee; he becoming a bankrupt, William LOCKER, esq, purchased his share of his assignees, and thus became seised of the whole, which he sold in 1824 to William CHARLTON and George GREGORY, gents, who hold a court twice a year.(Back to the MENU)
The GELLS of Hopton have had a considerable estate in this township ever since 7 Elizabeth [1564/5]; at which time, Ralf GELL, of Hopton, died, and left his son Anthony an estate here, which was in the possession of Sir Philip GELL in 1712, and the same is now the property of Philip GELL, esq.
In 1620, the copyholders of the King's Manor in Brassington, had decreed for every ox-gang there, COMMON OF PASTURE for three-score sheep; and also in same proportion for all manner of cattle, in and upon throughout the heaths, wastes and moors, in and adjoining and belonging unto Brassington, aforesaid, commonly called by the name or names of:
Askall-moore, Askalls, Aston-hill, Callow-low, Cannel-meare, Cat-seats, Clipper-lowes, Crowdale-stones, Curst-moore, Dackett-walls, Duxton-edge, Elder-torrs, Ernestone (the hill or ground above Brassington church, where standeth a rock or torr, called Ernestone), Fyneing-dale, Gorse-beds, Harber-hall, Harber-hall back, Harber-hall barnes, Harber-hall cliffe, Harber-hall dale, Hare-knowle, Howell, Jordaine-slack, Long-cliffe, Long-cliffe back, Long-dale, Long-meere holes, Many-stones, Mount-lowe, Mount-lowe back, Myninge-lowe, Narrow-dale, Oat-seats, Picking-pitts, Pie-dale hill, Pie-dale lowes, Round-low, Round-low botham, Rushie-mear, Senno-dale, Shining-cliffe, Smethda (alias Smeth-dales), Sorrest, Street-knowle, The Break (alias Breack), The Dales, The Edges, The Greene (a piece of land called the Greene, in which is a well called Coole well), Waterfall-dale(Back to the MENU)
The same decree regulates the steward's fees.
In 1620, the following persons compounded with the King's Commissioners for the confirmation of their customary estates in Brassington :-
- Rowland ALSOP
- George BUXTON
- German BUXTON & John his son
- Richard BUXTON
- Ralph CHARLTON
- William EATON
- Richard GRATTON
- Edward KNOWLES
- John LANE, son of Andrew
- Robert SMITH
- Henry SPENCER
- Anthony STEEPLE
- John TISSINGTON
- Thomas TOPLIS
- Richard WALTON
- Thomas WESTERNE
- George WILCOCKE
- John WRIGHT(Back to the MENU)
The ancient tower CHURCH is a Norman structure, dedicated to ------ [blank]. The living is a perpetual curacy, valued in the king's books at 10 pounds; it has been augmented by 400 pounds subscribed, 600 pounds from the royal bounty in 1812, by a parliamentary grant of 1,200 pounds in 1814, and is now worth about 170 pounds per annum. The late Rev P. STOREY, as impropriator, whose trustees are patrons of the chapel, had an allotment of 353 acres of land, given in lieu of tithes at the time of the enclosure in 1803. The Rev German BUCKSTON, of Bradbourn, is the incumbent.
The impropriate rectory of Brassington belonged to Robert GALE, citizen and vintner of London, who, by his Will, bearing date 1612, charged this estate, and his estate in Claypole, in Lincolnshire, with the payment of 20 pounds per annum to Christ's hospital; 20 pounds to Corpus Christie college, Oxford, for six poor scholars, to be chosen by his immediate heir, Mr LACOCK, his heirs and assigns; 22 pounds to Chippenham, in Wiltshire; 22 pounds to the city of Lincoln; and 20 pounds to the Vintner's Company. The Rectory of Brassington belonged some time to the BAINBRIGGE family; from whom it passed by bequest to the Rev Philip STOREY, late of Lockington Hall, in Leicestershire.(Back to the MENU)
MONUMENTAL INSCRIPTIONS IN THE CHURCH:-
- On a board, elevated above the manor pew, in this church, is carved and painted the arms and crest of the family of BUXTON, who formerly resided here. Arms: sable, 2 bars, argent, on a canton of the last, a buck trippant of the first. Crest: on an helmet, a wreath, thereon a pelican vulning itself, or.
- In the south aisle is a stone in the wall, inscribed: Ann, daughter of German and Jane BUXTON (who died December 23rd 1674) gave 20 shillings per annum to the poor of Brassington.
- In a seat in the middle aisle are mural monuments to the respectable family of WILCOCK, of this place. Robert WILCOCK, died 11th May 1776, aged 76. Elizabeth, his wife, died 23rd May 1770, aged 70; and their children, William WILCOCK, died 15th July 1793, aged 58; and Elizabeth WILCOCK, died 4th May 1757, aged 24.
- Another memorial, for the eldest son and heir apparent of William MILLINGTON, of Hognaston, gent, by Margaret, his wife, sister and heiress of the last-named William WILCOCK, viz Thomas MILLINGTON, died 9th May 1797, aged 32.(Back to the MENU)
- BUXTON, John; Rent charge; 5 pounds; to put out one apprentice; by Will 22nd June 1699.
- BUXTON, George; Rent charge; 1 pound; for the Poor; by Deed 1655.
- BUXTON, German; Rent charge; 1 pound, 10 shillings; for the Poor; [blank].
- DALE, Thurstan; Land (4ac, 3r); 10 pounds; for the Schoolmaster; by Deed 12th June 1742.
- DALE, Robert; Land (1ac 3r 34p); 3 pounds, 3 shillings; for the Poor; by Will 23rd August 1744.
- GISBORNE, Rev Francis; Funds; 5 pounds, 10 shillings; for the Poor; by Deed 1817, Will 1818.
- MATHER, Samuel; Rent charge; 1 pound; for the Poor; date unknown.
- TOPLIS, .....; Rent charge; 1 pound, 10 shillings; for the Poor; in 1786, date unknown.
The schoolmaster, who is appointed by the owner of How Grange estate, for the consideration of the 10 pounds, instructs 12 poor children in reading, free.(Back to the MENU)
The elder branch of the BUXTON family removed from Buxton to Brassington early in the 17th century, in consequence of the marriage of Richard BUXTON with the heiress of LANE, his son married an heiress of FERNE; Richard, his elder grandson, married the heiress of JACKSON, and left only daughters. This family have been considerable donors to the poor, which agrees with their motto, Fructum habet Charitas.(Back to the MENU)
(from Woolley's Derbyshire, c.1715, DRS 1981, No.141, p.208)
BRASSINGTON, a pretty large village, lies about a mile west of Hogneston, in the parish of Bradburn. Here the land begins to rise, peak-like and the land is stony. About this town is a large moor which takes its name from it and carries it almost to Buxton. In Doomsday Book it was called Brantzineton and was part of the land of Henry de FERRERS, held by SIVARD, after whose fall it came to be a part of the Duchy of LANCASTER. But in 14 Edward II [1320/1] Stephen de SEGRAVE died and left his son John an estate here. 29 Edward III  Elizabeth MONTACUTE, widow of Thomas de FURNIVAL (who held it of the Honour of Tutbury) died and William, Earl of SALISBURY was her son and heir by a former husband. 32 Henry VI [1453/4] John TALBOT, Earl of Shrewsbury, died and left this manor to his son Earl John the second, whose mother was eldest daughter and coheir of Thomas NIVELL, who married Joane, daughter and coheir of William Lord FURNEVAL, in which family it long continued. But 7 Elizabeth [1564/5] Richard GELL of Hopton died and left his son Anthony an estate here, which Sir Philip GELL Bart now possesses, and about the same time Ralph BUXTON had an estate here, which he left to his son William, who had Richard, who had John, who had Richard, who had John. They have a good stone house here still. Their arms are: Sable, two bars Argent, in a canton dexter a stag Sable. It is taxed to the aid of 4 shillings per pound, 102 pounds, 5 shillings and 7 pence in anno 1696 with Aldwarke, a small hamlet near adjoining.(Back to the MENU)
(Taken from 'The Derbyshire Village Book' published by the Derbyshire Federation of Women's Institutes & Countryside Books, 1991. ISBN 1 85306 1336)
BRASSINGTON. The name of the village is thought to derive from Old English, Brandsige Farm, the farm by the steep path. Certainly paths are steep, stone-walled lanes narrow. Many of the houses are huddled together while others have space around them. Only council-built homes have numbers. For the most part, the lanes are not signed and many houses have no nameplates; so visitors find us intriguing or frustrating according to whether they come for pleasure or on business, especially in inclement weather or on dark evenings. Houses and cottages in which generations of families have lived are often called by the name of occupants former or present, their names known to few but the owners. Try asking for Rose Cottage or the whereabouts of a private business! Well, the postmistress may know.
St James' church houses the 'oldest inhabitant'. Inside the wall of the Norman tower is a relief carving, probably Saxon, of a man with his hand on his heart. Of three chapels the largest is now the village hall, the smallest sold for a house. The Wesleyan Reform is a 'Smedley Chapel', its building in 1852 encouraged by the mill owner, Mr Smedley. Noted for providing waterproof clothing and canteen facilities for his workers, he toured the district with a marquee, holding Revivalist meetings.
There are two public houses now, Ye Olde Gate and the Miners Arms; others are private houses - the Thorn Tree, George and Dragon, Red Lion and the Tiger inn. The turnpike from Derby and London ended at Brassington where the solid limestone made travel possible on the lanes to Buxton and Manchester. The inns served travellers and thirsty miners.
The village has changed from a self-sufficient community with butcher, baker, Co-op, cobbler, dressmaker, grocers, undertaker etc to one of a post office and one grocer's shop. Villagers still work at farms, quarries and local businesses but more travel out to work or are self-employed. The district does not lack ghosts; old and young claim to have seen them. An elderly water and mineral diviner is used to them. His first cottage was haunted, the lady seen by family and visitors unforewarned. One moonlit November evening he heard one on Ballidon Way but saw no-one go over the hump of the road although the sound did! Across the road the Sand Pit boggart was a traditional source of anxiety for nervous children in past generations.
The village is a lovely one in which to live. All the year round the views are breathtaking. The lead miners left an interesting hillside with humps and hollows where cowslips, harebells and orchids grow. Mushrooms appear alongside the paths. In the winter the snow makes a beautiful setting when skiers and tobogganists are colourful and full of fun.
(Taken from 'The Derbyshire Village Book' published by the Derbyshire
Federation of Women's Institutes & Countryside Books, 1991. ISBN 1 85306 133
Carsington and Hopton are two old mining villages which lie between the market towns of Wirksworth and Ashbourne. In the 7th century, one of the Northern saints, a monk named Betti, came down from Northumberland and set up a preaching cross, which now stands on the village green. It was previously in the Hall grounds and was brought up into the village several years ago.
The church of St Margaret is of l2th century origin but was rebuilt in 1648 and stands on the bottom slopes of Carsington Pastures. An entry in the register dated 29th September 1668 reads: `Sarah Tissington died. Born without hands or arms. She learned to knit, dig in the garden and do other things with her feet.'
Carsington Pastures is about 365 acres of open grazing land which rises steeply above the village to a height of over 1,000 ft above sea level. On the summit there is a large stone landmark, marked on the Ordnance Survey as the King's Chair, but known locally as the Lady Chair. The ground is scarred with remains of lead mines, the main source of wealth for the village for several hundred years and worked first by the Romans, who also brought the pretty blue and yellow pansy, known as heartsease, with them. A Roman pig of lead was found on the Owslow farm some years ago. Several of the old cottages in the village would have been originally the coes which were built round a mine shaft and at least one of them still has the mine shaft below the kitchen floor. A thick seam of lead was exposed during grave digging operations by the sexton in the 1930s, but could not be worked as the lead mining laws did not allow the mining of lead in churchyards, orchards or gardens.
For many years no building of any kind took place, but during the last decade a bypass has been built and the new Carsington reservoir is in process of building for the Severn Trent Water Authority. This has brought alterations to the villages with new houses being built and barns belonging to the farms along the valley being turned into desirable residences. There are only two farms left now in Hopton and the last farm in Carsington village was sold in 1990.
The Gell family lived at Hopton Hall for several centuries until it was sold in 1989 and their influence can be seen throughout both villages. The Hall has been rebuilt and altered over the centuries but there is a part of the original Elizabethan hall still standing with the red brick addition of later years surrounding it. The main road originally ran beside the school and across the front of the Hall until the later road was built. That is the reason for the Miners Arms inn standing with its back to the main road, facing the little lane which was the old road. The Miners Arms is a large three-storey building of the l6th century, and was recently bought from the brewery by the landlord.
The Hall gardens are enclosed by a high red brick wall, which is hollow with a stove at one end. The hollow wall conducted heat from the fire round the wall, against which were grown various kinds of fruit trees. This warmth, together with its south-facing position, ensured an early crop of peaches and other fruits for the house. This was built by Sir Philip Gell, who founded the almshouses in Hopton in 1719. The road to Cromford known as the Via Gellia, or Gell's road, was also built at this time to convey the world famous Hopton Wood stone, which was being quarried on his land at Hopton, to the newly opened Cromford Canal, from where it was despatched worldwide.