The picturesque village of Ashover, the centre of which is designated as a Conservation Area, lies in the beautiful Amber Valley surrounded by tree clad hills. All around is excellent walking country, which is gradually attracting a growing number of visitors, as the area becomes better known.
In the past it had a long history as an industrial centre, with quarrying and lead mining dating back to Roman times. The stocking frame knitting industry once rivalled lead mining in importance. It was based in that part of the village generally referred to as ‘Rattle’ because of the noise made by the machinery.
There was even a flourishing cutlery business in the village and men have been known to walk to Sheffield to fetch and carry back knives they had worked on to ensure orders were completed on time. Nowadays farming predominates and the area still retains its rural charm.
Ashover was a victim of the Civil War at the hands of both the King’s men and the Parliamentarians. The Roundheads, short of ammunition, demolished the church windows, used the lead to make bullets and reduced Eastwood Hall to ruins; all that can be seen today are the ivy clad remains.
Royalists slaughtered pigs, sheep and fowl and drank all the wine and ale in the cellars of Eddlestow Hall, while the owner Sir John Pershall was away. Job Wall, the landlord of the Crispin Inn, refused them entry, telling them they had had too much to drink already. But they threw him out and drank the ale, pouring what was left down the street.
Named after the patron saint of shoe, saddle and harness makers, the Crispin was once occupied by a cobbler. Outside, affixed to the front wall is the famous signboard telling the history of the inn.
One of the treasures of the parish church is the lead font, which the vicar had the foresight to bury when he heard the Roundheads were coming to the village. Surprisingly, it is the only lead font that survives in Derbyshire, a county with such a rich history of lead mining.
In 1925, the Clay Cross Company opened the Ashover Light Railway to carry mineral deposits from the Overton Hall Estate, seven and a half miles to their main works. The line also carried passengers using six American steam locomotives called after members of the Jackson family who owned the company: Hummy, Guy, Joan, Peggy, Bridget and Georgie.
At first the line was very popular with tourists, but this soon slowed and it ran its last passenger service in 1936, although excursions were still operated. Competition from road transport and the loss of a limestone order forced the closure of the line in 1950.
Born in 1627, Leonard Wheatcroft was a jack-of-all-trades, and along with his son, acted as Ashover parish clerk for a broken period spanning 92 years. He kept a diary and his writing is the best available account of 17th century life in the village and the whole of the county.
Shortly after the First World War, the author, researcher and publisher, Cecil Lugard, came to live in the village and recorded a wealth of local historical detail. He set up his own printing press that he called ‘the Dirty Duck,’ at Wheatcroft Cottage. His book ‘Saints and Sinners of Ashover’ certainly created a lot of interest!
Another local character, the disreputable Dorothy Mately, who was well known as a swearer and thief, was fond of saying, ‘I would God would make the earth open and swallow me up,’ if what she was saying was not true. Charged with stealing two pence by a young lad she repeated her favourite saying, only for the earth to open up and swallow her. Probably she fell down a disused lead mine. When she was dug up the money was found in her pocket. This story was used by John Bunyan, the author of ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, in his book ‘Life and Death of Mr Badman’.
For a time Ashover tried to join the water cure revolution. Ashover House Hydro was built in 1869, followed about ten years later by Ambervale and others, to try to turn the village into a somewhat exclusive watering place for both short and long term visitors. The success of the industry was comparatively short lived and did not last until the end of the century. Ashover now attracts visitors to its Annual August Show.
Ashover consists of a group of settlements, centred round the church where the market was once held. Close by are the Red Lion and the Black Swan above which, in a hollow, it is said the sport of bear baiting took place. The White Lion Inn is long since closed, but can easily be identified by the carved symbol of a white lion on a house of the same name. Built in 1877, the Parish Rooms still display the inscription, ‘Train up the child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it’. Overton Hall, just outside the village was once the home of the famous naturalist Sir Joseph Banks, who accompanied Captain Cook on his first journey round the world.
www.derbyshire-peakdistrict.co.uk is an independent, not for profit website.
No recommendation of any establishment is implied by inclusion on this website.
PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Chesterfield with its historic town centre, cobbled market place, famous ‘Crooked Spire’ and picturesque Queen’s Park, where Derbyshire played county cricket until quite recently. The Museum and Art Gallery (Tel. 01246 345727) is well worth a visit.
Ogston Reservoir to the south east, provides good views in a relaxing setting and is of particular interest to those who enjoy bird watching. Good parking facilities available.
Wingfield Manor (Tel. 01773 832060) impressive ruins of a huge country mansion, where Mary, Queen of Scots was once imprisoned. It is now under the care of English Heritage. For further information website: www.english-heritage.org.uk
The Black Swan (Tel. 01246 590305) the building is over 300 years old and is said to contain the ghost of a ‘Laughing Cavalier’. The sport of Bear Baiting at one time took place in the hollow above the pub. Good food is served at lunchtime and in the evening in this interesting old hostelry.
The Heathers Coffee Shop (Tel. 01629 583036) situated at Tansley, on the B6014 just off the A615. The Coffee Shop is housed in Scotland Nurseries and provides first class food and service with an extensive range of hot and cold meals.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
1. To return to the main site click the link below.
2. To return to the contents page of the main website click the link below.
A special new sub-section has been added to this website, based on the Discover Derby Supplement, published by the Derby Evening Telegraph during March 2005. The most recent additions are:
Click below for details.
Bookmark this site so as not to miss other town/ village features, heritage trails and countryside walks to be published shortly. Plus many more interesting features.
A most enjoyable walk with good views of attractive North-East Derbyshire countryside. Where plenty of evidence of the area’s former industrial past still exists, but much of it is well concealed.
The most impressive sighting on the walk is the Gregory Mine, with its tall chimney still remaining as if guarding the route to Cocking Tor.
Alongside the track from the mine is a spring of clear water and further on paving slabs have been used to improve the surface, where horses once trod.
Near the end of the walk a particularly fine packhorse bridge takes you across the River Amber before the short steep climb back to Ashover.
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.