Birchover’s village street descends gently from the outskirts of Stanton Moor, the majority of its fine old cottage buildings sheltering under a tree-lined ridge. Built between the 17th and the 19th centuries of the lovely pinkish stone from Stanton Moor quarries, the buildings face in all directions as they struggle to find level ground. Development that is more recent has taken place on the lower side of the street, where great care has been taken to ensure it harmonises with the rest of the village.
It seems likely that the village was originally sited at Uppertown on the road to Winster, where the farm standing beside the road used to be an inn. The Norman church and the village are no more, the stones used to construct them scattered round field walls and cottages in the neighbourhood. The stocks are still there outside Uppertown Farm; they were restored in 1951 by Mr J C Heathcote, but may not be in their original position.
Birchover was the home of J P and J C Heathcote, father and son who were both noted amateur antiquarians. Between them, they excavated the tumuli on Stanton Moor and built up a fascinating private museum in the old village post office. When Percy Heathcote died, the collection was transferred to Sheffield West Park Museum.
On the corner, at the bottom of the street, stands The Druid Inn, its restaurant given a score of ten out of ten in a Sunday Times article in 2002. The Inn is named after the Druids, who are said to have practised their rites on Rowtor Rocks nearby. The rocks certainly fascinated the Reverend Thomas Eyre who carved seats in them, so that he and his friends could sit and enjoy the view. He also built a little chapel below the rocks and according to tradition sat in his seat on the rocks when he was composing his services.
The Birchover Millennium Stone, sited by the roadside on the western side of the village, represents the former industry of millstone production in the area. Millstones were made out of local gritstone and exported all over the world. The stone has a circular core and a carved motif on the base, which is a copy of a Romanesque carving discovered in a wall at Uppertown, where a church built in the late 11th century, or early 12th century used to exist.
The village hall opened in 1907, originally for ‘men only’, when newspapers were provided to broaden the horizons of the male readers alone! In 1999, following a comprehensive refurbishment, computer equipment was installed in the Reading Room, which is now an official centre of the BBC’s Webwise campaign to provide taster sessions on the internet to local people. The hall is in regular use for a variety of community events.
Entertainment in the village was provided by the Brass Band, who before they disbanded prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, won third prize in a band contest at Ormskirk. After that, they were proudly known as the Birchover Prize Band. Some of the shine was taken off however when it was later found that there had been only three entrants in the competition!
Higher up the hill is the Red Lion, erected in 1680, on the site of a farm, which at that time was probably used as an alehouse. An unusual feature just inside the main entrance of the pub is a 30 feet deep well with a thick glass cover.
A helpful information panel, by the side of the toilets in the main street, provides a map and notes about the village, to assist visitors in identifying the main places of interest. Both visitors and local people alike will appreciate the well-stocked village shop.
At the top of Uppertown Lane is the stone covered tank that used to be the village’s main source of water and on the opposite side of the lane is the former Pinfold, where stray animals were kept until their owners reclaimed them. The Wesleyan Reform Church’s date stone obligingly provides both the year the building was originally built, 1857, and the date it was re-built, namely 1908.
The main event of the year in the village is the two day Open Garden Show, when normally over 25 gardens in the village are open to inspection by the public. Stalls and refreshments are available in the village and a flower display arranged at the church at this popular weekend event. Needless to say a walk round Birchover at any time of the year reveals an abundance of attractive, well maintained gardens.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE AREA
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.
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This very enjoyable and rewarding walk only requires the minimum of effort yet still manages to provide a rich diversity of scenery.
At the start of the walk, there are views over the rooftops of the houses in Birchover, leading to the isolated, bracken covered gritstone plateau of Stanton Moor, and then the magnificent views across the surrounding countryside as you walk round the edge of the moor.
Stanton Moor attracts considerable interest because of the remarkable amount of prehistoric remains that have been found. Last century, the Heathcote family of Birchover, excavated in excess of 70 burial mounds on the moor.
The most famous of the Bronze Age relics on the moor are The Nine Ladies Stone Circle. Legend has it that the nine ladies danced here on the Sabbath Day and were turned to stone as a punishment, along with the fiddler who stands nearby.
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