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Allestree, a pleasant residential suburb on the northern periphery of Derby, has its own shopping centre at Park Farm and is the home of Derby University. It is almost surrounded by agricultural land and attractive parks. Markeaton Park is to the south, Allestree Park on the north and Darley Abbey Park on the eastern side; only a short distance away to the southwest, set in beautiful parkland of its own, is Kedleston Hall.
The Anglo-Saxons settled at Allestree, no doubt attracted by its good southerly facing location, the quality of the soil and most of all the plentiful supply of water. However, it is unlikely that they were the first people to settle, at least temporarily in the area, as a barbed and tanged arrowhead, dating back to the Bronze Age, was found in a garden at Allestree in the 1970s.
Prior to the Norman Conquest, Allestree was nothing more than a tiny hamlet of scattered dwellings, part of the holding of the Earl of Northumbria. For years the village was almost completely self sufficient with the villagers having to rely on their own efforts to feed, cloth and shelter themselves and their children.
After the Norman invasion, it was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, as a berewick, or outlier of the Manor of Markeaton held by the Earl of Chester. The Earl’s Steward, Jocelyn, an ancestor of the Touchet family of Markeaton, who later succeeded to the manor, controlled the estate. In the middle of the 12th century most of the land was granted and sold to the recently founded Abbey of St Mary at Darley, and then rented back to the Touchet family.
In 1516, the manor of Markeaton came into the hands of John Mundy, a goldsmith, who six years later became the Lord Mayor of London. The Mundy family were anxious to make the most of their acquisition and with the final break up of the feudal system of farming, innovative methods were experimented with to improve stock raising and crop production. These new initiatives and the expansion of trade as the country moved into another era, gradually led to improvements in the standard of living of the villagers.
The estate remained in the hands of the Mundy family until the 1780s, when Francis Noel Clarke Mundy, sold most of it to Thomas Evans, the Darley Abbey mill owner, but retained the title of lord of the manor. By the middle of the next century, a large number of Allestree’s residents were employed at the ‘Evans’ family cotton mills at Darley Abbey.
Bache Thornhill of Stanton-in-Peak bought and enclosed Allestree Park and had a house built at the beginning of the 19th century, but before it was complete, he died. After remaining empty for some time it was eventually occupied by John Giradot, a man of great wealth. Subsequently it passed through several hands, including those of Sir William Evans, whose generosity to the village included the gift of a vicarage when Allestree became a parish in its own right in 1864, and paying for Henry Isaac Stevens almost complete rebuilding of the church.
In 1928, a firm of builders bought the Park, but although some houses were built, the war intervened. First the army and then the fire brigade used Allestree Hall during the war, the latter only leaving in 1950. The Council then stepped in and bought the 323 acres of the park, including the hall. A nine-hole course golf was established in 1948, and extended to 18 holes in 1955.
It was not until 1868 that St Edmund’s became a parish church; previously it had been a chapel of the mother church of Mackworth. Despite only holding the status of a chapel, it had a fine 12th century doorway. When the church was rebuilt in 1866/7, a south aisle was added and the doorway rebuilt. The yew tree in the churchyard is 1,000 years old, and to its rear by the lamppost is reputed to be the haunt of Allestree’s ghost.
The original Methodist Chapel closed in 1895, when the new chapel on Duffield Road opened. This was largely financed by Joseph Woolley, who for some years was both Church Warden and Chapel Steward. He was a generous benefactor for missionary work abroad and made a practice of giving a shilling for each dobbie cart he made and sixpence for a wheelbarrow at his workplace.
The cottages behind the pump, date from the late 18th century, where the centre of the village once stood. Further, along Cornhill, thatched Yew Tree Cottage is thought to be 17th century and what was once the schoolmaster’s house early 18th century. An interesting group of Victorian cottages, built in 1893, is found at The Poplars off Park Lane.
The Red Cow was probably in existence in the early 17th century, but the present building is somewhat later, the oldest part being late 17th century. Nearby on a triangle of land the former village school has been converted for housing. Another former resident of Allestree Hall, Sir Henry Raphael, who represented South Derbyshire for the Liberal Party, gave the Memorial Hall to the village.
The Gisborne family, who at one time owned Allestree Hall, donated land as a war memorial which is now the home of various sports clubs including Allestree Cricket Club. One of the all time ‘cricketing greats’ who had connections with the village was S. F. Barnes, he set up the Court Café, later it became known as the Palm Court before closing in 2005.
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A city of considerable character, surrounded by attractive countryside. With the Peak District National Park, the second most visited National Park in the world, only a few miles to the north and the National Forest only a short distance away to the south.
Located near the centre of the country, Derby has excellent communications and is well served by road, rail and air.
OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST IN THE AREA
Wirksworth Heritage Centre: (Tel. 01629 825225) Where the ‘Wirksworth Story’ is told taking you on a fascinating journey through time on three floors of the centre. The special displays are excellent and if you want something different you can always try a computer game.
The National Stone Centre: (Tel. 01629 824833) tells the story of stone, its geological and industrial history. The exhibition inside shows how advanced technology makes use of stone in an incredible number of ways. Outside the visitor centre, the quarry trail takes you back over three hundred million years. Open all year seven days a week.
North End Mills: (Tel. 01629 824731) one of the largest factory shops in the country which sells clothes for all the family. Visitors to the Mills can still see hosiery being made, have a coffee and admire the display of old photographs of Wirksworth. Open seven days a week.
The Red Cow: (Tel. 01332 543911) was probably in existence in the early 17th century, but the present building is somewhat later, the oldest part being late 17th century. Open all day seven days a week. Meals served lunchtime and evenings Monday to Saturday, lunches only served on Sundays.
Darley Park Tearooms: (Tel. 01332 556447) delightfully situated overlooking flower beds and Darley Abbey Park, with distant views of Derby Cathedral. There is plenty of seating outside on the terrace. Normally open from 10-4pm during the week, longer at the weekend, but arrangements may be changed at short notice dependent on weather conditions. Light refreshments served.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features on towns and villages with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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Discover Derby is a sub-section of the Discover Derbyshire and Peak District website and is based on the supplement published by the Derby Evening Telegraph, during March 2005. The contents include six walks and features covering the suburbs of:
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