The attractive old village of Hognaston stands on a hillside overlooked by Hognaston Wynn, which protects it from the north. It has been in existence for at least one thousand years. Aerial photographs have shown evidence of medieval field structures and where properties long since demolished once stood.
The first settlers were attracted by a plentiful supply of spring water, marked by a series of wells along the road through the village. Some of the wells were called into use again during the drought of 1976.
It used to be a busy place in coaching days when the London to Manchester coaches passed through the village. Much longer ago it may even have been on the Roman road to Little Chester.
In 1675, John Ogilby compiled the first proper road map of England - previous ones had been of little practical use. He called himself ‘Cosmographer to the King, Charles II’. On his map, the only road in Derbyshire is shown going through Hognaston, when it would have been little more than a cart track. Ogilby measured the distance not only in miles but furlongs as well, all this with nothing more to help than a wheel geared to a counting device.
St Bartholomew’s Church dates back to the 12th century, the doorway and the font being early Norman in origin. Two of the bells are in remarkably good condition considering they date back to the turn of the 13th century. The clock and three of the other bells were a gift from John Smith and Sons, the famous Derby clock-makers as a memorial to John Smith who lived in the village. The former Congregational chapel was built in 1892; and the extension for the Sunday school, in 1930.
At the beginning of the 1900s Hognaston was a village of bakers with three small bakeries serving the needs of the local communities. It was also well known for transport, the Webster family being involved in the haulage business as far back as 1666, when trains of packhorses were used. The coach operation that succeeded horse drawn transport was finally sold in the early 1990s. Nowadays every worker travels some distance to work and the village has been restored to its former rural peace and calm by the building of a by-pass with the construction of Carsington Reservoir.
Officially opened by HM the Queen in 1992, Carsington Water instantly became one of Derbyshire’s most important tourist attractions. The original estimate of 300,000 visitors per year soon had to be revised to over one million.
Built to meet the growing demand for water in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, the reservoir provides a circular route for walkers. There is a slightly different route for cyclists. Only a short distance from the Visitor Centre is the Wildlife Centre where you can watch Carsington’s birdlife in warmth and comfort.
At the Visitor Centre are a number of shops, a restaurant, food kiosk and a fascinating exhibition. If you want something a little more adventurous, windsurfing boards are available, or even a two day power boat course can be booked. For the angler there is the choice of fishing for brown trout from land or by boat.
According to some of the old village records, Hognaston was not always as smart as it is today. One court order read, ‘Every person who has a Dunghill or Dunghills in Town Street to remove it out of town’. While another order required a villager to remove his ‘Necessary House’, to stop the fouling of a neighbour’s water.
Many of the traditional limestone houses in the centre of the village date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Knowl House, built in 1694, is one of the former bakeries, and still retains a pump in the front yard from the days before piped water arrived. The Old Hall, is about 100 years older, and once had a thatched roof. It is built on the site of what was probably a fortified manor hall.
Three inns used to serve the packhorse trade, but only the Red Lion is left. A much newer property is the village hall completed in 1982, and opened by Percy Thrower. Previously the village people had to make do with a tin and asbestos hut put up during the Second World War. Then in 1978, they bought an old stone building from Severn Trent, took it apart stone by stone and erected a new village hall on the site. The villagers raised more than half of the rebuilding costs, many lending money themselves to the committee.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Middleton Top (Tel. 01629 823204) the Visitor Centre tells the story of the Cromford and High Peak Railway. Shop facilities and cycle hire available. The Engine House opens on a limited basis. Ring for details.
The High Peak Trail: formerly a railway track now resurfaced for the benefit of walkers and cyclists.
Harborough Rocks located just off the High Peak Trail half a mile to the east of Brassington, where the caves in the rocks have yielded remains from the Stone Age, and evidence of occupation during the Iron Age and Roman occupation.
The Knockerdown Inn (Tel. 01629 540209) award winning 17th century inn overlooking Carsington Water. Restaurant and bar meals served. Large garden and children’s play area. Interesting collection of rare animals. Open for lunch and evening meals every day of the week. Meals available all day in the summer season
Carsington Water Visitor Centre Restaurant (Tel. 01629 540363) occupies an enviable position with excellent views across Carsington Water from the Visitor Centre. Provides a wide range of hot and cold meals. Open every day.
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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An easy walk through pleasant countryside with excellent views over Carsington Water one of Derbyshire’s newest and most popular tourist attractions. The walk along the dam wall affords good views over the reservoir, often busy with sailing craft, particularly at weekends and during the summer.
After visiting the attractive little village of Hognaston the route climbs steadily through a series of fields to Upper Town.
The view over Carsington Water, where Severn Trent has planted half a million trees and shrubs in woodlands, copses and hedgerows is stunning. A wide range of wildlife has been attracted to the area and a visit to the Carsington Wildlife Centre should not be missed.
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