Apart from walkers who come to explore the network of footpaths that pass through Parwich, not many visitors to Derbyshire discover one of the prettiest villages in the county. Situated on the edge of the Peak District, Parwich is not on any of the main routes through the area and as a result does not suffer from excessive traffic noise, as do so many other villages. Its neat limestone houses of various shapes and sizes stand in picture postcard fashion along winding lanes and narrow ginnels. In the summer, the cottages with their attractive gardens, window boxes and hanging baskets provide a vivid splash of colour against the green background of the steeply rising hillside.
The hills that rise above Parwich to over 1000 feet form a rough uneven plateau where a considerable number of pre-historic remains have been found. There is evidence of some medieval lead mining in the locality, but the village was spared the worst ravages of the lead mining boom. Farming has been very important to the village’s prosperity, but it is now in decline and those people of working age mainly travel to neighbouring towns and cites, or to one of the large quarries in the area.
A visit to St Peter’s Church can be quite confusing as the present church was built in 1873, but the style is from a much earlier period. The previous church stood on the same site for over 800 years, before it was removed to make way for the new church. A carved Saxon tympanum over the west door creates much interest; it depicts the Lamb of God with a cross, a stag trampling on a serpent, a wolf and other strange animals.
Attractive Parwich Hall, three storeys high overlooks the village from its dominant position on the hillside. It has a mainly brick façade, which is rather unusual in this part of the Peak District, stone being less expensive. Sir Richard Levinge built it on top of the foundations of a previous property in 1747. Later the Evans family acquired the hall; they were rich industrialists from Darley Abbey near to Derby, but they did not take up residence. During the 19th century, it was used as a vicarage, but the vicar was so unpopular with his parishioners that when he moved away they burned an effigy of him on the village green.
The former Parwich Hospital, now a private house called Rathbone Hall, is named after Florence Rathbone who helped finance it when it was built in 1912, as a convalescent home. It stands impressively on the hillside apart from any other dwellings and would seem ideally fitted to the purpose for which it was originally intended. During the Second World War, the Red Cross used it and after that, it was in the hands of the NHS for a time before serving as the Parwich Care Centre – closing in 2000 due to falling demand.
Further down the hillside on the eastern side of Rathbone Hall, is stone built Orchard Farm. It contains a wide range of building styles some dating back to at least the 17th century. On the western side, Knob Hall was set up in the early 1900s as a cheese factory and was then known as Parwich Creamery, but after about 25 years, it reverted to a private residence. The creamery was supplied with water from the nearby well; at first, the water was hand drawn before a pump was installed.
Parwich’s pleasant little cricket ground on Parson’s Croft, also provides facilities for tennis and bowls. The land was sold to the village by Parwich Oddfellows, and apparently got its name because the rental income was originally used for charity. A modern house known as Bear Stake Croft obtained its name in even more unusual circumstances. The field in which it was built has the same name as the house, where it is believed bear baiting once took place.
The Sycamore Inn dates back to the 17th century, the brick extension at the rear two centuries later. It stands close to the Village Green, once much larger, is now split into sections. Ducks swim on ‘The Dam’, where sheep were dipped, giving an air of peaceful spaciousness.
The school still survives, housed in an impressive limestone building with gritstone quoins. Another of the many fine buildings in Parwich is the Vicarage, the vicar having responsibility for five parishes. The Methodist Chapel is a more modest building, surprisingly constructed of dressed sandstone in an area where stone predominates. The only surviving shop in the village is close to the Memorial Hall, built to commemorate the dead of both World Wars.
[A good buy available locally is ‘A Parwich Walk’, an inexpensive and well-produced booklet.]
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE AREA
Tissington Hall (Tel 01335 352200) a fine Jacobean Manor House in the heart of the village, that has been the home of the FitzHerbert family for 500 years. Please telephone for details or visit website. First tour 1.30pm, last tour 4pm.
Ashbourne is one of Derbyshire’s finest towns, with a wealth of Georgian architecture. The triangular cobbled Market Place holds markets twice per week on Thursday and Saturday.
Roystone Grange: here evidence has been found of occupation in Roman times by native hill farmers. A field system of that period can be seen by following the trail that has been set up. Another farm was established here at the time of the Norman Conquest and was later given to a Cistercian Abbey and developed as a sheep farm.
Sycamore Inn (Tel 01335 390212) situated in an attractive location on the eastern side of Parwich, this little pub is an excellent example of a traditional village public house. There is a large open fireplace in the main bar, a small dining room and a games room. Plenty of seating outside. Traditional food served lunchtime and evenings.
The Old Coach House (Tel 01335 350501) award winning tea rooms in the beautifully renovated Coach House to Tissington Hall. Morning coffee, lunch and teas served. Please telephone for details or visit website.
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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Parwich must rank as one of the most attractive villages in the southern part of the Peak District, but not being on the main route to anywhere, remains relatively undiscovered. It is situated in wonderful walking country as this short walk attests.
After crossing a series of fields, the walk descends steadily to the Blatch Brook, before climbing up quite steeply to join the Tissington Trail. More fields are crossed on the route to Tissington, before a lane is reached leading into the village.
Leaving Tissington the trail is rejoined at the old railway station and followed for a short distance, before heading across the fields towards Parwich.
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