1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Derbyshire
DERBYSHIRE, a north midland county of England, bounded N. and N.E. by Yorkshire, E. by Nottinghamshire, S.E. and S. by Leicestershire, S. and S.W. by Staffordshire, and W. and N.W. by Cheshire. The area is 1029.5 sq. m. The physical aspect is much diversified. The extreme south of the county is lacking in picturesqueness, being for the most part level, with occasional slight undulations. The Peak District of the north, on the other hand, though inferior in grandeur to the mountainous Lake District, presents some of the finest hill scenery in England, deriving a special beauty from the richly wooded glens and valleys, such as those of Castleton, Glossop, Dovedale and Millersdale. The character of the landscape ranges from the wild moorland of the Cheshire borders or the grey rocks of the Peak, to the park lands and woods of the Chatsworth district. Some of the woods are noted for their fine oaks, those at Kedleston, 3 m. from Derby, ranking among the largest and oldest in the kingdom. From the northern hills the streams of the county radiate. Those of the north-west belong to the Mersey, and those of the north-east to the Don, but all the others to the Trent, which, like the Don, falls into the Humber. The principal river is the Trent, which, rising in the Staffordshire moorlands, intersects the southern part of Derbyshire, and forms part of its boundary with Leicestershire. After the Trent the most important river is the Derwent, one of its tributaries, which, taking its rise in the lofty ridges of the High Peak, flows southward through a beautiful valley, receiving a number of minor streams in its course, including the Wye, which, rising near Buxton, traverses the fine Millersdale and Monsal Dale. The other principal rivers are the following: The Dane rises at the junction of the three counties, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire. The Goyt has its source a little farther north, at the base of the same hill, and, taking a N.N.E. direction, divides Derbyshire from Cheshire, and falls into the Mersey. The Dove rises on the southern slope, and flows as the boundary stream between Derbyshire and Staffordshire for nearly its entire course. It receives several feeders, and falls into the Trent near Repton. The Erewash is the boundary stream between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. The Rother rises about Baslow, and flows into Yorkshire, with a northerly course, joining the Don. Besides the attractions of its scenery Derbyshire possesses, in Buxton, Matlock and Bakewell, three health resorts in much favour on account of their medicinal springs.
The whole northward extension of the county is occupied by the plateau of the Peak and other plateau-like summits, the highest of which are of almost exactly similar elevation. Thus in the extreme north Bleaklow Hill reaches 2060 ft., while southward from this point along the axis of main elevation are found Shelf Moss (2046 ft.), and Kinder Scout and other summits of the Peak itself, ranging up to 2088 ft. This plateau-mass is demarcated on the north and west by the vales of the Etherow and Goyt, by the valley of the Derwent on the east, and in part by that of its tributary the Noe on the south. The flanks of the plateau are deeply scored by abrupt ravines, often known as “cloughs” (an Anglo-Saxon word, cloh) watered by streams which sometimes descend over precipitous ledges in picturesque falls, such as the Kinder Downfall, formed by the brook of that name which rises on Kinder Scout. The most picturesque cloughs are found on the south, descending to Edale, and on the west. Edale is the upper part of the Noe valley, and the narrow gorge at its head is exceedingly beautiful, as is the more gentle scenery of the Vale of Hope, the lower part of the valley. In a branch vale is situated Castleton (q.v.), with the ruined Peak Castle, or Castle of the Peak, and the Peak Cavern, Blue John Mine and other caves. The upper Derwent valley, or Derwent Dale, is narrow and well wooded. In it, near the village of Derwent Chapel, is Derwent Hall, a fine old mansion formerly a seat of the Newdigate family. On Derwent Edge, above the village, are various peculiar rock formations, known by such names as the Salt-cellar. Ashopton, another village lower down the dale, is a favourite centre, and here the main valley is joined by Ashop Dale, a bold defile in its upper part, penetrating the heart of the Peak.
The well-known high road crossing the plateau from east to west, between the lower Derwent valley, Bakewell, Buxton and Macclesfield, shows the various types of scenery characteristic of the limestone hill-country of Derbyshire south of the Peak itself. The lower Derwent valley, about Chatsworth, Rowsley, Darley and Matlock, is open, fertile and well wooded. The road leads up the tributary valley of the Wye, which after Bakewell quickly narrows, and in successive portions is known as Monsal Dale, Millersdale (which the main road does not touch), Chee Dale and Wye Dale. On the flanks of these beautiful dales bold cliffs and bastions of limestone stand out among rich woods. Near the mouth of the valley, about Stanton, the fantastic effects of weathering on the limestone are especially well seen, as in Rowtor Rocks and Robin Hood’s Stride, and in the same locality are a remarkable number of tumuli and other early remains, and the Hermitage, a cave containing sacred carvings. From Buxton the road ascends over the high moors, here open and grassy in contrast to the heather of the Peak, and shortly after crossing the county boundary, reaches the head of the pass well known by the name of an inn, the Cat and Fiddle, at its highest point, 1690 ft.
South of Buxton the elevations along the main axis decrease, thus Axe Edge reaches 1600 ft., and this height is nowhere exceeded as the hills sink to the plain valley of the Trent. The dales and ravines which ramify among the limestone heights are characteristic and beautiful, and the valley of the Dove (q.v.) or Dovedale, on the border with Staffordshire, is as famous as any of the northern dales. Swallow-holes or waterworn caverns are common in many parts of the limestone region. The hills east of the Derwent are nowhere so high as those to the west—Margley Hill reaches 1793 ft., Howden Edge 1787 ft. and Derwent Moors 1505 ft. The plateau type is maintained. The valley of the Derwent provides the most attractive scenery in
the southern part of the county, from Matlock southward by Heage, Belper and Duffield to Derby.
Geology.—Five well-contrasted types of scenery in Derbyshire are clearly traceable to as many varieties of rock; the bleak dry uplands of the north and east, with deep-cut ravines and swift clear streams, are due to the great mass of Mountain Limestone; round the limestone boundary are the valleys with soft outlines in the Pendleside Shales; these are succeeded by the rugged moorlands, covered with heather and peat, which are due to the Millstone Grit series; eastward lies the Derbyshire Coalfield with its gently moulded grass-covered hills; southward is the more level tract of red Triassic rocks. The principal structural feature is the broad anticline, its axis running north and south, which has brought up the Carboniferous Limestone; this uplifted region is the southern extremity of the Pennine Range. The Carboniferous or “Mountain” Limestone is the oldest formation in the county; its thickness is not known, but it is certainly over 2000 ft.; it is well exposed in the numerous narrow gorges cut by the Derwent and its tributaries and by the Dove on the Staffordshire border. Ashwood Dale, Chee Dale, Millersdale, Monsal Dale and the valley at Matlock are all flanked by abrupt sides of this rock. It is usually a pale, thick-bedded rock, sometimes blue and occasionally, as at Ashford, black. In some places, e.g. Thorpe Cloud, it is highly fossiliferous, but it is usually somewhat barren except for abundant crinoids and smaller organisms. It is polished in large slabs at Ashford, where crinoidal, black and “rosewood” marbles are produced. Volcanic rocks, locally called “Toadstone,” are represented in the limestones by intrusive sills and flows of dolerite and by necks of agglomerate, notably near Tideswell, Millersdale and Matlock. Beds and nodules of chert are abundant in the upper parts of the limestone; at Bakewell it is quarried for use in the Potteries. At some points the limestone has been dolomitized; near Bonsall it has been converted into a granular silicified rock. A series of black shales with nodular limestones, the Pendleside series, rests upon the Mountain Limestone on the east, south and north-west; much of the upper course of the Derwent has been cut through these soft beds. Mam Tor, or the Shivering Mountain, is made of these shales. Next in upward sequence is a thick mass of sandstones, grits and shales—the Millstone Grit series. On the west side these extend from Blacklow Hill to Axe Edge; on the east, from Derwent Edge to near Derby; outlying masses form the rough moorland on Kinder Scout and the picturesque tors near Stanton-by-Youlgreave. A small patch of Millstone Grit and Limestone occurs in the south of the county about Melbourne and Ticknall. The Coal Measures repose upon the Millstone Grit; the largest area of these rocks lies on the east, where they are conterminous with the coalfields of Yorkshire and Nottingham. A small tract, part of the Leicestershire coalfield, lies in the south-east corner, and in the north-west corner a portion of the Lancashire coalfield appears about New Mills and Whaley Bridge. They yield valuable coals, clays, marls and ganister. East of Bolsover, the Coal Measures are covered unconformably by the Permian breccias and magnesian limestone. Flanking the hills between Ashbourne and Quarndon are red beds of Bunter marl, sandstone and conglomerate; they also appear at Morley, east of the Derwent, and again round the small southern coalfield. Most of the southern part of the county is occupied by Keuper marls and sandstones, the latter yield good building stone; and at Chellaston the gypsum beds in the former are excavated on a large scale. Much of the Triassic area is covered superficially by glacial drift and alluvium of the Trent. Local boulders as well as northern erratics are found in the valley of the Derwent. The bones of Pleistocene mammals, the rhinoceros, mammoth, bison, hyaena, &c., have been found at numerous places, often in caves and fissures in the limestones, e.g. at Castleton, Wirksworth and Creswell. At Doveholes the Pleiocene Mastodon has been reported. Galena and other lead ores are abundant in veins in the limestone, but they are now only worked on a large scale at Mill Close, near Winster; calamine, zinc, blende, barytes, calcite and fluor-spar are common. A peculiar variety of the last named, called “Blue John,” is found only near Castleton; at the same place occurs the remarkable elastic bitumen, “elaterite.” Limestone is quarried at Buxton, Millersdale and Matlock for lime, fluxing and chemical purposes. Good sandstone is obtained from the Millstone Grit at Stancliffe, Tansley and Whatstandwell. Calcareous tufa or travertine occurs in the valley of Matlock and elsewhere, and in some places is still being deposited by springs. Large pits containing deposits of white sand, clay and pebbles are found in the limestone at Longcliff, Newhaven and Carsington.
Climate.—From the elevation which it attains in its northern division the county is colder and is rainier than other midland counties. Even in summer cold and thick fogs are often seen hanging over the rivers, and clinging to the lower parts of the hills, and hoar-frosts are by no means unknown even in June and July. The winters in the uplands are generally severe, and the rainfall heavy. At Buxton, at an elevation of about 1000 ft., the mean temperature in January is 34.9° F., and in July 57.5°, the mean annual being 45.4°. These conditions contrast with those at Derby, in the southern lowland, where the figures are respectively 37.5°, 61.2° and 48.8°, while intermediate conditions are found at Belper, 9 m. higher up the Derwent valley, where the figures are 36.3°, 59.9° and 47.3°. The contrasts shown by the mean annual rainfall are similarly marked. Thus at Woodhead, lying high in the extreme north, it is 52.03 in., at Buxton 49.33 in., at Matlock, in the middle part of the Derwent valley, 35.2 in., and at Derby 24.35 in.
Agriculture.—A little over seven-tenths of the total area of the county is under cultivation. Among the higher altitudes of north Derbyshire, where the soil is poor and the climate harsh, grain is unable to flourish, while even in the more sheltered parts of this region the harvest is usually belated. In such districts sheep farming is chiefly practised, and there is a considerable area of heath pasture. Farther south, heavy crops of wheat, turnips and other cereals and green crops are not uncommon, while barley is cultivated about Repton and Gresley, and also in the east of the county, in order to supply the Burton breweries. A large part of the Trent valley is under permanent pasture, being devoted to cattle-feeding and dairy-farming. This industry has prospered greatly, and the area of permanent pasture encroaches continually upon that of arable land. Derbyshire cheeses are exported or sent to London in considerable quantities; and cheese fairs are held in various parts of the county, as at Ashbourne and Derby. A feature of the upland districts is the total absence of hedges, and the substitution of limestone walls, put together without any mortar or cement.
Other Industries.—The manufactures of Derbyshire are both numerous and important, embracing silks, cotton hosiery, iron, woollen manufactures, lace, elastic web and brewing. For many of these this county has long been famous, especially for that of silk, which is carried on to a large extent in Derby, as well as in Belper and Duffield. Derby is also celebrated for its china, and silk-throwing is the principal industry of the town. Elastic web weaving by power looms is carried on to a great extent, and the manufacture of lace and net curtains, gimp trimmings, braids and cords. In the county town and neighbourhood are several important chemical and colour works; and in various parts of the county, as at Belper, Cromford, Matlock, Tutbury, are cotton-spinning mills, as well as hosiery and tape manufactories. The principal works of the Midland Railway Company are at Derby. The principal mineral is coal. Ironstone is not extensively wrought, but, on account of the abundant supply of coal, large quantities are imported for smelting purposes. There are smelting furnaces in several districts, as at Alfreton, Chesterfield, Derby, Ilkeston. Besides lead, gypsum and zinc are raised, to a small extent; and for the quarrying of limestone Derbyshire is one of the principal English counties. The east and the extreme south-west parts are the principal industrial districts.
Communications.—The chief railway serving the county is the Midland, the south, east and north being served by its main line and branches. In the north-east and north the Great Central system touches the county; in the west the North Staffordshire and a branch of the London & North-Western; while a branch of the Great Northern serves Derby and other places in the south. The Trent & Mersey canal crosses the southern part of the county, and there is a branch canal (the Derby) connecting Derby with this and with the Erewash canal, which runs north from the Trent up the Erewash valley. From it there is a little-used branch (the Cromford canal) to Matlock.
Population and Administration.—The area of the ancient county is 658,885 acres, with a population in 1891 of 528,033, and 1901 of 620,322. The area of the administrative county is 652,272 acres. The county contains six hundreds. The municipal boroughs are Chesterfield (pop. 27,185), Derby, a county borough and the county town (114,848), Glossop (21,526), Ilkeston (25,384). The other urban districts are Alfreton (17,505), Alvaston and Boulton (1279), Ashbourne (4039), Bakewell (2850), Baslow and Bubnell (797), Belper (10,934), Bolsover (6844) Bonsall (1360), Brampton and Walton (2698), Buxton (10,181), Clay Cross (8358), Dronfield (3809), Fairfield (2969), Heage (2889), Heanor (16,249), Long Eaton (13,045), Matlock (5979), Matlock Bath and Scarthin Nick (1810), Newbold and Dunston (5986),
New Mills (7773), North Darley (2756), Ripley (10,111), South Darley (788), Swadlincote (18,014), Whittington (9416), Wirksworth (3807). Among other towns may be mentioned Ashover (2426), Barlborough (2056), Chapel-en-le-Frith (4626), Clowne (3896), Crich (3063), Killamarsh (3644), Staveley (11,420), Whitwell (3380). The county is in the Midland circuit, and assizes are held at Derby. It has one court of quarter sessions and is divided into fifteen petty sessional divisions. The boroughs of Derby, Chesterfield and Glossop have separate commissions of the peace, and that of Derby has also a separate court of quarter sessions. The total number of civil parishes is 314. The county is mainly in the diocese of Southwell, with small portions in the dioceses of Peterborough and Lichfield, and contains 255 ecclesiastical parishes or districts. The parliamentary divisions of the county are High Peak, North-Eastern, Chesterfield, Mid, Ilkeston, Southern and Western, each returning one member, while the parliamentary borough of Derby returns two members.
History.—The earliest English settlements in the district which is now Derbyshire were those of the West Angles, who in the course of their northern conquests in the 6th century pushed their way up the valleys of the Derwent and the Dove, where they became known as the Pecsaetan. Later the district formed the northern division of Mercia, and in 848 the Mercian witenagemot assembled at Repton. In the 9th century the district suffered frequently from the ravages of the Danes, who in 874 wintered at Repton and destroyed its famous monastery, the burial-place of the kings of Mercia. Derby under Guthrum was one of the five Danish burghs, but in 917 was recovered by Æthelflæd. In 924 Edward the Elder fortified Bakewell, and in 942 Edmund regained Derby, which had fallen under the Danish yoke. Barrows of the Saxon period are numerous in Wirksworth hundred and the Bakewell district, among the most remarkable being White-low near Winster and Bower’s-low near Tissington. There are Saxon cemeteries at Stapenhill and Foremark Hall.
Derbyshire probably originated as a shire in the time of Æthelstan, but for long it maintained a very close connexion with Nottinghamshire, and the Domesday Survey gives a list of local customs affecting the two counties alike. The two shire-courts sat together for the Domesday Inquest, and the counties were united under one sheriff until the time of Elizabeth. The villages of Appleby, Oakthorpe, Donisthorpe, Stretton-en-le-Field, Willesley, Chilcote and Measham were reckoned as part of Derbyshire in 1086, although separated from it by the Leicestershire parishes of Over and Nether Seat.
The early divisions of the county were known as wapentakes, five being mentioned in Domesday, while 13th-century documents mention seven wapentakes, corresponding with the six present hundreds, except that Repton and Gresley were then reckoned as separate divisions. In the 14th century the divisions were more frequently described as hundreds, and Wirksworth alone retained the designation wapentake until modern times. Ecclesiastically the county constituted an archdeaconry in the diocese of Lichfield, comprising the six deaneries of Derby, Ashbourne, High Peak, Castillar, Chesterfield and Repington. In 1884 it was transferred to the newly formed diocese of Southwell. The assizes for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire were held at Nottingham until the reign of Henry III., when they were held alternately at Nottingham and Derby until 1569, after which the Derbyshire assizes were held at Derby. The court of the Honour of Peverel, held at Basford in Nottinghamshire, which formerly exercised jurisdiction in the hundreds of Scarsdale, the Peak and Wirksworth, was abolished in 1849. The miners of Derbyshire formed an independent community under the jurisdiction of a steward and barmasters, who held two Barmote courts (q.v.) every year. The forests of Peak and Duffield had their separate courts and officers, the justice seat of the former being in an extra-parochial part at equal distances from Castleton, Tideswell and Bowden, while the pleas of Duffield Forest were held at Tutbury. Both were disafforested in the 17th century.
The greatest landholder in Derbyshire at the time of the Domesday Survey was Henry de Ferrers, who owned almost the whole of the modern hundred of Appletree. The Ferrers estates were forfeited by Robert, earl of Derby, in the reign of Henry III. Another great Domesday landholder was William Peverel, the historic founder of Peak Castle, whose vast possessions were known as the Honour of Peverel. In 1155 the younger Peverel was disinherited for poisoning the earl of Chester, and his estates forfeited to the crown. Few Englishmen retained estates of any importance after the Conquest, but one, Elfin, an under-tenant of Henry de Ferrers, not only held a considerable property but was the ancestor of the Derbyshire family of Brailsford. The families of Shirley and Gresley can also boast an unbroken descent from Domesday tenants.
During the rebellion of Prince Henry against Henry II. the castles of Tutbury and Duffield were held against the king, and in the civil wars of John’s reign Bolsover and Peak Castles were garrisoned by the rebellious barons. In the Barons’ War of the reign of Henry III. the earl of Derby was active in stirring up feeling in the county against the king, and in 1266 assembled a considerable force, which was defeated by the king’s party at Chesterfield. At the time of the Wars of the Roses discontent was rife in Derbyshire, and riots broke out in 1443, but the county did not lend active support to either party. On the outbreak of the Civil War of the 17th century, the county at first inclined to support the king, who received an enthusiastic reception when he visited Derby in 1642, but by the close of 1643 Sir John Gell of Hopton had secured almost the whole county for the parliament. Derby, however, was always royalist in sympathy, and did not finally surrender till 1646; in 1659 it rebelled against Richard Cromwell, and in 1745 entertained the young Pretender.
Derbyshire has always been mainly a mining and manufacturing county, though the rich land in the south formerly produced large quantities of corn. The lead mines were worked by the Romans, and the Domesday Survey mentions lead mines at Wirksworth, Matlock, Bakewell, Ashford and Crich. Iron has also been produced in Derbyshire from an early date, and coal mines were worked at Norton and Alfreton in the beginning of the 14th century. The woollen industry flourished in the county before the reign of John, when an exclusive privilege of dyeing cloth was conceded to the burgesses of Derby. Thomas Fuller writing in 1662 mentions lead, malt and ale as the chief products of the county, and the Buxton waters were already famous in his day. The 18th century saw the rise of numerous manufactures. In 1718 Sir Thomas and John Lombe set up an improved silk-throwing machine at Derby, and in 1758 Jedediah Strutt introduced a machine for making ribbed stockings, which became famous as the “Derby rib.” In 1771 Sir Richard Arkwright set up one of his first cotton mills in Cromford, and in 1787 there were twenty-two cotton mills in the county. The Derby porcelain or china manufactory was started about 1750.
From 1295 until the Reform Act of 1832 the county and town of Derby each returned two members to parliament. From this latter date the county returned four members in two divisions until the act of 1868, under which it returned six members for three divisions.
Antiquities.—Monastic remains are scanty, but there are interesting portions of a priory incorporated with the school buildings at Repton. The village church of Beauchief Abbey, near Dronfield, is a remnant of an abbey founded c. 1175 by Robert Fitzranulf. It has a stately transitional Norman tower, and three fine Norman arches. Dale Abbey, near Derby, was founded early in the 13th century for the Premonstratensian order. The ruins are scanty, but the east window is preserved, and the present church incorporates remains of the ancient rest-house for pilgrims. The church has a peculiar music gallery, entered from without. The abbey church contained famous stained glass, and some of this is preserved in the neighbouring church at Morley. Derbyshire is rich in ecclesiastical architecture as a whole. The churches are generally of various styles. The chancel of the church at Repton is assigned to the second half of the 10th century, though subsequently altered, and the crypt beneath is supposed to be earlier still; its roof is supported by four round pillars, and it is approached by two stairways. Other remains of pre-Conquest date are the chancel arches in the churches of Marston Montgomery and of Sawley; and the curiously carved font in Wilne church is attributed to the same period. Examples of Norman work are frequent in doorways, as in the churches of Allestree and Willington near Repton, while a fine tympanum is preserved in the modern church of Findern. There is a triple-recessed doorway, with arcade above, in the west end of Bakewell church, and there is another fine west doorway in Melbourne church, a building principally of the late Norman period, with central and small western towers. In restoring this church curious mural paintings were discovered. At Steetley, near Worksop, is a small Norman chapel, with apse, restored from a ruinous condition; Youlgrave church, a building of much general interest, has Norman nave pillars and a fine font of the same period, and Normanton church has a peculiar Norman corbel table. The Early English style is on the whole less well exemplified in the county, but Ashbourne church, with its central tower and lofty spire, contains beautiful details of this period, notably the lancet windows in the Cockayne chapel.
The parish churches of Dronfield, Hathersage (with some notable stained glass), Sandiacre and Tideswell exemplify the Decorated period; the last is a particularly stately and beautiful building, with a lofty and ornate western tower and some good early brasses. The churches of Dethic, Wirksworth and Chesterfield are typical of the Perpendicular period; that of Wirksworth contains noteworthy memorial chapels, monuments and brasses, and that of Chesterfield is celebrated for its crooked spire.
The remains of castles are few; the ancient Bolsover Castle is replaced by a castellated mansion of the 17th century; of the Norman Peak Castle near Castleton little is left; of Codnor Castle in the Erewash valley there are picturesque ruins of the 13th century. Among ancient mansions Derbyshire possesses one of the most famous in England in Haddon Hall, of the 15th century. Wingfield manor house is a ruin dating from the same century. Hardwick Hall is a very perfect example of Elizabethan building; ruins of the old Tudor hall stand near by. Other Elizabethan examples are Barlborough and Tissington Halls.
The village of Tissington is noted for the maintenance of an old custom, that of “well-dressing.” On the Thursday before Easter a special church service is celebrated, and the wells are beautifully ornamented with flowers, prayers being offered at each. The ceremony has been revived also in several other Derbyshire villages.