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Bonsall - A Village and its History. The Bonsall History Project, 2006.

Chapters are on:

  1. Geology of the Bonsall Area;
  2. Archaeology, Prehistory and Early History of Bonsall and its Region;
  3. A Thousand Years of Growth;
  4. Running Bonsall;
  5. Bonsall at School;
  6. Bonsall at Prayer;
  7. Roads and Transport;
  8. Architecture and Building;
  9. Farming;
  10. Lead mining, fluorspar and opencast mining;
  11. Other Extractive Industries;
  12. Working with Renewable Materials;
  13. Food and Drink;
  14. Textiles;
  15. Bonsall at War;
  16. Bonsall at Play;
  17. The Bonsall Factor;
    Index of family names.

This is by far the best of the many village histories I've read. The lists of family names in Chapter 3 - 'A Thousand Years of Growth' are a real treat for any Family Historian, but the accompanying analyses really bring the past to life in a way that no simple lists can. For instance, I was made aware that the 17th century Inventories - the accounts of goods owned by the deceased, which we are so familiar with from our own research - were of real people, and I could well imagine walking into the shop belonging to the ABELL family in the 17th century, and seeing some of the Inventory goods for sale. A bargain for £10 + post and package, but please see the Bonsall History Project website for how to order.

Bonsall - A Portrait of a Village and its Church. The Bonsall History Project, 2000.



  • The parish was in the Brassington sub-district of the Ashbourne Registration District.

  • The Bonsall 1861 census is Online at the Wirksworth site. The 1871 and 1881 census are on this site, also.

  • The table below gives census piece numbers, where known:

Piece No.
1861 R.G. 9 / 2524
1891 R.G. 12 / 2756


You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Bonsall area that are recorded in the GENUKI church database. This will also help identify other churches in nearby townships and/or parishes. You also have the option to see the location of the churches marked on a map.

Church History

  • The Anglican parish church is dedicated to Saint James the Apostle.

  • The church was restored in 1863.

  • The church seats 300.

  • There ia a photograph of the church at Flickr.

  • Alan HEARDMAN has a photograph of St James Church on Geo-graph, taken in June, 2008.

Church Records

  • The Anglican parish register dates from 1587 and is in good condition.

  • We have a pop-up window of a handful of Parish Register marriages in a text file for your review. Your additions are welcomed.

  • A CD containing a transcription of The Parish Registers of St James's Church is available for purchase from Valerie NEAL.

  • The parish was in the rural deanery of Wirksworth.

  • The Wesleyan Reformer Methodists had a chapel built here in 1852.

  • Alan HEARDMAN has a photograph of Ebenezer Wesleyan Reform Chape on Geo-graph, taken in June, 2008.

  • The Primitive Methodists built a chapel here in 1852 but abandoned it by 1891. At that time it was a Temperance Hall.

  • The Baptists built a chapel here in 1824.

Civil Registration

  • Civil Registration began in July, 1837.

  • The parish was in the Brassington sub-district of the Ashbourne Registration District.

Description and Travel

"BONSALL is a parish, containing a village which was once a market town, and the market cross, consisting of a pillar, bearing the date of 1687, resting on a base formed by an ascent of fifteen steps, still remains. The houses which form the village are scattered over a considerable plot of ground, the centre of which is between three and four miles N.W. from Wirksworth, and about one mile and a half from Cromford; the approach to it from the latter place being by the Via Gellia, a singularly romantic ravine."

[Description from Pigot and Co's Commercial Directory for Derbyshire, 1835]

Upper Town and Slaley are hamlets in the parish.

You can see pictures of Bonsall which are provided by:



Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Bonsall has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SK279583 (Lat/Lon: 53.121132, -1.584563), Bonsall which are provided by:

Military History

  • There is a War Memorial for World War II. There is a picture at Flickr.

Military Records

  • There is a grey stone plinth War Memorial for World War I. The names are listed at Bonsall War Memorial.

Politics and Government

  • This place was an ancient parish in Derby county and became a modern Civil Parish when those were established.

  • This parish was in the ancient Wirksworth Hundred (or Wapentake).

Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

  • Bastardy cases would be heard at the Matlock petty session hearings every other Wednesday.

  • As a result of the Poorlaw Amendment Act reforms of 1834, this parish became a member of the Ashbourne Poorlaw Union.