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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

You can see pictures of Bonsall which are provided by:
"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.



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.