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Help and advice for Darley

If you have found a problem on this page then please report it on the following form. We will then do our best to fix it. If you are wanting advice then the best place to ask is on the area's specific email lists. All the information that we have is in the web pages, so please do not ask us to supply something that is not there. We are not able to offer a research service.

If you wish to report a problem, or contribute information, then do use the following form to tell us about it.




  • JACKSON, Lewis - My Darley and Beyond : The Journey of a Lifetime. Ashridge Press/Country Books, 2006. ISBN 1-901214-72-9.
  • KILBURN, Terence - Darley's 'Lady Bountiful' and The Whitworth Trail. The Whitworth Trust, 2005. No ISBN.
  • KILBURN, Terence - Joseph Whitworth: Toolmaker. The Whitworth Centre, 2002. Published in limited numbers. No ISBN.
  • TAYLOR, Keith - Darley Dale Remembered: Through 50 Years of War and Peace. Ashridge Press/Country Books, 2002. ISBN 1-898941-79-3.


  • The parish was in the Matlock sub-district of the Bakewell Registration District.
  • The table below gives census piece numbers, where known:
Piece No.
1861 R.G. 9 / 2541
1891 R.G. 12 / 2775


You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Darley area or see them printed on a map.


Church History

  • The Anglican parish church is dedicated to Saint Helen.
  • The church dates from the 12th century.
  • The church was restored in 1877.
  • The church tower was restored and strengthened in 1902-03.
  • The church seats 500.

Rosemary LOCKIE tells us:

In medieval times wood was an important commodity in the defence of the realm. For instance at the Battle of Agincourt the skill of the English Longbow Archers was the deciding factor in bringing victory to Henry V, and following his success, the King, having decided he was onto a winner, decreed that each parish should be responsible for providing the raw material for making Longbows, and for providing a quota of archers with the necessary skills for using them.

Wood from yew trees was particularly suited for this purpose, and churchyards were a convenient place for planting them. Many churchyards even today contain a yew tree which may have been planted for this purpose, as they do seem to be particularly long lived. The Archers practised, and were trained in areas known as Archery Butts and some villages and towns still have areas, or streets, called "The Butts" as relics of this time.

The training of Archers was decreed by law, and as a result the English Longbowman was second to none. A skilled archer could develop a speed of 15 arrows a minute, and an arrow was lethal at 300 yards - a firepower and range which wasn't equalled until the 19th Century with firearms. Indeed, some battles were decided on a shoot-out between the opposing archers! Archers comprised 10 percent of an Army, with 10 percent Knights in Armour, with the remainder Infantrymen.

Nevertheless, somewhat ironically, shortly after Henry V's decree, the Longbow was superseded by the Crossbow, which required less skill, and its effects were more incapacitating.

Although the postcard referred to above is now 80-plus years old, the church still looks very much the same, even today.


Church Records

  • The Anglican parish register dates from 1539 for burials, 1541 for marriages and 1569 for baptisms. The registers are in excellent prservation.
  • A CD containing a transcription of The Parish Registers of St Helen's Church is available for purchase from Valerie NEAL.
  • The church was in the rural deanery of Bakewell.
  • The Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built in 1904.
  • David BEVIS has a photograph of the Dale Road Methodist Church on Geo-graph, taken in July, 2013.

Civil Registration

  • Civil Registration began in July, 1837.
  • The parish was in the Matlock sub-district of the Bakewell Registration District.

Description and Travel

"DARLEY DALE is a hamlet, in the parish of Darley, which is partly in the hundred of Wirksworth, but chiefly in the hundred of High Peak, lying on the road between Matlock Bath and Bakewell, about five miles from either place. The situation of this hamlet is one of great beauty, being seated in a lovely valley, upon the banks of the Derwent."

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

Darley Moor lies 2 miles east of the village centre.

You can see pictures of Darley which are provided by:





Ask for a calculation of the distance from Darley to another place.

Click here for a list of nearby places.


Historical Geography

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



  • Buried in St. Helen's churchyard is Sir Joseph WHITWORTH (died Jan. 1887). He is a famous English engineer, entrepreneur and inventor.
  • The Whitworth Institute was erected in 1890.
  • Neil THEASBY has a photograph of the Whitworth Memorial on Geo-graph, taken in November, 2013.

Medical Records

  • Whitworth Hospital is situated directly on the A6 in Darley Dale, opened in 1889 with 14 beds. The hospital is still operating, now under the National Health Service. Patient records are normally not archived, but you may find administrative, financial and photographic records in the local Archives office. I found 62 records listed at the National Archives website, A2A.

Military History

  • During World War One, there was a Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital here.
  • Alan HEARDMAN has a photograph of the War Memorial at Geo-graph, taken in September, 2008.

Military Records

There is one Commonwealth War Grave from World War II in St. Helen's churchyard:

  1. Donald Standish SOPPITT, telegraphist, HMS Hunter, Royal Navy, age 19, died 23 Nov. 1944. Son of George and Minnie SOPPITT, of Matlock.

Names, Geographical

If we consider the Whitworth Institute, on the corner of the A6 and Station Road as the centre of the ancient parish of Darley, it would have included the settlements of Wensley and Snitterton to the south-west, Little Rowsley, Tinkersley, Northwood, Darley Hillside and Two Dales to the north, and Farley and Upper Hackney to the south-east. Wensley and Snitterton became a separate parish in 1840, becoming known as South Darley, whilst the remainder of the old parish retained its name as Darley for some years after that, though it was also recorded in some sources as 'North Darley'. The River Derwent marks the boundary between the two. The railroads often listed parish names with unique suffixes or prefixes on their time-tables, so that passengers could be more certain of where they were arriving. There are many places in England with the same names. These additiions often "stuck".

The emergence of the name “Darley Dale” in preference could be a consequence of the coming of the railway, and the renaming of the station at Darley to “Darley Dale” in 1890. Such an attraction as a 'Dale' would have captured the imagination of the Victorians, suggesting they could expect to enjoy some romantic scenery along the valley of the River Derwent, which the railway line follows north towards Bakewell.

Alternatively, it might have been deemed expedient with the coming of the postal service, to distinguish it from the parish of Darley Abbey in the south of the county, though it is not known when this 'shift' actually occurred. If the difference in Kelly's Directory of 1895 and 1912 can account for it, it would appear to have been some time between 1895, and 1912, as 'Darley Dale' was not mentioned in 1895.

Coincidentally - or otherwise the Whitworth Institute was opened the same year as the station was renamed - in 1890, 3 years after Sir Joseph Whitworth's death.

The settlement of 'Two Dales' is usually found in old documents referred to as 'Toad Hole'. It is not known when this changed, nor why, though I think most of us can have a good guess!


Politics and Government

  • This place was both an ancient parish and an ancient Township in Derby county and it became a modern Civil Parish when those were established.
  • This parish was partly in the ancient Wirksworth Hundred (or Wapentake).
  • You may contact the Darley Dale Town Council regarding civic or political matters, but they are Not staffed to help you with family history searches.
  • District governance is provided by the Derbyshire Dales District Council.

Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

  • Bastardy cases would be heard at the Wirksworth petty session hearings.
  • As a result of the Poorlaw Amendment Act reforms of 1834, this parish became a member of the Bakewell Poorlaw Union.