WIRKSWORTH, Derbyshire - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868
"WIRKSWORTH, a parish, market, polling, and petty sessions town, chiefly in the hundred of Wirksworth, but partly in those of Appletree and the hundred of High Peak, county Derby, 139 miles from London, 13 miles N.W. of Derby, 4 S. of Matlock, and 2 S.W. of Cromford, where the Cromford canal and High Peak railway have their termini. The Manchester and Buxton railway also passes close by, and it is itself a railway station. It is situated amongst the limestone hills, comprising 13,640 acres, with a population in 1861 of 7,098. The parish includes, besides the market-town of the same name, the townships of Alderwasley, Ashleyhay, Biggin, Callow, Cromford, Hopton, Ible, Middleton, Idridgehay, with Atton and Cliffe Ash, and the hamlet of Ironbrook Grange. Wirksworth was anciently written Werchesworde, and Wircesworth, and is supposed to have derived its name from extensive lead and barytes mines in the vicinity, which appear to have been worked so early as the 2nd century by the Romans, from the discovery of a pig of lead in 1777, with an inscription of the Emperor Adrian, and subsequently by the Saxons, who carried on mining operations here on an extensive scale. In the early Saxon times the manor belonged to the Abbey of Repton, but was conveyed by the Abbess Kenwara, in 835, to Humbert, on his engaging to furnish lead to the value of £15 annually to Archbishop Ceolnothbad for the use of Christ's Church, Canterbury. In the Domesday survey it is described as having a church, a priest, and three lead mines, and was then the property of the crown, but was subsequently granted by John to William de Ferrers, in whose family it remained till the attainder of Robert de Ferrers in the reign of Henry III., who presented it in 1265 to his son Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, since which period the manor has formed part of Tutbury Honour in the duchy of Lancaster. The town of Wirksworth, which, in 1861, bad 2,692 inhabitants, is situated in a valley at the southern extremity of the mining district. It is well paved and lighted with gas, and is supplied with water conducted in pipes from the hills on its eastern side. The chief employment of the inhabitants is in connection with the mining and smelting of lead, but some are engaged in the manufacture of tape, gingham, silk, cotton, and stockings. There are extensive stone quarries, and spars, fluors, &c., and are found in great variety. Malting is also carried on. Petty sessions are held on the first and third Tuesdays in each month, and a county court sits monthly at the Moot Hall, rebuilt in 1814 by the Hon. Charles Bathurst, then chancellor of the duchy. In this hall is preserved the hoppet or standard brass dish of Henry VIII.'s time for measuring the ores, and in it are also held the barmote courts twice a year before the steward of the manor to determine all disputes and offences against the ancient customs as defined and amended by the Derbyshire Mining Customs and Mineral Courts Act, 1852. The code of laws and customs by which these courts are governed closely resemble those of the stanneries of Cornwall; one custom is, that every person has the privilege of digging and searching for lead ore in any part of the "King's Field", which comprehends the greater part of the wapentake, and should he discover a vein of lead, he has a right to work it, and erect buildings necessary for that purpose, without making any compensation to the owner of the land. A court of requests was established here in 1837 under a special Act of parliament. Two courts baron annually take place at Easter and Michaelmas, and a court leet at Easter for the king's manor, under the lessee of the crown. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners are now the impropriators. There is also another manor within the parish, called the Holland or Richmond manor, which has no courts, but was granted in 1553 by Henry VIII. to Ralph Gell. The living is a vicarage* in the archdeaconry of Derby and diocese of Lichfield, value £300, in the patronage of the bishop. The church is dedicated to St. Mary. The chancel was restored in 1855. In the interior are several old monuments of the Gells, Lowes, Hurts, and Wigleys, including an effigy of Anthony Gell, Esq., founder of the grammar school of almshouses, bearing date 1583. There are besides chapels of ease at Cromford, at Alderwasley, rebuilt in 1855, on the site of a former one of Henry VIII., and at Middleton, built in 1844, also a new district church at Idridgehay, erected in 1855. There are chapels for Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, Independents, and Baptists, in the town of Wirksworth, besides several in other parts of the parish. The free grammar school, founded by Anthony Gell in 1576, situated close to the churchyard, was rebuilt in 1828. It has an income from endowment of £160, and is attended by about 110 pupils, of whom 50 are admitted on the foundation, and the rest are subject to moderate quarterly charges for education. In connection with the school charity are Gell's almhouses, or hospital, for six almsmen, who receive 3s. 6d. a week, with other privileges. There are also several other schools in various parts of the parish, and a mechanics' institution at Wirksworth. An annual feast is kept for a week, commencing on the first Sunday after the 8th of September. Market day is Tuesday for corn and provisions. Fairs are held on Shrove and Easter Tuesdays, 12th May, 18th July, 8th September, and the third Tuesday in November, principally for cattle, the last being also a statute fair." "ABBOT'S LOW, a large barrow, near Hopton, in the parish of Wirksworth, and county of Derby. Here many British antiquities were found. See "archæologia", xii. 8." "ASHLEYHAY, a township in the parish of Wirksworth, hundred of Appletree, in the county of Derby, rather more than 1 mile from Wirksworth." "BIGGIN, a township in the parish of Wirksworth, hundred of Appletree, in the county of Derby, 5 miles to the W. of Winster. Ashbourne is its post town. The living is a perpetual curacy* in the diocese of Lichfield, value £57, in the gift of the Duke of Devonshire. The township is in the honour of Tutbury, in the duchy of Lancaster." "CALLOW, a hamlet in the parish and hundred of Wirksworth, in the county of Derby, 2 miles to the S.W. of Wirksworth. Near the village is Callow Hall." "GRIFF GRANGE, an extra-parochial place in the hundred of Wirksworth, county Derby, in the vicinity of Wirksworth. [The place-names of Derbyshire groups it with Hopton -RL 2003]" "HOPTON, a township in the parish and hundred of Wirksworth, county Derby, 2 miles S.W. of Wirksworth, 7 N.E. of Ashbourne, and 4½ S.W. of Cromford railway station. Hopton formerly belonged to Sir John Gell, Bart., the parliamentary commander, and who resided at Hopton Hall. Here are almshouses for four poor persons, endowed by Sir Philip Gell, Bart., in 1719, with an annuity of £22 6s. derived from his manor called Griff Grange. A Roman inscription, urns, &c., have been found here. Stone of excellent quality is quarried to a considerable extent, and some of the inhabitants are employed in the lead mines." "IBLE, a township in the parish and hundred of Wirksworth, county Derby, 4 miles N.W. of Wirksworth. The village is very small and wholly agricultural. The Primitive Methodists have a chapel." "IRON-BROCK-GRANGE, a hamlet in the parish of Wirksworth, hundred of High Peak, county Derby, 11 miles N.W. of Derby." "IVONBROOK GRANGE, a hamlet in the parish of Wirksworth, hundred of High Peak, county Derby, 4 miles N.W. of Wirksworth."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of
Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]