From: John BARTHOLOMEW's Gazetteer of the British Isles (1887):

"Darley.- par. and township with ry. sta., N. Derbyshire, on river Derwent, 6 miles SE. of Bakewell -- par., 7,149 ac., pop. 2,527; township, 5,142 ac., pop. 1,848; near the sta. is the vil. of Darley Dale; P.O.; in vicinity is the seat of Darley Hall."


Archives & Libraries

In May 1891 Darley had the Whitworth Institute & Reading Rooms. In 2009, this building was turned over to the people of Darley Dale and underwent a renovation to ensure its continued use.

Darley Dale is served by the Mobile Library on route N, which makes a stops by the Methodist Church every fourth Friday in the early afternoon.

You may find the Library at Matlock very useful. It is open 6 days a week, most weeks, and has a Local and Family History section to help you with your research.



  • 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.
1851H.O. 107 / 2150
1861R.G. 9 / 2541
1891R.G. 12 / 2775

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 mediaeval 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.


Church Records

  • The Anglican parish register dates from 1539 for burials, 1541 for marriages and 1569 for baptisms. The registers are in excellent prservation.
  • 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 & 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:



"The village of Darley Dale appears to be just a string of houses and industrial buildings along the A6 north of Matlock and almost stretching to Rowsley. It is a village that has no real centre, no village green, even the parish church is not situated at the heart of the village. However, if you leave the main road and begin to explore you will find that the settlement has much history to discover and buildings that are of great interest.

It is possible that the present name of Darley Dale may have been invented by the railway company who, around 1890, considered that 'Dale' would make their Darley station more attractive. The growth of Darley Dale was, to a large extent, influenced by the railway. Many older residents still consider that Darley is a railway village and reminisce about railwaymen and so on, although the railway line, the station and the sidings north of the village have long since disappeared. Peak Rail, a group of railway enthusiasts, are at the present time working on reopening the railway line from Matlock through Darley to Buxton, and have done a great deal of work renovating Darley station, so it seems that in the not too distant future steam trains will again run through Darley Dale.

Sir Joseph Whitworth of Manchester, remembered as a successful manufacturer of machine tools and armaments and the inventor of the Whitworth screw thread, became a generous benefactor to Darley Dale in the 19th century. It is after him that important areas of Darley Dale are named and it was his philanthropy and that of Lady Whitworth that founded the local Whitworth Hospital, the Whitworth Institute and the Whitworth Park. Although Darley Dale was greatly improved by Whitworth generosity he was very unpopular with the villagers. He built many miles of high boundary walls around Stancliffe Hall, where he lived, to protect his privary, and on more than one occasion he was in dispute with local landowners.

It is said that in order that the local people should not see him on his way to the church in his carriage, none of the houses were built with windows and doors facing the road.

Sir Joseph Whitworth spent many years planning to build the Whitworth Institute in Darley Dale, but in fact it was erected in 1890 after his death, by Lady Whitworth. The Institute had been planned as the centre of a model village and intended as a school for all the people of Darley Dale - it contained a library, recreation room, a gymnasium, swimming bath and a museum. Large portraits of Sir Joseph and Lady Whitworth hang in the upstairs ballroom and the building contains a Victorian timber-framed roof, wrought iron staircase and wall panels of Hopton marble. Very much unaltered, today the Whitworth Institute serves as a community centre for the people of Darley Dale.

Many years ago Darley Dale was noted for the many acres of land used for nurseries, stretching up the hillside from the village to the moorland above. The soil was particularly suited to the cultivation of conifers and heathers, the species of heather Erica Darleyensis named after the area.

Most of these nurseries have now disappeared except for the one at the edge of the village still managed by descendants of the Smith family who began the original nurseries at the end of the l9th century.

The parish church of St Helen stands between the edge of the village and the river Derwent. Past the church runs the old road known now as Church Lane but once called Ghost Lane, because in the 17th century a pedlar was murdered near the church gates and his ghost is supposed to haunt the lane.

The Darley yew tree overshadows much of the churchyard, although it is much smaller than it used to be. Estimates of its age range from 600-4,000 years old. William Wray, a vicar of the parish in the 18th century, erected a sundial to encourage his congregation to be early for services as in his opinion they spent far too much time gossiping under the yew tree."




  • Buried in St. Helen's churchyard is Sir Joseph WHITWORTH (died Jan. 1887). He is a famous English engineer, entrepreneur and inventor. In 1841, he devised the British Standard Whitworth system, an accepted standard for screw threads. He also created the Whitworth rifle, often called the 'sharpshooter' because of its accuracy and considered one of the earliest examples of a sniper rifle.
  • The Whitworth Institute was erected in 1890.
  • Neil THEASBY has a photograph of the Whitworth Memorial on Geo-graph, taken in November, 2013.
  • And fill your head with the history of Sydnope Stand. 929 feet above sea level.
  • Tony BACON has a photograph of Sydnope Stand on Geo-graph, taken in May, 2010.
  • Tim HODGINS has a photograph of The Church Inn on Geo-graph, taken in July, 2018.
  • David SMITH has a photograph of The Grouse Inn on Geo-graph, taken in September, 2017.


Ian S. has a photograph of West Lodge in Stancliffe on Geo-graph, taken in January, 2015.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SK282637 (Lat/Lon: 53.169878, -1.579217), Darley which are provided by:


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.
  • In 1891, Miss Amy L. BURFORD was the matron.
  • In 1912, Miss Alice PRINGLE was the matron.

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. This memorial is on Whitworth Park Dale Road North (the A6) near Station Road.

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.

The Imperial War Museum lists 61 dead recorded on the War Memorial for WWI and 30 dead for WWII.

  1. Allsop, John
  2. Attwood, Arthur
  3. Barber, Joseph
  4. Barker, William
  5. Boden, Ernest
  6. Boden, John
  7. Carnell, Archibald
  8. Carter, William
  9. Charlesworth, Fred
  10. Clay, Lindsay
  11. Coates, Clarence
  12. Colley, Frank
  13. Crowther, Lewis
  14. Derbyshire, George
  15. Doxey, Abraham
  16. Drury, Leslie
  17. Evans, Charles
  18. Evans, John
  19. Fentem, Fred
  20. Fielding, Arthur
  21. Gray, Harry
  22. Hanson, Fred
  23. Hart, Wileman
  24. Hewittson, Ben
  25. Holden, William
  26. Holland, George
  27. Holmes, Henry
  28. Holmes, Thomas
  29. Houghton, Bertram
  30. Houghton, Leonard
  31. Houghton, Walter
  32. Hulley, George
  33. Lowe, Horace
  34. Owen, William
  35. Pearson, Fred
  36. Pratley, George
  37. Preece, Gilbert
  38. Pugh, Thomas
  39. Reid, Frank
  40. Skinner, George
  41. Slack, William
  42. Slaney, John
  43. Smith, Alfred
  44. Smith, Harold
  45. Smith, James Salisbury
  46. Smith, John
  47. Smith, Joseph
  48. Smith, Sidney
  49. Stone, Herbert
  50. Taylor, Frank
  51. Thompson, George
  52. Travis, Fred
  53. Twyford, Thomas
  54. Wagstaff, William
  55. Wain, Herbert
  56. Wall, George
  57. Wall, George
  58. Waterfall, Benjamin
  59. Waterfall, John
  60. Wilkinson, John
  61. Williams, Ernest

Seaman Wilfred James BOWLER was added to the War Memorial in 2002.


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!



Jane TAYLOR in Redcar provides this notice from the Derby Mercury of 12 May 1803: "DIED: On the 28th ult. Mr. Thomas DUNN, of Darley, near Matlock, in this county."

Rose KELLAND offers this notice from the Derbyshire Times & Chesterfield Herald of Wednesday, 18 November 1903:

"Accident at Temple Normanton, Fatal Result from a Fall in a Public House, Death at Darley Dale.
Inquest on body of JOHN BRUNT, 78, Sawyer and tubbing wedge maker. who lived at the Lings Colliers, Temple Normanton …. Died after breaking his leg in a fall at the pub, had a cough, rheumatic, congested lungs, etc.
M. SYDNEY TAYLOR, Coroner for the High peak Hundreds.
MRS. FANNY DOROTHY BAMFORD John Brunt’s daughter.
JOHN THOMAS GOODLAD landlord of the Lords Arms Temple Normanton
(interesting comments on why Mr Brunt slipped at the pub – health & safety type article!)
Dr. GRAHAM, (Chesterfield),

Politics & 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

  • Bastardy cases would be heard at the Wirksworth petty session hearings.
  • There is an index of Darley Dale Bastardy Papers held at the DRO on the Yesterdays Journey website. Select "Bastardy Papers" on the left side, then "Darley DAle" from the list of parishes displayed.
  • As a result of the Poorlaw Amendment Act reforms of 1834, this parish became a member of the Bakewell Poorlaw Union.


A Temporary School was held, in 1912, at Whitworth Institute. For many decades this served as a prepratory school for boys.

A Public Elementary School was built in 1847 and rebuilt in 1890 and again in 1911 to hold 180 boys and girls.

Peter BARR has a photograph of Darley Churchtown CE(C) Primary School on Geo-graph, taken in May, 2009.