GREAT ROWSLEY, a township in the parish of Bakewell, hundred of High Peak, county Derby, 3 miles S.E. of Bakewell, its post town, and 5½ from Matlock. It is a station on the Ambergate and Buxton branch of the Midland railway. The village, which is of small extent, is situated near the confluence of the Wye with the river Derwent, and the inhabitants are wholly agricultural. The Derwent is here crossed by an ancient bridge, and the river Wye is also crossed by a stone bridge of modern construction.

The parish includes the hamlet of Allport, and is a resort for anglers. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Lichfield, value £50. Divine service is performed in the schoolhouse, licensed for that purpose by the bishop. It was erected in 1841 at the expense of the Duke of Rutland, who is lord of the manor. [Recorded as ROWSLEY MAGNA in Gazetteer -RL 2003]"

"ALPORT, a hamlet in the townships of Rowsley and Youlgreave and the parish of Bakewell, in the county of Derby, 5 miles to the N.W. of Castleton. Alpert Brook runs through the hamlet. It takes its rise in the Peak and joins the Ashop at Gillop Hey, not far from the lofty Alpert rocks, which rise to a height of nearly a thousand feet. The calcareous deposit from streams which run through a limestone district, called Tufa, is obtained here, and is employed in the construction of ornamental rockwork.”

from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868


Archives & Libraries

The web-page author recommends the Library at Bakewell for researching this parish.



  • BRIGGS, John Joseph - The Peacock at Rowsley, Bemrose and Sons, 1869. ISBN unknown.
  • TAYLOR, Keith - Baslow, Rowsley, Edensor, Pilsley, Beeley. Ashridge Press/Country Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1-906789-06-0.
  • WAITE, Glynn - Rowsley Miscellany. Pynot Publishing, 2006. ISBN 978-0-9552251-1-6.
  • WAITE, Glynn - Rowsley Railway Miscellany - 2. Pynot Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-0-9552251-9-2. Added 25 Oct 2008.
  • WAITE, Glynn & KNIGHTON, Laurence - Rowsley: A Rural Railway Centre. The Midland Railway Society, 2004. ISBN 0-9537486-2-6


The lychgate was placed in the churchyard in 1897 by Robert W. M. NESFIELD.

Basher EYRE has a photograph of the churchyard at Rowsley on Geo-graph, taken in July, 2015.

Michael SPENCER has started an extract of Parish register burials in a file for your review. Your additions and corrections are welcomed.



  • 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 / 2149
1861R.G. 9 / 2540
1881R.G. 11 / 3448
1891R.G. 12 / 2774 & 2775

Church History

  • The Anglican parish church is dedicated to Saint Catherine. The name has changed to Katherine over time.
  • The church was built in 1855.
  • A mortuary chapel was added to the church in 1859.
  • The ecclesiastical parish was formed in October 1860 from parts of Bakewell, Darley and Youlgreave.
  • The church seats 200.
  • Bill BOADEN has a photograph of St. Katherine's Church on Geo-graph, taken in November, 2015. We note that he uses an alternative spelling of the saint's name.
  • Stephen HORNCASTLE has a photograph of St. Catherine's Church on Geo-graph, taken in June, 2002.
  • John SLATER has a photograph from a different angle of St. Catherine's Church on Geo-graph, taken in May, 2013.

Church Records

  • The Anglican parish register dates from 1855.
  • The church was in the rural deanery of Bakewell.

Civil Registration

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

Description & Travel

"ROWSLEY (Great) township and village, situated at the confluence of the river Wye with the Derwent, 3¼ miles E.S.E. from Bakewell. The church, dedicated to St. Catherine, is situated on a slight elevation, about the centre of the village, and is a handsome stone edifice in the Norman style of architecture, with turret and one bell; the Rev. John Jones, B.A., incumbent. Here is a good day school."

[Description from Harrison, Harrop & Co.'s Directory & Gazetteer of Derbyshire, 1860]

Rowsley is 149 miles north of the City of London and about 4 miles south-east of Bakewell. Alport is a hamlet in this parish. The parish is also profiled at Derbyshire UK.

Chris HEATON has a photograph of the River Derwent by Bank Wood on Geo-graph, taken in September, 2011.

And YES, if you visit, watch out for the ducks as you drive. These ducks don't belong to J. THOMAS, but he took the picture in January, 2005.

You can see pictures of Rowsley which are provided by:




Encyclopaedias & Dictionaries

From: "A Topographical Dictionary of England", by Samuel LEWIS, 7th Edition, 1848, Vol 3, p.707:

"ROWLSEY, GREAT, a township, in the parish and union of Bakewell, hundred of High Peak, northern division of the county of Derby, 3 1/2 miles south-east-by-east from Bakewell; containing, with part of the township of Alport, 243 inhabitants [in 1848]. The village is situated near the confluence of the rivers Derwent and Wye. a handsome chapel of ease, to which a school-house is attached, was erected by the Duke of RUTLAND, in 1841."

From 'The Derbyshire Village Book' published by the Derbyshire Federation of Women's Institutes & Countryside Books, 1991:

"Great Rowsley, sitting astride the A6 leading to Bakewell, is one of the gateways to the Peak National Park, as also is Little Rowsley, on the Chatsworth Road.

Great Rowsley has long had strong links with Haddon and with Bakewell. In 1636 Grace, Lady Manners founded a school `for the better instructing of the male children of the inhabitants of Bakewell and Great Rowsley, in good learning and Christian religion', today's Lady Manners School. The people went to the churches at Bakewell and Beeley, and earlier still the chapel at Nether Haddon. Today the village is still in the main part of the Haddon estate, only small portions having been sold for private households.

The village with its turnpike gates (two toll-bar cottages still stand) was on a main stage coach route, then in 1849 the railway arrived. The life of the small farming community must have been rudely disturbed by this intrusion into its midst. A lot of building took place in those years, giving much of the shape of the village today. Not only the railway, with its bridges, viaduct and new station (now gone), but also the school 1840, Wye bridge 1844, the church and vicarage 1855, and a new corn mill. Some of the roads were realigned. In the 1890s came the railway houses, the Midland Cottages, with the Methodist chapel in 1910. The earlier years of this century saw the widening of the old narrow bridge over the Derwent to its present state, the village hall built and the Express Dairy by the station.

The railway, with its extensive marshalling yard - Rowsley sidings and locomotive shed, went under the 'Beeching Plan' in 1967, and shortly afterwards the dairy (although some of the buildings are used today for small industry). Caudwell's Mill has become a popular waterpowered working museum with craft workshops including glass blowing, wood turning and ceramics. But the days when Rowsley had found employment for a wide area around have gone.

Probably the best-known building is the Peacock Hotel, with the inscription above the front door of 'John Stevenson 1652 . It was a one time dower or manor house and farmhouse. In the l9th century Rowsley, 'embosomed in hills', with its thatched houses and two rivers, was the haunt of artists and anglers, who stayed at the Peacock. Mrs Gaskell stayed on a visit to Chatsworth House in September 1857, as did the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico. Equally popular as a roadside hostelry is the Grouse and Claret (formerly the Station Hotel), built around the time of the coming of the railway, and in recent years extensively developed and modernised.

East Lodge nearby is now a country house hotel. Mention must be made of the recreation ground, given to the village by the Duke of Rutland in 1926. The tennis and bowls are no more, leaving football and cricket, the latter celebrating its centenary in 1990 with a new pavilion. There is also a children's play area. Of the numerous small farms of 50 or 100 years ago, four larger ones remain.

Today there is a village shop and post office. At the sawmill (once a fulling mill with a dyeworks nearby in Blue Street) pine furniture is made. The blacksmith's shop has long gone. It was part of one of the two coaching inns, the Nag's Head and the Red Lion, which are said to have stood in the village square. There are two shops in Little Rowsley.

The village fete takes place during the last weekend in June, with a Well Dressing and Flower Festival in the church, at which time opportunity should be taken to view the tomb, in Siena marble, of Lady John (Catherine) Manners, described by one writer in 1893 as `the most exquisite monument I ever saw'."




  • For centuries most of the parish land was given over to pasturage.
  • The parish was known for its production of Gritstone, used in building, and grindstones.
  • Most of Rowsley village is part of the Rowsley Conservation Area established in July, 1987.
  • The Peacock Hotel on Bakewell Road was constructed in 1652 as a manor house. It is a Grade II* building nwith British Heritage.
  • These are the names associated with the Peacock Hotel in various directories:
Year  Proprietor
1895 The Misses COOPER and DAWSON
1912 Walt B. COOPER
  • Rowsley used to have a large Marshalling Yard which employed many local people.
  • There are photographs and some history of Rowsley at the Derby Photos website.
  • Jon CANTRILL provides this snippet from the Derby Telegraph of 24 September 1914:
    "Matlock Petty Sessions

    Wednesday - Before Messrs Tom WRIGHT, W. LENNOX, J. BUNTING and F. B. WILDGOOSE

    "Geo. Wm. HOPKINSON of Rowsley, a railway porter at Darley Dale, was charged on remand in custody with placing sleepers on the railway to the danger of the public. Mr NEW, of Birmingham, appeared for the prosecution, and the defence was conducted by Mr CLEAVER, of Alfreton. The defendant pleaded guilty. Evidence was called of sleepers being placed on the line, which had been struck by the engines passing by. Defendant had admitted the offence, and said he did it to frighten the drivers, and was in drink at the time. He would not drink any more. The line blocked was not a main line. Mr. CLEAVER asked for leniency because of the respectability of the parents of the prisoner. The Bench decided to fine the prisoner £10 and the costs."

There are several people names George William HOPKINSON in Derbyshire at the time of the 1914 petty session.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SK251658 (Lat/Lon: 53.188602, -1.625649), Rowsley which are provided by:


Military History

In 1891 Major Edward LEVETT (10th Hussars) is residing in this parish. He married Susan Alice ARKWRIGHT in Feb, 1876, in Cromford, DBY. He would die here in Little Rowsley in 1899.

Circa 1920, a War Memorial was unveiled in the churchyard, just south-east of the church. It is a Sandstone Saxon cross on a tapering pedestal standing on a rectangular base of two tall steps. It is a Grade II structure listed with Historic England. Sadly, at last report (2012) the memorial is very dirty and corroded.

Basher EYRE has a photograph of the War Memorial in the churchyard on Geo-graph, taken in July, 2015.


Military Records

These are the men commemorated on the churchyard War Memorial (As per the IWM website):

  1. Barber, Joseph
  2. Boden, John William, pte, 7th Lancs.
  3. Brookfield, Charles
  4. Hyde, Charles Frederick, pte, London Regt.
  5. Pope, George Cliffd
  6. Pugh, Thomas, pte. 2/6 Sherwood For.
  1. Ricketts, Herbert Wain, F.O., RAFVR
  2. Skinner, George Wm.
  3. Stone, Herbert Wm., pte. 1/6 Sherwood For.
  4. Wain, A. J.
  5. Wain, Herbert, pte. 14th Durham Light Inf.
  6. Wilson, Francis Percy, pte. 1st. North Lancs.

Joseph BARBER "might" be the 17-year-old son of Joseph and Sarah found in the 1911 census of Darley, DBY.

I couldn't find Charles BROOKFIELD in any census of Derbyshire.

George C. POPE is likely the one found in the 1891 census, age 12, in Rowsley, son of John and Hannah.

George W. SKINNER is likely the 14-year-old son of William and Annie SKINNER found in the Rowsley 1901 census.

I could find no record of an "A. J. Wain" in any Derbyshire census.



There is a report of a railway accident and the death of Margaret KIRKPATRICK in the Derby Mercury dated Wednesday January 19, 1881.



The Sheffield Daily Telegraph carried an Obit. on 20 Jul 1855 for the Vicar Of Penistone, Sunderland, who died and was burried in Rowsley.

The Derbyshire Times, Chesterfield edition, for 30 April 1898 carried an obituary for Charles CHANDLER of Rowlsey, age 88.


Politics & Government

  • This place was an ancient Township in Bakewell parish in Derbyshire and was incorporated as a modern Civil Parish in December, 1866.
  • This parish was in the ancient High Peak Hundred (or Wapentake).
  • You may contact the Rowsley Parish Council regarding civic or political issues, but they are NOT staffed to assist with family history searches.
  • District governance is provided by the Derbyshire Dales District Council.

Poor Houses, Poor Law

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

Probate Records

Major Edward LEVETT's Will was proved in March, 1900, and mentions Cecil Thomas PARKER and Francis Holdsworth HUNT.



A Church of England School (mixed) was built here in 1840 to serve 150 children.  In 1912, average attendance was 140.

Graham HORN has a photograph of Rowlsey School on Geo-graph, taken in July, 2012.