The word ‘perched’ is frequently over used in travel writing, but it really does apply to Stanton-in-Peak – the main street is steep and is quite a pull up on a bike!
A picturesque village clinging to the side of Stanton Moor, with some outstanding views over classic Derbyshire.
Stanton in Peak is a picturesque village with some of the most outstanding views in Derbyshire. It is a typical Derbyshire hill village, and like its nearest neighbour Birchover almost a mile away to the south, it straggles up either side of a steep main street running from west to east.
Towering above the village to the east, and taking its name from the village, is the massive bulk of Stanton Moor, an island of gritstone in a sea of limestone, surmounted by wooded slopes and criss-crossed by ancient trails. Famous for its bronze age burial mounds, extensively excavated by local antiquarians Heathcote and Bateman, and for its stone circles, including the Nine Ladies in a clearing in the birch woodland, with the (fire damaged and broken) King’s Stone close by. When the local quarries were re-opened, some of the protesters set up camp close by much to the chagrin of local residents. Near the northern edge of the moor stands the square ‘Earl Grey Tower’ built by the Thornhill family. At first sight it looks like a random folly but it was actually built to commemorate the passing of the Reform Bill of 1832.
A walk around the village away from the main street is highly recommended and proves very rewarding, not least for its unexpected little courtyards and quaint corners, around which hidden gardens lie.
Many of the houses date from the 17th and 18th centuries, with some mid-Victorian additions by William Pole Thornhill (1805-75). Perhaps one of the earliest, and the most unusual, is the three-storey structure of Holly House, which stands facing the main street with 8 of its 14 windows blocked up – a result of the window tax in 1697 – the house being at least half a century earlier. Close by stand a pair of houses with door lintel dates of 1664.
On the corner opposite Holly House stands the village’s only public house, the unusually named ‘Flying Childers’, named after a Derby winning racehorse owned by the 4th Duke of Devonshire.
At the top of the village stands the Methodist Chapel of 1829, and Stanton also has a magnificent Reading Room, given by Mrs. Thornhill-Gell in 1876, which is now used as the Village Hall.
Standing amidst its 5000 or so acres of rolling parkland and with magnificent views across the valley to the west, Stanton Hall dates from the late 16th century. It is the home of the Thornhill family. The hall was extensively rebuilt in 1693, and extended further over a century later by Bache Thornhill. It was Bache who ordered the building of the deer estate wall which runs for several hundred metres alongside the main street. Sadly, nowadays only one gabled bay remains of the original building.
Successive generations of Thornhills have been responsible for the majority of buildings in the village including the Holy Trinity church, provided by William Pole Thornhill in 1839. This picturesque little church with its perpendicular spire stands almost adjacent to the hall on the hillside, surrounded by well manicured green lawns and a well kept ‘garden of remembrance’ .
William Pole Thornhill built a viewing platform, known locally as ‘The Stand’ on the Rowsley road. The Stand contains a stone bench and overlooks the beautiful valley where the River Bradford joins the Wye at Fillyford Bridge.
This hillside village changes character with the seasons; in the severest winters it can be cut-off by blizzards and seem an isolated and inhospitable place. Pictured on the left, the evening sun imbues a mellow warmth to the gritstone buildings. In in the summer months it is transformed into a welcoming and colourful village of immense charm and pleasing character; the sound of leather on willow echoes from the immaculately kept and stunningly situated cricket ground high above the village, which at 850ft above sea-level is probably one of the highest in the county.
Condensed from Tom Bates ‘Insider’s guide to Peak District Villages’ series of leaflets which are now out of print.