Alpine-style cottages, a Tudor Gothic Hall, an eccentric river and a wonderful background of soft green hills make Ilam a very popular place with visitors. Many of whom come to walk in Ilam Hall’s beautiful parkland, which is free for all to walk round, along the aptly named Paradise Walk by the River Manifold.
Paradise Walk is fringed by woodland, planted as a pleasure ground for the hall, and is a favourite with most people. It was here that Jesse Watts-Russell a wealthy industrialist, had a rather grand hall built. It had battlemented towers, ornamental chimneys and a flag tower. The architect, who designed the hall, was also engaged in the building of Alton Towers and there were some similarities between the two.
Following Watts-Russell’s death, the hall was in the hands of the Hanbury family for a time, before being tried unsuccessfully as a restaurant, then sold, and partly demolished. In 1934, Sir Robert MacDougal was persuaded to buy it for the nation and give it to the Youth Hostels Association ‘for the perpetual use of the youth of the world’. As the YHA did not have a trust body, it gave the building to the National Trust. What remains today are the old entrance hall, armoury and servants’ quarters, which have been converted into a Youth Hostel. There are tea rooms, a shop, information facilities and a car park available for the use of the general public.
A short distance from the YHA is St Bertram’s Bridge, which carried the old road across the River Manifold before the present bridge existed. Bertram, who had connections with the Royal family of Mercia, was returning from Ireland with his wife and newborn child. He left them briefly, only to find on his return that wolves had savaged them both. At once he denounced his heritage and spent the rest of his life as a hermit preaching the gospel.
In the church of the Holy Cross, the chapel of St Bertram contains a shrine that became a place of pilgrimage in the middle ages and the scene of many miraculous cures. The Chantrey Chapel holds a finely carved memorial to David Pike Watts a former owner of the estate, whose daughter married Jesse Watts-Russell.
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ILAM PARK VISITOR CENTRE
The hall is let to the YHA and is not open to the public, but visitors can look round the National Trust shop and information centre. The Manifold Tearooms are very popular serving both hot and cold snacks. Seating is available both inside and out. Large car park. Further information (Tel. 01335 350245) or website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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Alpine-style cottages, a Tudor Gothic Hall, an eccentric river and a wonderful background of soft green hills make Ilam a very popular place with visitors. Many of whom come to walk in Ilam Hall’s beautiful parkland, along the aptly named Paradise Walk by the River Manifold.
The former estate village was mostly demolished and replaced by alpine style cottages, which provided a marked contrast alongside some of the older more traditional buildings.
The beautiful country park at Ilam is an ideal starting point for this walk that takes you through some of the Peak District’s finest countryside.
Dovedale is one of the most treasured beauty spots not only in the Peak District but also in the country. Photographs of the stepping-stones across the Dove must have appeared on more calendars and gift boxes of all shapes and sizes than any other countryside scene in England.
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