A charming old world village which climbs steeply out of the Ecclesbourne Valley rising to about 850 feet at the upper end, and looking down over miles of lovely countryside. Kirk Ireton’s wide main street used to be flanked by large farmhouses, but most of these have now been converted to residential use. Several interesting little roads lead off to the left as you climb the main street, with houses seemingly perched on every level bit of ground.
It was the excellent water supply from the local springs that first attracted settlers to the area, and until 1905, the villagers collected water from the two wells on Well Street. Then a pump was installed to pump the water that fed the wells up to a reservoir on Blackwall Lane, and from their it was piped to people’s homes. The village was in fact the first in the Ashbourne Rural District to have piped water.
Kirk Ireton at one time before the improvement in communications was somewhat isolated and as a result was self-supporting and any strangers passing through were likely to meet with a hostile reception. What remains is the post office and shop next to the Barley Mow, the school, the church and the Methodist chapel. At the bottom of the street is the village hall where private and community events take place.
Farming has played an important role in the development of the village due to the excellent quality of the soil. Dairy farming was the most successful as the steeply sloping fields were a hindrance to arable farming. The arrival of the railway in the 1860s and the opening of a station at Idridgehay, meant milk could easily be transported to Derby and beyond.
The village long since threw off its unfriendly reputation and is now considered one of the most welcoming in the area. This was not the case though a few years ago when there was considerable opposition to the Carsington Reservoir Project, but all to no avail.
Carsington Water officially opened by HM the Queen in 1992, instantly became one of Derbyshire’s top tourist attractions. The original estimate of three hundred thousand visitors per year soon had to be revised to over a million. Further evidence of the popularity of Carsington came when the East Midlands Tourist Board awarded it the ‘Visitor Attraction of the Year’ in 1993.
The reservoir was built at a cost of one hundred and seven million and increased Severn Trent’s raw-water capacity by ten per cent to meet growing demand for water in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. Water is pumped from the River Derwent at Ambergate Pumping Station and piped to Carsington Water when the river level is high then stored in the reservoir and released when the weather is very dry.
The Barley Mow, a handsome, Jacobean-style house dating back to 1683, is one of the very few remaining old English pubs to have retained the traditional image of what a public house used to look like in times past. The small main bar has a tiled floor, wooden settles and a coal fire. There are two other simply furnished rooms, but no fruit machines or piped music to disturb the art of good conversation.
Tradition at the Barley Mow was so strong that when decimal coinage was introduced in 1971, the owner, Mrs Ford, refused to accept the new currency. This called regulars a great deal of amusement to watch the faces of visitors when asked for ‘five shillings and eleven pence’. Customers had to pay in ‘old money’ up to the time of Mrs Ford’s death in 1977. It is now the only public house remaining in the village following the closure of the Bull’s Head.
The oldest building in the village is the 12th century Holy Trinity Church, which is entered through an interesting 18th century pillared gateway believed to have come from the Old Manor House. The font came to a tragic end in the 1800s when, after being used as a water butt for a time – a plumber decided to melt some lead in it and lit a fire underneath, only to split it into many pieces.
A walk along The Crofts provides wonderful views of the Ecclesbourne Valley. The walk returns past the Old School House on Well Bank and the former Wesleyan Chapel on Coffin Lane, along which they used to carry the coffins for burial.
Kirk Ireton Wakes are still held in the middle of the summer, but the once popular event of bowling for the pig, when the winner took home a live pig is no more!
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE AREA
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.
1. To return to the main site click the link below.
2. To return to the contents page of the main website click the link below.
KIRK IRETON - BYGONE DAYS
An interesting collection of old photographs and information.
KIRK IRETON WALK
An easy walk with impressive views, mainly over fields and along quiet country lanes to Carsington Water, where the walk along the banks of the reservoir may be extended dependent on the available time.
The walk passes the village on the north side and continues through fields, before descending Oldfield Lane and continuing close to the edge of Carsington Water.
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