Situated in limestone country at the head of beautiful Lathkill Dale is the sturdy little village of Monyash with its neat rows of houses, attractive green and pond.
Formerly an important lead mining centre for the High Peak, Monyash had its own Barmote Court, which sat at the Bull’s Head at Easter and Michaelmas to settle mining disputes and to hear complaints of theft, trespass and grievances of lead miners. Judgements were made based on custom and precedent handed down over the years.
In order to encourage the growth of the lead mining industry a charter was granted in 1340 to hold a weekly market and a fair. A village market is now held, on spring bank holiday weekends, on the green. Where the old market cross still stands, the base made up from the former village stocks. But the importance of Monyash goes back much further. People from pre-historic times have been attracted to the area as evidenced by the stone circle at nearby Arbor Low, the ancient trackways and burial mounds.
The availability of water from a bed of clay about 100 yards square, on the edges of which rose 23 springs was almost certainly the major factor why people settled here. Relics of an ancient flint tool factory, perhaps Derbyshire’s first industry, have been found locally, most of them now being housed in Sheffield City Museum. The Roman road known as ‘The Street’ passed the village on the western side.
Only Fere Mere, once the village’s source of drinking water, remains of the fives meres that originally existed to retain water in what was otherwise a dry limestone area. Before Cow Mere was covered over, farmers used to drive their livestock to drink according to an agreed schedule with other farmers. Meres are round ponds, usually with concrete bases, the making of which was once an important industry in Derbyshire.
The parish church of St Leonard’s dates back to the 12th century. Encircled by tall lime trees planted in the 18th century by the Reverend Robert Lomas, it is one of the prettiest in the county. Unfortunately, it is not the limes the vicar will be remembered for, but the tragic end to his life. When one dark and stormy night he was returning from Bakewell the worse for drink, he fell off a cliff into Lathkill Dale and was killed. The cliff from which he fell is now known as Parson’s Tor. It is said that a local person predicted this terrible event after he had witnessed the Rev Lomas and a crowd of drunken lead miners attack a Methodist preacher who was addressing a meeting. The villager was so upset at what he had seen that he forecast the vicar would die a dreadful death.
Monyash was a stronghold for the Quaker movement for over 100 years, and in 1668, John Gratton the most famous of the Midland Quakers, came to live in the village where he remained for 40 years. Apart from being imprisoned for his faith, he suffered grievously at the hands of his fellow men. As this extract from a book about his life relates ‘…I got on top of a the wall and spoke to the people, but a company of rude fellows set on to stone us, the stones flew above my head and rattled in the tree, yet hit me not. But a woman that happened to sit near me, a great stone hit her and wounded her…’ The Quaker Meeting House in the village is now used for other purposes.
Between 1981-84 a research project, the Integrated Rural Development Plan, was undertaken in the village to create new business opportunities, community initiatives and to improve the environment. This project appears to have been very successful judging by the improvements that have taken place since then. There is now a new village hall, opened in 1986 by the Duchess of Devonshire, children’s play area, the old toll bar has been saved from dereliction and the Quaker Chapel repaired. Perhaps the most impressive achievement came in 1989, when impatient with the cramped conditions at the local school, the villagers raised the money required and did most of the work themselves to provide an extra classroom and store.
Most of the houses in the village were built during the 18th or early 19th century. The Bull’s Head partly built in the 17th century is probably the oldest. Next door, the former blacksmith’s shop has been converted into tearooms that are very popular with walkers. Jack Mere has been covered over and converted into a car park. Opposite Fere Mere is Chandler’s House where candles once were made for mining and domestic use with tallow supplied by local butchers. The wide grass verges near here were used as a ropewalk, and much later to stack incendiary bombs during the Second World War before transportation to an ammunition site.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Magpie Lead Mine (Tel. 01629 583834) leased to the Peak District Mines Society, the surface remains are the best example in Britain of a 19th century lead mine with impressive mine buildings and winding gear. Ring for opening details. For more information see special feature
Arbor Low Stone Circle this huge stone circle consists of a ring of stones surrounded by a grass bank and a ditch. No one knows for certain if the stones originally stood upright.
Over Haddon, a picturesque village overlooking Lathkill Dale, with Haddon Hall only about one mile away. In 1854, it became Derbyshire's 'Klondike' when it was thought gold had been discovered in a lead mine. A company was formed and plans were made to build a railway line. Alas, it was nothing more than iron pyrites.
The Bull’s Head (Tel. 01629 812372) a fine old village pub with beamed ceilings and an imposing coat of arms above the stone fireplace. Home-cooked snacks and meals served lunchtime and evenings. Eat in the main bar or in a separate dining room. A beer garden and outside seating are available.
The Old Smithy (Tel. 01629 814510) formerly a Blacksmith’s shop which has been converted into a very popular café. Musical instruments adorn the walls. Bistro evenings take place most Saturdays – telephone for details. The café is now licensed. There is seating outside by the green. Open daily weekdays from 10am, weekends from 9am.
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.
On leaving Monyash the walk takes you through typical upland limestone countryside. In just over one mile, One Ash Grange is reached.
After that the path drops steeply to Lathkill Dale, a National Nature Reserve, whose clear waters are reputedly the purest in the county.
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.