Only a mile from the busy A52 that links Ashbourne and Derby, the visitor must think they are in another world when they arrive at Osmaston. Delightful half-timbered cottages under thatched roofs, lattice windows, a duck pond overlooked by a village green, a 160-year old church and an old world pub all combine in a beautiful picture postcard setting. Thatched cottages are rare in Derbyshire, but at Osmaston, even the village hall has a thatched roof.
Osmaston, an old village, was known as Osmundestune when the Domesday Book was compiled and had a population at that time of 60 to 80 people. One hundred and fifty years later the village’s present name was in use, along with other versions. In 1845, the first stone was laid in the construction of Osmaston Manor and, four years later, it was completed. It was built for Francis Wright, owner of Butterley Iron Works, who during his lifetime built St Pancras Station as well as carrying out other important projects both at home and abroad.
Wright was a considerable benefactor to the village, building a new church and schools before work started on his home. He also built or rebuilt the estate properties in the village and planted a considerable number of trees. At Ashbourne, he had St John’s Church built. However, although there is a memorial erected in his honour in Ashbourne Market Place, he was not a universally popular man. His action in putting a stop to the annual fair, of which he disapproved, and his efforts to stop Shrovetide football did not go down well with many of the inhabitants.
George Brittlebank, a lawyer, lived at Monument House in Ashbourne. When in 1864 the police banned Shrovetide football he threw the ball to the angry crowd, after it had been smuggled to him across the market place in a shopping basket carried by a local woman. He promised to defend, at no cost, anyone arrested playing the game. This was the prelude for the game to begin, and the tradition still continues in the 21st century.
Francis Wright died in 1873, and today nothing remains of Osmaston Manor except the garden terraces and the kitchen gardens. The most interesting feature is an ornate 150 feet high Italian-type tower that keeps visitors guessing as to its purpose. It was a communal chimney, built to serve the whole manor. The house had 70 rooms, a bake-house, wash-house and a brew-house and a central tunnel carried smoke to the chimney in the garden.
After Wright’s death, his heir only lived spasmodically at the house before departing permanently after putting the house up for sale. In 1883, Sir Andrew Barclay Walker, donor of Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery, purchased and moved to the manor with his family. However, the situation changed when one of his descendants, Sir Ian Walker, inherited the Okeover estate on the western side of Ashbourne in 1955. He added their name to his own and moved to Okeover Hall six years later. With no buyer forthcoming for the manor, the decision was taken to demolish, and in 1966, the last stone was removed, but the family continued to maintain the estate.
The Gothic Park Lodge remains and the former polo ground that used to attract thousands of well-dressed visitors to Osmaston now belongs to the village. The Annual Ashbourne Agricultural Show, organised by the Ashbourne and District Royal Shire Horse Society, whose patron is the Queen, is held there on the third Saturday of August every year. The area has a strong tradition for breeding shire horses. Apart from the shires, other animals are on display at the show, together with craft stalls and trade stands. Plenty of family entertainment is provided.
The two oldest cottages, both with thatched roofs, overlook the duck pond, where an unusual seat can be found made up of discarded horseshoes. It looks uncomfortable, but is not.
The four thatched cottages facing the car park were built to celebrate the coronation of King George VI. The village hall was opened on Coronation Day 1937; it is used for various functions including providing dining facilities for the children who attend the local school. A Post Office operates four days a week in an out-building of the popular Shoulder of Mutton public house.
The Wright family built most of the remaining buildings in the village for the occupation of their workers. St Martin’s Parish Church, built in 1845 to replace an earlier building, has many tributes to its benefactors, the Wright family. The register of the church dates back to 1606.
www.derbyshire-peakdistrict.co.uk is an independent, not for profit website.
No recommendation of any establishment is implied by inclusion on this website.
PLACES OF INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Tissington Hall, (Tel. 01335 352200) a fine Jacobean manor house in the heart of the village. Open for guided tours on selected dates in the summer. First tour 1.30pm, last tour 4pm. Please telephone for details or visit website.
Ilam Village with its alpine style cottages and close proximity to Dovedale, is a very popular attraction. The National Trust grounds and country park of Ilam Hall are open to the public.
Ashbourne is one of Derbyshire’s finest towns, with a wealth of Georgian architecture. The triangular cobbled Market Place holds markets twice a week on Thursday and Saturday.
The Shoulder of Mutton: (Tel. 01335 342371) sadly the records of this charming old pub were destroyed in a fire and although a stone records a date of 1805, it is believed to be much older. Home cooked food is available every lunchtime and evening. Large garden with tables.
The Gingerbread Shop Tea Rooms, Ashbourne: (Tel. 01335 346753) it is said that in Napoleonic times, when French prisoners were held in the town, the recipe for gingerbread was given to an Ashbourne baker and has been used ever since. A unique example of a late 15th century timber-built building which has been in continuous use as a bakery since 1805. Open Monday to Friday 8.30am-4.30pm, Saturday 8am-4.30pm.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features on towns and villages with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
The site is expanding to include many other features of interest to the local person and visitor alike. Why not bookmark this site for future reference.
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.
A special new sub-section has been added to this website, based on the Discover Derby Supplement, published by the Derby Evening Telegraph during March 2005. The most recent additions are:
Click below for details.
Bookmark this site so as not to miss other town/ village features, heritage trails and countryside walks to be published shortly. Plus many more interesting features.
This is a lovely relaxing walk through Osmaston Park woodlands to the pretty village of Shirley, then returning alongside Shirley Brook, past an ornamental lake, before climbing gently back to Osmaston.
The route from Osmaston takes you down Park Lane, between two of the park’s lakes. The old water mill with its large wheel has a roof similar to a Swiss chalet.
The strange-looking tower, seen through the trees near the end of the walk, was designed to accommodate all the smoke from the chimneys at Osmaston Hall, before it was reduced to rubble.
The horseshoe seat that faces the thatched cottages across the village duck pond is an excellent place to rest and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the village.
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.