Sheldon is a lovely upland village perched high above the River Wye. It is situated three miles west of Bakewell off the A6, with the villages of Ashford-in-the-Water and Monyash only a short distance away. It has one street with a mixture of old houses and farms on both sides. Mature trees and attractive grass verges add to the charm of this Conservation Village.
The views just outside the village of the Wye Valley and the lower part of Monsal Dale are excellent. A good place to enjoy the panoramic views is close by the children’s play area, where visitors are frequently seen eating their food at the picnic tables provided.
The village is recorded in the Domesday Book, but the building of the present dwellings came mainly when lead mining was enjoying a prosperous time in the locality. Most of the stone built houses date from the 18th century, but not the pub. The Cock and Pullet was built in 1995, and must be one of the Peak District’s newest pubs. It is named after the cockerels and pullets that used to run around in front of a barn where the pub is now situated. The village’s previous pub, the Devonshire Arms, which stood next door, closed in 1971, and is now a private house.
Lead mining flourished around here in the 18th and 19th centuries, and one third of a mile south of Sheldon stands the Magpie Mine. It is now scheduled as an ancient monument, and is the most complete example of a lead mine remaining in the Peak District. It is about 1050 feet above sea level. Footpaths approach it both from Sheldon and the Monyash to Ashford-in-the-Water road. Members of the public may visit it for external inspection at any reasonable time.
Magpie Mine has a recorded history from 1739, but dates back much further and is said locally to be over 300 years old. Protracted troubles broke out in the 1820s and 1830s between the miners of Magpie, Maypitts and Red Soil mines. The dispute revolved around a vein of lead, and at various times the miners broke through into each others workings. Often when this occured one side would light a fire underground and try to smoke the other out. Tragically, in 1833, three Red Soil miners were suffocated to death by a fire lit by the Magpie miners.
Following a year in prison and a lengthy court case at Derby Assizes, five Magpie miners were acquitted of the charge of murder owing to conflicting evidence and the lack of intent. The three widows of the Red Soil miners reputedly put a curse on the mine and, supposedly, a ghost was seen there in 1946.
In 1842, there were two deaths at the Magpie Mine and during the next 50 years the mine was dogged by problems caused by flooding and fire. In 1880, the company operating the mine even changed its name to the Magpie Mining Company, probably in the hope of ridding itself of the curse!
After a period of inactivity, several attempts were made to revive the mine, the last in the1950s. However, in 1958, the constant battle with flooding and falling prices forced the closure of the mine. The mine now receives far more visitors than anticipated in 1962, when the tenancy of the Magpie Mine Cottage was taken over as a Field Centre, by the Peak District Mines Historical Society. There is usually someone present at the mine at weekends to provide visitors with information, and it is open to the public during the Heritage Weekend, in September. Further information regarding the mine may be obtained from the Peak District Mining Museum at Matlock Bath.
The Parish Church of St Michael and All Angels at Sheldon was erected in the 19th century. The demolition of a former chapel of ease, which stood in the centre of the village and was reputedly the smallest chapel in Derbyshire, supplied most of the materials. In 1753, an unusual wedding is said to have taken place between a boy of fourteen and an eighty year old widow, who came to the altar on crutches! The church was refurbished in 1983, when the bell was made to ring again. The church, although small, is impressive with a particularly attractive timber ceiling.
The Hartington Memorial Hall was presented to the inhabitants of the village in memory of William John Robert Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, Major of Coldstream Guards who was killed in action on the 10 September 1944.
Sheldon has its own legend: villagers reported in 1601, that they had seen a duck fly into a tree and disappear. Some years later when the tree was felled and its trunk cut into planks, the imprint the shape of a duck could be seen. This has led to the suggestion that this is where the term ‘duck-boards’ originated!
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE AREA
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. The site can be explored on foot at any reasonable time. Ring for special opening details.
Bakewell Old House Museum (Tel 01629 813642) the oldest house in Bakewell, dating from the 1530s, acts as an atmospheric backdrop for a superb collection of costumes, textiles, toys, agricultural and industrial history. Open from 1 April to 31 October, from 11-4pm.
Haddon Hall (Tel 01629 812855) perhaps the most perfect example of a medieval manor house in the country. The gardens are a delight and believed to be the most romantic in Britain, being the setting for the elopement of Dorothy Vernon and John Manners. Please telephone for details or visit website.
Cock and Pullet (Tel. 01629 814292) this attractive village pub, opened in 1995, was once a farm building. The coal fire, beams and lovely antique furniture make this excellent little pub seem to be one of the oldest in The Peak National Park rather than one of the youngest. Open daily. Food served lunchtimes and evenings. Accommodation 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.
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This is a refreshing upland walk, with wild flowers in spring and summer adding to the enjoyment.
The eye-catching limestone village of Monyash is visited on the outward journey. On the return trip, Magpie Mine stands one third of a mile south of the village of Sheldon, from where it can be seen standing darkly silhouetted against the skyline.
Magpie Mine is about 1050 feet above sea level. Footpaths approach it both from Sheldon and the Monyash to Ashford-in-the-Water road. Members of the public may visit it for external inspection at any reasonable time.
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