Stanton-By-Bridge is a quiet, retiring little village, apart from on the eastern side where the busy A514 disturbs the air of peace and tranquility. The road is particularly busy at weekends, when motor-racing is taking place at nearby Castle Donington and the roar of engines can be heard throughout Stanton if the wind is blowing in that direction.
A grass triangle of land at the junction of the main street with A514 is the site of an oak tree planted to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. From this point the road runs off to the west down the village’s main street, before narrowing considerably after passing Manor Farm on the edge of the village. Apart from local traffic the road is little used, and it is possible even on a sunny day to walk the half mile or so from one end of Stanton to the other without encountering pedestrians or moving vehicles.
The village street is composed of several old farmhouses that have been converted into private dwellings and a mixture of old and new properties. Hollies Farm is quite imposing, standing on a slightly elevated site, behind a small triangular green, from where a lane leads off to join the road to Ticknall.
There is no shop or pub in the village to disturb the peace, but it has not always been so quiet. Cock fighting – after Sunday worship - and quarterly horse-racing once took place in the village. Nowadays walking and sailing seem to be the main recreational activities. There are many excellent walks available in the area around Stanton, Ticknall, Melbourne, Ingleby and Repton. On the northern side of the village, on what was once a gravel extraction site, Swarkestone Sailing Club is situated.
St Michael’s Church at the west end of the main street is quite compact and was described by Pevsner as “small and low”. It incorporates structural evidence dating back to the Anglo Saxons and has a fine Norman doorway on the south side. The former Rectory is a rather grand property with a far more impressive entry than the church. Girls from the Women’s Land Army were billeted there during the Second World War.
Across the road, Sir George Crewe, in about 1840, gave a plot of land to the village, for a school to be built on part of the manor house site. This was extended in 1876 to accommodate children from Swarkestone, and an extra classroom was added in 1913 for the infants. Falling numbers led to the school closing in 1951. Three years later, the school buildings were purchased and refurbished by the villagers and opened as the village hall. The Duke of Devonshire performed the opening ceremony only two weeks after a village fete had raised enough money to clear the total amount owing for the hall.
Stanton is a common place name; there are over 20 Stantons in the country, several of which are in Derbyshire. In order to distinguish the village from others of the same name, over the centuries it has been known as Stanton Juxta Pontem, Stanton at Swarston Bridge, and nowadays as Stanton-by-Bridge.
The present name seems to be fully justified as travellers passing through the village, who see only the east-end, are much more likely to remember Swarkestone Bridge and Causeway. In any event the bridge and causeway seem somewhat misnamed, because the boundary with Swarkestone is mid-stream at the river bridge. This means that only part of the bridge and none of the causeway is in Swarkestone.
A Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade I listed building, the bridge and the causeway are reputedly the longest piece of mediaeval bridgework still in use in the country. Together the bridge and causeway stretches for about three quarters of a mile above flat meadowland, which is prone to flooding. The gritstone used in construction was probably quarried in Stanton parish.
There has been a bridge here for 800 years, and at one time a bridge chapel and toll house stood partway across the bridge. From early days the bridge and causeway provided an important route south from Derby. At the southern end of the causeway the road turned east along what is now Ward’s Lane to King’s Newton, leaving the village of Stanton on higher ground to the west.
According to local legend, the building of Swarkestone Bridge in the 13th century is attributable to two sisters who saw their lovers drowned trying to cross the River Trent on horseback. They crossed the flooded meadows safely, but then either missed the ford altogether, or were swept off by the strong current. The horrified sisters saw all this happen through a hall window and vowed to ensure no else met the same fate. They spent the rest of their lives building the bridge and died penniless as a result.
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PLACES OF INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Melbourne Hall and Gardens (Tel. 01332 862502) once the home of Victorian Prime Minister, William Lamb. Please telephone for details or visit website.
Calke Abbey and Grounds (Tel. 01332 863822) ‘The place where time stood still,’ was the phrase used to describe this property when The National Trust opened it to the public in 1989. One of the most unusual of English country houses with large collections of birds, ornaments, paintings and photographs. Please telephone for details or visit website.
Foremark Reservoir (Tel. 01283 701709) a 230 acre reservoir provides footpaths, picnic facilities, sailing and good trout fishing. It is in the National Forest and a recent addition is an area of woodland planted with 10,000 trees. Parking for cars and coach parking (charges apply). The facilities include - on site toilets, cafe kiosk, all abilities trail, picnic area and play area. Disabled Facilities: Designated disabled parking.
The John Thomson Inn (Tel. 01332 862469) is listed in ‘Roger Protz’s Britain’s Best 500 Pubs.’ A former farmhouse, it is large and spacious and brews its own beer. Food served, Tuesday to Sunday from 12-2pm. Normally closed Mondays.
Melbourne Hall Tea Rooms (Tel. 01332 864224) situated in what used to be the washrooms and bake house of the hall. One of the old baking ovens still remains in these delightful old tea rooms that have built up an enviable reputation for light meals and teas. Open Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays during the summer. Reduced winter opening. Please telephone for further details.
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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A delightful walk, through undulating South Derbyshire countryside, but one where extra care is needed when visiting Anchor Church.
One of the highlights of the walk is the section that passes through the grounds of Foremark Hall. A Palladian mansion built in 1760, for Sir Robert Burdett, it is now a preparatory department for Repton School.
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