Anyone describing Stoney Middleton as a quiet and peaceful place is likely to attract strange looks and the expectation that men in white coats will soon arrive to take them away, from those people who have only driven through the village. For those that have taken the time to explore the back streets of this fascinating old village a different view will prevail.
The A623 from Chesterfield to Chapel-en-le-Frith divides the village in half, with the houses clinging to the hillside where any space can be found. On the western side of the village, the cliffs rise almost vertically and this is where aspiring mountaineers come to test their skills. Further to the east, the land begins to flatten out a little, but Stoney Middleton must have one of the steepest High Streets in the country. This was the route through the village before the present road along Middleton Dale was opened in 1840.
Lover’s Leap is a prominent limestone cliff that overhangs Middleton Dale. It acquired its name after an incident in 1762, when a young woman by the name of Hannah Baddaley, attempted to commit suicide by throwing herself over the cliff top. Her lover, William Barnsley, had jilted her, and she had decided to end it all. Miraculously her billowing petticoats acted like a parachute on the way down, until they were caught in brambles protruding from a ledge. This saved her life and all she suffered were a few cuts and bruises. However, this story does not have an happy ending: Hannah died two years later of natural causes, still unmarried. The details of this event are recorded on an information board outside the Lover’s Leap Café that marks the location of the leap.
Industry has played an important part in the life of the village, ever since the Romans discovered lead here. Stoney Middleton has at one time or another been involved in businesses as diverse as lead mining, smelting, quarrying, boot and candle making. Today, quarrying on a large scale is carried out on the outskirts of the village.
The Roman Baths in The Nook still have warm thermal springs, where Roman soldiers who had a fort at Navio, in the Hope Valley, once liked to bathe. Although there is no irrefutable proof of this, Roman coins have been found in the vicinity and it is thought there was a small camp at Castle Hill near where the Normans had a fortification. For many years after the Roman occupation, the springs with a constant temperature of 63 degrees, attracted the infirm. The Parish Council and the Peak Park Planning Board have recently restored the baths.
In a delightfully secluded square is St Martin’s Church, surrounded by picturesque cottages and with a stream running alongside. Like the thermal springs, the church is dedicated to the Patron Saint of Cripples and Soldiers. It has a 15th century tower at the front leading into an octagonal church that is claimed to be one of only two in the country.
The annual well dressings take place every July, when two wells and a children’s well are dressed. A wide range of supporting events also takes place on the first Saturday and the WI provides teas in the Hall grounds. The event is always well attended and the money raised is used to support local causes.
Stoney Middleton Hall, hidden away behind the church, was the home of the Denham family for many years. Thomas Denham, who acquired the hall following the death of his uncle, became Lord Chief Justice of England in 1832, a position he held for 18 years. He enlarged and modernised the house and had the medieval bathhouse demolished and re-built in an attempt to increase its use amongst his tenants and employees. Part of the hall gardens have now been converted into an attractive housing development.
The octagonal fish and chip shop on the main road, formerly a Toll House, is a Grade II listed building. Alongside is The Grove Garden, given to the community for relaxation purposes by the Grove family. Heading towards the combined Post office and shop, if you look carefully you will be able to discern a small waterfall partially hidden away amongst the vegetation. Lennon’s Boot Factory, the last manufacturer of safety boots in this country is to the rear. Further up the steeply rising hillside is the Wesleyan Reform Chapel.
At the foot of High Street, behind the village Cross stands the Moon Inn. Originally called ‘The Old Moon,’ before it was moved across the road to its present site, when it was called ‘The New Moon’ before adopting its present name. In coaching days, the ‘old’ pub was the principal posting station between Manchester and Sheffield where horses were changed.
At the foot of High Street is the well-known Castlegate Farm Shop, ran by John Hancock combining a butchery business, delicatessen and bakery. Further up the street Stoney Middleton Primary School faces Pine View where the butchery business of L W Hancock & Son operates. The Hancock family have been in the business for nearly 175 years.
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 SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE AREA
Eyam Museum (Tel 01433 631371) tells the dramatic story of the bubonic plague outbreak that so decimated the inhabitants of the village in 1665/6. Local geology, archaeology and social and industrial development are all covered in this excellent little museum. Please telephone for details or visit website.
Padley Chapel an early 14th century gatehouse is all that remains of Padley Manor House, the home of two Roman Catholic families who were persecuted. In 1588, two priests from here were executed for their beliefs.
Monsal Head a famous Derbyshire beauty spot where Monsal Dale viaduct is recognised as a triumph of Victorian engineering, but came in for strong criticism when it was built. John Ruskin the poet and conservationist wrote, ‘The valley is gone - and now every fool in Buxton can be in Bakewell in half an hour and every fool at Bakewell in Buxton’.
The Moon Inn (Tel 01433 630203) originally called ‘The Old Moon,’ before it was moved across the road to its present site, when it was called ‘The New Moon’ before adopting its present name. In coaching days, the ‘old’ pub was the principal posting station between Manchester and Sheffield where horses were changed. Food available lunchtime and evenings. Beer garden at rear.
The Lover’s Leap Café (Tel 01433 630300) named after the limestone cliff that overhangs Middleton Dale, where the café stands. It acquired its name after an incident in 1762, when a young woman by the name of Hannah Baddaley, attempted to commit suicide by throwing herself over the cliff top. The board outside the café tells the story. The café is open Friday and Saturday 8-5.30pm, Sunday 9-6pm and Bank Holidays 9-6pm. Bistro open Wednesday-Saturday 7-12pm.
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.
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.
STONEY MIDDLETON WALK
Splendid views and regular reminders of the terrible hardships endured by the neighbouring village of Eyam, make this a very special walk.
The first part of the walk leads you down to the River Derwent for a short stroll along the riverbank, before turning west at Froggatt Bridge and climbing steadily up towards Eyam.
On reaching Eyam, the Lydgate Graves provide another reminder of the horrific death toll inflicted by the plague.
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.