The historic village of Tutbury, nestling on the Derbyshire/ Staffordshire border, contains much to interest the visitor; from a ruined castle to full lead crystal of a quality equal to the finest in the world, from handmade jewellery to a wide range of antiques.
It is likely that the hill on which Tutbury Castle stands was once the home of an Iron-Age Fort. The Saxons had a sizeable fort at Tutbury and the Normans took full advantage of its good defensive location. Tutbury became a thriving commercial and agricultural town and its courts had jurisdiction over several hundred square miles and more than 100 villages.
Now mostly in ruins, Tutbury Castle retains the impressive John of Gaunt’s Gateway as its entrance. Mary, Queen of Scots spent many years of her captivity in the High Tower, complaining bitterly of the cold and damp conditions. Today, the castle affords visitors fine views of the surrounding countryside. A full programme of events is arranged each year. These include concerts, son et lumiere, battle re-enactments, performance of Shakespeare’s plays and events for children.
Bull running was an annual custom in Tutbury, until the Duke of Devonshire banned it in the 18th century. Minstrels, the entertainers of those days, were summoned to Tutbury from Staffordshire and neighbouring counties. They attended a church service and then a banquet, before the Prior released a bull. The poor bull, with its horns cut off, ears cropped, body smeared with soap, tail cut to a stump and beaten pepper blown up its nose, was then chased by the minstrels through the streets. If the bull managed to escape across the bridge into Derbyshire, he remained the property of the Prior. If caught he became the property of the minstrels.
St Mary’s Priory Church dates back to 1089; it has a splendid, much admired Norman doorway. Outside there is a very interesting sundial, but the stocks are a reproduction. The graveyard around the church provides reminders of the massive underground explosion at nearby Fauld in 1944, when 68 people died, including Italian prisoners of war.
On the morning of the explosion, over 4,000 tons of bombs and ammunition were stored at Fauld mine. The explosion devastated the area, and was heard as far away as London. The farm above the mine, together with its occupants, disappeared completely. Rescue attempts were delayed by the destruction of a reservoir containing over six million gallons of water, and one further life was lost because of the heavy pockets of gas left by the explosion.
In early June 1831, workers engaged in excavations in the River Dove to improve the performance of the nearby cotton mill found great hoards of silver coins on the riverbed. News spread quickly. Soon crowds of people arrived to try to benefit from the find, and fights and quarrels broke out. The Duchy of Lancaster asserted the rights of the Crown and moved in to prevent further searches. No-one can be certain why the coins were discovered in the river. The most likely explanation is that they were removed from the Priory, to avoid capture by enemy forces and hidden in the river and never retrieved.
Tutbury Mill once stood close by the bridge; originally, it was a cotton mill. However in 1888, after being in operation just over 100years, the business was transferred to Rocester, near Uttoxeter. The mill was then converted to grind and mill gypsum, mined locally. It is now a recreation and picnic site. This is a good place to start a walk, either along the Mill Fleam, or by the riverbank, using the footpath by the cricket pavilion.
The village museum on Duke Street contains an interesting collection of photographs, artefacts, tools and memorabilia relating to the history of Tutbury. It is housed on the ground floor of the Charity House, known locally as the Soup House. During the depression, the poorer people of the village were able to obtain soup and bread there, for a halfpenny a pint.
Tutbury Crystal stood on the site of the first glassworks set up by Henry Jackson in the early 19th century. However, manufacturing was moved to the Potteries in 2005, and the shop was re-sited to the High Street shortly afterwards. Henry Jackson’s business was taken over by the world famous Webb Corbett lead crystal factory, but it closed in 1980. Following the redundancies, two companies were set up – Tutbury Crystal and Georgian Crystal. At Georgian Crystal you can actually see glass being blown, in the mornings during the earlier part of the week, as you enter the shop.
The wide main street of the village has some fine examples of Georgian and Regency properties. Particularly prominent is The Dog and Partridge, with its half-timbered frontage, bow windows and stained glass. Inside it has a wealth of oak beams and has been kept in an excellent state of preservation with much of the original building remaining intact. Built in the 15th century, it later became a famous coaching inn, where the Red Rover stopped to change horses on its journeys to and from London to Liverpool.
On the opposite side of High Street, where a chemist’s shop and a craft shop selling handmade gold and silver jewellery are located, the Shoulder of Mutton once stood. It was used by the monks of the Priory for the accommodation of visiting guests. The Court met regularly in the back room. Just above is Ashleigh House, once a school for ‘young ladies,’ now a well-established café, where the not-quite-so-young women sometimes make a nostalgic return. Across the road, an antique shop occupies the Old Chapel.
There is an extensive range of crafts, gifts and furniture in the Mill Mews at the bottom end of High Street. Perhaps the most unusual shop in the mews is the Tutbury Jinny where new and second hand model railways are bought and sold. Apart from shops selling the basic requirements for every day living, there are several other specialist shops dotted around the village that attract a steady stream of visitors.
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
Tutbury Castle, (Tel. 01283 812129)a picturesque castle with stunning views, once the home of Mary, Queen of Scots. Full programme of events. Please telephone for details or visit website.
Sudbury Hall and Museum of Childhood: (Tel. 01283 585305) the hall includes superb plasterwork ceilings and Grinling Gibbons carvings. Please telephone for details or visit website.
Coors Visitor Centre (Tel. 01283 511000) formerly the Bass Museum of Brewing, including the Coors Shires. There are excellent restaurant facilities. Café facilities are also available. Open every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Cross Keys and Wendy’s Restaurant (Tel. 01283 813677) is a traditional roadside pub with a restaurant at the rear. Situated just out of the centre of Tutbury, on the Burton Road, there is a large car park and seating outside. Bar meals available daily. An a la carte menu is available in the restaurant from Monday to Saturday in the evenings.
The Cornmill Ceramic Cafe, (Tel. 01283 814211) a delightful cafe on the corner of Tutbury Mill Mews. Open: Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm; Sunday 12am-4pm. Open Mondays during school holidays. It is a great place for the children who can create their own ceramic designs - there are also adult workshops. Telephone in advance for further information and to make bookings.
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.
A very relaxing walk on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border, taking you through pleasant rolling countryside. The picturesque village of Rolleston-on-Dove is visited on the outward journey, and an historic corn mill is passed on the return.
The corn mill, about half a mile outside Tutbury, was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 and is the oldest recorded surviving mill in the area. For many years, it was a high-quality sheepskin and leather shop, now given over for accommodation.
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.