Ashover is a pretty village lying in the pleasant valley of the river Amber,
just off the main road between Chesterfield and Matlock, surrounded by hills from which there
are extensive views into several of the neighbouring counties.
It is a large parish, sixteen miles square, and very old, being mentioned in the Doomsday Book. It has a population of about two thousand, chiefly agriculturalists and quarrymen, though at one time it was a very busy place with a variety of industries.
There are the remains of several lead mines which were worked by the Romans and are still to be seen in what is now known as the White Hillocks; within recent years several Roman coins of a very early date have been found.
Ashover stands very high above the sea-level; at one point about one thousand and sixty-three feet. Some of the surrounding hills, especially the Fabric, which was once the site of an old Druid temple, are landmarks seen from a great distance.
In the days when Ashover was more important there were fairs three times a year; one of which was a hiring fair for servants, and there were weekly markets to which people from the surrounding districts came.
Amongst the various industries, there were, as well as lead-mining, the making of nails, lace, ropes, stocking weaving and malting. One part of the village is still called the Rattle because of the sound of the looms rattling in the making of stockings.
The ropes were said to be the longest and strongest in the country. The industries, with the exception of quarrying and fluor spar have all died out and the work is now chiefly farming.
There is much that is interesting still in the village but the old land marks such as the Pinfold Round House, stocks and village cross have all disappeared and only their site remains. The Halls and Manor Houses, many still existing, are mostly used as farm houses, and some of these have been in the same families for generations. Eastwood Hall or New Hall was built in 1282 by the Reresbys and had recently passed into the family of the Bournes when it was destroyed in 1646 by the Parliamentary troops.
The following lines describing its destruction were written by a local poet living at that time, named Leonard Wheatcroft.
The Roundheads they came down upon Eastwood Old Hall,
They tried it with mattock and tried it with ball,
They tore up the leadwork and splintered the wood,
But firmly as ever the battlements stood;
But a barrel of powder at last did the thing,
And then they sang psalms for the fall of the King.
The ruins of the Old Hall are still to be seen and show that it must have once been imposing, both within and without.
Ashover was worthy of notice both by Royalists and Parliamentarians and was involved in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1716. Very much more could be said of its history.
Old Houses and Landmarks
The site where the house known as the Dovecote now stands, east of the church, was once occupied by the old Court House to the Ashover Manor and dated back to 1100.
In 1220 we find that a family named Le Hunt were owners of Overton, where they continued to reside until 1556, when Thos. Hunt sold the Hall and the estate to Richard Hodgkinson. An heiress of the Hodgkinsons married a Banks, of Reresby Abbey, and this family Overton for three generations. The estate then passed to Sir E. Knatchbull, of whom it was purchased by John Bright, M.D., and William Milnes of Stubben Edge.
Later it was purchased by William Jessop of Butterley Hall and passed to his son William de Burgh Jessop. After the Great War it was sold to the Clay Cross Colliery Company who have done extensive quarrying on the estate and have made great improvements to the Hall.
Ravensnest was once part of the Overton estate and was bought by John Gregory of Pilsley in 1600. It has descended from father to son since that date.
Stubben Edge The present building was enlarged about a hundred years ago from a farmhouse which was built in the reign of Elizabeth by a family called Crich. Richard Dakyn of Hartington lived there in 1588. His first wife was Catherine, daughter of Patrick Strange of Edinburgh, who was a favourite maid of honour to Mary, Queen of Scots and was present at her execution. His second wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Hunloke of Wingerworth,.........
Gladwyn's Mark, on the outskirts of the parish, adjoining Beeley Moor, achieved its name from a man named Gladwyn who lost his way in a blizzard.
Struggling on through the deep snow, he stumbled in the darkness upon a heap of stones. These he built into a cairn, and, when he had completed it, he pulled down and began over again. Thus he continued through the night, thereby keeping himself warm, and when morning came he was still alive, if tired, instead of being frozen stiff as he would have been if his courage had failed him and he had lain down in despair.
This beautifully illuminated book is now kept at Matlock Public Record Office.
I hope to add further selections in the near future.