Notes from a Peakland Parish

An Account of the Church and Parish of Hope in the County of Derby,
by William Smith Porter (1923)

Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 1999-2000

Chapter I.


OF the prehistoric races who inhabited Britain, few parts of England retain more abundant evidence than the Highlands of Derbyshire, in the number of 'tumuli' and stone circles still existing and the frequent occurrence of the suffix 'low', the Anglo-Saxon equivalent for 'tumulus', in the place names of the district.

The wild inhabitants of Britain found a retreat among these mountain solitudes before the advance of the Roman legions; and there are traces yet of British earthworks at Carl Wark near Fox House, on Mam Tor, and elsewhere, as well as of Roman outposts at Brough (Anavio), Melandra near Glossop, and at Buxton. These races were probably never completely subjugated by the Romans in this part of England, and they retained their hold upon this country for a century and a half after the final withdrawal of the Roman garrisons. Probably no very widespread Saxon or English Settlement existed in the district of the Peak before the eruption of the Danes into the kingdom of Mercia in the ninth century. It is to the Danes that the county town and county owe the name of Derby, or Deoraby, the settlement near the Deer.[1] The name suggests the propinquity of forests, and the Peak remained a big game country for many centuries. It was a Royal Forest before the Conquest, and continued so until the reign of Charles I, when the inhabitants of the district, “being desirous to be freed

[Page 2]

from the severity of the forest laws and customs and the incommodiousness of deer, lying and feeding in their corn and grass, and other inconveniences”, petitioned the King; and in or about the year 1640 the said forest was disforested and the deer therin destroyed.[2]

Most of this country was only forest in the sense of waste land appropriated for sport, as in the Scotch 'Deer Forests' of today. Deer and wild boar were the principal objects is of the chase, and wolves lingered here as late as the reign of Henry VII.

A very considerable portion of the forest was included in the ancient parish of Hope, which down to very recent times was one of the hugest parishes in England. It included Shallcross and Fernilee in the valley of the Goyt beyond Chapel-en-le-Frith; Fairfield, now a part of Buxton; the district round the Snake Inn known as the Woodlands or Hope Woodlands; the present parish of Bradwell; and in ancient times, Tideswell, the two Hucklows, Wardlow and Foolow. On the east the parish extended to beyond Stoke Hall and Nether Padley. At the census of 1841 Hope was returned as containing 30,160 acres of land and 4,434 inhabitants.

At the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086, the Manor of Hope was returned as embracing the seven 'berewicks' of Edale, Aston, Shatton, half of Offerton, Tideswell, Stoke, and 'Muchedswelle'; the latter a vanished place-name which modern research has failed to identify. The manor was the property of the Crown before the Conquest, in the reign of King Edward the Confessor, and formed part of the extensive domains granted by the Conqueror in 1068 to William Peveril. Less than a century

[Page 3]

later Peveril's descendant was dispossessed and his estates forfeited to the Crown, to become eventually part of the Duchy of Lancaster. The manor and advowson of Hope had been bestowed by Henry II upon his younger son John, and the latter disposed of the advowson, in 1192, to Hugo de Novant, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. Before 1223 the Church of Hope with its chapel of Tideswell had been transferred to the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield, in whose patronage they have since remained, Tideswell becoming a separate parish in 1251.

In a deed of the time of Edward I mention is made of a Castle at Hope. In the absence of any other reference to such a structure at Hope it is most probable that the term 'castle' was used in reference to the mounds or earthworks which are still visible in a field at the back of the Woodroofe Arms. The term 'castle' has often been applied to earthworks where no castle of stone ever existed, as in the case of Castle Hill at Bradfield and Castle Dyke near Sheffield. The Hope mounds are curious, and obviously not a natural formation, as they possess indications of a ditch around them.

It has been said with truth that the history of most country parishes is the history of the parish church. The parish itself was from the first an ecclesiastical division, attributed to Theodore Archbishop of Canterbury in the seventh century; and the Church was the pivot upon which the social and official, as well as the religious, life of the parish turned, and for long continued to represent the only educational influence. In the keeping of the Church were the records of the parish, and the Church itself remains in many instances the only architectural link with the past.

There was certainly a church at Hope before the Conquest, as the Domesday Survey records the previous existence of both church and priest there. The present edifice, dedicated to St.

[Page 4]

Peter, most probably occupies the same site as the original Saxon structure; though mainly of fourteenth and fifteenth century date, with a few relics of the thirteenth century. To the fourteenth century, or Decorated period, belong the tower and spire, parts of the outer walls, the arches and columns in the nave, and the south doorway. The south porch and parvise or priest's room over it, the windows, clerestory, low pitched roof, and battlements and crocketts, are undoubtedly in the Perpendicular style of the following century. The only remains of thirteenth century date in the church are a small piscina in the south aisle with dog-tooth (Early English) moulding, and some tomb slabs bearing floreated crosses, which were found beneath the foundation wall of the old chancel when it was pulled down. Two of these slabs, now reared against the wall within the church near the north doorway, bear also such objects of the chase as a sword, an arrow and a hunting horn; in token doubtless of some office held in connexion with the Royal Forest of the Peak.

In the churchyard can now be seen the greater portion of an ancient Saxon cross, removed in recent years from the Vicarage garden. The original position of the cross is not known, but it was discovered when the old school house was demolished in 1858 and replaced by the school building, occupying the same site, close to the Vicarage garden. The old Free School of Hope consisted of a school house and master's residence combined, with a small garden attached. The cross was found in two separate pieces, one forming the lintel of a door and the other built into the school house wall. Together they form a continuous shaft, standing about seven feet high; the upper part of the cross is missing. The design is of interlaced knot work and foliage, with a very crude and imperfect representation of the cross and figures of the Virgin and St. John on either side. Derbyshire is comparatively rich in fragments of such crosses,

[Page 5]

besides the more complete examples to be seen at Eyam and Bakewell. By an order of Parliament in 1643 “all crosses in any open place” were to be removed and destroyed; and it was most probably the enforcement of this order during the Puritan regime that accounts for the use of this ancient cross as building material in the reconstitution of the school house in 1655. An ancient circular font has also been rescued from the vicarage garden by the present vicar, and restored to its proper function in the church. The period to which it belongs is a matter of uncertainty. Six octagonal steps, in the churchyard near the south porch, now supporting a sundial, probably formed the pedestal of a churchyard cross.

Built into the churchyard wall, close to the north gate and facing the Edale road, may be seen some stones which once formed part of the village stocks. At the north west corner of the churchyard, fronting the main road to Castleton, some old buildings, which were used as the Shambles, once stood. They were only demolished in 1887.

The chancel of Hope Church was entirely rebuilt in 1882, leaving a fourteenth century piscina and sedilia in situ. The east end of the chancel was again rebuilt lit 1908, with enlargement of the east window, the erection of a stone screen and marble reredos behind the altar, and the insertion of several beautiful Kempe windows, by Mr. E. Willoughby Firth. The chancel contains some good examples of wood carving, old and modern; the latter executed by the late Mr. Micah How, an inhabitant of the village and one of a family possessing hereditary talent in this direction. The older carving includes the pulpit, upon the door of which is inscribed in rather crude lettering: “Thomas Bocking Clairke 1652” and on the south panel: “Thomas Bocking teacher - The Churchwardens this year Michael Woodhead, Jarvis Hallom, John Hage, 1652”. Upon

[Page 6]

the schoolmaster's chair from the old school, also now in the chancel, is the date 1664 and the words: “Ex torto ligno non lit Mercurius”. The side walls of the chancel are panelled with carved oak from the old pews which were broken up when the body of the church was restored in 1887, at the expense of the late Mr. Edward Firth of Birchfield. Upon this panelling figure the arms quarterly of Eyre and Padley, the same impaling Reresby, and an elaborate shield of Reresby quarterings.

The great Derbyshire family of Eyre seems to have originated at Hope. “William Le Eyr”, of Hope, in the reign of Henry III, held lands there of the King in capite by service of the custody of the Forest of the High Peak; and his son “Robert Le Eyr” of Hope under the same tenure of Edward I. They were what were called Foresters of Fee, under the chief official or Bailiff. Their descendant Robert, the third son of Nicholas Eyre of Hope, married, in the fifteenth century. the heiress Joan de Padley, and was the ancestor of the Eyres of Padley. Edward Eyre of Hope, in his will dated May 6th 1559, leaves his body “to be buried in the Parish Church of Hope in St. Nicholas Quere”.[3] This will was drawn by “Francis Langton, schoolmaster of Hope”.

From the parent stock at Hope descended the Eyres of Highlow, Offerton, North Lees, Holme Hall, and Hopton: and their alliances included the families of FitzWilliam, Neville, FitzHerbert, Foljambe, Barlow, Strelley, Balguy, Gell, and Reresby. By marriage into the family of Gell an Eyre became possessed of the Hopton estate, assuming the surname of Gell, and his descendants were allied with the Jessops of Broom Hall, and became patrons of the living of Sheffield.

[Page 7]

The only fragments of old stained glass now in the windows of Hope Church represent the arms of Eyre quartering Padley in one window, and those of Gell of Hopton in another. The Gells acquired the Rectorial Manor of Hope by purchase in the reign of Edward VI.

The family of Balguy, with whom the Eyres were allied, held considerable property in the neighbourhood. Their original house appears to have been Aston Hall, still standing on the slope of Win Hill in Hope Parish. They also inhabited Hope Hall, now the principal inn in the village, Rowlee in the Ashop valley, and Henry Balguy of Hagg and Rowlee built the older part of the present Derwent Hall, in 1672. In 1715 John Balguy esquire of Hope Hall procured a grant for a weekly market at Hope and four fairs. The market was discontinued for a time subsequently and revived in 1843. It is now held on alternate Wednesdays. There is now only one fair held, on May 13th, old May Day; and it used to be a Statutes Fair, the lads and lasses standing in the churchyard, until this was stopped by Vicar Cave.

There is a small brass in the chancel to the memory of Henry Balguy, who died 17th March 1685 in the 77th year of his age. It bears the figure of a man in pointed hat and doublet, having a pen in one hand and a book in the other, the arms of Balguy, and a Latin coupler with English translation as follows:

 “A mundo ablactans oculos tamen ipse reflecto
Sperno flens viciis lene sopore cado”
  “Wained from the world, upon it yet I peepe,
Disdaine it, weepe for sinne, and sweetly sleepe”.

[Ed: The above reproduces Porter's transcription, but the second line on the Brass itself appears to read 'sperno flens vitiis lene sopore cado' - q.v. The Monumental Brasses of Derbyshire, by William Lack, H. Martin Stuchfield and Philip Whittemore, 1999 (ISBN 0 9523315 6 X), p123. Thanks to Edmund Gooch for pointing this out.]

On the walls of the old chancel was a coat of arms, now represented by a marble tablet, commemorating another ancient family, the Woodroofes. Their name was no doubt derived from the office of wood reeve, or wood steward, held in connexion with

[Page 8]

the forest. The last heir male of the main stem of this family, Ellis Woodroofe, died in 1634. He was it barrister by profession and reader to the Inner Temple, but ended his days at Hope. He was the son of Roger Woodroofe esquire by Alice daughter of John Thorne and Frances his wife; the latter being the eldest daughter of Sir James Foljambe of Walton, near Chesterfield, by his wife Alice FitzWilliam. Ellis Woodroofe's eldest daughter and co-heiress, Jane, married in Hope 19th September 1642 to Peter Foljambe, who succeeded to the Foljambe estates, on the death of Sir Francis in 1640, as next of kin. The eldest son of this marriage was Francis Foljambe of Steveton and afterwards of Aldwark in the county of York. In the Parish of Hope the following entry occurs: “Georgius Foulgam generosus de Aston”, buried at Hope December 30th 1685. He was the third son of this Foljambe - Woodroofe marriage, and he took to wife Jane, daughter of Thomas Balguy of Aston.

Francis Foljambe of Aldwark, a descendant of the above Francis and ancestor of the Foljambes of Osberton, Co. Notts, is mentioned in a deed of 1740, in the parish chest at Hope, as a landowner in the parish, and then the sole surviving trustee of the old Free School of Hope.

Close to the church at Hope is an inn, still bearing the sign of the 'Woodroofe Arms', where a branch of the family of Woodroofe continued as innkeepers and parish clerks for many generations. A Nicholas Woodroofe was parish clerk at the time of his death in 1628, a Thomas Woodroofe in 1667, and a Nathan Woodroofe in 1676. There would appear to have been a short break in the family connexion with the office at this time, as in the Churchwardens' Accounts John Stephenson is mentioned as parish clerk in June 1691. Anyhow, the Accounts show that Ellis Woodroofe was clerk in 1710, He was succeeded,

[Page 9]

on his death in 1731, by his son Nathan; and the latter by his son, another Nathan Woodroofe. The last mentioned had a son Nathan, baptized in 1773, who appears to have held office as parish clerk, and kept the inn until 1854. It would seem therefore that the office of parish clerk was hereditary in the Woodroofe family for more than two hundred years.

The Parish Registers commence in February 1598-99; and the earlier pages are dirty, stained, and in many places quite illegible. They appear also to have been freely used by members of the Woodroofe family for practising their signatures. These Registers were, I believe, for a long time kept at the Woodroofe Arms; and they suffered a serious mutilation during this period, to which I shall refer later.

It was the invariable custom of the Parish Clerk at Hope, until very recently, to conclude the marriage service with the words, spoken audibly in the Church, “God speed you weel”. I cannot ascertain that this was done in the neighbouring parishes, but I came across the mention of an exactly similar custom, even to the precise words used, in a parish in the south of England. Another custom at weddings in Hope Church, still occasionally indulged in I believe, was to place a rope across the church door as the couple were leaving and demand toll. This was not uncommon in Derbyshire parishes.

The Churchwardens' Account Book commences in 1686, and the earliest entry is an assessment of the parishioners of Hope dated July 26th 1661. Out of a total of £10, raised by a “penny lay or score” (rate), the Woodlands district yields the largest amount, viz.: £2 10s. Following upon the 1661 assessment is an entry made in 1845 of the result of the church rate levied in Hope parish i that year; and it is very curious to find on comparing the two lists that Hope village itself yielded, on a penny rate, exactly the same sum, £1 5s. 6d. in 1845 as it did in 1661.

[Page 10]

During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the entries in the accounts for ale and other refreshments occur with extraordinary frequency. Possibly the fact that during this period the Parish Clerk was also the principal innkeeper in the village may afford some explanation. Thus we get entries such as: “To ye Clerk's bill for Churchwardens dinners ale etc., £3 9s. 5d.”. and a similar entry for £7 0s. 5.5d. The office of Churchwarden had its compensations in those days. “Paid the clerk his wages £2: paid him more for ale drunk when we went ye procession 13s.”. “Paid for liquor etc., at different Vestry meetings £1”. Were the Vestry meetings held it the Woodroofe Arms, I wonder? All interviews and bargainings required much liquid and other sustenance. “For meat and drink when we agreed with the plumbers and came to view the work”: “Spent in ale and meat when we came to bargain with ye men that came from Highlow”; “to ale at hanging the great bell”; “to ale at putting new bellropes to the bells”; “to ale when the timber was layed on the Hearse House”. There was also ale “when ye Parishes (Parishioners) went to view ye steeple”. Apparently some protest was occasionally raised, for we read: “Paid for ale and bread in going with procession, which is to be omitted for ye future till further order”; and again “To dinners and liquor for Mr. Barber (the curate), the clerk, and ourselves at Easter, 9s. 8d.; this is not to be continued”. Nevertheless there are numerous entries of ale for the ringers, and the (?si)ngers, the sexton Shepley, and William Jeffreys, who played the bassoon in church (thirsty work no doubt), and of dinners for the latter. No wonder the accounts required much rectifying, and we have “Spent at several times in rectifying our accounts 7s 6d.”. The items for the Sacramental wine each year are also very considerable, thus “For 9 gallons of wine at Easter and fetching, 2lb. 15s. 0d.”; “bill for wine, 13 gallons & ½ at 7s. per gallon, 4lb. 14s. 6d.”. In 1689 there is an entry:

[Page 11]

“Paid for a man and horse to Bakewell and Tideswell for wine against Christmas, and there was none.” In such an extensive parish considerable journeys were necessary to administer the Sacrament to the sick folk at a distance, and we find such entries as these: “Spent on ye Parson and myself and ye Clerk when we went 3 days to give ye Sacrament to sick people”; and “Spent in tending the Communion at Easter 5 days 10s.”. There were also, of course, the expenses of attending the Archdeacon's Visitations, and various official journeys to Lichfield, Bakewell and elsewhere.

Special collections in the parish were frequently made “by virtue of Letters Patent”, or a Brief. The Brief, which was read out in Church, was a mandate from the Privy Council ordering collections to be made for special objects outside the parish, such as building churches, relieving sufferers by fire, refugees, suffering Protestants abroad, &c. A large number of these Briefs received at Hope, which are entered in the Churchwardens' Book, are for losses by fire. There was a certain collection by Brief in 1686 for “French Protestants”; and another in 1689 for “Irish Protestants”. “For losse by Fire in ye parish of St. George in Southwark” in 1690; “for casualties at sea” in 1692; “for losse by fire in Hedon, concomitant with yt for ye redemption of captives” in 1693; and again in 1700 “Paid to ye Brief for ye Captives 10s. 2d.”: “for ye poor distressed Palatines”, the inhabitants of the Palatine States of Germany, in 1709. There is an interesting entry in 1752: “Collected upon the Brief for the Propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts”. The Society known as the S.P.G., the oldest of the Missionary Societies, was founded in 1701. There are also entries for the “Colleges in America” and for the “relief of the distressed clergymen in America” in 1763 and 1779 respectively. Collections in Church were sometimes made for personal objects, such as the purchase of a cow

[Page 12]

for some poor parishioner, so I am informed by an old resident of Hope. These were called “boons”.

There are many entries in the Accounts of small sums given in charity to “travellers” and others; some of them “by ye Parson's Orders”; one by the order of the Squire, Mr. Balguy; but most of them “with a letter of request”, which was an order from the Churchwardens or Overseers. There is an entry “to a traveller that was dum 6d.”, and another to “four seamen 1s.”; and one mysterious entry in 1697, “given to a distressed Knight 3s.”. There are also entries “Paid to a person directed to all Ministers and Churchwardens”, and “Paid to a passenger with some Justice hands at it.”

The mysterious “processions”, which were the occasion for the consumption of so much ale, recur from time to time in the Accounts, without any statement as to their object, On one occasion, however, the word “Perambulation” occurs, and this certainly suggests the beating of the bounds, which survived until recently in some parishes. There are also frequent references to “Proclamations”. Thus in 1687 we have: “Paid for a book and Proclamation for ye 30th of January”, the anniversary of the execution of Charles I. “Paid for a book” is a common form of entry connected with these special occasions thus in 1688: “For a book of prayers for a day of thanksgiving for ye Prince of Wales 3s. 6d.”. This would be for the birth of a Son to James II, afterwards known as “the Old Pretender”. Again, in the same year, we find “Paid for book of prayer for ye Prince of Wales and ye good prosperitie of the King from his enemies 3s. 6d.”. This was in the troubled times immediately preceding the Revolution and the abdication of the King. In 1748 we have “Paid for a Prayer for ye Distemper in Cattle 1s.”; “Paid for Beast Orders and a Fast Book 5s.”; and “Paid to ye Court about Horned Cattle 2s. 6d.”

[Page 13]

Coronation Day, Royal Anniversaries, and victories of the British Arms and those of our Allies, were duly honoured in the Parish by payments to the ringers for ringing the bells, and the usual consumption of ale at the public expense.

The purchase of material and the making of the vicar's surplice figure as items in the accounts: and there was also an annual payment of 10s. to the vicar's Wife for washing the same. For a number of years the vicar received a gratuity £2, which was increased considerably in 1698; witness the following entry : “Given to ye vicar as a poore acknowledgement of our thankfulness and his greater merit 9lb. 10s. 0d.”. Three years later, in 1701, the gratuity appears for the last time, owing to complaints: “Paid to Mr. Cresswell as a gratuity for this year, which for ye future, upon ye complaints of some, he doth acquit, 9lb. 10s. 0d.”. Upon the decease of Mr. Browne, the vicar in 1696, there are several entries of expenses incurred in providing for the duty being taken before the appointment of a successor: “Paid ye charges of Parsons yt came to preach 9 Sundays at 4s. 6d. a time”; “Paid to messengers to get Parsons to preach”; “Expended when ye Wish mett about Parsons and other extraordinary things”.

Besides the vicar's surplice, there are frequent entries for cloth and for making Clothes and breeches for Thomas Marshall, who for many years acted as sexton. There is also an entry of a bell for Thomas Marshall, and of a whip for “whipping ye dogs”; so it would appear that he combined the offices of bellman, dog whipper and sexton. In a minute of a vestry meeting at Prestwich, near Manchester, thirteen shillings a year, and a new coat every other year, are voted to George Grimshaw "for his pains in wakening sleepers in ye church, whipping out dogs, keeping ye children quiet and orderly, and keeping ye pulpit and church walls clean". Dog whips are still preserved to curiosities

[Page 14]

in some country churches, as at Baslow, and sometimes an instrument on the principle of a “lazy tongs”, with sharp spikes, was used to drag the unfortunate dog out of church. In the Castleton Accounts of 1722 there is an entry: “Paid to sluggard waker 10s.”, and in the Hope Accounts there are entries for “wans” (wands), which were probably used for disturbing the slumbers of inattentive members of the congregation. In some churches a forked stick was applied to the nape of the sleeper's neck, and the individual who per performed this duty, was known as a “bobber”. At Warrington the following doggerel referred to a family variously engaged in services connected with the church: “My father's the clerk, my sister's a singer, my mother's the 'bobber', and I am a ringer”.

A mountainous country usually produces good voices and a taste for music, and the Peak district is no exception to the rule. Tideswell had a great reputation for its glee singers in the eighteenth century, and Hope also appears to have been a musical place. There are payments to singers from Bakewell, Bradfield, Bamford, Castleton, Edale, Mottram, Peak Forest, Sheffield, and other places; and in reference to Hope itself such entries as: “To Ellis Pedley for instructing young men to sing 5lb. 5s. 0d.”; “Robert Barber's bill for instructing singers, 12 months, 15lb. 18s. 0d.”; besides annual payments to the singers in Church. In 1759 “the inhabitants of the parish of Hope in vestry assembled agree to pay the sum of sixteen shillings and sixpence towards paying for a Bassoon and Hautbois to be used in the Parish Church”. There are also entries in the accounts referring to the organ from 1809 onwards, and the organist's salary of £10. We have also: “Mr. Marshall for instructing the organist to play, £6 6s. 0d.” in 1817. In 1811 there is an entry: “Benjamin Gleadhill for pricking tunes, 5s. 0d.”. “Pricking tunes” or "pricking music" appears to have been a local

[Page 15]

expression for copying music down to comparatively recent times. In 1777 there is an entry: “Paid for a collection of Anthems by Hall of Sheffield 6s. 0d.”; and in 1788: “Paid Mr. Hall of Sheffield for church music 10s. 0d.”. John Hall of the Park, Sheffield, was a local composer of oratorios. He produced “The Resurrection” on April 5th, 1790, in Sheffield, and in the Sheffield Register in the year 1793, it is announced that he is engaged on a new oratorio to be called “The Creation”. He died in poverty in the Shrewsbury Hospital at Sheffield in 1794.

In the Churchwardens' Accounts at Hope a source of income which occurs from time to time is entered thus: “Received from Lay Stalls”, and “For laying down 2 Lay Stalls in ye church”. The term is now obsolete, but it would appear to refer to a burial place, and was probably confined to those within the church. The definition given in the “New Oxford Dictionary” of 'Lay Stall' is of what we generally speak of as a “midden”, or place where refuse is deposited.

There is an entry in 1749: “For removing ye garlands to make ye church lighter”. These garlands were probably similar in origin to those which hung from the roof beams of Ashford Church, near Bakewell, until recently. The Ashford garlands were made of paper rosettes, and had long paper streamers, and in some cases paper gloves attached to them. They were borne before the coffin at the funerals of unmarried girls, and were finally suspended from the roof, where they were suffered to remain. The custom was once a common one in Derbyshire, and not very long ago several churches had them. At Ashford it was customary to inscribe upon them the name, age, and date of death, with often an appropriate, or what passed for appropriate, verse. Miss Anna Seward, the Derbyshire poetess and the

[Page 16]

daughter of a former Rector of Eyam refers to them in speaking of her native village, in 1792:

“Now the low beams with paper garlands hung,
In memory of some village youth or maid,
Draw the salt tear, for thrilled remembrance sprung
How oft my childhood marked the tribute paid!
The gloves suspended by the garlands' side,
White as its snowy flowers with ribbons tied,
Dear village! long these wreaths funereal spread-
Simple memorial of the early dead!”

A reference in 'Hamlet', in connection with Ophelia's obsequies, “Yet here she is allowed her virgin crants” - crants being the German name for these garlands - shows how old and universal a custom it was.

Over the south porch of the church at Hope is a small niche, which once contained the figure of the patron saint, St. Peter. Here at one time it was customary to suspend the remains of foxes killed in the parish. Foxes were formerly a great source of trouble to the farmers in the Hope valley, and were from all accounts of a singularly bold and fierce breed more like wolves in fact, making great havoc among the lambs. In the Churchwardens' Accounts there are frequent entries of sums paid for the destruction of foxes; the price put upon a fox's head was the old lawyer's fee of six and eightpence. Other entries of a similar kind in the Accounts refer to “Raven Heads”, “Urchin Heads” - urchins were hedgehogs, there was no Herod at Hope in those days - and “Boson Heads”. The boson, bowson, sometimes spelt boason, was the badger. In Scotland a cow with a white mark down the forehead, like a badger, is called a boasand cow. Similar entries of “Boson Heads” occur in the Parish Accounts of Wortley near Sheffield. It is a term to be found in Hunter's Hallamshire Glossary and in the New English Dictionary, but in no other dictionary that I have consulted, and it is unknown at

[Page 17]

the present day in Hope, but so are badgers. The term Brock for badger is well known, and “the Brocco” and “Brocco Bank” are familiar place names in Sheffield. There we also entries in the Hope Accounts for the destruction of otters.

Many old words, more or less obsolete now, occur in the Accounts, such as: “a pair of gimmers” for hinges, “wiskitt” for basket “feath and gravel” - feath is a term still in use for the spar refuse from the lead mines, used in making garden paths and for asphalting, and in recent years as a valuable flux in smelting - “piggin”, a small wooden vessel, and “yates”, often used for gates, also “yate” for gate in the sense of a road. A Scotch friend wrote me that in Scotland they do not talk of a gate into a field or road, but a “yett”. They say “Shut the yett”. “Open the yett”, and often “Dumfoound him! He's left the yett open, and the kye got oot”.

The ancient roads were generally distinguished by the name of gate, as “Batham Gate”, the old Roman way from Brough to Buxton, and “Doctor's Gate ”, between Brough and the Roman camp at Melandra, above the Snake Inn on the road to Glossop. In some title deeds of a property neat Hathersage, which I had the opportunity of inspecting not long ago, the word “yate” occurs several times, as “the Yate House”, and “Cowhey Yate”, in reference to property along the line of the old Roman road from Brough over Stanage Edge, connecting with the “Long Causeway” or Redmires road into Sheffield.

In a book of accounts kept by a farmer in the Woodlands (Hope Woodlands) in 1740, which I had lent to me, several interesting old words occur. In a list of funeral expenses is the item, paid to Mr. Wormald the vicar of Hope, “for a Mortuary 10s.”. As the “heriot” was the payment on death to the Lord of the Fee of the best beast or its value in money, so the “mortuary” was the heriot, due to the rector or

[Page 18]

vicar of the parish, of the best beast or its equivalent in money; and this equivalent in the Hope district was fixed at 10s. The late Vicar of Castleton informed me that the same sum was exacted in Castleton in former times. In default of a beast, in the Peak district, the vicar could claim the best wearing apparel of the deceased, and even hives of bees and articles of furniture were sometimes exacted in medieval times.

There were some curious payments formerly as rent in connection with some of the property around Hope. For some land at Aston, I was informed by the then owner, the rent covenanted for by an old deed was “two fat geese, to be delivered in Hope Church porch on St. Thomas's Day”. Many obligations were discharged in kind in old times, and in a MS. diary of the Rev. Edward Bagshaw, Vicar of Castleton in 1742, he records collecting his tithe at Easter in geese, calves, and lambs.

To return to the farmer's account book, another word which occurs frequently is “joyst”, still in use in the district and pronounced “jist”, with the 'i' long, It is an abbreviation of the word “agistment”, and is applied to a charge for pasturage on someone else's land. “Paid for loosing a sheep from ye waif”. The word “waif” is evidently here used for pinfold or pound. In Johnson's Dictionary waif is defined as “goods found but claimed by nobody”, as in “waifs and strays”. “A thrave of straw” seems to have been an old measure. The Dictionary meaning is two dozen, and it is said to be used in connection with a drove of herd.

The prices realized for stock by the Woodlands farmer, and the cost of provisions and labour, in 1740, are not less interesting than the old words to be found in the pages of his account book, one or two examples of which I have mentioned. The usual price for agricultural labour then was only 4d. a day; and the highest annual wage paid by the farmer, according to his account book,

[Page 19]

was £5. The servant probably lived in the house and was fed. The keep of a cow for a whole year for another farmer was priced at £3. A pair of oxen sold for £12 10s.; five cows for £18 5s. 6d.; and two calves for £1 15s. Two fat sheep fetched 14s. the pair, and a “sturdy sheep sold at ye wintering” only realized 2s. 11d. A ram fetched from 15s. to a pound. Sixty-four ewes were sold for £17 14s. 2d, and fifty-one wethers for £24 19s. Farm horses could be bought for £3 and £5, and a mare and foal for £7 6s. A good price for beef was 3d. a pound, a shoulder of veal cost 1s. 6d., and a loin of veal 10d. A quarter of mutton was only 2s., geese 2s. 6d. a couple, and a peck of potatoes 6d.

The lady to whom I was indebted for the loan of this account book told me that her father had remembered hearing his great uncle, the farmer to whom the book belonged, speak of a visit from the followers of Prince Charles Edward to the Woodlands in 1745; and of how the farmers buried their silver and other treasures on hearing of their approach. I had heard something previously of a similar tradition of the Highlanders having visited the Woodlands; but all historical accounts, and some entries in the diary of a local Nonconformist minister, show that the main army at all events pursued another route, both in their advance and retreat. The following are the entries referring to the movements of the Prince's army, from the diary of the Rev. James Clegg, Minister of Chinley Chapel and Doctor of Medicine. The original diary is at Ford Hall:-

Dec. 1st 1745 ... The Rebels left Manchester in ye morning and entered Macclesfield soon after noon and lodged there that night.

Dec. 2nd ... The Rebels rested all day in Macclesfield, but soon had eaten up all their provisions, and made filthy and ruinous work in their houses.

[Page 20]
Dec. 3rd ... The Rebels left Macclesfield and took the road to Congleton, Leek, and Ashbourne.

Dec. 4th ... Very early I sent my man to Derby with letters for son Ben, but he could not meet with him. He left the letters and made haste out, and saw the Rebels marching very near to Derby as he came, and his mare narrowly escaped being pressed for the use of ye Rebels. He came back in good time at night, having travelled about 54 miles that day.

Dec. 6th ... We hear ye Rebels, apprehending ye King's forces to be near them, returned in haste from Derby by towards Ashbourne.

Dec. 7th ... A rumour prevailed that ye Rebels were just coming upon us, which occasioned great confusion, but they were only advancing towards Macclesfield. Son Middleton was there on my mare, but made haste out of town.

Dec. 10th ... Ye Rebels have all returned to Manchester. They took several Persons with them from Stockport. Blessed be God ye Silk mill is safe.

Dec. 12th ... The last of ye Rebels left Manchester on Tuesday, and carried off at this time 2,500 pounds in cash.

It is not, after all, unlikely that on the retreat of the Prince's forces some stragglers from the main army did find their way into the Woodlands, en route to Lancashire. The Prince, we know, was sulking, and his officers were occupied in quarrelling amongst themselves, and the rank and file probably were even less under discipline than they were during the advance to Derby.

Within the boundaries of the ancient parish of Hope are several old Halls, of the remains of them, now humble farmsteads. Hazlebadge, once the residence of the Vernons of Haddon, now in the parish of Bradwell; Aston Hall, formerly the home of the Balguys, before referred to; Offerton Hall, under the shadow of Shatton Edge; and Highlow with its Jacobean gateway,

[Page 21]

on the road from Leadmill to Abney - the two last originally inhabited by branches of the numerous family of Eyre.

There are other farmsteads bearing names which are found in documents of the Tudor period, or in the reigns of the earlier Stuarts, once identified with families of yeoman rank. Of the history of most of these families there is not much to be gleaned, beyond the simple record of their births, marriages, and deaths, to be found in the Hope Registers. They had not much opportunity of distinguishing themselves. Though doubtless the Hope valley did not entirely escape the backwash of hostilities in the Wars of the Roses and the struggle between Charles I and Parliament, its tranquillity seems to have suffered little disturbance, and its inhabitants mostly pursued the even tenor of their way engaged in the peaceful avocations of agriculture and milling. The hills and extensive moorland upon every side shut off the valley from much of the turmoil and bustle of the outside world. Until the close of the eighteenth century, few carriage roads existed in the district. The Sheffield and the Chapel-en-le-Frith turnpike, the main road through the valley, was only constructed in the early part of the nineteenth century, and the Glossop Road through Ashopton and the Woodlands in 1820. Pack-horses traversed the bridle roads through the Peak from Sheffield and Chesterfield to Manchester and Stockport down to the time of the battle of Waterloo, and women still rode on pillions behind their menfolk.

Of all the local families the Eyre faintly was the most important and prolific, and I have already alluded to their dispersal over the surrounding district and numerous alliances with families of distinction. Their original place of residence or its site does not now appear to be positively known; but amongst the collections of the late Mr. William Swift, at the Sheffield Reference Library, I came across the following extract from a

[Page 22]

diary of the Rev. William Bagshawe of Bannercross, one of the Ford Hall family: “Friday Jan 18th 1793 -- Visited the ruins of a house near Hope, formerly the residence of Nicholas Eyre who had 12 sons, many of whom became the heads of considerable families.”[4] This was the Nicholas Eyre who is said to have commanded a local company of archers at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, and whose third son Robert married the heiress of Padley.

Amongst the Swift papers I also found the following note in reference to this Robert Eyre, which I have since found in the Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological Society for 1902, with a reference to Add. MSS [?]8, III British Museum. In the latter publication it is stated that “Robert Eyre fought at the battle of Agincourt under the banner of his father Nicholas Eyre of Hope.”

8 Hen 6 (1431) “Robert Eyre of Padley genr. was indicted before John Dunbahem, one of the King's Coroners for the said County of Derby, for the murder of William Woodrove of Hope genr.; and on his trial before Peter Pole and Gerard Maynel the King's Justices, assigned to deliver his gaol at Derby of the said Robt. Eyre on Monday next after the Feast of St. George the Martyr 8 Hen: 6, the following circumstances appeared:

On the Sabbath day next after the Feast of the Holy Cross in the 7th year of the reign of the then King, the said Robert and William were riding friendly together from the town of Chesterfield to the town of Holme, when a quarrel arose between them and some approbious words passed, and the said Robert wishing to put an end to the quarrel said to the said William “Friend you well know that we are kinsmen

[Page 23]

and called honest men, and therefore it is disgraceful for us to fight and for the whole country to hear us quarrel.” On which the said William got off his horse, drew his sword, and struck the said Robert on the back part of his head and would have killed him but for a large red handkerchief which was tyed several times around his head; and the said Robert being in fear of death retreated to a hedge, and when he could get no farther, in order to save his life, he drew his sword to defend himself and struck the said William on the head, of which wound he languished without speaking till the second day and then died. The Jury found the said Robert not guilty of the death of the said William; but said upon their oaths that one Peter Swordsman of Brecknock in Wales labourer at Holme aforesaid, the day and year aforesaid, the said William feloniously did kill; therefore the said Robert was thereof quit and the said Peter Swordsman taken.”

Was the above verdict a form of legal fiction, equivalent to ‘justifiable homicide’, or the same character as the ficticious 'John Doe and Richard Roe'?


The bells in the tower of Hope Church were recast in 1733 and a new bell added, making six in all.

They bear the following inscriptions:

and below “W. HATTERLEY C.W.”
(Robert Bocking, William Hattersley, and Nicholas Chapman were the Wardens.)

[Page 24]

Below, on the waist, are the arms of the Duke of Devonshire, who probably presented this bell.


1. Large Silver Flagon inscribed inscribed “Hope Church 1715. 60oz.”
2. Silver Cup and Cover: with lettering “x W.B x C x A.I. x V x H x”.
3. Silver Almsdish or large Paten: inscribed “Anno Dom 1711. The gift of Wal: Relict of Hen: Balguy of Hope Esqre. to ye Prsh: Ch: x I. Creswell vic: x R.Key. I.H. T.M Ch:dns.”[5] (The initials refer to Roger Key, John Heald, and Thomas Morton, Churchwardens in 1711). The donor of the above was Walburge, daughter and co-heiress of Anthony Senior of Cowley near Darley, Co. Derby, gent, by his wife Frances, daughter and heiress of George Columbell of Stancliffe Hall, co. Derby, Esq. She was the widow of Henry Balguy of Aston, in the parish of Hope, who was buried at Hope 10th July 1711, the year in which the alms-dish was presented. The donor herself was buried at Hope, 21st August 1723, and she is reputed to have given the flagon and cup. Her husband was the son and heir of Henry Balguy of Hagg, who built Derwent Hall about 1672. The latter died 17th March 1685, and was buried at Hope. He has been previously referred to in connexion with the curious memorial brass in the chancel of the church.
4. Modern Silver Chalice, an anonymous gift, inscribed: “St. Peter's Church, Hope 1907.”
5. Silver Almsdish: inscribed “September 1908”. The gift of E. Loxley Firth.

[Page 25]


All the stained glass in Hope Church is modern, with the exception of two small armorial shields, bearing the arms of Eyre quartering Padley, now incorporated in a modern window at the east end of the north aisle, and those of Gell of Hopton in the corresponding window of the south aisle, now concealed by the organ.

The modern glass is exceptionally good in colour and design. The chancel windows form a series, representing events of the Passion and the Resurrection of Our Lord; particularly those events in which S. Peter, the Patron Saint of the Church, figured prominently. All five windows were designed by the late Mr. C.E. Kempe and executed by his firm. The east window, and the two smaller windows on the north side of the chancel, were given by Mr. E. Willoughby Firth of Birchfield in 1906 and 1908; the two windows on the South side by the Vicar, the Rev. E.C. Vincent, in 1906 and 1907. The two windows in the north aisle were designed and painted by Mr. F.C. Eden. The one above the altar, representing the Annunciation; was the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Freckingham, in memory of their daughter, in 1914. In this window is incorporated the old stained glass representing the Arms of Eyre before referred to. The other window, in the north wall, represents the Nativity of Our Lord, and was the gift of the late Mrs. Vincent in 1919.

The window in the south aisle is by Messrs. C.E. Kempe and Co., the subject being the Deliverance of S. Peter by the Angels out of prison. It was given by Miss Annie Middleton, in 1922, in remembrance of the long connexion of the Middleton family with Hope, and its church.

There is a small window in the west wall of the tower, representing the Draught of Fishes, given by Mr. E. Nicholson of Brough, in memory of his uncle, the late Mr. Joseph Nicholson.

Notes on Chapter I
[1]'Deor' (Anglo-Saxon) signifies a wild animal, hence Deer, as also the Danish 'Dyr'; 'by' being, of course, of Danish origin. [Ed: Old Norse, meaning farmstead, village; q.v. Place Names of Derbyshire.] Some writers derive Derby from an old British word 'Daer', signifying water.
[2]A copy of a Decree in Chancery, March 8th 1711-12, now in the Sheffield Central Reference Library, in which the township of Hope is mentioned as comprising: “the Hambletts of Castleton, Bradwall, Aston and Tideswell”, refers to the deforestation of the High Peak in the [?]10th year of Charles I (1631-35). It was not actually carried out until [?]1640. The subsequent enclosure of the land was deferred, owing to the Civil War, until the reign of Charles II.
[Ed: Sorry, but I am unable to decipher the scan to be certain of these figures.
[3]Dr. Cox refers to the existence of a Chantry in the Church at Hope, as shown by the 'Valor Ecclesiasticus' (27 Henry VIII), and suggests that it was dedicated to St. Nicholas, in view of the terms of this will. In the Chapter Records at Lichfield a brawl is recorded in Hope Church in [?]1730, when Robert Ellot maliciously struck Edmund Ellot on the nose before the altar of St. Nicholas, for which the culprit was ordered to receive corporal punishment by Canon Edmund Strettehay.
[4]I have been recently informed that there is a tradition that the seat of the Eyre family at Hope was called Nether Hall, and that it was situated at the east entrance to the village, on the site or immediate neighbourhood of the house now occupied by Mr. Joseph Holme; and that a meadow close to this house was long known as Nether Hall Yard. 'Higher Hall' or 'Upper Hall' on the Edale Road, leaving the village, is said to have been the house of the Woodroofe family.
[5]Entry in the Churchwardens' Accounts for 1711-12: “For ingravening Letters of ye plate yt Madam Balgay gave to ye Church”. The Flagon from an item in the Accounts of 1715, appears to have been in part at least the gift of the congregation. (See page 52.)

OCR/Transcription by Rosemary Lockie in July 1999.

This is a Genealogy Website
URL of this page:
Logo by courtesy of the Open Clip Art Library