A Guide to Tideswell and Its Church

By Rev J.M.J. Fletcher

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013

The Church Tower
(From the Vicarage)

REV. J. M. J. FLETCHER, M.A., F.R. Hist. S.,

(8th Thousand).



THE first edition of this little book was published in the Spring of 1902 That it met a felt want is clearly shown by the gratifying fact that an edition of more than 600 copies was completely exhausted in the course of six months. Six editions have followed at varying intervals.

Each of these editions was most kindly reviewed in the public Press, and by those individuals who were well qualified to judge of the merits of the work.

The matter for this edition has again been carefully revised; some portion has been rewritten, and the information has been, as far as possible, brought up to date.

In the work of preparation, a large number of publications and many manuscripts have been consulted, and the compiler ventures to hope that it shows considerable traces of original research. His design has been to produce a hand-book which will enable the tourist to see for himself some of the beauties of the “Cathedral of the Peak”, and which, at the same time, will be of sufficient interest to be worth preserving as a memento of his visit.

The Parish

The Ecclesiastical Parish of Tideswell consists of the Townships of Tideswell, Litton, and Wheston, (until 1859 Wormhill was also included within its limits); and the arrangement for the Services in the Hamlet Churches of Cressbrook, Litton, and Millers Dale, and in the large room at Litton Mill, in addition to the Services at the Parish Church, as may be imagined, needs some anxious thought and care. The population of the Parish in 1921 was 2,889; that of Tideswell itself is approximately 2,000. The houses are for the most part built of limestone; and the inhabitants

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are employed at the lime quarries, in the building trade, in farm work, and in weaving and cotton doubling. Formerly the principal industries of the district were lead mining, and the tending of sheep for the sake of their wool. The former trade has become practically extinct during the last 60 years. Framework knitting and handloom weaving, which, during the early part of the last century, gave employment to many of the inhabitants, have ceased to exist. Silk weaving and fustian cutting have only been quite given up during the present century.

of Name

Tideswell, which is sometimes regarded as the “Capital of the Peak”, (though its neighbour Bakewell more strictly merits the title), is a small Market Town.

The popular tradition as to the meaning of the name is that the town was so called from a “tiding well”, or intermittent spring, which existed here until the last quarter of the eighteenth century. There was documentary evidence to show that this opinion was current at any rate nearly a couple of centuries before the well ceased to “ebb and flow”. Camden, in his Magna Britannia, published in 1720, (quoting Hobbes, A.D. 1636, or Cotton A.D. 1681), speaks of this well as the fifth of the “seven wonders of the Peak”. There is a still earlier connection of the name Tideswell with the “ebbing and flowing well”. It is to be found in Risdon's Survey of Devon, the materials for which were collected during the years 1605-1630, though the book was not published until 1712, The writer speaks of “that wonderful well in Derbyshire which ebbeth and floweth by just Tides, and hath given its name to Tideswell, a Market Town of no mean account”. In all probability, however, this supposed derivation of the name is of comparatively

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recent date, and arose from the fact that there was an ebbing and flowing or “tiding” well in the town of Tideswell; and it was assumed that the place was named from the intermittent spring. Intermittent springs are not uncommon in limestone districts. They are due to natural syphons in the rocks. In old times they were supposed to be dependent upon the tide; and, hence, the wells caused by them were called “ebbing and flowing” or “tiding” wells. It would be a difficult matter, however, to discover the connection with the ‘tides’ here at an elevation of 970 feet above sea level.

In Camden's days the water in the well at Tideswell “ebbed and flowed” sometimes as frequently as three times an hour; whilst in dry summers the variation was discernible only at considerable intervals. The rise of water in the well after the flow was, in 1720, about 27 inches. The spring was intermittent in 1778; but a quarter of a century later, the “ebbing and flowing well” is spoken of as being “hardly now remembered, as it has long ceased to flow”. The syphon has been destroyed, and consequently the spring is no longer intermittent. The well still remains and may be found in the garden of Craven House, on the right hand side of the Manchester Road.

An illustration given in Saxton's old Map, of Derbyshire, amended by P. Lea, which shows the “tiding well” at Tideswell, as it appeared in the seventeenth century.

Another “ebbing and flowing well” still exists in the neighbourhood. It is situated on the left hand side of the road between Sparrow Pit and Barmoor Clough, some five miles distant from Tideswell.

With much more probability Tideswell derives its present name from Tidi's walle, that is from the farm or

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enclosed place of one Tidi who lived here in the 7th or 8th century, and this is borne out by the proximity of Tidslow, or Tidi's low (i.e. tumulus or sepulchral hill).[1]

[1] Professor Skeat, the eminent Anglo-Saxon scholar, affirms that “intermittent well” would be “tid-well”, i.e. “tide-well”; but could not be “tides-well”. “Tides” is the Genitive form of a man's name,- the old form being Tidi, and the later one Tide, So Tideswell and Tidslow would mean Tidi's well, and Tidi's low. From the old documents in which the name Tidi is to be found, the Professor conjectures that the mound, (and consequently, presumably, the place), may be as old as the 8th century, or even earlier. Searle states that Tidi occurs as a proper name A.D. 680.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in March 2013.

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