Hartington - Hartington Village

This is a copy of an article published in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper in June 1986, reproduced by kind permission of its author, Julie Bunting.

Hartington certainly extended its boundaries after its modest entry in the 1086 Domesday Survey when the hamlet covered only sixteen acres of meadow, a few square furlongs of underwood, some waste and only enough taxable land for a couple of ploughs.

Farming has been Hartington's lifeblood for the intervening nine hundred years - at the beginning of this century some fifty farmers worked the land close by.

The Conqueror, as King William I, gave many estates including Hartington to Henry de Ferrers whose descendent, William, was granted a charter by King John for a market, and a three-day fair at the feast of St. Giles - patron saint of the parish church.

In 1266 Robert de Ferrers led a rebellion against Henry III upon which the manor of Hartington was given to the Duke of Lancaster. The busy market town remained in the Duchy of Lancaster for the next four centuries during which time it expanded sufficiently to separate into four quarters, each with independant administration. The Town Quarter centralised around Hartington itself, the Middle, Upper and Nether Quarters now lie within the parishes of Earl Sterndale, Burbage and Biggin.

During the 1640s several skirmishes took place in this part of Derbyshire between the Royalist ‘Cavaliers’ and the Parliamentary ‘Roundhead’ troops and after one day-long battle on Hartington Moor, some six hundred Royalists were decimated by Cromwell's men - from time to time their lead bullets still surface on Hartington Moor.

In 1611, on the site of an earlier house, the Batemans built Hartington Hall, their family seat for the next three hundred years and which according to tradition gave lodging to Bonnie Prince Charlie who in 1745 marched his highlanders and supporters through Ashbourne. Since 1932 the lovely gabled Hall has served as one of the county's most popular and historically interesting Youth Hostels.

On another gentle slope above the village stands the church of St. Giles. Dating mainly from the fourteenth century, it now seems very large for its potential congregation as it seats four hundred worshippers. The church guards a number of remnants of carved Saxon stones, monuments to the Batemans, traces of early paintings and texts on the north and south walls and a fascinating coffin-stone believed to be Margaret de Ferrers, the stone carving of her head is visible at one end and she holds her heart in her hands.

Three annual fairs were still held at Hartington in the last century, as well as a weekly Wednesdasy market specialising in butter and eggs. In the early 1900s local tradesmen were prospering - the many shops included tailors and drapers, a number of coal merchants, blacksmith and wheelwright, saddler, vet, butcher and a shoemaker.

The dairy of Nuttal and Co. was already well established then and today is generally called the Hartington Cheese factory by visitors who have located the source of its special Blue Stilton. They have to be content with buying their cheese from a shop in the village although the dairy itself is the place to be seen for V.I.P.s and vote-catching politicans of recent note.

Nowadays Hartington is a stopping off place for many hundreds of walkers and 'back-packers' every year - not only is it a gateway to the beautiful dales but is a most picturesque village in its own right. The stone-built rather than cottge-y houses, many Georgian, are carefully maintained; the Charles Cotton Hotel rendezvous for tourists who come simply to stroll around Hartington and pose for photographs by its duckpond and village ‘square’.

© Julie Bunting
From "The Peak Advertiser", June 1986.

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