Derbyshire

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Derbyshire (/ˈdɑrbɨʃə/ DAR-bi-shər or /ˈdɑrbɪʃɪər/ DAR-bi-sheer; abbreviated Derbys. or Derbs.) is a county in the East Midlands of England. A substantial portion of the Peak District National Park lies within Derbyshire. The southern extremity of the Pennine range of hills extends into the north of the county. The county contains within its boundary of approximately 225 miles part of the National Forest. It borders on Greater Manchester to the northwest, West Yorkshire to the north, South Yorkshire to the northeast, Nottinghamshire to the east, Leicestershire to the southeast, Staffordshire to the west and southwest and Cheshire also to the west. In 2003 the Ordnance Survey placed Church Flatts farm, near Coton in the Elms, as the furthest point from the sea in Great Britain.

The city of Derby is now a unitary authority area, but remains part of the ceremonial county of Derbyshire. The non-metropolitan county contains 30 towns with between 10,000 and 100,000 inhabitants. There is a large amount of sparsely populated agricultural upland: 75% of the population live in 25% of the area.

The area that is now Derbyshire was first visited, probably briefly, by humans 200,000 years ago during the Aveley interglacial as evidenced by a Middle Paleolithic Acheulian hand axe found near Hopton.

Further occupation came with the Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic periods of the Stone Age when Mesolithic hunter gatherers roamed the hilly tundra. The evidence of these nomadic tribes is centred around limestone caves located on the Nottinghamshire border. Deposits left in the caves date the occupancy at around 12,000 to 7,000 BCE.

Burial mounds of Neolithic settlers are also situated throughout the county. These chambered tombs were designed for collective burial and are mostly located in the central Derbyshire region. There are tombs in Minning Low, and Five Wells, which date back to between 2000 and 2500 BCE. Three miles west of Youlgreave lies the Neolithic henge monument of Arbor Low, which has been dated to 2500 BCE.

It is not until the Bronze Age that real signs of agriculture and settlement are found in the county. In the moors of the Peak District signs of clearance, arable fields and hut circles were discovered after archeological investigation. However this area and another settlement at Swarkestone are all that have been found.

During the Roman invasion the invaders were attracted to Derbyshire because of the lead ore in the limestone hills of the area. They settled throughout the county with forts built near Brough in the Hope Valley and near Glossop. Later they settled around Buxton, famed for its warm springs, and set up a fort near modern-day Derby in an area now known as Little Chester.

Several kings of Mercia are buried in the Repton area.

Following the Norman Conquest, much of the county was subject to the forest laws. To the northwest was the Forest of High Peak under the custodianship of William Peverel and his descendants. The rest of the county was bestowed upon Henry de Ferrers, a part of it becoming Duffield Frith. In time the whole area was given to the Duchy of Lancaster. Meanwhile the Forest of East Derbyshire covered the whole county to the east of the River Derwent from the reign of Henry II to that of Edward I.

Derbyshire is a mixture of a rural economy in the west, with a former coal mining economy in the northeast (Bolsover district), the Erewash Valley around Ilkeston and in the south around Swadlincote. The landscape varies from typical arable country in the flat lands to the south of Derby, to the hill farming of the high gritstone moorlands of the southern Pennines, which effectively begin to the north of the city. This topology and geology has had a fundamental effect on Derbyshire’s development throughout its history. In addition it is rich in natural resources like lead, iron, coal, and limestone. The limestone outcrops in the central area led to the establishment of large quarries to supply the industries of the surrounding towns with lime for building and steel making, and latterly in the 20th century cement manufacture. The industrial revolution also increased demand for building stone, and in the late 19th & early 20th century the railways’ arrival led to a large number of stone quarries to exploit the natural resources of the area. This industry has left its mark on the countryside but is still a major industry: a lot of the stone is supplied as crushed stone for road building and concrete manufacture, and is moved by rail. The Limestone areas of central Derbyshire were found to contain veins of lead ore, and these were mined from Roman times.

Its remoteness in the late 18th century and an abundance of fast-flowing streams led to a proliferation of water power at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, following the mills pioneered by Richard Arkwright. For this reason, among others, Derbyshire has been said to be the home of the Industrial Revolution, and part of the Derwent Valley has been given World Heritage status.

Nationally famous companies in Derbyshire are Rolls Royce, one of the world’s leading aerospace companies, based since before World War I in Derby, Thorntons just south of Alfreton and Toyota, who have one of the UK’s largest car manufacturing plants at Burnaston. Ashbourne Water used to be bottled in Buxton by Nestlé Waters UK until 2006 and Buxton Water still is.

Derbyshire has a three-tier local government since the local government reorganisation in 1974. It has a county council based in Matlock and eight district councils and since 1998, a unitary authority of Derby. Derby remains part of Derbyshire only for ceremonial purposes.

Derbyshire has become smaller during government re-organisation over the years. The Sheffield suburbs Mosborough, Totley and Dore were previously parts of the county, but were lost to South Yorkshire in the late 1960s. Marple Bridge was transferred to the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport in Greater Manchester.However, Derbyshire gained part of the Longdendale valley and Tintwistle from Cheshire in 1974.

At the third tier are the parish councils, which do not cover all areas. The eight district councils in Derbyshire and the unitary authority of Derby are shown in the map above.

These district councils are responsible for local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection and recycling, cemeteries and crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism. Education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, policing and fire services, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning are the responsibility of the County Council.

The county is divided into ten constituencies for the election of Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons. Derbyshire residents are part of the electorate for the East Midlands constituency for elections to the European Parliament.

Although Derbyshire is in the East Midlands, some parts, such as High Peak, are closer to the northern cities of Manchester and Sheffield and these parts do receive services which are more affiliated with northern England; for example, the North West Ambulance Service, Granada Television and United Utilities serve the High Peak and some NHS Trusts within this region are governed by the Greater Manchester Health Authority. Outside the main city of Derby, the largest town in the county is Chesterfield.

The county has two football teams currently playing in the Football League:

  • Derby County F.C.
  • Chesterfield F.C..

There are also many non-league teams playing throughout the county, most notably Alfreton Town F.C. who play in the Conference National. The county is also now home to the world’s oldest football club, Sheffield F.C. who have their home ground at Dronfield in North East Derbyshire.

Derbyshire also has a cricket team based at the County Cricket Ground. Derbyshire County Cricket Club currently play in Division two of the County Championship. There are also rugby league clubs based in the north of the county, the North Derbyshire Chargers and in Derby (Derby City RLFC). The County has numerous Rugby Union Clubs, including Derby, Matlock, Ilkeston, Ashbourne, Bakewell and Amber Valley

The county is a popular area for a variety of recreational sports such as rock climbing, hill walking, hang gliding, caving, sailing on its many reservoirs, and cycling along the many miles of disused rail tracks that have been turned into cycle trails, such as the Monsal Trail and High Peak Trail.

The county of Derbyshire has many attractions for both tourists and local people. The county offers spectacular Peak District scenery such as Mam Tor, Kinder Scout, and other more metropolitan attractions such as Bakewell, Buxton, and Derby. Local places of interest include Bolsover Castle, Castleton, Chatsworth House, Crich Tramway Museum, Peak Rail steam railway, Midland Railway steam railway, Dovedale, Haddon Hall, Heights of Abraham and Matlock Bath.

In the north of the county, three large reservoirs, Howden, Derwent and Ladybower, were built during the early part of the 20th century to supply the rapidly growing populations of Sheffield, Derby and Leicester with drinking water. The land around these is now extensively used for leisure pursuits like walking and cycling, as the surrounding catchment area of moorland is protected from development, as part of the Peak District National Park.

There are many properties and lands in the care of the National Trust, located in Derbyshire that are open to the public, such as Calke Abbey, Hardwick Hall, High Peak Estate, Ilam Park, Kedleston Hall, Longshaw Estate near Hathersage, and Sudbury Hall on the Staffordshire border.

Notable gardens in Derbyshire include the Royal Horticultural Society recommended Bluebell Arboretum, a rare tree garden located just within the county border near the Leicestershire town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Lea gardens, a Rhododendron garden at the village of Lea near Matlock, and the 17th-18th century French style formal gardens at Melbourne Hall, Melbourne.

As part of a 2002 marketing campaign, the plant conservation charity Plantlife chose the Jacob’s Ladder as the county flower.

In September 2006, an unofficial county flag was introduced, largely on the initiative of BBC Radio Derby. The flag consists of a St. George cross encompassing a golden Tudor Rose, which is an historical symbol of the county. The blue field represents the many waters of the county, its rivers and reservoirs, while the cross is green to mark the great areas of countryside.

Derbyshire Compared
UK Census 2001 Derby Derbyshire East Midlands England
Total population 221,708 734,585 4,172,174 49,138,831
Foreign born (outside Europe) 6.7% 1.4% 4.5% 6.9%
White 87.5% 98.5% 93.5% 91.0%
Asian 8.4% 0.5% 4.1% 4.6%
Black 1.8% 0.2% 1.0% 2.3%
Christian 67.4% 77.0% 72.0% 71.7%
Muslim 4.5% 0.2% 1.7% 3.1%
Hindu 0.6% 0.1% 1.6% 1.1%
No religion 15.9% 14.7% 16.0% 14.6%
Over 65 16.1% 16.7% 16.1% 16.0%
Unemployed 4.0% 3.2% 3.3% 3.3%

In 1801 the population was 147,481 According to the UK Census 2001 there were 956,301 people spread out over the county’s 254,615 hectares. This was estimated to have risen to 990,400 in 2006.

The county’s population grew by 3.0% from 1991 to 2001 which is around 21,100 people. This figure is higher than the national average of 2.65% but lower than the East Midlands average of 4.0%. The county as a whole has an average population density of 2.9 people per hectare making it less densely populated than England as a whole. The density varies considerably throughout the county with the lowest being in the region of Derbyshire Dales at 0.88, and highest outside of the main cities in the region of Erewash which has 10.04 people per hectare.

Population since 1801
Year 1801 1851 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Derbyshire
non-metropolitan county
132,786 223,414 465,896 542,697 565,826 590,470 613,301 637,645 651,284 666,013 687,404 717,935 734,585
Derby
unitary authority
14,695 48,506 118,469 132,188 142,824 154,316 167,321 181,423 199,578 219,558 214,424 225,296 221,716
Total
as a ceremonial county
147,481 271,920 584,365 674,885 708,650 744,786 780,622 819,068 850,862 885,571 901,828 943,231 956,301

In Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, Pemberley—the country home of Fitzwilliam Darcy—is situated in Derbyshire. In that novel, Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is named as one of the estates Elizabeth Bennet visits before arriving at Pemberley. In the 2005 film adaptation of the novel, Chatsworth House itself represents Pemberley. Mr. Darcy is described as “owning half of Derbyshire”, to which Elizabeth replies, “The miserable half?” In another scene, various characters discuss a day trip to Matlock.

Sir Walter Scott’s 1823 novel Peveril of the Peak is partly set in Derbyshire.

The events of the play Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard, take place in the fictional country house of Sidley Park in Derbyshire.

Alfreton is mentioned in the novel Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence, when a character gets a train to Alfreton and walks to Crich to see a lover.

George Eliot’s novel Adam Bede is set in a fictional town based on Wirksworth.

Georgette Heyer’s detective/romance novel The Toll-Gate is set in 1817 around a fictional toll-gate in Derbyshire.

The 1969 film Women in Love by Ken Russell had various scenes filmed in and around Elvaston Castle, most notably the Greco-Roman wrestling scene, which was filmed in the castle’s Great Hall.

The 1986 film Lady Jane by Trevor Nunn, starring Helena Bonham Carter, has scenes filmed at Haddon Hall.

The 1987 film The Princess Bride by Rob Reiner, starring Cary Elwes, was filmed in Derbyshire and includes scenes at Haddon Hall and in the White Peak and Dark Peak.

The 1988 film Lair of the White Worm by Ken Russell, starring Hugh Grant, was filmed in Derbyshire. The opening title sequence is of Thor’s Cave in the Manifold valley.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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