Back to the English Counties Page





Derbyshire is the 21st largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
Derbyshire has the 20th highest population in England.
Derbyshire is in 26th place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. Chatsworth House is a stately home in Derbyshire. It has been owned by the same family, the Cavendish family, since 1549. Sir William Cavendish was the first owner although it was his wife, Bess Hardwick, who designed the house. Sir William died in 1557 but when the house was finished, Bess lived there with her fourth husband, George Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury.

    After Mary, Queen of Scots, fled south in 1567 and sought the protection of her first cousin once removed, Queen Elizabeth I, The Earl of Shrewsbury was asked to look after Mary. She was then kept in various castles and manor house in the middle of England until her execution in 1586. During this time she and Elizabeth never once met, The main reason for keeping her inland and on the move was simply so that nobody could abduct her and easily transport her to the continent to become a serious threat to Elizabeth.

    Mary was brought to Chatsworth several times and stayed in the apartment on the top floor above the main hall, now cunningly known as the Queen of Scots rooms. Bess Hardwick would sit and sew with Mary for long periods and they both worked on the Oxburgh Hangings, a needle work which hangs in Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk and are again aptly named. Chatsworth House has been chosen in some surveys as England's favourite country house.

  3. Derbyshire Eats
  4. Bakewell is a town in Derbyshire and so, even without looking at the photograph, you can probably guess what is coming next. Correct, the Bakewell Tart. It actually developed as a variant to the Bakewell Pudding in the 19th century. Bakewell Pudding is a dessert which consists of a flaky pastry base, a layer of jam and a topping of an egg and almond paste. There is a story, almost certainly not true, that the pudding was made by accident when a Mrs Greaves left instructions for her cook to make a jam tart. Instead of mixing the jam, egg and almond paste all together, the cook spread a layer of the egg and almond paste on top of the jam. It was, so it is said, a resounding success.

    An actual Bakewell Tart is different. It is a shortcrust pastry shell filled with jam which is covered with a frangipane (sugar, eggs, butter and almonds) topping. Once cooked, flaked almonds may be sprinkled on the top. It is said that three shops in Bakewell claim to own the original recipe which, to me, would indicate at least two of them are telling fibs.

  5. Derbyshire VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in Derbyshire in the last 100 years:-
    The late Tim Brooke-Taylor (Comedian - one of my ten funniest people), Ellen MacArthur (Sailor), Sir John Hurt (Actor), Hilary Mantel (Author), Richard Roberts (Nobel Prize Winning Physicist), Jack O'Connell (Actor) and Sat Baines (Chef and Restaurateur).

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. Well dressing is an ancient tradition still practised in Derbyshire and some surrounding counties. No one is sure exactly how it started and some think it may have begun as a pagan custom of giving thanks to the water gods for a clean supply of fresh water. The custom takes place between May and September. In simple terms decorations are made and left around wells and other sources of water supplies.

    But the whole process is a lot more complicated and time consuming than simply throwing a few garlands around a well. It is an art form and can involve whole communities. The process begins by building a large wooden frame and then packing the frame with clay until it looks freshly plastered. Next a design is drawn on paper, quite often with a religious theme, and traced onto the clay. The picture is then filled in with natural materials, mainly using petals, moss and lichen. However they can also use beans, seeds and cones. Tradition says you should only use natural material but some groups feel they can use more modern things.

    Once the dressing is complete the villagers will usually hold some sort of festival or carnival to celebrate the completion. The well dressings can be found all over the county in late spring and summer so why not go and have a look. If you're interested, it is said that the village of Tissington is the one where the modern tradition started but I would suggest you go and have a drive around next summer, if we can.

  9. It Happened Here
  10. It seems very strange to be writing this at the beginning of December 2020 as we come out of another lock-down brought about by our attempts to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Back in 1665 a different lock-down, but brought on by something similar, took place in the little village of Eyam. A bale of cloth arrived at the local tailors in the village, all the way from London. Little did they know when they opened the bale that hidden within were fleas bearing the germs of the Bubonic Plague. The tailor's assistant became the first victim. Between September and December 1665, 42 villagers died. Many villagers were ready to leave their homes and the village and head to safety.

    Then a newly appointed vicar decided something had to be done and he called the remaining villagers together and told them that the village should be quarantined. In other words nobody should go out and nobody should come in. He told them he had spoken to the Earl of Devonshire, who owned Chatsworth House, and the Earl had agreed to send food and supplies if the villagers agreed to the quarantine plan. The villagers knew that by staying they risked almost certain death, the plague was amongst them, but by not leaving they would not spread the infection elsewhere. Reluctantly it is said they all agreed. During August 1666 five or six people were dying each day in the village.

    During September and October the number of deaths decreased and the last person to die passed away at the beginning of November. It is estimated that 260 of the inhabitants died, out of a pre-plague population of about 500 but the survivors knew that their courage in agreeing to the lock-down had certainly saved thousands of lives in the wider community.

  11. Richard Remembers
  12. Whilst this is yet another of my never-stayed-in only-driven-through counties, my memory is far more recent; a mere six years which when you reach your early seventies is nothing. I had gone on a holiday to Southport in Lancashire with my daughter and my granddaughters. On the drive back to Essex, on a lovely crisp and sunny February day, we suddenly found ourselves in the Peak District National Park and I was stunned. The scenery was amazing and, not surprisingly, we drove up and down hills having the most incredible views.

    The area became the very first National Park in 1951 and has, over the following years been joined by another nine areas of outstanding beauty within England. The Park attracts millions of visitors each year and, being in the middle of an industrial area, it is estimated that 20 million people live within an hour of the Peak District.

    I think this was perhaps the reason I was surprised. I thought of the Midlands as being an area where the Industrial Revolution had taken hold and so didn't expect such sheer beauty. Now I know better and can't wait to go back and explore in more detail. By the way, the only town in the National Park is the aforementioned Bakewell and yes we did pop in to a local shop and buy one..

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. The golden plover is a medium-sized bird with very distinctive gold and black feathers in the summer. In winter the black changes to buff and white. They are quite shy birds, especially when breeding and they stand very upright and run in short bursts. They will eat worms, beetles and insects. In summer, during the breeding season, they can be found in the Peak District of Derbyshire and also in North Yorkshire and further south in Devon. In winter they move to lowland fields and form large flocks. The largest numbers appear between November and February when there may be as many as nearly half a million Golden Plovers. There are about 50,000 breeding pairs resident in England.

    They are about 30 cms in length with a wingspan of roughly 70 cms. They can weigh between 160 and 280 grams. As you can see, the feathers are multi-coloured and, I think, really pretty. Also looks a bit like they are wearing a hat. Their legs are brown and they have a medium, black beak.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip into Derbyshire check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020