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Wirksworth in 1843

WIRKSWORTH, an ancient market-town of Derbyshire, 140 miles from London, and 13 miles north of Derby : it is on the road from the Amber Gate station on the North Midland Railway to Matlock, and is between five and :six miles from the railway and three from Matlock.

Wirksworth is the ancient seat of the lead-trade, and is situated near the southern edge of the mining district, in a valley nearly shut in by limestone hills. The view from the crags at Stonnis, about a mile from Wirksworth, is said, by the author of ‘Peak Scenery,’ to be unequalled in Derbyshire in its approach to grandeur. Roman coins and relics have been found at Wirksworth.

The right of holding a weekly market was granted in 1307, by Thomas, earl of Lancaster, grandson of Henry III. The manor and hundred belong to the duchy of Lancaster ; and the dean of Lincoln, who is the patron of the living, enjoys some manorial rights which attach to the church. The town is governed by a constable and headborough, and is lighted with gas.

The ancient courts, called Barmote Courts, are held twice a year at Wirksworth, in a handsome stone building, erected in 1814, at the cost of the duchy of Lancaster. In this place is kept the miners’ standard dish for lead-ore, made in the reign of Henry VIII. The vicar was formerly entitled by custom to every fortieth dish (of 14 pints) of lead-ore raised in the parish.

The living is a vicarage, held with Middleton, value £340. The church is a handsome Gothic structure of the fourteenth century, and contains several interesting monuments. The grammar-school was founded by Anthony Gell, after the middle of the sixteenth century. Sixteen or seventeen years ago a new school-house was built, to accommodate 200 boys ; but the number of scholars a few years afterwards was under 10. The Baptists, Independents, and Methodists have places of worship.

The entire parish of Wirksworth comprises 14,640 acres. It extends into the three hundreds of Wirksworth, Appletree, and High Peake. The population, in 1841, was 7,891; distributed as follows :-

Wirksworth (parish) 4,122
Callow (hamlet) 112
Cromford (chapelry) 1,407
Hopton (township) 83
Ible (township) 93
Middleton-by-Wirksworth (hamlet) 1,031
Ivonbrook Grange (hamlet) 30
Alderwasley (chapelry) 398
Ashlevhay (township) 272
Biggin (township) 149
Ideridgehay and Allton (townships) 194

The cotton, hosiery, hat, and some other manufactures are carried on in the parish. The living of Cromford is a perpetual curacy, valued at £96. Hopton is famous for its quarries, which afford excellent material for mantel-pieces. The living of Alderwasley is a donative.