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Logo: Tom Bates, Derbyshire Local Histrory writer  
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Posted Saturday, May 12, 2007

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The village of Cutthorpe lies four miles in an almost north-westerly direction from the town centre of Chesterfield and the famous Crooked Spire can be clearly seen from the original village-centre at Cutthorpe Green.

Although the Chesterfield suburbs are creeping ever closer via the recent developments at Loundsley Green and Linacre Woods - and encroaching rapidly westward along Newbold Road - Cutthorpe still manages to retain it’s individual identity and quaint rural charm and with it’s fierce community spirit, proudly remains detached from all efforts to invade it’s separate village status.

Approached along the B6051 Newbold to Barlow road from Chesterfield, the village begins virtually at the Dunston Lane crossroads, with the Post Office twenty yards to the east just lying within the village boundaries.

Cutthorpe itself straggles along either side of the B6050 road which runs for a couple of miles from the crossroads, (known as Four Lane Ends) rising gradually through the village - before a series of bends takes it through the hamlets of Ingmanthorpe and Pratt Hall to almost 1000 feet, from where it skirts Leash Fen and crosses the moors to join the main A619 two miles east of Baslow.

The origins of this sprawling community which lies geologically on the western fringes of the coal measures are lost in antiquity, but according to Dr. Kenneth Cameron’s `Place Names of Derbyshire’, the name Cutthorpe was first mentioned in 1417 but derives from the earlier Danes and originally meant `Cut’s outlying farm’.

A Roger Cutte held land locally in 1361, and there was a farmer named William Cutte recorded in 1429.

The Foljambes acquired land at Cutthorpe and Linacre in Tudor times, and the first dwelling was constructed around the middle of the fifteenth century when Thomas Linacre (1460 – 1524) built Linacre Hall on land which is now occupied by the picnic area and car park of the nearby Linacre Reservoirs - and the Foljambes built the original Cutthorpe Hall.

Thomas Linacre was the first of several celebrated local residents whose academic knowledge and excellence earned the trust and respect of their peers and elevated them to prominent positions in the society of the day. Scholar, Physician and Priest, Thomas Linacre was a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, founder and First President of the Royal College of Physicians, and Tutor to both Erasmus (who in turn was Tutor to King Henry VIII) and Sir Thomas More. A memorial plaque to him in the Parish Church at Old Brampton claims that, “To him was chiefly due the revival of classical learning in this country”.

George Heathcote purchased the Cutthorpe estate from the Foljambes in 1614 and immediately began rebuilding and enlarging the Hall.

The Heathcotes were originally bell-founders from Loads near Brampton, whose wealth came mainly from lead-mining, but they were a remarkably talented and enterprising family from whose ranks came two Lord Mayors of London, a Mayor of New York, a Governor of the Bank of England, a New England pioneer - and the celebrated physician and botanist, Gilbert Heathcote, who gave his name to the school on Whittington Moor.

Half a mile north of George Heathcote’s house, the first Mayor of Chesterfield, Ralph Clarke, built the magnificent cruck-framed, four-storeyed, square-towered gem of Cutthorpe Old Hall beside the main road in 1625. The Dower House nearby was probably built a little later, but houses and families were united when George Heathcote married Ralph Clarke’s daughter Lydia, - and it was their botanist son Gilbert who planted the seventeenth century daffodil bulbs whose yellow blooms still carpet the field to the south of the house each spring.

Interestingly Ralph Clarke owned land in Chesterfield which his son Cornelius, (High Sheriff of Derbyshire in 1670) inherited, and upon which he built Elder Yard Chapel. Following George Heathcote’s death, Lydia married Thomas Ogle, an Independent who became the first Congregational minister at Elder Yard Chapel when it opened in 1694.

Thus began the very strong tradition of religious nonconformity in the village, aided of course by the fact that unlike the majority of villages featured in this series, it had no parish church.

Cutthorpe actually lies within the ecclesiatical parish of Old Brampton, whose church lies a couple of miles to the south, but the village is well served by a strongly supported Methodist Chapel.

Originally built in 1837, the chapel which stands at the eastern end of the village, was restored thirty years later and re-opened on August 25th 1867. Another Methodist Chapel existed in Victorian times at Pratt Hall, but this has long since been tastefully converted into a private dwelling.

Cutthorpe was once nationally famous for the breeding of white pigs and known also as a centre for besom broom and basket making - but agriculture and the extraction of coal have provided the main employment down the centuries, with a number of collieries and opencast sites scarring the landscape from Ingmanthorpe to Four Lane Ends.

The first bell pits were dug in Tudor times at the bottom of Common Lane near Engine Hollow, and by the beginning of the twentieth century there were four working collieries in and around the village, where minor opencasting continued until the 1970’s.

The village has gradually evolved eastwards towards Newbold, a process of building begun by the Heathcotes to house their estate workers during the Industrial Revolution which seems to have continued up to the present day. But the remnants of a village square still exist near the Recreation Ground at the top of Common Lane, in the centre of which stands the Coronation Tree, planted to mark the Coronation of King George V in 1911.

Directly opposite stands what looks like a tiny village hall, but which in fact, was the first village school, donated by John Brown and opened in 1865. This was superseded by the building of a much larger `New School’ on the outskirts of the village in 1884.

The Recreation Ground, home to Cutthorpe Cricket Club, was a gift to the village from the Butcher family in 1934. Current England Test Selector and former Derbyshire skipper Geoff Miller began his cricketing career at Cutthorpe and wore the Heathcote badge proudly on his sweater.

There are three excellent hostelries in the vicinity, the Peacock Inn up near the school; the Three Merry Lads further down in the village, and the Gate Inn at Overgreen with it’s restaurant and splendid views.

There have been many changes in Cutthorpe over the years since the original settlement took shape at Cutthorpe Green, yet to its great credit the village still manages to retain an individual charm and independent character, and remains the epitome of an English country village.

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