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Logo: Tom Bates, Derbyshire Local Histrory writer  
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Flagg

Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007

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Flagg:

One of the most remote of Derbyshire villages, Flagg sits high on the central limestone plateau of the White Peak about seven miles south east of Buxton, and is encircled by its five `sister villages of Monyash, Sheldon, Chelmorton, Taddington and Earl Sterndale, all within a five mile radius.

The village is best approached along the A515 Ashbourne to Buxton road where the narrow lane to Flagg, which winds over the bleak Flagg Moor, is signposted beside the late 15th century `Bull I’ th’ Thorn’, famous for it’s banquets and extremely popular with tourists and the regular local clientele. This ancient inn is also reputed to have its own resident ghost.

Each of Derbyshire’s peakland villages has it’s own individual character and unique atmosphere and Flagg is no exception. Unlike the majority of villages in the White Peak Flagg has a flat and almost featureless landscape, but perhaps it’s most distinguishing features are it’s remoteness and isolation which give it an air of almost complete detachment.

Flagg’s main claim to fame however is the High Peak Hunt’s annual point-to-point races which take place on Flagg Moor each Easter Tuesday.

At 1,100 feet above sea-level Flagg is the highest point-to-point racing venue in England and spectators have flocked here since the meeting was inaugurated in 1892. Although snow has caused the meeting to be cancelled on a number of occasions, in a good year and with favourable weather conditions the local population has been known to swell from a constant 130, to upwards of 10,000.

Though the origins of the settlement here are obscure, the name itself suggests some Scandinavian influence and early historians believed Flagg to have been first settled by the Danes, although there is a lack of physical evidence to support this.

However, it is known that a rich vein of lead ore ran in this direction from Monyash and this is thought to be a more likely cause of the settlement at Flagg, the miners having followed the vein and established the settlement originally as an outlier of the main lead-mining centre at Monyash where the Bar Moot Court of the High Peak met.

The village is centred around the junction of the Monyash to Chelmorton road, which also constitutes the village’s main street, - and the lane across Flagg Moor from the Ashbourne to Buxton road. Here there are a small group of buildings clustered around the village school (1833) and the Methodist Chapel (1883), including the Village Hall, and most surprisingly for such a small community, - a nursery school, complete with it’s own fully equipped garden play area. The nursery school also caters for children from the neighbouring villages who share this rather unique facility.

The long and slightly sloping village street runs between Town Head Farm and Townsend Farm with all the houses and farms in between on the northern and eastern side. There are no buildings on the opposite side, thus allowing residents a clear view of the Flagg races which take place there, without leaving the warmth and comfort of their homes!

Though tourism has never reached this isolated outpost, the area is favoured by both walkers and cyclists and a number of old trackways pass through the parish.

The stretch of the Limestone Way between Monyash and Taddington follows the route of the main street from the junction of Moor Lane and Mycock Lane all the way past Town Head Farm and leaves the village along Green Lane before crossing Taddington Moor.

The village had a shop and post office combined which sold just about everything, but sadly this has closed recently and now residents have to travel to Buxton or Bakewell for their shopping. However, refreshments and good wholesome Derbyshire fare can be had at the village pub, the Plough Inn, which was closed but re-opened a few years ago, and now serves evening meals in season, Saturday & Sunday lunches, and provides an excellent bed & breakfast service.

At one time there were 15 farms recorded at Flagg, and though the number has been significantly reduced in recent years this is still predominantly a farming community with a number of large farms in and around the village. One of the largest, and certainly the oldest in the village is the farm at Flagg Hall.

Flagg Hall, with its long and elegantly curving tree-lined drive is a fine twin-gabled Elizabethan Manor House built in typical Derbyshire limestone style, and similar to the Halls at Hartington and Eyam.

Over the centuries new outbuildings were added to the original stables and a working farmyard was created, thus the Hall evolved into the large working farm which it is today. On a staircase in the hall is a human skull of which tradition has it that evil will befall anyone who removes or attempts to remove it from it’s place. Locals tell of a number of attempts made by various occupiers of the hall to rid themselves of the skull,- but (and perhaps mindful of the legend) all attempts incurred some strange or evil occurrence, and so the skull remains to this day in it’s place on the hall staircase!

Ash Tree Farm is another fine example of limestone architecture in the Derbyshire style, and a little further along the main street towards Town Head stands the now inappropriately named New Buildings Farm with it’s magnificent early 18th century stone barn and outbuildings. At the opposite end of the village Townend Farm and Hobson Farm are impressive modern examples of the Flagg `farmscape’ and give character to this small hamlet of ancient stone barns and sloping roofs, interspersed with small rows of limestone rubble-built terraced cottages, and the occasional modern farm bungalow built next to the original farmhouse.

In amongst this somewhat motley collection of dwellings and about half way down the long street of this linear village stands one of the smallest village churches in the land. Flagg Church was erected in 1838 as a Unitarian Chapel, but is now administered for the Church of England by the Diocese of Derby, and is served by the Vicar of Taddington who also has the care of neighbouring churches at Monyash and Chelmorton.

Though it may not be attractive or pretty in it’s rather austere environment, this tiny upland hamlet seems to fit perfectly into it’s rugged landscape where all year long it waits quietly in isolated hibernation for it’s annual resurrection each Easter Tuesday!

 
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