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Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007
The ancient settlement of Hope lies about a mile and a half due east of its neighbour Castleton and in the centre of the broad alluvial Hope Valley to the north of the county - and at the confluence of the River Noe and Peakshole Water, within the Peak National Park.
It is geologically situated at the junction of the Carboniferous Limestone and the Edale Shale and Gritstone and is surrounded by a magnificent landscape of dramatic hills and high moorland with the low hills of the White Peak to the south and the mountainous region of the High Peak to the north and west.
The village is built around the crossroads of the A625 Sheffield to Chapel-en-le-Frith road and the B6049 which runs northwards from Tideswell to Edale. This minor road follows roughly the line of the old Portway, an ancient trading route which ran the length of the county from south to north. The village probably originated at a point where the Portway crossed a prehistoric east-west route, which in later medieval times was used by jaggers driving teams of pack-horses carrying salt and other goods from Cheshire –as names like Salter Barn, Saltergate Lane and Salto Lane suggest.
The history of Hope is both rich and diverse with evidence of pre-Roman inhabitation. The Romans themselves built a fort just over a mile away at Brough (Anavio) in 78-79AD garrisoned by the First cohort of Aquitanians to oversee lead mining in the area. The fort was abandoned in the fourth century but traces of the headquarters building can still be seen. A section of Roman road was uncovered just south of the Parish Church in 1955 which almost certainly connected the fort at Anavio to the Portway. This is confirmed by the field name ‘Burgate’ nearby, which means ‘the road to the fort’.
After the Ancient Britons, the Celts and Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Danes populated the Hope Valley. Tradition has it that a battle took place here in the mid 7th century between the Mercian King Penda and King Edwin of Northumbria, hence the naming of Win Hill and Lose Hill, familiar landmarks to the north of the village.
Hope (meaning ‘a valley’) is one of the very few Derbyshire villages to be mentioned prior to the Domesday Survey of 1086, the earliest surviving record dates from a charter of 926 AD which tells that King Athelstan won a battle nearby, and purchased land at Ashford and Hope from a Dane. Hope is also unusual for having kept its name with the spelling unchanged for over a thousand years.
At the time of the Norman Conquest the Parish of Hope was one of the largest in England and one of the most important in Derbyshire, embracing two thirds of the Royal Forest of the High Peak, including Buxton, Tideswell and Chapel-en-le-Frith. The Parish covered almost forty thousand acres until it was greatly reduced in the 19th century by the creation of the separate parishes of Bradwell, Edale and Fairfield. Significantly, Hope was the only church in North Derbyshire mentioned in the Domesday Book. There was a church here before the Norman Conquest on the same site that St. Peters Parish Church occupies today in the centre of the village, but of that early structure only the Norman font remained following the 14th century rebuilding which also saw the addition of the stubby broach-spire. The chancel was rebuilt in late Victorian times and the building was re-roofed in the 1970’s. The churchyard has a number of interesting artefacts which include the base of an early preaching cross from nearby Eccles House which stands near the north door of the church, whilst on the south side stands the shaft of a later Saxon cross and a medieval market cross atop a base of six octagonal steps. The village has a medieval pinfold just over Watergate Bridge on Pindale Lane, the old route to Castleton.
The Market Place stands opposite the church at the end of Station Road and beside The Old Hall, now a public house but originally Hope Hall, the former home of the Balguy family. Its grounds originally covered the cattle market area and it was the Squire, John Balguy who in 1715 obtained a charter for a weekly market. An ancestor, Thomas Balguy built nearby Aston Hall in 1578 and the family crest can still be seen above the main entrance. Markets are still held here on alternate Fridays between January and July and on Wednesdays and Fridays from July to Christmas.
The 16th century Daggers House stands at the end of Station Road and was from 1720 until 1860 the Cross Daggers Inn, so-named because it was used as a hostelry by carriers of cutlery from Sheffield to Manchester.
At the junction of Castleton Road and Pindale Road and opposite the old Blacksmiths Cottages is the Woodroofe Arms. The Woodroofes of Hope fought at Agincourt and obtained a Grant of Arms, taking their place in the Roll of the County Gentry of Derbyshire. They were the King’s Foresters of The Peak, the family name deriving from the title of “Wood-Reeve” and can be traced back to the reign of Edward 4th (1461-83).
The Woodroofe Arms was built on land belonging to the family, who also held the office of Parish Clerk, which passed from father to son continuously for over 200 years from 1628 to 1855.
The popular 16th century Cheshire Cheese Inn on Edale Road about half a mile from the village was so-named because it was an overnight stopping point on the old trade route from Cheshire – and payment for lodging was actually paid in cheese!
There was much housing development around the turn of the last century following the arrival of the Midland Railway in 1894 which brought tourists from Manchester and Sheffield along the Hope Valley line. It also brought an influx of construction workers to the temporary ‘Tin Town’ of Birchinlee in the Upper Derwent Valley to build the Derwent and Howden Dams. Many stayed on after the work was finished and made Hope their home.
Further development followed the construction of the Hope Cement Works between 1920 and 1930, with new houses for workers built along Castleton Road, railway connections, sidings and new bridges were built.
The Hope Valley College, of which Hope is justifiably proud, opened its doors in 1958 to provide `education for all’ and continues to provide an excellent resource for the wider community.
Wakes Week is traditionally held at the end of June to coincide with St. Peter’s Day, and the Patronal Festival also includes the ancient Derbyshire tradition of Well Dressing with three wells being dressed in Hope.
For a village of around 1000 inhabitants, with about 100 or so in the hillside hamlet of Aston to the north, Hope is exceptionally well served with an abundance of shops, cafes, art galleries and other services which cater for the thousands of visitors each year who come for the famous Hope Show and Sheepdog Trials on August Bank Holiday Monday.Summer or winter, this ancient settlement has something of interest for everyone and is well worth a visit.