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Logo: Tom Bates, Derbyshire Local Histrory writer  
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Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007

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Some folk say `Par-rich’ and others say `Par-wich’, - and though opinion about the correct pronunciation is divided, most locals seem to favour the latter, - but whichever way you say it, Parwich remains a delightful village with a sunny disposition, set amidst rolling hills on the southern fringes of the White Peak.

This somewhat remote village sprawls along the floor of a shallow valley at the southern end of the parish about six miles north of Ashbourne, and tucks itself snugly beneath a massive limestone outcrop which rises to over 1,000 feet, sheltering it’s 500 or so inhabitants from the north wind.

The parish itself is roughly pear-shaped and four miles long from it`s northern boundary with Pikehall to the course of the Bletch Brook which marks it’s southern boundary.

Evidence suggests that this was originally a Celtic settlement for the area is rich in Celtic relics, and in the north of the parish even earlier evidence shows traces of prehistoric man with around 70 embanked circles built along the limestone plateau.

A century before the Domesday survey `Pevrewic’, - which well known Derbyshire writer and historian Roy Christian suggests means `the dairy farm on the Pever’- was a royal manor, and was held by the Duchy of Lancaster until Tudor times.

Thomas Levinge became Lord of the Manor in 1561 and built his Manor House on the lower slopes of Parwich Hill, where it stood for almost two centuries until Sir Richard Levinge pulled it down and used the old foundations as the base for building the present Parwich Hall in 1747. In total contrast to the rest of the buildings in the village which are mainly constructed of rubble limestone, the three-storeyed Hall is a fine example of a brick-built Georgian Mansion. Unfortunately the visual impact is rather spoiled by the somewhat incongruous west wing which is an early twentieth century addition, begun in 1905 when the magnificent terraced gardens were laid out by Sir Walter Tapper.

Overlooking the village on the hillside behind the Hall stands the striking white limestone structure of the former Parwich Hospital, built in 1914, and nowadays noted for its residential excellence as Parwich Care Centre.

There is no through traffic to spoil the peaceful atmosphere at the heart of this rural retreat. The A515 Buxton to Ashbourne road passes two and a half miles to the west of Parwich and the Ashbourne to Bakewell road passes a mile and a half to the east. Access to the village is gained along any one of five narrow winding lanes which lead to the intriguing village centre with it’s mere, fed by a brook which runs down through the churchyard, it`s Square, and a fascinating network of alleys and small lanes connecting the two greens, which originally were probably one large Village Green.

St.Peters’ unusual broach spire rises from the west tower of the parish church just off the green at the lower end of the village. The original Norman church on the site fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1866 at the expense of Thomas Evans of Parwich Hall, who was not only a very liberal squire of Parwich but also a Liberal Member of Parliament for almost 40 years and became Sir Thomas Evans when he was knighted in 1887.

T.W.Evans also paid for the building of the new church, which incorporates some of the original Norman architecture of the old one and was completed in 1873 by Stevens & Robinson of Derby. He was also responsible for the construction of the well-appointed Gothic style school building with its attractive wooden clock tower on an elevated corner site at the northern end of the village in 1861. The school has an excellent tradition of learning and was remarkably served for 75 years by successive father-and-son Headmasters, Fletcher Hampson and his son Fletcher Booth Hampson.

Parwich is full of pretty mullion-windowed cottages built in the typical Derbyshire vernacular style of the late 18th and early 19th century, though surprisingly few have date stones. One exception is Flaxdale House built by Rev.George Thomas Roe in 1756 which bears his initials on the date-stone; another date-stone of February 8th 1816 bearing the same name marks the reverend gentleman`s last resting place beneath the tall horse-chestnut tree in a quiet corner of the nearby churchyard.

Hallcliffe House dates from around 1750 and the elegant Church Gate House which faces away from the Green is of the same period. One relatively `modern’ noteworthy building is The Vicarage on Smith Lane, built earlier this century in the `Arts & Crafts’ style by Currey & Thompson of Derby.

At one time the village had three pubs, but the`Wheatsheaf’ on Smith Lane is now `Wheatsheaf Cottage’, and further along on the right `The Crown’, an 18th century Inn is now `Crown House’ . The only remaining pub is the highly recommended `Sycamore Inn’, which stands just beyond the Mere on Main Street.

The British Legion Club, another social centre and the headquarters of Parwich Cricket Club stands along the lane to Alsop-en-le-Dale, close beside the Methodist Chapel.

Surprisingly, for a village of it`s size and stature Parwich has neither post-office nor doctor’s surgery. The post-office on Shaw Lane closed some years ago, but the residents here are very well served by Barbara Lowes at the one remaining village shop which, with its well stocked shelves groaning under the weight, sells just about everything, including postage stamps.

A visiting doctor from Hartington holds a surgery on Wednesday afternoons up at the Care Centre,- whilst the Sycamore Inn doubles as an Ashbourne doctor`s surgery on Friday mornings!

With a very limited bus service, and the nearest railway station at either Matlock or Buxton, Parwich`s inaccessibility, despite its location within the Peak National Park, has kept it from the main tourist routes. Happily for it`s friendly residents and occasional visitors the village’s relative isolation has allowed it to maintain it`s essential olde worlde charm and the pleasant rural character of an authentic Derbyshire Dales farming community.

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