This website is accessible to all versions of every browser. However, you are seeing this message because your browser does not support basic Web standards, and does not properly display the site's design details. Please consider upgrading to a more modern browser. (Learn More).

Logo: Tom Bates, Derbyshire Local Histrory writer  
You are here: home > places

The Hucklows

Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007

e-mail E-mail this page   print Printer-friendly page

Great & Little Hucklow:

Great Hucklow and it’s smaller sister village of Little Hucklow constitute the two largest of a group of five tiny settlements which lie in relative isolation – up hill and down dale - two miles west of Eyam Moor on the high plateau between Tideswell and Bradwell deep in the Derbyshire Peak District.

The hamlets of Bretton, Windmill and Grindlow make up the group, the latter being separated from Great Hucklow by a narrow winding country lane which runs for a half a mile between the two settlements.

Hucklow Edge dominates the skyline to the north, running east to west for a mile from the Barrel Inn at Bretton before turning northward beyond Great Hucklow Wood and the Gliding Club at Camphill.

Perhaps the easiest approach to the Hucklows is along the B6049 Tideswell to Bradwell road which runs north from the A623 at the Anchor Inn crossroads. This undulating road runs straight for a mile across high meadows dotted with sheep before rounding a bend at a minor crossroads and plunging downhill towards Bradwell. A left turn at the crossroads leads almost immediately into the quaint huddle of cottages known collectively as Windmill, where Holly House offers bed & breakfast accommodation and where the lawned gardens of The Croft offer a colourful and cultivated surprise in an otherwise wild and semi-agricultural landscape; whilst a right turn leads within half a mile to Great Hucklow.

Nestling against a hillside half a mile away down the hill towards Bradwell, Little Hucklow faces the rising sun, looking due east to Hucklow Edge with the wind-sock of Camphill airfield clearly visible at the highest point.

Several springs rising beneath the sheltering bulk of Hucklow Edge made this seem a suitable place for an Anglo-Saxon farmer named Hucca to settle, for Hucklow means Hucca’s-hill - although the earliest evidence of human settlement here is the prehistoric round barrow at Grindlow, which explains why the early Anglo-Saxons named it thus - Grindlow literally meaning green-hill’. Today it comprises a handful of houses and a couple of farms, one of which, Chapel House Farm, has a riding school with a high reputation.

When Edward the Confessor died in 1066 Hucklow was recorded as having two carucates of taxable land shared between Ernwy, Hundulf and Wulfric’ but twenty years later the Domesday Book describes it as `waste’, because following the Norman Conquest it would have become part of the Royal Forest of the High Peak.

Lead was mined in this area from the early seventeenth century and was responsible for the growth of Great Hucklow and for the foundation of it’s four satellite settlements (total population about 250) during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - when many of the dwellings here were built.

A mini revival in the first half of the nineteenth century saw more building including several chapels, but as Kelly’s Directory of 1887 records - ‘mining was the principal employment of the inhabitants of Great Hucklow, but the mines are at present closed’ - they remained closed and very little new building has since taken place, hence the size and shape of the Hucklow settlements has remained unchanged for over a century. However, significant twentieth century innovations at Hucklow, which is a veritable paradise for outdoor activity enthusiasts, have attracted an increasing number of visitors to the village and surrounding area – not least to the Derbyshire & Lancashire Gliding Club whose Camphill airfield covers 80 acres high on the dramatic moorland landscape of Hucklow Edge, 1,365 feet above sea-level. The club was formed in 1935 and has about 150 active members, but is open for temporary membership during the summer months and offers one week flying courses with full accommodation for around £250. The gliders are launched by a petrol winch and visitors can watch them soaring away over the spectacular countryside from a viewing platform and car park nearby.

The road which runs due east along Hucklow Edge and Eyam Edge from the Gliding Club, then crosses Eyam Moor as Sir William Hill Road before eventually arriving at Grindleford, lends a sense of being ‘on top of the world’ to the walkers and hikers who flock in the summer months along its foxglove-strewn length to the Youth Hostel and the famous Barrel Inn at Bretton, built in 1697, and noted for it’s warm welcome and excellent fare.

Amazingly until 1972 Great Hucklow laid claim to being the smallest village in England with it’s own professional theatre!

Lawrence du Garde Peach (1880-1975), former editor of Punch and author of many Ladybird children’s books - who also compiled a series of Up Hill & Down Dale’ programmes for Children’s Hour - founded the theatre in a disused lead-smelting mill in 1927 and ran it successfully for the next 45 years. The old theatre is now an Activity Centre run by the Sheffield Scout Association.

In the centre of Great Hucklow, and it’s most imposing building, stands the Nightingale Centre, known until recently as the Unitarian Holiday & Conference Centre and built originally as a Free Churches Convalescent Hospital in 1917. Owned and administered by the Unitarian Church, the centre was rebuilt for it’s current use in the 1930’s and with an added annexe, can accommodate more than eighty conference or holiday guests in single, double and dormitory bedrooms. Just around the corner is Great Hucklow Unitarian Chapel, built in 1796 and extended, with the bellcote added, in 1901. The Methodist Chapel on the opposite corner dates from 1800 and has a tiny graveyard at the rear neatly surrounded by yew hedging.

The village also boasts a thriving Church of England primary school which stands next to the John Hancock Playing Field near the village centre. Other noteable buildings include the elaborate Tor View, the nearby Old Manse, and at the eastern end of the village the old seventeenth century Hall, whilst in-between stand Rock Cottage (1709) and Back Fold (1723).

At the western end stands the 17th century village pub, the Queen Anne, which offers excellent food, en-suite B & B accommodation, good ale and a warm welcome – especially to railway enthusiasts!

Little Hucklow too has a fine old public house, Ye Olde Bull’s Head, which embodies part of the old Manor House that is tucked neatly away behind it. The low mullioned windows and covered spiral staircase at the rear suggest an earlier date than the 1661 datestone, but not as early perhaps as the claim for the Bull’s Head itself whose sign proclaims it to be a ‘12th Century Inn’!!

Little Hucklow’s Methodist Chapel of 1854 is no longer in use, and as in the other settlements here, there are no shops and no post-office – the nearest being in Tideswell or Bradwell a couple of miles away - either up the hill or down the dale!

To visitors during the winter months the Hucklows may appear to be somewhat isolated settlements in a cold, inhospitable and windswept wilderness - but in the summer months the area becomes transformed into a wildlife paradise for walkers, wild-flower lovers, cyclists, bird-watchers, ramblers of any age from nine to ninety – and even budding glider pilots! But summer or winter, Great or Little, whether up hill or down dale - all are guaranteed to feel on top of the world in the Hucklows!

e-mail E-mail this page
print Printer-friendly page

Weather Forecasts | Weather Maps | Weather Radar

Latest articles in Places
Over Haddon
Celebrating Dovedale with Tom Bates!
Ashbourne - The `Gateway to Dovedale'
Eyam - The famously heroic `Plague' Village
Mappleton - in the Dove Valley
Holloway - Home of Florence Nightingale.
Hognaston Village
Chatsworth House
The Peak District

Please visit About Derbyshire - my main web site

contact Tom