Parwich is a remote village in the White Peak area of Derbyshire, 7 miles north of Ashbourne. Set among huge limestone outcrops, which rise to over 1000 feet, its 500 inhabitants are cosily sheltered in houses made of the same stone, standing around the open green. The stream, which gave the village its name, runs all the way through, trickling down from the churchyard. The village encompasses a pear shaped sprawl, spreading out over an area approximately 4 miles long. The northern boundary is the small hamlet of Pikehall and to the south is the beautiful Bletch Brook. The houses are very pretty and picturesque, with mullion windows built in the typical Derbyshire style of the late 18th and early 19th century and a few have date stones to prove it.
The village is set within the Peak District National Park and Derbyshire Dales district Council and has a very active community, who all work together to maintain the spirit of the village, preserving and maintaining the past but also bringing the village up to date. Home to a primary school, Memorial Hall, a Royal British Legion club house and bar, there is also a cricket pitch, Bowling Green and tennis courts, as well as a wonderful children's recreation area.
There was once an independent village shop but in recent hard times, the villagers showed initiative, when it was forced to close, and re-opened it inside the local pub, The Sycamore Inn. The novelty brought the BBC to the village when it was featured last summer in Countryfile, in an item aptly labelled 'Pub in the Hub'. At one time, the village had three pubs, but both The Wheatsheaf and The Crown are now houses.
Standing proud and overlooking the village on the hillside is the striking white limestone structure of the former Parwich hospital, which was built in 1914. In 1979 the village raised money to buy hospital and set it up as a care centre but unfortunately, due to low demand places, the resources were transferred to Ashbourne in 2002. The building is now a private house called Rathbone Hall. The British Legion club is a social centre and the headquarters of the cricket club just behind the Methodist Chapel.
Local initiatives have created the sports facilities and the children's play area, which has just had a new extension, and the Village Action Group obtained grants or restoration of the wells and the churchyard walls, as well as other environmental projects. The group are also happy to have established three new houses at Parsons Croft, for rent to local families, and there are many active groups and societies in the village, such as the newly established art group and the Parwich Odd Fellows.
Parwich, pronounced either 'Par-rich' or 'Par-wich,' whichever you prefer, dates back to the Domesday Book, with evidence found that it was once a Celtic settlement. Back then, the only stone building would have been the church. Remains of the Norman building are incorporated into the present Victorian one, St Peters. The houses would have been made of timber and wattle and daub, but there have also been traces of prehistoric man. Around 70 embanked circles are built along the limestone plateau and can be explored today.
The name of the village itself comes from the Celts and is made up of two components. The first 'Par,' is thought to come from the Celtic name for the brook flowing through the village and the second part, 'Wich,' from the Saxon word for a dairy farm. It's due to the Saxons that the agricultural community began its origins of the village and parish as they are today. The layout and existing field boundaries came from the Saxon approach to farming, and back in 1086, there were eight farming households which were clustered in the village. It would have been a very quiet place, with only a couple of tracks to get there, and even now, surrounded by fields and hills, the nearest main road is the Ashbourne to Bakewell Road, over a mile away. (The Ashbourne to Buxton Road is more than 2 miles away.)
There isn't any through traffic to spoil the peaceful atmosphere of the village today, with only five winding lanes accessing it, and all leading to the centre with its wonderful mere, fed by the brook. The village has its own delightful square, and a network of lanes and alleys which connects each green. These were thought to have been one large village green at one time.
There is a limited bus service and the nearest railway station is either Matlock or Buxton, making the village cut off essentially from the main tourist routes, but this adds to the rural character of the picturesque chocolate box village, which delights walkers and residents who enjoy the relative isolation.