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Snitterton

Within the tiny cluster of properties which make up the hamlet of Snitterton stands an impressive 17th century manor house as well as the outstanding Snitterton Hall. Also to be found is Bullring Cottage fronted by an information plaque. Snitterton may only be small but it is packed with historical interest and fascinating properties.

Snitterton Hall is a fabulous Elizabethan Manor House with mullioned and transomed windows, probably built in 1631 when the estate was sold by Henry Sacheveral to Colonel John Milward, although an earlier house is thought to have stood on the site or close by. The present building is built of ashlar gritstone quarried from Oaker Hill . However, it is reputed that the builder misread the plans as the house faces into the hillside instead of across the valley. It is also said that a secret passage leads away from Snitterton Hall towards the Millclose area.

There have been many occupants of Snitterton Hall over the centuries, one of which is famed for cultivating a breed of pink daffodils. For most of the 20th century Snitterton Hall was owned by the Bagshawe family. One family member had been made an honorary Red Indian chief in America and returned with his full tribal costume including feathered headdress. Each year during spring cleaning, this was taken from its wooden chest and given an airing before being carefully packed away. Snitterton Hall was sold in 1986 for a sum in the region of £200,000 but sold again more recently for just under £3million.

The deep dark chasm of Jughole Mine lies hidden in trees on a rise above Snitterton. It was first recorded on a map of the Calf Tail lead mine title drawn up in 1767. Masson Hill is riddled with old lead mines and criss-crossed with miners' paths - when a miner found a new vein of ore he had to register it with the Barmaster at the Barmote Court, the nearest being Wirksworth. He was then entitled to a right of access from the nearest highway for foot or horse only. The width of this access road was established by the Barmaster and two assistants by walking abreast with arms outstretched and fingers touching. Across Bonsall Moor is a miner's path to Wensley which was used until the early part of the 20th century by miners commuting to Millclose Mine. Shifts were in force and it was said that the hillside above Snitterton was adorned at night with the flickering lamps of travelling miners.

Winding its way over the hilltops above Snitterton is Salters Lane. Salt for many centuries has been of great importance for the preservation of meat. A Roman soldier's pay was made up of a salt allowance of 'salarium', a derivative of which is the word 'salary'. Packhorses laden with salt from the salt basins of Staffordshire and Cheshire followed regular routes to distant towns; parts of these routes often became named Salters Lane. The lane in question is on the salt route from Leek via Hartington to Matlock and Ashover.

Prior to the construction of the Derwent and Ladybower reservoirs close to its source, flooding of the Derwent was commonplace and low-lying land remained marshy. For this reason the old settlements of Snitterton, Hackney and Northwood were situated well up the sides of the valley. Daniel Defoe in his writings of the area described the Derwent as a 'fury of a river, a frightful creature when the hills load her current with water'.

Centuries ago the lane through Snitterton formed part of the Newhaven turnpike, prior to the construction of the A6 in the valley bottom. It crossed Matlock Bridge which was known as Pontem de Matelock and climbed up to Snitterton where it flanked Oaker Hill before joining up with the Toadhole Turnpike from Chesterfield. This then ascended to Wensley. The turnpike trustees at a meeting on August 17 1767 decided that 'it is impracticable for any wagon or other 4-wheeled carriage, with the weights allowed by the Act of Parliament, without manifest inconvenience and hazard, to be drawn up'. For this reason the Trustee surveyor directed that extra horses could be used to pull the wagons up Oaker hill, and stones or posts were set where the extra horses were to be hitched or unhitched.

An original milestone from the turnpike era can still be found at Snitterton which states that London is 159 miles and Nottingham 26 miles away.

In the days of the turnpike, the little hamlet of Snitterton had no less than three inns - no qualms in those days with regard to drinking and driving then?