Upper Mayfield is a settlement that, along with Church Mayfield and Middle Mayfield, makes up the larger Mayfield village all are located just within Staffordshire, right next to its border with Derbyshire, alongside the river Dove, which forms the boundary.
Upper Mayfield is the area to the north-east of Church and Middle Mayfield, and although it is difficult to separate the three, Upper Mayfield appears to start at the infamous “Hanging Bridge” and continues up the lower part of Swinscoe Hill. The Hanging Bridge is named after an event in 1745 when the retreating army of Bonnie Prince Charlie passed through the area. Scottish rebels terrorised the population, shooting the inn keeper and another man dead - bullet holes can still be seen in the west door of St John’s Church from shots fired by the frustrated soldiers, when the rest of the village was locked inside for refuge. Legend has it that some of the rebels were captured and hanged from this ancient bridge over the Dove - and to this day, it is still known as “Hanging Bridge”. There is however a road out of the village, leading to the main Leek road marked on the Ordnance Survey map as "Gallowstree Lane", suggesting that those to be hung went their way via the bridge to “Gallowstree Hill”. Today this is a much more pleasant walk, rewarded by a lovely view down the Dove Valley, while the bridge itself is a fascinating structure - the earlier packhorse bridge is still visible under the main 18th century arches.
Upper Mayfield was home to Irish poet, Thomas Moore who was a friend of Lord Byron. The Romantic poet visited regularly and Moore gave one of his daughters the middle name “Byron”; sadly, Olivia Byron Moore died in 1815, at a young age and is buried in Mayfield churchyard, where her tombstone can still be seen. One of Thomas Moore’s celebrated poems, was written on hearing the church bells from across the Dove in Ashbourne, while “The Last Rose of Summer” is perhaps his most famous song lyric. The farmhouse where he lived is today called “Moore’s Cottage Farm”, while visitors can stay in the appropriately named Last Rose Cottage, one of its converted barns.
The local hostelry of Upper Mayfield is The Queen’s Arms Hotel and a short distance away in Middle Mayfield is The Rose and Crown; this traditional, family-run village inn offers excellent food at very reasonable prices with four guest bedrooms. The beer garden overlooks some charming scenery across the Dove Valley. The Royal Oak, is on Derbyshire’s side of Hanging Bridge and offers good food and has four en-suite rooms.
Just a little way up the Dove, (about three miles as the crow flies), you will discover Dovedale, one of the Peak District’s main natural wonders and tourist attractions, while the town of Ashbourne, a stone’s throw away, is filled with man-made wonders of its own, retaining much individual character in this age when high streets are dominated by the big chains. The famous Alton Towers theme park is only a short drive to the South West on the B5032.
The countryside all around Mayfield makes for great walking, through unspoilt villages; if you want an alternative to Dovedale, the rivers Manifold and Hamps, cut through equally gorgeous dales to the North West, brimming with wildlife, but with fewer visitors.
Judy & Simon Corble