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Wormhill

Wormhill

Wormhill is a beautiful little village with a Village Green, old Church and majestic Hall. It is steeped in history and is thought to have originally been named Wolfhill, taken from the numerous wolves which roamed the nearby woods. In the 13th century it is known that a family living here were called Wolfhunt. They were given the name for their services of chasing and taking wolves in the Kings Forest of the Peak, and held a bovate of land based on a tenure of wolves heads. There are certainly no wolves to be found here now thank goodness! Wormhill is a sleepy little village with a relatively quiet road running through it. There are a network of wonderful paths and tracks heading off in all directions around Wormhill, providing access to some of the most popular and picturesque Derbyshire Dales including Millers Dale, Chee Dale, Peter Dale, Monks Dale and Hay Dale. On Wormhill village green is a set of old stocks and a wonderful drinking fountain with troughs. These form a memorial to James Brindley the civil engineer and builder of over 300 miles of canals. He was born at a cottage (now demolished) between Tunstead and Great Rocks Dale. His father was said to be a lazy rough peasant who preferred bull-baiting to an honest days work. James worked as a boy at Old Hall Farm which is further up the village. His job was to lead wagons with sacks of grain to the old grist mill in Millers Dale known as Wormhill Mill. However, machinery was his greatest interest and in 1733 at the age of 17 he became apprenticed for 7 years to a millwright at Gurnet near Macclesfield. In 1742 he started his own business at Leek and became well known for his engineering knowledge. In 1759 he was approached by the Duke of Bridgewater to construct a canal which would transport coal from Worsley to Manchester. With the help of aqueducts and tunnels, this was completed in 1761. All this is hard to imagine from a humble youth with a very basic upbringing who never learnt to read or write properly, and who often locked himself in his bedroom for days on end in order to solve his mathematical problems mentally, emerging only when he was satisfied with his calculations. Old Hall Farm which dates from the 16th century was probably the Old Manor House in Wormhill before the later Hall was built. There is a nice footpath leading up beside the Old Hall which takes you to Tunstead where you can find a memorial plaque to James Brindley on the site of his birthplace. Right at the top of Wormhill in a commanding position and with far reaching views is Hargate Hall which is late Victorian in appearance. Set in an island position, there is a small cluster of buildings here which are full of character and charm. Hargate Hall was built around 1900 by Joseph Wainwright who was a Wormhill quarry owner. However, in Kelly’s Directory of Derbyshire in 1912, Hargate Hall was the residence of Robert Whitehead esq JP who was one of the chief landowners in the area. The Hall now provides holiday accommodation with Hargate Hall Apartments being able to accommodate up to 75 people in a number of different units. Other holiday accommodation to be found are The Cow Shed – don’t be fooled by the name, it is actually a luxurious holiday cottage which has only recently been converted. A little lane takes you from the main village street in Wormhill to the church of St Margaret’s which was restored in 1864. The base of the tower is all that remains of the medieval Wormhill church. There are interesting corner stones to be found which are made of tufa. The Rhenish cap or top to the tower is said to be a replica of the Saxon tower at Stomping in Sussex. There is also a Saxon cross in the churchyard with sundial and an unusual pyramid shaped tomb. A wonderful old path heads out from the church across fields and rich pastureland typical of the White Peak, before descending steeply to Cherryslack at the top end of Monks Dale. Somewhere within the dale are said to be the foundations of an ancient Grange which once belonged to the Priory of Lenton. The monks held lands hereabouts and it is reputed that a secret passage leads from the Dale to Tideswell Church. Nestling in trees at the bottom end of Wormhill is Wormhill Hall which is dated 1697 on a rainwater head. This H-shaped Hall has mullioned windows and a pedimented front door, approached by a flight of steps. Wormhill Hall was built by the Bagshawe family and is still in their ownership. William Bagshawe who was actually born at Litton in 1628 went on to be known as the ‘Apostle of the Peak’. He preached his first sermon at Wormhill and then became the non-conformist vicar of Glossop. However, following the ejection of some 2,000 ministers in 1662 due to Charles II succeeding the throne, William began preaching secretly from his home and that of his friends, even performing outdoor services. Many warrants were issued for his arrest but never enforced. He died in 1702 at the age of 74 and was buried in the chancel of Chapel-en-le-Frith parish church. Another family member who entered the ministry wrote an entry in his diary dated February 3 1794 that reads: “Sunday - Preached at Wormhill on the vanity of human pursuits and human pleasures – to a polite audience an affecting sermon. Rode in the evening to Castleton where I read three discourses by Secker. In the Forest I was sorry to observe a party of boys playing at football. I spoke to them but was laughed at, and on my departure one of the boys gave the ball a wonderful kick – a proof this of the degeneracy of human nature.” There is a lovely footpath through Hassop Farm (opposite Wormhill Hall) which takes you to Flag Dale and Wormhill Springs. Wormhill Spring is said to be the largest of over 20 limestone springs that supplement the flow of water in the River Wye which heads down Wye Valley from Buxton then through a series of narrow gorges known as Chee Dale, Millers Dale, Cressbrook Dale and Monsal Dale before arriving at Bakewell. Another fabulous footpath almost opposite Wormhill Hall takes you down a bank to the river about half a mile away where Wormhill Mill was once located. Not far away is Millers Dale which is a very popular and well frequented beauty spot which gives access to the wonderful Monsal Trail .