Chelmorton History

Chelmorton is one of the highest villages in Derbyshire, sitting at 1200ft above sea level, 4 miles South East of Buxton.

It is overlooked by Chelmorton Low, from which a stream flows down through the village, bearing the name of illy willy Water.

Quarrying has been a source of enterprise and employment for the village of Chelmorton, with Calton Hill quarries only a half mile away, and Topley Pike a little over a mile. The quarrying was carried out in an area of former volcanic activity, leaving the area rich in minerals.

Numerous small quarries were worked as a source of stone for the enormous amount of limestone walling in the area, including one in Horseshoe Dale which also supplied stone for road building. There were also many limestone kilns in the area, fired by coal from Axe Edge.

The landscape around Chelmorton is of historic importance in that evidence of medieval pre enclosure or strip farming has been preserved. Cultivation took place in usually 2 huge open fields surrounding a village and each villager owned a number of strips in each field. This open field system meant that every operation must be conducted in common by all villagers, and no one could produce crops at a different time or that which required different treatment from it’s neighbours.

Changes in agricultural practices from the 16th century onwards led to the disappearence of the open system and increased prosperity changed the medieval village beyond recognition. Except at Chelmorton, where the land was considered of such a poor quality, that enclosure was not considered worthwhile and so the field pattern has remained untouched.

The Parish Church of St John the Baptist, one of the highest situated churches in the land, dates partly back to the early 13th century, though its building history is a little complex. It has a broad, low west 13th century tower capped with a 15th century spire. The south arcade is 13th century, but was lengthened by one bay to match the North arcade when that was built. The 4th bay opens into the south transept which has lancet windows and dates back to around the 14th century.

Of the 15th century are the altered clerestory above the south arcade, the porch, the octagonal font, and the low embattled stone screen with an ogee-arcade and openwork quatrefoils above.

There is Baroque tablet to George Dale, dated 1683 and in the stone vaulted south porch is a gallery of early sculptures and grave slabs, some of them possibly Saxon in origin.

Chelmorton holds an annual Well Dressing in June.