Dethick comprises of little more than a church, a farm and a cluster of buildings, yet it has more history and significance that some of the larger Peak District Villages.
Babington Farm, The Manor Farmhouse and Church Farm, together with the church make up the little settlement of Dethick which dates back over many centuries. They are so full of character and drenched with history that you can almost feel it oozing out of the fabric. The little churchyard contains no headstones as it was not consecrated for burials.
Manor Farm is the most interesting property as within are said to be the original fireplace and kitchen of an earlier Hall, home to the Babington family. The rest of the house was demolished in the reign of William III.
The church of St John the Baptist was granted a licence for worship in 1229 and constructed over the next 50 years for private use by the Dethick family who lived here for 500 years. The estate then went to the Babington family upon the marriage of Isobel Dethick to Thomas Babington who fought at Agincourt. The church tower was added in 1530.
In October 1561 Anthony Babington was born of staunch Roman Catholic parents. His father died when he was 10 and he became head of the family in the care of his mother and guardians. It was not safe at this time to practice the Roman Catholic faith so for security reasons they appeared outwardly protestant. At the age of 16 he became a page for the Earl of Shrewsbury at Sheffield Castle where he met and became entranced by Mary Queen of Scots.
Mary had become Queen of Scotland when only a week old. At 24 she was forced to abdicate and travelled south to England. Although she had an entourage of servants and many personal possessions, she was still in effect a captive and not allowed to lead a normal society lifestyle. She was held at Carlisle, Bolton, Tutbury, Wingfield Manor, Chatsworth, Coventry and Sheffield where she met Babington before being transferred to Chartley Hall near Uttoxeter, Tixall near Stafford and finally Fotheringhays State Prison.
Babington became obsessed with his plans to free Mary and to establish her as Queen of England and in 1581 he helped in the Rolleston plot which failed. In 1586 he made further plans to free her, details of which he put in a letter and smuggled to Mary. Her reply was intercepted by Sir Francis Walsingham the Secretary of State and their fates were secured. Babington tried to flee by staining his face with walnut juice and dressing like a gypsy but he was caught at St Johns Wood in London and tortured. He was dragged through the streets before being hung, drawn and quartered at Lincolns Inn Field.
Mary was beheaded five months later. It is said that her executioner needed a second ‘chop’ at the block as his first blow was slightly off target and only injured her!