Grange Mill consists of a cluster of buildings comprising an old mill, a handful of houses, cottages and farms, the old cheese factory building and The Hollybush Inn which being conveniently located next to a junction of old roads, is said to have at one time had a lock-up on the site to secure prisoners overnight who were on route to distant gaols.
The former cheese factory at Grange Mill was built in 1875 and still has an old cheese press on display, whilst just along the road are the buildings of the 18th century corn mill and millpond.
Across the road from the Hollybush is an insignificant looking grassy track. Centuries ago this was in fact the main highway north from Derby and was known as The Portway. A section of the Portway near to Harboro Rocks was known as The Chariot Way and first mentioned way back in 1260.
Grange Mill is surrounded by quarries as it lies in the heart of Limestone countryside. Lead mining was also a valuable source of employment and income to the area, making the hills around Grange Mill ravaged for their mineral wealth and they still contain the scars of both old and new industrial remains. However it is also a scenically beautiful area and a strong farming community with rich pasture and meadows.
On the hillside above Grange Mill was Upper Golconda Mine which was worked up until 1953 and had 3 ½ miles of galleries and tunnels. Miners discovered a huge cavern here some 400 feet below the surface which was reached by a 300ft vertical shaft followed by tunnels and ladders down shorter shafts. A mineral processing works is now situated on the site.
The Via Gellia road heads from Grange Mill to Cromford. This was laid and named in 1792 upon instruction of Philip Gell of nearby Hopton to connect his house at Hopton and lead mines at Carsington with the smelting house and canal wharf at Cromford. In 1804 the Cromford to Grange Mill and Newhaven road was turnpiked and it acquired toll gates at Cromford, as well as the junction with the Hopton Road and another at Grange Mill. Travelling this route must have been a costly journey!
The Fenny Bentley to Haddon road which passed through Grange Mill was also turnpiked but was not profitable, and by 1865 its shareholders were heavily in debt. By 1881 the turnpike had deteriorated and the gates were thrown open. It was not until earlier this century and the invention of the motor car that the road surfaces were improved.
The little stream which runs down through Grange Mill and on to Cromford at one time powered 7 mills in turn on its travels. At the side of the road below nearby Prospect Quarry stood Lillies Inn, its name probably taken from the lilies-of the-valley which then carpeted the area and were harvested and sold.
Griffe Grange Farm which is a mile or so from Grange Mill was a monastic farm and granary from the 12th century until the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530’s. The name Griffe is evidently an adaptation of a Norse word meaning deep and narrow valley. The Grange later came into the hands of the aforementioned Gell family.
In the area of Grange Mill there is an abundance of tuff, created by volcanic action. The extinct volcanoes, whose vents were blocked with molten lave, solidified to produce this hard sponge-like stone. There is more of this igneous rock around Matlock than anywhere else in Great Britain. A mile or so down the Via Gellia from Grange Mill is a cottage built entirely of this stone.