Two miles north west of Bakewell, Great Longstone lies, geographically, under Longstone Edge, a ridge running for five miles onto Longstone Moor, at 400 metres above sea level. The high ground is littered with barrows from the bronze and stone ages as well as old lead mine workings, stretching back centuries. Lead mining and more recently fluorpsar, (the waste product) once gave the village its main source of livelihood. Views from Longstone Moor are panoramic and are well worth the climb up to this peaceful stretch of wild landscape.
The village itself has a fine collection of 18th and 19th Century cottages, a school and a great little pub. The village cross on the green dates back to the period when Flemish weavers settled in this area of Derbyshire, establishing a stocking industry. Trade in stockings led to trade in shoes and the shoe industry is commemorated in the name of the Inn – Crispin is the patron saint of cobblers.
At the North West corner of the village lies Great Longstone Hall, built in 1747 and a former home of the Wright family, one of the oldest families in the county. Another really interesting structure is the Shackly Building or Mary Fernihough’s Yard. Dating back to 1600, it has recently been renovated into living accomodation, but is widely believed to have once been the home and farmhouse of the Earl of Shrewsbury, in the 17th century.
On the North side of the village, the sturdy-looking parish church of St Giles dates back to the 13th century. The church’s pride-and-joy is its gothic woodwork from the latter half of the middle ages – the roof timbers with their moulded beams and bosses of flowers and foliage. Inside the church are memorials to the local families of Wright and Eyre and also a tribute to a Dr. Edward Buxton who, in the early part of the 19th century, at the age of 73, sacrificed his own health in order to tend the villagers during an outbreak of typhus. The fever visited almost every house in the village, but there were no fatalities.
Just to the South of the village, is Thornbridge Hall, a Georgian T-shaped house, now a conference centre. Until recently it was also home to Thornbridge Brewery, but so successful has this enterprise been, it has relocated to larger premises in Bakewell. The Packhorse in nearby Little Longstone is a sure place to track down one of their award-winning ales, however. Their chief bitter is named Lord Marples, after the former owner of Thornbridge. He it was who had his own railway stop constructed within his grounds, on the railway line that once linked Manchester and London through Monsal Dale. That line is now The Monsal Trail – an easy and accessible way to view, on foot or mountain bike, some of the beautiful landscape that surrounds this charming village.