Holmesfield lies at the head of the Cordwell Valley surrounded by rolling fields and undulating hills, it is separated from the Peak District by the moors.
Around Holmesfield you will find ancient halls, converted cottages and farms, mews and stable blocks along with purpose-built mansions.
Holmesfield is situated on a ridge at 800 feet above sea level with superb views of the valley below, extending into the distance with the crooked spire of Chesterfield as a faraway landmark. On a clear day it is said that you can see Bolsover Castle and Hardwick Hall
Down Mill Lane from Holmesfield is Millthorpe which is a pretty little hamlet where Edward Carpenter the socialist poet once lived a simple life.
In the 1935 Sheffield Clarion Ramblers Handbook, Mrs Towse of Mill Farm, Millthorpe provided pots of tea for 6d or hot water for those who brought their own tea leaves, milk and sugar!
Unthank is another little hamlet close to Holmesfield. Unthank Old Hall probably dates from the 17th century. The Wright family who lived here could trace their Derbyshire ancestors for several centuries and had strong connections with Great Longstone. Thomas Wright settled at Unthank before acquiring Eyam Hall by purchase after the Civil War. Eyam Hall remains in the Wright family to this day.
Many of the narrow lanes and roads around Holmesfield are referred to as gates as in Fanshawgate, Horsleygate and Johnnygate. This name is taken from the Scandinavian ‘gata’ meaning way, similar to a holloway. In 1496 the Holmesfield manorial court rolls refer to ‘the way called Horsleygate’.
In the reign of Elizabeth I there was a smelting works in the Cordwell Valley below Holmesfield which was situated in Smeekley Wood and was owned by the Eyre and Burton families. In 1505 Roger & John Eyre took the lease of a bole hill at High Wood in the manor of Holmesfield and were allowed access to their property with carts and carriages. Therefore, many old paths were laid for the workers and also carts to transport the lead and stone. Gradually over the centuries the wheeled carts wore away and eroded the tracks, making deep holloways. Side Lane is the deepest in the area and is 12-15 feet deep and 24 feet wide at the top, but the actual path in the bottom is only about 2 foot in width. Side Lane formed part of the route from Sheffield via Totley, Woodthorpe Hall, Holmesfield and on to Fox Lane. In the Holmesfield court rolls record of 12 April 1588, Christopher Wood & Nicholas Wosenam were ordered to cut the wood that ‘hangeth over the Side Lane’ by reason that it ‘hyndereth carrages which shall chaunce to passé through’.
Old Horsleygate Hall at Holmesfield is 17th century and L-shaped, with mullioned windows. There are extensive converted barns behind with many old features.
St Swithins church at Holmesfield was built in 1826 and as with most Victorian churches; it probably stands on the site of a much earlier house of worship.
Holmesfield Hall is said to have a date stone of 1613 within and has a crest above the door.
The Angel, George & Dragon, Horns Inn and Travellers Rest public houses all vie for trade in Holmesfield.
Cartledge Hall at Holmesfield is a gabled asymmetrical Elizabethan and part Jacobean farmhouse. It was reputedly built in 1492 although the majority of the building is late 16th and early 17th century. This weather-beaten old house was home to the Wolstenholme family and has panelled rooms and secret recesses. Sir John Wolstenholme was a merchant adventurer and founder of the Virginia Company. He helped fit out the ill-fated expedition of Henry Hudson, and the family was to be immortalised by Baffin on his maps with the naming of the inhospitable Wolstenholme Island.
Robert Murray Gilchrist who died in 1917 also lived for a while at Cartledge Hall in Holmesfield. The Derbyshire novelist who was born in Sheffield in 1868 wrote many romantic novels set in the 18th century. He had many writer friends who he invited to stay at the hall and to join him on walks in the Peak District. When he died suddenly in his prime, this very popular man had a huge funeral including a contingent of Belgian refugees to whom he had been very kind. They found their way to this remote village to pay tribute. He was buried in Holmesfield churchyard with a memorial inside to his memory.