Litton can certainly be described as one of the prettiest villages in the Peak District with many late 17th and early 18th century houses, oozing charm and character, and set around a large village green where you can find the steps of an old market cross and the village stocks conveniently placed in front of the pub
Much of the affluence which resulted in the expansion of Litton around the late 17th century can be attributed to the local lead mining industry, although hosiery manufacture was a cottage industry at that time with many families working on stocking frames in their homes.
Christ Church in Litton was opened in 1928. Prior to this church services were held in the school and library building which was built by public subscription in 1869. William Bagshawe (1628-1702) was born at Litton and was a non-conformist minister who gained the title of The Apostle of the Peak. William gave his first sermon at Wormhill and later became the Vicar of Glossop. Following The Restoration in 1662, he returned to the then family home at Ford Hall near Chapel-en-le-Frith and began to preach in secret, then to build small shelters and chapels. Warrants were served for his arrest but he was never captured. When William died, he was buried in the chancel of the church at Chapel-en-le-Frith
Litton once boasted having two musical bands, each almost entirely composed of family members, being the Eatons and the Palfreymans. Inhabitants of the village have not always been so amiable to each other though, with records stating that in 1819 a Hannah Pocking of Litton poisoned another villager and was hung at Derby for her crime.
Running above the village is Litton Edge from where there are lovely aerial views down over the village. From up there you can clearly make out the interesting field formations which surround Litton. Reverse s-shaped fields are medieval in age, whereas the majority of the fields are long and narrow and were created after the Enclosure Acts of 1760 and 1830 when open fields were allocated to individuals by Commissioners. The more rectangular fields away from the village or on higher ground were formed later in the 18th and 19th centuries when the land was taken in from the moors and rough pasture.
Across the fields from Litton is Cressbrook Dale which is renowned for its wonderful wild flowers, and is one of Derbyshires finest dales for botanical interest. Some of the flowers are exceptionally rare including birdsfoot sedge. However, in spring the sides of the dale are literally covered with spotted orchids and cowslips.
At the top end of Cressbrook Dale is a strange rock formation known as Gibbet Rock or Peter Stone which probably derives from its similarity to the dome of St. Peters Basilica in Rome. However, Gibbet Rock has more grisly connotations.
In the coaching days of the 19th century there was a toll gate across the turnpike road at Wardlow Mires. In the Toll House lived Hannah Oliver, a widow of 70 years. On January 15 1815 she was strangled and her death made to somehow look like suicide. A 21-year old man named Anthony Linguard was found guilty of her murder and consequently hung at Derby for his crime. His body was brought back to Wardlow on a cart then set up on a gibbet on Peter Stone where crowds gathered from far and wide and stalls selling refreshments and curios did a roaring trade. The strange thing was that on January 15 1815 another foul murder took place that same night in Yorkshire. Another old lady was murdered at a toll gate she was Hannahs sister!
Many people protested with disgust at the barbaric practice of gibbeting Anthony Linguard and hanging him in chains on the rock, which resulted in an end to this ghoulish ritual. It is stated that the cost of the hanging was £126 9s 5d which included a bill of £85 4s for the gibbet.
Another macabre historical reference is that of Litton Mill. The mill is located by the side of the River Wye about 2 miles from Litton village. Now converted into luxury apartments, the Litton Mill complex has a notorious history involving cruelty, torture and a high rate in apprentice and child labour mortality. In fact, it is reputed that burials were made at several locations in an attempt to cover up the number of deaths.
Ellis Needham was a millowner or factory master with the worst reputation. He established the mill back in 1782 and together with his partner Thomas Firth attempted to sell the premises in 1786. Their advertisement stated well supplied by hands from the neighbouring villages at low wages! When the mill failed to sell, Needham took to apprenticing parish orphans and paupers, some of whom were brought from London or other large cities. They worked long hours with poor food, in bad conditions, and were beaten and abused. In 1815 Needham was declared bankrupt so ironically his cost-cutting measures did not pay off. The mill was taken over by a succession of owners, one of whom was the much kinder Henry Newton, and by 1857 there were 400 employees. As with many of the mills, fire struck at Litton and new buildings were constructed. In 1934 it was bought by Anglo-French Silk Mills Limited and produced artificial silk and man-made fibres. In 1963 Litton Mill changed hands and manufactured textured yarns until its closure in the 1970s. For many years the mill lay empty and derelict before planning permission was approved for its conversion into living accommodation.