Mayfield can be divided into three distinct villages: Mayfield, Church Mayfield and Middle Mayfield.
All three are on the Staffordshire bank of the River Dove, just a mile South West of Ashbourne.
It is a place steeped in history; Mayfield church, dedicated to St. John The Baptist, dates back to at least the 12th Century, though it was added to and refurbished in many stages up to 1616, making for a fascinating tapestry of history. A Saxon cross in the churchyard is testament to a much older settlement and the village is recorded in the Doomsday Book.
The villagers sought refuge in the church building when the retreating army of Bonnie Prince Charlie passed through on 7th December 1745. The Scottish rebels terrorised the population, shooting the inn keeper and another man dead – bullet holes can still be seen in the west door from shots fired by the frustrated soldiers, once the rest of the village was locked inside. Legend has it that some of the rebels were captured and hanged from the bridge over the Dove – the bridge is still known as “Hanging Bridge”. There is however a road out of the village, leading to the main Leek road marked on the Ordnance Survey map as "Gallowstree Lane", suggesting that those to be hung went their way via the bridge to “Gallowstree Hill”. Today this is a pleasant walk, rewarded by a lovely view down the Dove Valley, while the bridge itself is a fascinating structure – the earlier packhorse bridge is still visible under the main 18th century arches.
It is known that there were water mills here from the 13th century, while later, in the 18th century, cotton manufacturers were attracted by the free power supply that the river offered. Today, amazingly, one mill still remains, producing fabrics for industry.
Mayfield was home to Irish poet, Thomas Moore who was a friend of Lord Byron. The Romantic poet visited regularly and Moore gave one of his daughters the middle name “Byron” ; sadly, Olivia Byron Moore died in 1815, at a young age and is buried in Mayfield churchyard, where her tombstone can still be seen. One of Thomas Moore’s celebrated poems, was written on hearing the church bells from across the Dove in Ashbourne, while “The Last Rose of Summer” is perhaps his most famous song lyric. The farmhouse where he lived is today called “Moore’s Farm”, while visitors can stay in Moore’s Cottage Farm, a converted shippon.
The two local pubs are the Queens Arms on Bridge Hill in Upper Mayfield, (i.e. the main village) and
The Rose and Crown, Middle Mayfield; This traditional, family-run village inn offers excellent food at very reasonable prices with four guest bedrooms. The beer garden overlooks some charming scenery across the Dove Valley.
Just a little way up the Dove, (about three miles as the crow flies), you will, inevitably discover Dovedale, one of the Peak Districts main natural wonders and tourist attractions, while the town of Ashbourne, a stone’s throw away, is filled with man-made wonders of its own, retaining much individual character in this age when high streets are dominated by the big chains. The famous Alton Towers theme park is only a short drive to the South West on the B5032.
The countryside all around Mayfield makes for great walking, through unspoilt villages; if you want an alternative to Dovedale, the rivers Manifold and Hamps, cut through equally gorgeous dales to the North West, brimming with wildlife, but with fewer visitors.