Stanton in Peak is a typical White Peak village of mainly local gritstone dwellings, and like its nearest neighbour Birchover almost a mile away to the south, it straggles up either side of a steep main street running from west to east. The main street is an extension of a lane which runs off the B5056 Bakewell to Ashbourne road and twists and turns its way upward for half a mile before reaching the outskirts of the village, marked by the high perimeter wall of Stanton Hall. The wall itself runs alongside the lane for some 300 yards and was built early in the 19th century by Bache Thornhill to enclose a 130 acre deer park.
Standing sedately amidst rolling parkland just off to the south of main street and with magnificent views across the valley to the west, Stanton Hall dates from the late 16th century, and with its 5,000 acre estate, is the home of the Thornhill family. The hall was extensively rebuilt in 1693, and extended further over a century later by Bache Thornhill, today only one gabled bay remains of the original building.
Successive generations of Thornhills have been responsible for the majority of buildings in the village including the Holy Trinity church, provided by William Pole Thornhill in 1839. This picturesque little church with its perpendicular spire stands almost adjacent to the hall on the hillside, surrounded by well manicured green lawns and a well kept `garden of remembrance`. A pretty arbour with benches at either side of the war memorial offers rest outside the church, as the steep lane winds up through the centre of the village.
A walk around the village away from the main street is highly recommended and proves very rewarding, not least for its unexpected little courtyards and quaint corners, around which hidden gardens seem to lie in surprise. Many of the houses date from the 17th and 18th centuries, with some mid-Victorian additions by William Pole Thornhill (1805-75). Perhaps one of the earliest, and the most unusual is the three-storey structure of Holly House, which stands facing the main street with 2 of its 14 windows blocked up, – a result of the window tax in 1697, -the house being at least half a century earlier. Close by stand a pair of houses with door lintel dates of 1664.
On the corner opposite Holly House stands the village`s only public house, the unusually named `Flying Childers`, named after a Derby winning racehorse owned by the 4th Duke of Devonshire. Further up the hill on the left is the village post-office and general store, and along a lane nearby stands the school building of 1879 which must surely boast the finest view from a classroom window anywhere in the county!
At the top of the village stands the Methodist Chapel of 1829, and Stanton also has a magnificent Reading Room given by Mrs.Thornhill-Gell in 1876 which is now used as the Village Hall.
A signpost points the way to Congreave and Pilhough along a lane to the left, both hamlets together consisting of no more than a dozen houses between them and both within the Parish of Stanton. Over the hill to the east a further lane leads shortly to Stanton Lees, another hamlet within the parish, whilst the lane south leads across the western edge of Stanton Moor to Birchover.
The village is well known for its panoramic views and Victorian writer James Croston devoted a page and a half to describing them in his `On Foot Through The Peak`, – whilst William Pole Thornhill built a viewing platform, known locally as `The Stand` on the Rowsley road. The Stand contains a stone bench and overlooks the beautiful valley where the River Bradford joins the Wye at Fillyford Bridge.
This hillside village changes character with the seasons; in the severest winters it can be cut-off by blizzards and seem an isolated and inhospitable place. But in the summer months it is transformed into a welcoming and colourful village of immense charm and pleasing character; the sound of leather on willow echoes from the immaculately kept and stunningly situated cricket ground high above the village, which at 850ft above sea-level is one of the highest in the county. The excellent facilities are a tribute to the hard work of long serving groundsman Rex Gladwin, who has nurtured the luxurious turf for 40 years. The views from the cricket pavilion are tremendous with a wide panorama westward over the Wye valley from Harthill Moor to Haddon Hall, and with Bakewell in the distance and the escarpment of Longstone Edge to the north.
Towering above the village to the east is the massive bulk of Stanton Moor, an island of gritstone in a sea of limestone, surmounted by wooded slopes and criss-crossed by ancient trails. Famous for its bronze age burial mounds, extensively excavated by local antiquarians Heathcote and Bateman,- and for its stone circles, including the Nine Ladies set in sylvan surroundings, with the King`s Stone close by. Near the northern edge of the moor stands the square Earl Grey Tower built by the Thornhill family to commemorate the passing of the Reform Bill of 1832.
From May to October the moor is a wonderland for visitors, with masses of rhododendron bushes adding splashes of vivid colour to the sea of waving bracken and bilberry, and the course heather which carpets the moor royal purple in late July and August.
Dotted along the edges of the moor are a number of giant blocks of gritstone, each with its own name and accompanying legend. Among them the `Twopenny Loaf` or `Andle Stone`, the `Cork Stone`, `Cat Stone` and `Heart Stone` are all thought to have been objects of pagan worship in Celtic times.
The eastern edge of Stanton Moor overlooks the hamlet of Stanton Lees and has breathtaking views down the Derwent Valley beyond Darley Dale, with Matlock`s Riber Castle silhouetted on the horizon and Tansley Moor beyond.
The moor edge is dotted with old quarry workings, and at both the northern and southern end there are still working quarries, but they do not infringe upon the peaceful scenic tranquility of Stanton Moor with its abundance of wildlife and spectacular views, – nor upon the well kept beautiful little Derbyshire village of Stanton in Peak which nestles on the hillside of its western slopes.