WINSTER VILLAGE HOSTORICAL WALK by John Merrill
– 2 Miles
– ALLOW 1 1/2 HOURS
Map – 1:25,000 Explorer series No. OL24 – The White Peak – East Sheet.
Car parking – Car park at entrance to village from Wensley. Small car park at the top of West Bank.
Early Closing Day – Thursday.
ABOUT THE WALK – Winster is an old lead mining village – once most prosperous – as illustrated by the large number of 18th Century buildings. The main street is all 18th Century and contains several fine buildings, including the Hall (built in 1628) and the 16th Century Market House. On the short walk you reach many of the key buildings and some of more than twenty inns that Winster had in the 18th Century. Winster still retains two unusual features. On Shrove Tuesday the annual pancake races are held in the Main Street. A Morris Dancing team maintains the tradition for Winster and has four dances bearing its name, including the Winster Gallup and The Blue Eyed Stranger. During the summer they often perform in Winster and the surrounding area.
WALKING INSTRUCTIONS – I have begun this walk from the Market House – Winster’s most prominent landmark. Turn right and ascend East Bank. Pass the Bowling Green Inn on your left and later a Wesleyan Chapel, dated 1823. Almost immediately afterwards turn right along a “gennel” – a walled pathway. Follow this past the top of Woolley’s Yard to West Bank. Turn left and ascend West Bank, passing Bank House on your right and, at the top of the steep hill, the former Workhouse on your left. To your right is the Miner’s Standard Inn. Cross the B5056 road onto the Pikehall road. On your left is Lead Ore House and Mosey Mere. At the crossroads shortly afterwards, turn right onto the walled track known as Islington Lane.
Keep on this track for half a mile as you gradually descend to a farm track on your left. Turn right as footpath signposted through the stile and cross the stiled fields to the B5056 road. Cross the road to another stile and follow the path across the fields to the churchyard, passing Oddo House on your left. Walk through the churchyard, keeping to the righthand side. Walk along the lane for 20 yards to West Bank. Turn left and right almost immediately and walk along Main Street, past the Hall back to the Market House.
HISTORICAL NOTES – IN WALKING ORDER
MARKET HOUSE – Originally the lower half, which dates from the 16th Century, would have had open arches for trading. The upper half is 18th Century and is believed to have replaced an earlier wooden construction. In 1906 it was in poor condition and given to the National Trust – their first property in Derbyshire. The upper storey was restored at a cost of ?165. This storey is now used as a National Trust Information Centre, and is open on certain afternoons during the summer months.
BANK HOUSE – Dates from about 1580, and a plaque on the righthand side of the doorway records that it has been the home of the village doctor for more than 100 years.
FORMER WORKHOUSE – Built in 1744.
MINER’S STANDARD INN – was built in 1653, and over the doorway can be seen the dates and initials – E.P., E.P. and F.P. – stand for the names Edith, Ella and Frank Prince. In more recent times the initials have come to mean – Every person entering pays for a pint!
LEAD ORE HOUSE – The best preserved example in the Peak District. Here until the early part of this century local lead miners deposited their lead ore, down a chute, for safe keeping – like a bank’s nightsafe. The building is constructed solidly like a bank vault.
MOSEY MERE – a rare example of water resting on a layer of volcanic rock in limestone country. It was used by the villagers of Islington and is surrounded by common land.
ISLINGTON LANE – The name is all that remains of a village that once existed here.
PORTWAY MINE – Known to have been in use in 1666, it was one of the richest lead mines in Derbyshire. Between 1746 and 1789, 31,850 loads of lead ore were produced, selling for ?63,718. In 1789 a very rich vein was found, and in seven weeks a profit of ?4,000 was made. Placket Mine was also very profitable, and in 1763 a profit of ?7,750 was made. There are known to have been more than twenty mines in the Winster area in the 18th Century. In 1750 the population of Winster was over 2,000 with more than twenty inns. Fifty years later, with the decline of lead mining, the population had reduced to 753 – slightly more than today – and only two inns.
ODDO HOUSE – the third house to occupy this site.
PARISH CHURCH – Dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The tower was built in 1721, and the remainder was enlarged to its present size in 1883. Inside is a very unusual and thin quatrefoil archway. The clock was fitted in 1846 and cost £80.
DOWER HOUSE – Considerably altered over the years, but dates from the 16th Century.
THE HALL – was built by Francis Moore in 1628. A white lady is said to haunt the grounds! According to legend, a daughter of the house fell in love with the coachman. The parents would not agree to the marriage, so one day they climbed to the top of the building and, swearing true love, they held hands and jumped to their deaths.
MORRIS DANCING – Winster’s own team can be seen performing in the village and neighbourhood during the summer months.
PANCAKE RACES – Held annually on Shrove Tuesday, and unique to Derbyshire. The races take place on the Main Street, and the pancakes are made to a special robust recipe.
John Merrill 2004