New acquisition: Winster in 1769

Derbyshire Record Office rarely buys documents but we recently made an exception when an eighteenth century map of Winster came up for auction.  Winster is a beautiful and historic village, but our earliest map was the first edition of the Ordnance Survey, surveyed 1875-1882.  This is well over a hundred years after Winster’s heyday as a centre of the county’s lead mining industry, so we were very excited when we were able to buy this 1769 map with the help of a grant from the Friends of the National Libraries and a private donation.

The Plan of the lead mines and veins of the Partners and Proprietors of Portoway Placket Yate Stoop Limekiln and Drake, Winster is a beautifully drawn map:

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And what’s really exciting is that it shows the village in some detail:

Winster village - 60kbAlthough the village is much bigger nowadays, some of the older buildings are still recognisable on this map.  I’ve marked a few below: the red circle marks the church, the blue circle is Winster Hall and the green one is probably Winster Market House (now owned by the National Trust).   If you know Winster well, you can no doubt recognise more.

Winster 1769 - 62kb

Of course for lead mining historians this map is also a fascinating resource as the mines themselves are marked.  Plus, if you’d like to see what an 18th century lead miner looked like, there are some lovely images of them:

Lead miners on Winster map - 68kb

We want to thank the Friends of the National Libraries for their grant which enabled us to buy this wonderful map, as well as lead mining historian, Steve Thompson, who also generously contributed to its purchase.

If you’d like to look at the map, just come and visit the Record Office and ask for D8163/1.




Kids get creative!

Kids get Creative crop

Looking for ways to keep the children entertained this summer holiday?  Then pop along to our children’s craft day this Thursday 16th August between 12noon and 4pm.  We will have lots for kids to do including our silhouette treasure hunt , creating a family tree or coat of arms and much more, and as children under 8 have to be accompanied by an adult – that means you can have a go too!

It’s a drop in event so no need to book and best of all it’s absolutely free.

Derbyshire Record Office, New St, Matlock, DE4 3FE

Hot and Stormy Weather

The spring and summer of 2018 is promising to become a memorable one. With record-breaking May bank holiday temperatures, the ‘mother of all thunderstorms’, recent heat-stoked wildfires near the Saddleworth Moors, and the current heatwave with a looming hose-pipe ban, the list of extreme weather events is tallying up. These events are seemingly at odds with common notions of wet and moderate British springs and summers. But it is worth remembering that thunder and lightning storms, record-breaking temperatures and heatwaves have always been part of Britain’s weather history.

In recent years, members of the ‘Weather Extremes’ project have undertook extensive archival research to uncover instances of extreme weather events in British history and have compiled over 18,000 records as part of the TEMPEST database. Through their research, they have uncovered a range of extreme weather phenomena, including flooding, severe winters, and, as pertinent to our very recent and current weather conditions, summer lightning storms and heatwaves.

As part of ‘Weather Extremes’ project, members from the University of Liverpool and Aberystwyth University (including myself) will be hosting a free workshop at Derbyshire Record Office on the 23rd July on the timely topic of extreme weather. (For event and booking details, please visit – This workshop will introduce participants to the freely accessible TEMPEST online database. Using extracts from the database – some of which have been catalogued following extensive archival research previously undertaken at Derbyshire Record Office – we will showcase a series of short historical weather stories relating to Derbyshire and other areas of Britain. Through these stories, we will highlight the range of materials researchers can explore for creating their own weather histories. We will also reveal the differing ways in which people have coped and responded to extreme weather events in particular times and places, and how extreme weather events have been woven into the cultural fabric of local communities. There will also be an opportunity to view some of the materials held at the DRO relating to weather and the chance for participants to share their stories and memories of extreme weather in their region.

To provide a taste for the upcoming workshop, and in light of the recent hot and stormy weather events, the remainder of this blog post is made up of some extracts that I have mined from the TEMPEST database that relate to Derbyshire and are held in paper form at the DRO. These fascinating extracts cover drought, death by lightning and the impacts of the famous 1906 heatwave on Morley. They demonstrate just how tumultuous historical springs and summers have been in Derbyshire!

1615 – Dry Summer and Drought

In an entry in the Youlgreave and Winster Parish Register from 1615 (D3644/42/1), we can see that there was an extensive dry spell and severe drought, which disrupted the harvest and would have no doubt placed the local agricultural community under immense strain.

1615 A Dry Summer

There was no Rayne fell upon the Earth from the 25th day of March until the second day of May; and then was there but one shower, after which there fell none tyll the 10th day of June, and then there fell an other; after wch there fell none at all tyll the 4th day of August: after which tyme there was sufficient Rayne upon the Earth: so that the greatest part of this Land especially the South parts were burnt up, both Corne and Hay. (An ordinary Summer load of Hay was at 2lb and little or none to be had for money). This part of the Peake was very seve burnt upp: only Lankashyre and Cheyshyre had Rayne enough all Summer, and both Corne and Hay sufficient:-

There was very little Rayne all the last Winter but snow only.

 1739 & 1743 – Fatal Lightning Storms

In a manuscript book of Derbyshire topography of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (D349/1), we can see instances of both animal and human fatalities from lightning storms within the space of four years.

Derby About 20th May 1739. They had for three or four days very hot weather at Derby, accompanied with much thunder and lightning, and heavy storms of rain which did much mischief in that Neighbourhood; particularly at Langley, four miles from thence two horses belonging to Thomas Grace of that Town were on the 22nd day in the evening struck dead by the dreadful lightning. Also about a mile from the said place a calf was kill’d by lightning at the same time.

 Chesterfield, Derby

In July 1743 was a violent storm of thunder and lightning ta Chesterfield which continued for several hours during which time Mr Larka Waiter at Derby was struck dead by a flash of lightning , coming from Buxton

1906 – Heatwave

Unusually for a heatwave in Britain, the 1906 heatwave was across August and September rather than the more usual June and July. This proved lucky for farmers in Morley who, according to the Morley Parish Authorities (D1797/A/PZ/1), had managed to collect in their harvest early before the terrific heat scorched the earth and emptied the ponds.


A beautiful summer brought grand crops of hay & corn which were gathered without any trouble. The harvest was all over by the beginning of Sept. The first corn was cut the last day in July. After the harvest the country became dreadfully burnt up & at the end of August the heat was terrific. Nearly all the ponds were empty & nearly all the springs dry – the fountain near the Rectory gate supplied the greater part of the drinking water for the whole parish

With more hot weather anticipated this summer, we may well start to see rivers, lakes and ponds start to dry up. Thankfully we will not need to rely on the local fountain for our water supplies.

The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project film and resources – information and inspiration

We are delighted to bring you our project film.  If you didn’t catch us at one of our events you can see what we got up to and hear from the team on their experiences of working on the ‘Pop Up’ project:


Inspired?  Want to do something similar yourself?  Then click on the link below where you will find our case studies and Evaluation Report.  These documents provide information on how we created and delivered the project, the lessons we learnt along the way, the project’s achievements and our hopes for future ‘Pop Ups’:

Pop Up project resources – get inspired to ‘pop up’ in your local community

If you’d like to know more about the Pop Up project then do get in touch at



William Nightingale’s ‘Domesday Book’: guest post by Dr Richard Bates

Did you know that in a couple of years it will be 200 years since Florence Nightingale was born?  Many people aren’t aware that Florence’s family was from Derbyshire, but to link with her anniversary, the University of Nottingham has a major Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project called Florence Nightingale comes home for 2020. 

One of the researchers on this project, Dr Richard Bates, has been here at the Record Office looking through the records of the Nightingale family and was particularly interested by item D4126/1, snappily titled “Schedule of the Title deeds and Particulars of the Estates of Wm Ed Nightingale, Esq, in Lea, Holloway, Wakebridge, Matlock, Wensley &c &c in the County of Derby”

D4126 1 front

Richard writes:

This volume, dated 1825, was produced either by, or for, William Edward Nightingale (born William Shore), Florence’s father. It was most likely drawn up in the early 1820s. In 1815, William had assumed possession of a considerable estate of land, bestowed on him in the will of the eccentric Derbyshire industrialist Peter Nightingale, his uncle, who had died in 1803. However William, who had to change his name to Nightingale as a condition of taking the inheritance, only came to live in Derbyshire in 1821, having spent the initial years of his married life travelling in Europe, especially Italy. His daughters were named Parthenope, the Greek name for Naples, and Florence, after the cities in which they were born.

D4126 1 open

The book, held in the Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock, is a compendium of every parcel of land comprising the estate built by Peter Nightingale in the Lea / Holloway / Cromford / Matlock Bath region of the Derbyshire Dales. The estate included the cotton mill at Lea – still a going concern as John Smedley Ltd – and a lead smelting factory, as well as agricultural lands, rented cottages, and a large swathe of garden and parkland. The size and annual value of every piece of land is enumerated.

D4126 1 page detail

The book is embossed in gold lettering, perhaps reflecting the importance of the contents to William – it was, in effect, the key to his fortune – and the pride he took in the estate and its management.  An accompanying account book, dated 1820, shows that the annual value of the Lea estate was at least £2200 – equivalent to around £125,000 today – from land totalling over 1100 acres. In total the Nightingale inheritance gave William an annual income of around £7,000. In addition, the Nightingale land in Derbyshire turned out to contain coal deposits, which generated further income that William could invest.

The Nightingale inheritance thus allowed William and his family to lead leisured gentry lives, mixing with and entertaining the great and good of 19th century liberal Britain.

Florence’s father turned out to be a good accountant, marshalling the family fortunes sensibly and solidly over five decades. This was crucial to Florence, who never married, and thus always relied on the family income. Florence could never inherit the estate herself, since Peter Nightingale had stipulated it could only be transmitted through the male line. This left her and her family in a precarious position – if her father had died young, her immediate family would have lost control of the money and been forced into reduced circumstances.

Fortunately, however, William lived until 1874. From 1853, when Florence definitively left the family household, William allowed her an allowance of £500 per year, which gave her independence. Later in life, Florence used the money from her Derbyshire-derived income to live in Mayfair, close to the politicians she was lobbying to enact sanitary reforms.

History of Derbyshire’s Parish Registers

Want to know what links a tornado, lightning strikes, broken hearts, well-fed bailiffs and Henry VIII?  Then come along to our talk on the history of Derbyshire’s Parish Registers.

Recording the baptisms, marriages and burials which took place in the Church of England parishes throughout Derbyshire, they are a must for family historians.  They can, however, tell us much more, offering a glimpse into the lives of individuals and the communities in which they lived.

Our talk charts the history of parish registers from their creation in the time of Henry VIII to the present.  Learn how you can access them online and see some interesting original examples from the record office collection.

This talk is FREE but booking is essential.  Click the ‘Events’ tab at the top of the page to book your place.

Monday 11th June, 11am-12noon

Derbyshire Record Office, New St, Matlock, DE4 3FE







Pentrich Revolution Study Day


Join us on Monday 4th June for a free study day dedicated to the Pentrich Revolution, which celebrated its bicentenary last year.  The event is here at the record office and hosted by the Pentrich & South Wingfield Revolution Group.

Here’s what you can expect on the day:

  • A talk by Michael Parkin giving an overview and posing some unanswered questions that could provide suitable research topics
  • A genealogy session led by Sylvia Mason who has compiled the family trees of the Pentrich Rebels (potentially with an input from descendants, the group’s Chairman John Hardwick)
  • An illustrated talk ‘Transported for Treason’ dealing with the fate of the 14 men who were transported to penal colonies and the families they left behind
  • Some personal time for participants to look through archive material

The Study Day runs from 10am to 3pm. For more information contact Patrick Cook, of the Pentrich & South Wingfield Revolution Group, at or call 07931 198707.

This event is free but places are limited. Click on the ‘Events’ tab at the top of the page to book at place.


Pop Up project resources – get inspired to ‘pop up’ in your local community

Inspired by what you have read about The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project so far?  Well here are some resources to show you how we thought up, planned and delivered the project.  There are resource packs for each of the events where the team ‘popped up’.  They can’t tell the whole story – there’s so much to tell! – so are to be used in conjunction with our case study, also below, which goes into much more detail on how the project came about, the planning process and the creative ideas which inspired our activities.   The final evaluation report is also here for you to read – it tells the why, who and how and, importantly, what we learnt from participating in such a rewarding project.

In the next week or so we’ll be uploading the project film, so you can get a glimpse of the wonderful year we had popping up all over Derbyshire, taking our archive collections out to local communities.

The Amazing Pop Up Archives project Case Study

Final Evaluation Report – The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project

The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project resource pack – Swadlincote car boot sale

The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project resource pack – Gamesley Community Day 

The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project resource pack – Wirksworth Festival

The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project resource pack – Ripley Music Festival  



The Junction Arts Story

An exhibition marking the 40th anniversary of Junction Arts, a Derbyshire based arts charity is now on at the record office.  The exhibition will celebrate the organisation’s achievements over four decades, illustrated using the newly acquired archive held here at the record office.

The exhibition will run from Thursday 22nd March to Saturday 29th September 2018. Normal office opening time apply.


Want to know more?   Come along to the record office for a film screening of a specially commissioned documentary film about the 40 year history of Junction Arts.  The film will be introduced by Jane Wells from Junction Arts and includes a short talk by the film maker Chris Bevan.

Thursday 29th March 2.00pm-3.00pm.  It’s free but booking is essential – follow the ‘Events’ tab at the top of this page to book.


Ingenious book design

Every Thursday afternoon our preservation volunteers diligently clean items from collection D2375, the archive from Calke Abbey. There was a surprise in store while cleaning D2375/A/S/1/1/1 though, a fifteenth century Alstonefield Manor Court book.

D2375 A S 1 1 1 volume


Re-using an older piece of Medieval parchment as the cover of a paper text block was standard practice – both parchment and paper were expensive and never wasted.  But in this case the bookbinder hit upon an original solution to store some extra loose sheets of paper: they sewed pockets in the parchment cover.

D2375 A S 1 1 1 back pocket

Parchment cover with pocket


D2375 A S 1 1 1 back documents

Documents revealed

Often in archives we need to find the balance between the long term preservation of documents and showing their historic context. Standard practice would be to remove the loose sheets, unfold them and then store them in an archival folder alongside the book. However, as the documents are in great condition and haven’t suffered from their unusual storage, we’ve decided to leave them exactly where the fifteenth century clerk placed them. If we ever find the documents or volume are getting damaged then of course we will remove them, but for now our researchers can have the pleasure of using the parchment cover in the way it was designed to be used all those centuries ago.