Weird and Wonderful Derbyshire

Hi, I’m Hannah and I’ve been lucky enough to have spent the last two weeks at Derbyshire Record Office on work experience. I already had a brief understanding of what goes on at the Record Office as my mum is one of the librarians, but I had no idea exactly what goes on behind the the scenes. The staff really do do an amazing job organising their time so that the public’s experience is as comfortable, enjoyable and useful as possible.

Earlier on in the week I was asked to look at a Local Studies inquiry that led me to the book ‘Curiosities of Derbyshire and The Peak District’ by Frank Rodgers and it absolutely fascinated me, so much so that I decided to use it as inspiration for this blog post.

Many people, including myself, don’t seem to appreciate the fact that they live in Derbyshire. Just because we don’t live by the sea, in a major city or somewhere where the sun is constantly shining, we tend to wish we lived elsewhere. However these people often don’t know how many amazing things you can find about and around the county. For one thing, The Peak District was the first national park to be set up in the UK, in 1951. Derby’s Silk Mill was Britain’s first factory and is the oldest one still standing in the world. Also I remember a while ago, my English teacher who had come over from Canada told our class that when researching Derby, she had found that it is supposedly the most haunted city in the UK! The look of shock on everyone’s faces just goes to show how much we know about where we live.

It’s the little things, that we don’t see unless we’re really looking, that I find the most interesting. For example, the top of each of the three gateposts to Ashbourne Church are supported by skulls. They are thought to be the work of Robert Bakewell, one of Derby’s finest craftsmen and are apparently meant to remind those who enter of their inevitable mortality!

Something else ‘little’ that I came across while researching, was the bull ring in Snitterton. For centuries, the cruel sport of bull baiting was popular throughout England-in fact, it was encouraged is it supposedly made the meat more tender.

bullring

The Bull Ring at Snitterton, courtesy of Picture the Past

Bulls would be chained by the leg or neck and tormented by dogs, trained to pin it by the nose-the most tender part of a bull. The Snitterton Bull Ring was preserved by the Derbyshire Archaeological Society in 1906. An old villager has memories of his father telling him how in the evenings, men would come from Winster,  Wensley and other villages to try their bulldogs against the Snitterton Bull.

The final, and probably the most interesting place I found out about was St Ann’s Well in Buxton. The well is believed to have healing powers and was visited by Mary Queen of Scott’s who suffered badly from rheumatism. How amazing would it be to go there now and

st ann's well

St Ann’s Well, courtesy of Picture the Past

know you are standing in the same spot that an ancient monarch stood in hundreds of years before? Even now, the well carries the inscription; ‘Well of Living Waters’.

So, after reading this blog post I really hope you start looking at the world around you-you never know what amazing things you might find! Also, I hope that if you ever get the opportunity to go to Derbyshire Record Office you will take it, because it really has opened my eyes and it is so so worth it.

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