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Grindlow & Shatton

Grindlow & Shatton

By Maxwell & Carole Craven

Having enjoyed a delightful wander around these two small hamlets, once part of the enormous parish of Hope, Carole said, ‘I can see why Pevsner forgot about them.’ The two settlements, lying on either side of the same hill (Shatton & Abney Moor) are related to each other only in their administrative subordination to Hope, a connection finally severed over a century ago. Another contrast is that Shatton, dismissed by most of the nineteenth century directories as ‘a hamlet containing about three farms’ had grown over the last 70 years, whereas Grindlow has shrunk markedly. Yet we could not help but see why they got ignored.

We visited Grindlow first, coming up from A623 via the delightful (but well recorded by Pevsner at least) village of Foolow from which it lies less than two miles to the NW. At first glance there appear only a scatter of stone built vernacular buildings, but straight in front of us beyond a triangle of grass separated by only partly metalled tracks, we spotted a low, sizeable mound. This surely, was the original Grin Low, and normally the sort of thing Sir Nikolaus Pevsner would have picked up on. As the Old English word Hlaw means a small hill or tumulus, this might once have been a Bronze Age burial mound; the first element means what you’d expect: ‘green’ – the intrusive ‘d’ is a mutation of more recent times. Yet it is not recorded as such by the County Council; furthermore, the local antiquary and mound-delver, Thomas Bateman in the mid-Victorian era failed even getting his ubiquitous spade into it and even missed another Bronze Age round barrow a quarter of a mile to the east opened by a rival in 1862.

There was an attractive group of farm buildings to the right, Hall Farm (no record of a hall, it might be added to explain the name) and another attractive agricultural ensemble beyond the Green Low (as we might term it) in Chapel House Farm. Between, flanking the mound, a fine very old carboniferous limestone wall bearing traces of blocked windows set with an old wall post box.

All this means little, unless one knows the history. The place missed Domesday Book, but by 1195 it was in the hands of Matthew de Stoke whose capital mansion was somewhere near where the present Stoke Hall stands on the Hathersage road. He gave it to the Prior of Lilleshall, in Shropshire, and the monks built a grange, a farm manned by a granger (usually a monk) who received the tenants’ rents and ran a farm. The settlement was a valuable one, as it was rich in lead, and the grange must have been able to render fairly rich returns to Shropshire on the basis of these. 

The monks also established a chapel at the grange, which lasted until 1549, when the final elements of the Dissolution of the Monasteries was played out. The land, nearly 300 acres, was thereafter granted to the husband of Bess of Hardwick, Sir William Cavendish, and from him descended to the Earls of Newcastle, from whom it descended to Hon William Cockayne, by whose heirs it was sold in 1809 to William Cox of Derby.

The only reason Cox wanted it was for the lead, for he was a prominent lead merchant, and builder of Derby’s famous shot tower. In 1789 the village had about 170 inhabitants, but Cox’s investment turned out to be a shaky one, for the lead mines on the estate were rapidly becoming exhausted or too wet to work: in 1846 there were only 110 inhabitants and by 1895 this figure had dropped to 35; the bubble had burst. We doubted whether the population today was any larger.

None of the buildings and farms is styled the Grange or Grange Farm, so we concluded that the long, low Hall Farm was probably the site of the monastic grange; it has mullioned windows, prominent kneelers on the gable ends and an attached (former) cow house. In the other direction, towards Abney, beyond the posting box, was Chapel House which seems to have 17th century origins, but which has been modernised quite heavily and is difficult to read from the road. Does its nomenclature, we wondered reflect knowledge of the site of the dissolved chapel?

Chapel House Farm, opposite, is much like hall farm and a third farmstead to the north is in much the same mould too, but stuccoed. All the buildings are in carboniferous limestone, very light grey – hence ‘White Peak’ – and very hard to work. Where there are architectural features, like moulded mullions, doorcases and quoins they are invariably done in millstone grit, imported from the far side of the Derwent. The one place we did not venture to in the township was Silly Dale, which name seemed, nevertheless, irresistible. In 1343 it was rendered Selidale, from Old English saelig (= happy, prosperous – not ‘silly’!) + dael (= dale). Perhaps we should modernise it, less misleadingly, as Happidale!

Whilst Grindlow lacks architectural set pieces, no one could deny its charm on a sunny day, like the one on which we saw it, enhanced by the superb views west and south west towards the Cheshire and Staffordshire Peak. Hence, we re-mounted the chariot, and drove lazily through further winding lanes (meeting virtually nothing coming the other way, mercifully), through well-Pevsnered Great Hucklow, past that 21st century rarity, a fluorspar mine, and rejoined the B6049 to travel through Bradwell and Brough, beyond which we turned right onto the A6187 and drove a couple more miles east to a right turn into Shatton Lane. Looking at the OS map, one could probably have done the journey in half the time over the hill, if armed with a Chelsea tractor!

Shatton has always been part of Brough, and had no independent manorial existence, unlike Grindlow yet was, surprisingly, part of the manor of Castleton, rather than Hope, although it again lay within Hope parish; very confusing. Like Grindlow, too, it only ever had three or four farms, although it once boasted of an estate, held from the 15th century by the Eyres of Padley, who married an heiress of William, son of Peter de Shatton, living in 1306. Robert Eyre’s son, Thomas Eyre of Highlow had a younger son of the same name who was settled on the estate and built Shatton Hall, now presumably Shatton Hall Farm, well up the hillside in Over Shatton (and about the only house there), of which more anon.

A college friend of ours, I remember, haled from Shatton, which led him to suffer a torment of scatological ribbing but, in reality, the name was rendered Scetune in the  Domesday Book of 1086 from Old English sceat = farm + tun = a parcel of land. The township was, like Grindlow, rich with lead deposits, but here much harder easily to extract. Hence, by the time of Thomas Eyre of Shatton, fourth in descent from his namesake of 1598, the estate appears to have been sold up, becoming part of the holdings of the Dukes of Devonshire. What happened to these Eyres is unclear, but in 1827 one William Eyre was the local joiner and carpenter – was he perhaps, we wondered, a descendant?

Shatton Lane from the Hope Road, begins promisingly enough by crossing the Noe on a pretty stone bridge before turning sharply west. This is Nether Shatton and from here, for over half a mile, the road widens, acquires manicured verges and is lined by nearly two dozen detached 20th century dwellings, quite a few architect designed. Their presence is doubtless the result of the ease of access of the Hope Valley to Sheffield, once the age of the motor car, with its gift of perfect freedom, had dawned. Amidst them is a single stone-built Regency farm house, very elegant, but attached at an odd angle to what looks like an older former cartshed/barn, but so primped up that for a moment we thought it was a modern extension designed al antico, but the asymmetrical alignment of the two belied this unworthy thought. Two more of its fine barns to the east, one with dove holes in the gable end wall to the road, have been converted to dwellings and, perhaps a trifle unimaginatively, called The Barns. 

Continuing south westwards, the road becomes boskier and crosses Overdale Brook, before dividing on a sharp angle, flanked by two more stone-built farms. A turning just prior to the brook led back over it and up and along the side of the hill for miles eastwards, affording terrific views of the Hope Valley towards Hathersage and eventually taking the traveller to another remote and somnolent township, Offerton, famous for its idyllically set small country house, also a former Eyre seat, one of seven in the area. 

We returned to the junction. The lower farm, Wheat Hay, presents it outbuildings to the road, whilst the house, from its appearance rebuilt in the 20th century, hides demurely behind. As both are situated on the stream, we did wonder if originally it had been a mill. Opposite, was Shatton House Farm on the inside of the corner, of millstone grit ashlar, L-shaped with some Regency fenestration, but set back in a fine cobbled court yard. 

From here, the road southwards ascended over Shatton Moor ending in a series of tracks above Abney: far too gritty a venture for us.  To the west, the road led down and over an attractive ford as Townfield Lane, rising high again into Over Shatton, and past the attractive but, to the passer-by invisible, Shatton Hall Farm. 

This is L-shaped of two storeys under a stone slate roof, with two, three and five light mullioned windows and still seems to bear some small signs of antiquity. Its stone entrance aedicule, with its cambered lintel sports a cheeky little classical pediment on a bracket. We thought, on the whole, that it had been reduced in size, probably by the Devonshire estate when it ceased to be the seat on a minor gentleman (five generations of Eyres) and transitioned into a tenanted estate farm. It still has two staircases, two monumented chimneypieces and beamed ceilings. It is very attractive but no longer part of the Devonshire estate, having been for sale with a reduced 50 acres for the ‘first time in 500 years’ (perhaps 330, we thought) through Ed Caudwell, just before the plague broke out.  

Beyond, the road meanders across the hillside, again affording some wonderful vistas, until it eventually returned us to Brough and the Hope to Foolow Road, which we had traversed much earlier en route from Grindlow. 

We would suppose that Pevsner would not have lingered long over anything we saw on our itinerary, but the ensemble of stone-built farms, outbuildings, the vestiges of long extinct extractive industries and limestone scenery on each place made the visit eminently worthwhile and a real pleasure. I suspect that the old historian would have loved Shatton Hall, had he seen it, and perhaps the Grind Low itself would have caught his imagination, but his loss was, as ever, our gain.

Pictures (all MC unless otherwise credited):


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