Hartington - recent history

Former Businesses

Hartington has had many businesses, work-shops, and shops, far more than at present. In the last 70 years the village has lost a thatchers, blacksmiths, joiner and wheelwright, horse-coach driver, roadman, baker, saddler, bookmaker, oatcake maker, miller, tailor, butcher, corn merchant, the undertaker and cycle shop. One pub has also been lost, while the village has gained tea rooms, gift shops and antique shops.

In yet earlier years there were several slaughter houses in the village. In addition a lady sold button, needles and thread from the living room of her cottage. There was a cellar where three legged iron cooking pots were sold, the ones that were placed over the fires of the poorer residents. There was a Miss Howard, who lived on Hall Bank and who in the last century scraped a meagre living selling eggs kept in a croft near where she lived on Hall Bank right into her old age.

There always used to be of course a Smithy. It was once at the back of Hartdale Motors, then it moved to the Market Square before ending up on Hall Bank until the death of the last village blacksmith in 1951.

There were quite a few carriers, one was Henry Critchlow, who amongst other things brought the mail from Ashbourne and he would blow a coach horn as he drove down from the top of Hall Bank it made it known that the mail had arrived.

Whilst many occupations have vanished, the population has not been reduced significantly. In 1891 Hartington Nether Quarter (including therefore outlying settlements) had 491 residents, of whom 30 were farmers, one a vicar, 4 ran hotels or guest houses, one had an off licence, there were several blacksmiths, one was a baker, there was an auctioneer, a tailor, two shoe makers, a carrier and a saddler. The village itself now has 300 residents, although the average age will have significantly increased.
cheese shop

The cheese shop is one recent addition to the local shops

former tea room

The Corner House was once a tea room and before that a saddlemakers

general stores

The General Stores

knowl cottage

Knowl Cottage

Some of the history of those properties that are still used as business premises is set out in their individual entries on the web site, including the Antique Shop, the Charles Cotton and the General Stores, all of which have quite a bit of history.

The Corner House on the edge of the Market Square, has two entrances, making us suspect it once consisted of two cottages, but in fact there have always been two entrances - one to the cottage and one to whatever business was carried on there - previously amongst other things a saddlemaker.

It is not certain which is the oldest property in Hartington, but one of the oldest must be Knowl Cottage, built around the 1300s and perhaps at about the same time as the church, which was begun in the 1290s. At that time it would have had a thatched roof, but some time later the roof was raised and a second storey was added, although the original cruck beams inside can still be seen.

In the 19th century it was used as a Butchers Shop and was ideal for this as the shop-front was in the shade much of the day, making it more suitable for display and hanging of carcasses etc.

The butchers shop closed in the 1970s, the butchers part became a tea room and the house itself is now a 5 Star holiday cottage, retaining any number of historical features and sleeping up to six persons. In the courtyard behind Knowl, was a barn (now part of Hartington Cottages) used as a Corn Store, and as a place where the cattle were cleaned and kept from food for a short time before slaughter in one of several slaughter houses in the village. This procedure was necessary because of the lack of cold stores, so that when the carcasses were hung up, no putrification took place in the stomach.


For several centuries Hartington was an important staging post for packhorses and drovers and then stagecoaches. The village used to have several more pubs than the two former coaching houses that still survive and indeed thrive, The Devonshire Arms and the Charles Cotton.

On Hall Bank leading up to the Youth Hostel there were once two pubs adjacent to each other – one, the Red Lion, was a former social centre with a bowling green at the back. In 1727 two men were charged at Derby Assizes for playing bowls on a Sunday. ‘Flannel dances’ –where participants were not required to dress up smartly – were held in this pub. The adjoining pub was called the Snake and Diamond. The Red Lion closed in 1951 and is now two cottages.

Other former pubs were the Volunteers Arms, behind what is now the General Store, and in the 20th century musical entertainment was provided here. There was also the Bulls Head, at what is now Dale House.
red lion

The former Red Lion Inn

market place

Village water pump on the Market Place

school house

The Old School House

Latter-day Facilities and Customs

Even in the early part of the last (20th)century, as was also the case in most villages in Britain, there were no electric lights at night in the street. So when the showman’s steam fair came to the village, there would be big excitement with lights everywhere. Before this, the amusements were brought by rail to Hartington station two miles away and then brought down the nearly two miles into the village by horse and cart. The Fair could be guaranteed to come during Wakes Week in late August.

Other regular visitors to the villages were the stallions. They would all be dressed up, and walked around the village by men, also dressed up in their finery, offering their stallions for the purpose of serving the farm mares in the neighbourhood. These village walkers would take their stallions from village to village.

The streets at this time had no tarmac, they were just dusty cart tracks. And until the 1930s, there was no running water, businesses, pubs and cottages relying either on water butts catching water from their roofs, or on water which was carried from the village pump situated in the market square.

On Church Street is the Drill Hall, now the British Legion, which was built by the Duke of Devonshire for the Hartington and Dove Valley section of his Rifle Volunteers, who had their own band. It then became a reading room and village hall. Travelling theatres, WI meetings, council, political meetings all took place here.

Next to the British Legion is ‘Old Dames School’. It is so called as old dames who lived here would teach the children of poor families for a very modest fee.

Just up the road is the Old School House, an attractive building where the school operated from rooms on the first floor until 1865.

In the 1920s a silent picture house came to Hartington. It then became the Amusement Hall, and was bought by the village in the 1940s, and became the Village Hall. It is currently used for craft fairs, badminton, clubs and scouts, and even a scrabble group!

Buildings and Landmarks

The Duck Pond was previously known as the Mere or in earlier times the Ducking Pond, as gossiping women were strapped and ducked in from overhead as a punishment. Nearby were gallows. Later cattle would drink from the pond, and after the enlargement of the mere in the 18th century it was used to wash out manure carts. The water as also used for fire-fighting, before telephone links to Ashbourne were established which enabled tenders to come out from there.

The old vicarage on Church Street, going up by the side of the shop called ‘Hart of the Country’ was built by the Duke of Devonshire for his manager of nearby Ecton Copper Mine (apparently the wealth from the copper mine paid for the building of the Crescent in Buxton). As is common, the steps in front are to enable riders to mount their horses.

Many of the properties in Hartington were built in Victoria times by a J W Bassett, a wealthy corn merchant, whose initials appears on the front of Minton House apartments, until recently a hotel and before that a workhouse!
the duckpond

The Duckpond

minton house

Minton House was once a workhouse

the 4 virtues

The four virtues on the Albert Memorial


On Hall Bank lived a famous sculptor, James Redfern, who worked on buildings such as Salisbury Cathedral, many other cathedrals and undertook the four virtues at the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens. He died at the age of 38, in 1876. His nephew, William Smith built the famous gates W.C Grace Memorial Gates at Lords Cricket Ground.

Just beyond the old School House and behind Church View (attached to which was one of several slaughter houses in the village) was born another famous person, James Oliver, who left England to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway, and who eventually ended up as Premier of British Columbia in Canada. He was renowned in Canada for his honesty.

Also on the Market Place is Dove Cottage, in which lived Prince and Princess Oberlenski, who had fled Russia in the 1917 revolution. He later became famous for scoring two tries for England in a rugby match against the New Zealand All-Blacks.

Much of the above comes from information given jointly by Margaret Partridge and Mrs Jennifer Brindley, who was brought up in Knowl Cottage and whose father Ted Hall was the last butcher in the village. Other information comes from the booklet, 'The Alock’s Lamp' written by Ron Riley who lives in the house which had been the Red Lion mentioned above. This booklet is sold by Hart of the County in the village and is very strongly recommended indeed.
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