History Of Baslow
Baslow is a busy little village, delightfully situated in the Derwent Valley, with Chatsworth Park to the south and Baslow Edge rising to the north. Nowadays, the Devonshire Bridge, built shortly after the First World War, carries most of the traffic across the river. But it is the Old Bridge, close to the church built in 1603, which attracts most interest from visitors with its impressive stone arches; it is the only bridge across the Derwent never to have been destroyed by floods.
It replaced a wooden bridge, that all able-bodied men in the village were required to watch on a rota basis, to ensure the weight restrictions were not broken. Anyone caught breaking the rules was fined. The tiny watchman’s hut still remains, no doubt reduced in size by the heightening of the road. At one time it offered a shelter of sorts to Mary Brady, a local beggar, who often slept rough inside.
St Anne’s is both a beautiful and unusual church - one clock tower has Roman numerals and is dated 1759 and the other has ‘Victoria 1897’ on its face to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Inside the church by the door, in a glass case, is a dog whip, which in the 17th and 18th centuries was used by the official ‘dog whipper’ to keep stray dogs in order during the service. The whip has a thong three feet long, which is still in excellent condition and is bound round the handle with leather. Some historians also claim that it was used to maintain order among worshippers and to wake up those who snored during the service!
Following the improvement of the road network it became easier for wealthy people from Sheffield and other cities to visit the country for health or recreational reasons and for 50 years Baslow Hydro was the dominating feature in the village.
Although falling short of spa status, the Hydropathic Hotel was set in spacious grounds with a croquet lawn, tennis court and bowling green all surrounded by gardens set out like a miniature park. There were nearly 100 bedrooms and in the 1890s an annexe was added providing a further 20 or so bedrooms. Until the First World War it was a profitable enterprise, but then trade dwindled and it gradually fell into disrepair before closing in 1936 and being demolished. All that remain are two stone gateposts.
Sebastian de Ferranti who lived at Baslow Hall in the early 20th century was a ‘do it yourself man’ with a passion for electricity. He experimented with central heating and other electrical appliances in addition to fitting double-glazing. Sadly, his efforts at battery poultry farming had disastrous consequences for the chickens who were electrocuted.
In 1862 Lieutenant Colonel E M Wrench took over a medical practice in Baslow. He was a surgeon who had served in the army in both Crimea and India and was a great patriot. In 1866, he built Wellington’s Monument on Baslow Edge; the ten feet high cross can be seen over a wide area. In Chatsworth Park he carved an inscription on the face of what is now known as Jubilee Rock to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. The rock was previously known as the Elephant Stone. Queen Victoria would not have been amused! For her Diamond Jubilee, Lieutenant Colonel Wrench refaced Baslow’s church clock.
Standing in solitary confinement on Baslow Edge is a massive boulder known as the Eagle Stone. According to legend it took its name from the god, Aigle, who it appeared had a habit of throwing boulders around. In the past no local lad was considered fit to marry until he had shown his fitness and agility by climbing to the top of the stone.
The most popular part of the village is Nether End with its hotels and little shops set around Goose Green, where people can sit in comfort and relax. From here the parklands of Chatsworth are approached over a 17thcentury Packhorse Bridge and past a row of pretty thatched cottages.
Situated just off the A623 is the private northernmost entrance to the Chatsworth estate. Once it had golden gates but following an accident, when an out of control lorry demolished them, the gateway had to be rebuilt. The village is well served for restaurants, cafes and shops; across the road from the church are a group of shops housed in a handsome block of buildings.
Along the Bubnell road is a group of cottages that were used for weaving and at one time for making felt hats. Further to the west is the 17th century Bubnell Hall, of which Baslow Hall, on the opposite side of the river, is a copy.