Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust newsletter august 2020

Chair's introduction

August 2020

Dear Friends and volunteers,

We hope you are emerging unscathed from the lock down and adjusting to the ‘new normal’. The Trust has been doing just that, as you will read in this Newsletter.

You will see that, thanks to the perseverance and hard work of Trustee Peter Milner and our Executive Officer Lucy Godfrey, work has continued on Wingfield Station. And to Barry, Heather and Melissa, the walks and talks programme is beginning again.

It was my honour for many years to be the Technical Adviser to the Peak Park Trust and so it was with great delight that I received the suggestion from Sir Hugh and Lady Ruby Sykes, the lead Trustees, that we consider merging the two Trusts, the outcome of which is revealed below

There are further initiatives being actively pursued by others - the Derby Hippodrome, the potential Survey of Derbyshire’s Historic Buildings at Risk, and the emerging Historic Buildings Academy initiative, but you will have to wait until future newsletters to hear more about these.

Suffice it to say, there is much to do and we need all the volunteers we can get, both to support our Wingfield project and all the other initiatives we are pursuing. So, what ever your skills please contact Lucy and learn about how you can join our growing family of volunteers

Yours ever,

Derek Latham (DHBT Chair)

(Banner image above from Wingfield Station - testing of a 'socially distanced' hard hat tour, 9th August 2020).

wingfield station - Project update

August 2020

Inside Wingfield Station, August 2020 - Peter Milner (DHBT Trustee - Project Lead) giving a talk to the DHBT team

Over the past couple of months there has been a real focus on undertaking site surveys and investigations at Wingfield Station. You can read more about what we've been doing below. These surveys are critical to our project as they will help to guide the decision making process in terms of architectural, conservation and structural approaches and philosophies.

We've also tested out a 'socially distanced' tour/talk with some of the DHBT team. Peter Milner, the Project Lead (Trustee), did an excellent job giving attendees a succinct history of the site; encouraging them to 'step back in time' to the age of steam whilst standing inside the old Booking Hall - an experience only enhanced further by some clever sound effects!

We also used this pilot tour as a chance to gather some feedback on the kinds of themes and stories people would like to find out more about when we come to communicate the heritage of the site. We had some interesting comments - including some lovely ideas from our younger guests, who said they would like to find out about who worked at Wingfield Station and how many trains used the station in the past.

We'll be gathering together the outcomes of all our research towards the end of August and then look to share it via our website, social media channels, this newsletter and as part of our interpretation plan. We will also be working closely with our funders, particularly Historic England, to confirm our next steps.

DBA, whom we have commissioned to develop our Activity Statement (read more about what this involves in our May Newsletter here) will be picking up on consultation from September onwards; with a focus on talking to local groups and individuals and learning establishments including schools and colleges.

A selection of photos from the trustee visit - a great opportunity for some consultation about what people want to know more about. There were some lovely ideas from our younger guests!

Wingfield station - surveys and research

As reported previously, DHBT has recently appointed Mel Morris of Mel Morris Conservation to produce an Outline Conservation Plan and a Heritage Impact Assessment for the Wingfield Station project.

To assist Mel and our Project Architect, James Boon of James Boon Architects, with their work, a number of surveys and investigations have recently taken place.

Because we couldn't have volunteers on site during this time, one of our first jobs was getting Derbyshire Tree Services to clear away the mass of self-seeded saplings and weeds that had grown up around the buildings during March - May. Following this a gentle scraping/clearance of the forecourt revealed a 13ft wide band of beautiful granite setts! The station neighbours told us that this was actually a hardstanding against a siding where colliery wagons were washed down.

The band of granite setts revealed following gentle clearance of the forecourt

We then erected external scaffolding on the forecourt side of the building to allow for a better inspection of the roof.

External scaffolding was erected in July

Having this scaffolding in place has allowed for a better understanding of the condition of the station roof and Price & Myers, the Structural Engineers, have also been able to get a good look at the chimney stacks. To determine the extent of structural repair/ replacement details for the roof timbers we have also undertaken a timber survey.

In order to inspect all of the main roof timbers more access was needed to get to truss ends, wall plates and purlins, so we had a tower scaffolding built internally. More of the ceiling was also carefully removed by conservation builders so that Tim Floyd (a timber specialist) could get a good look. Tim confirmed that water is still coming into the building and much of the softwood structure is damp wet – but still not decayed. This will not last and, if left unprotected, a magnitude of decay will increase from this point forward – exponentially. Tim has provided DHBT with guidelines on exposure, drying and a repair/replacement strategy.

Ceiling holes to allow for closer inspection

Catherine Hassall (pictured right with Mel Morris), an architectural paint specialist, also made use of the scaffold to give an overview of the decorative paint schemes both inside and outside. Her findings will help us to programme a suite of works of 'authentic restoration'. Catherine's findings have also been corroborated by Philip A Gaches, a plaster expert, who believes that the pink floating coat within the ceiling plasterwork is a locally sourced red soft building sand and non-hydraulic lime binder.

Philip Gaches, Master Plasterer, examined the plaster ceilings at Wingfield Station in August 2020

Other surveys carried out over the past few weeks have included: a ground stability test to confirm that the Network Rail land trackside of the Station has the load bearing capacity to support the scaffolding proposed and to confirm that the Station and Parcel Shed structures are able to support the imposed load of the scaffolding without risk of collapse; an asbestos survey; bat and ecology surveys and a topographical survey. We just have the drain and tree surveys left now before we move onto finalising the scheme ahead of submitting a Planning Application.


Fancy helping to paint our new (to us!) site cabin?

A couple of weeks ago we accepted delivery of a site cabin at Wingfield Station - which we'll soon need for meetings and storage. Many thanks to Alan of 'Alan Warne Building Services' for his assistance with this.

The site cabin being craned off the trailer
Lowering the cabin into place

Now that we've tested out 'socially distanced' tours on site, we are keen to start safely engaging volunteers with the project. Although it may not be the most exciting of tasks, we are looking for a small number of volunteers who would like to help us to spruce the cabin up and give it a lick of paint!

Many of you have already filled in a Volunteer Enquiry Form and expressed an interest in getting involved. If you have the time to spare during August/early September to pick up a paintbrush, please send an email to wingfieldstation@gmail.com

Don't worry - if we are over-run with offers, there will be other opportunities coming up soon. We are also looking to set up small group tours for volunteers to visit the site and find out more about the project. Watch this space!

Placing the cabin in position
The site cabin in-situ at Wingfield Station

willersley castle visit, july 2020

Despite most of the DHBT Visits Programme for 2020 having to be postponed, we were able go ahead with our guided tour of Willersley Castle on Sunday 24th July.

Following a detailed risk assessment, tour leaders Barry Joyce MBE and Doreen Buxton, joint authors of the Willersley Castle Research Paper, explained to attendees how the former landscape in which the Castle is located was transformed from fields to a highly picturesque setting.

Barry and Heather from DHBT undertaking a pre-visit risk assessment

Willersley Castle was commissioned by the revolutionary industrialist, Sir Richard Arkwright (once he had been knighted) to be his 'seat'. He chose a splendid location near to, but out of sight of, his Cromford and Matlock Bath mills and appointed a 'cut price' architect to ape Robert Adam's new 'gothic baronial' style for his 'castle'.

Enjoying the parkland views

Prior to the visit going ahead, DHBT were informed of the sad news that the Methodist Guild Hotels group had decided it must sell Willersley Castle. As a consequence the property has been mothballed prior to a sale, so the visit was limited to a viewing of the Castle exterior and a walk around the Parkland. Despite these limitations, thanks to the co-operation of all those attending; the fantastic support of DHBT volunteers Heather and Melissa; and the sun peeping through the grey clouds, a most enjoyable afternoon was had by all.

Photos from the DHBT Willersley Castle visit, July 2020 (Photo credit: Melissa Gough-Rundle)

For those booked on to our remaining 2020 visits (Allestree Hall and the Railway Terraces, Derby) you will be contacted soon about these. We are also investigating the possibility of running the postponed tour of Bonsall village. Those who were previously booked on to this visit will be offered first refusal for any new dates.

exciting new era for dhbt

Derbyshire Charitable Trusts Merge

Eccles House Farm, near Hope

Two of the county's oldest heritage Trusts - DHBT (established 1974) and the Peak Park Trust (established 1987) have merged; signalling a new era for DHBT.

The Peak Park Trust (PPT) was formed by Sir Hugh and Lady Sykes of Brookfield Manor, Hathersage, for the purpose of conserving buildings and places at risk. These buildings would then be used for the benefit of residents, visitors and businesses in the Park.

PPT helped restore ancient footways over the moorlands to reduce their erosion, whilst improving the experience for walkers. It investigated the nature of deprivation in the Park, which led to the provision of the first computer-based office development in the Hope Valley. This was to be situated in a 'telecottage', so that local people could be trained in new business IT skills.

In 1991 PPT persuaded Blue Circle Industries to grant them a long lease on Eccles House Farm near Hope - a then derelict farm complex dating back to 1814 - which the PPT then restored and converted to business units. Work was completed by 1992 and since that time, Eccles House Farm has been the home to many local business start-ups and developing companies.

In 2019, the PPT trustees felt that the time had come to step back from managing the Trust and approached the DHBT to discuss a possible merger. Given that the two organisations shared similar objectives, the respective trustees readily agreed to the proposal.

The DHBT has now taken on the ownership and management of Eccles House Farm and will continue the work of the PPT in rescuing and reusing historic buildings 'at risk' for the benefit of people in the Peak Park.

Derek Latham (DHBT Chairman) said, 'This merger strengthens the ability of the DHBT to help owners and the community who use our historic assets, throughout Derbyshire and the Peak, now and in perpetuity.'

Peak Park Trust plaque at Eccles House Farm

William Hopkinson and the Hopkinsons of Ible, Bonsall and Wirksworth

Hopkinson's House, 1-3 Greenhill, Wirksworth

As many of you know, Hopkinson's House in Wirksworth is the DHBT's headquarters. In the early 1980s the DHBT restored this 1631 building from a state of near ruin to become a suite of rooms which could be used as a base by small businesses.

New research has revealed more about the man for whom it was built, William Hopkinson, his family and the colourful lives led by them in Wirksworth during the reign of Charles I , the Puritan Commonwealth and Charles II.

William Hopkinson was part of a yeoman family living at Ible, a farming hamlet within the parish of Bonsall. He was one of the sons of Anthony Hopkinson and his wife Anne, also known as Agnes or Aimee. They held the Manor of Ible for much of the 17th century.

William owned the Barley Flat Lead Mine in Wirksworth. Barley Flatts was all that area of fields between the top of Greenhill and the road to Middleton. As well as employing miners he traded in lead as a commodity.

Hopkinson's House is DHBT's headquarters

By 1631 William must have had sufficient funds, or was able to raise sufficient funds, to build an ostentatiously large house for himself at the foot of Greenhill in Wirksworth. This would have been seen as the sign of a very confident and successful man.

William’s brother George was a prominent figure in the community - a lawyer and a member of the Inns of Court. He was also something of an antiquarian and published in 1644 ‘The Laws and Customs of the Mines Within the Wapentake of Wirksworth’.

Despite being an authority on the ancient laws and customs, codified in 1288, which allowed miners to dig for ore regardless of ownership of land, he was no friend of the fiercely independent and highly skilled ‘free miners’ who operated in The Kings Field under these ancient rights and customs. It is recorded that he and his brother William ejected free miners from Hopkinson owned land in the 1640s and 50s and again in 1678.

The way the lead industry operated was complicated as a result of the ancient customs and laws, and this led to many disputes. All grist to the mill for lawyers.

There was a hierarchy of officials regulating the industry. The Duke of Lancaster (who since 1400 had been the monarch) was Lord of the Kings Field and had the right of one thirteenth of the value of all lead mined and sold. The Duchy of Lancaster appointed a Barmaster to be responsible for administering a law court - the Barmote Court- to oversee regulation of the industry. The Barmaster would appoint a Steward - a lawyer - to preside over the court. The Barmaster would also appoint deputy Barmasters and twentyfour jury men.

A sketch of 1-3 Greenhill

The Barmote Court for the Wirksworth Wapentake operated from its own courthouse - a timber framed two story Moothall built in 1474, which stood at the head of Wirksworth Market Place, just round the corner from the house William had built and where for a time brother George and their mother also lived.

Another resident in William’s house by 1648 was cousin, Robert Sage, who was a very significant player in the lead industry - a lead merchant who owned a number of lead mines and was one of the partners driving drainage soughs - Cromford Moor and Raventor Sough. On his death in 1661 his mineral workings passed to his cousin George.

Despite connection with these powerful relations William must have encountered severe financial difficulties within a comparatively short time of building his house in Greenhill, because by the time of his mother's death in 1648 he was not only in debt to her, but he had had to sell her the house in order to raise funds, as is clear from her will. This was a private sale, which was not formally ratified by surrender and admission in the manor court, probably so that William's financial problems would not become public knowledge and thereby cause a loss of business confidence.

This upset appears not to have destabilised the standing of the family or interrupted William’s mining activities as his miners, at his Barley Flat Mine, were still producing reasonable quantities of ore in the 1640s.

Back in the 1620s the Hopkinson brothers were much less ‘establishment figures’ and seem to have been in some kind of relationship with the rapacious Vicar of Wirksworth The Reverend Robert Carrier, to help extract, by threats of violence, tithes from the farmers and lead miners who were reluctant to pay what the Vicar considered to be his dues.

There are a number of colourful stories about this, the most surprising being an account of the Vicar’s wife, Jennet, being prosecuted for threatening a lead miner with a knife. Another tells of how an apparently rashly violent attempt to extract dues from John Gell, Lord of the Manor of Hopton, was met with equal violence. Gell was subsequently brought before the Wirksworth court in 1624 and fined 3/4d for attacking William Hopkinson.

Carrier’s misdemeanours landed him in much greater trouble. He, his wife and four others, were committed to the Fleet Prison and heavily fined and in 1633 Carrier was replaced as Vicar, whereas John Gell II was made a baronet in 1642. Despite receipt of this Royal favour Gell raised a regiment to fight for Parliament in the Civil War.

The bad relations between the Gells and the Hopkinsons, who supported the King, were of course considerably exacerbated during this period and miners who had joined Gell’s Parliamentary regiment took pleasure in plundering Hopkinson property.

Following the Restoration Sir John Gell was displaced in 1661 as Barmaster by the Earl of Northampton, who then appointed George Hopkinson Steward of the Barmote Court.

Gell attempted to evade paying his dues to the new Barmaster and this landed him up in the Duchy of Lancaster Court.

The rackety behaviour of the Hopkinson brothers in the 1620s had by then no doubt been forgotten and in this post-Restoration period George remained in the post of Steward of the Barmote Court until 1701.

In the post-Restoration period William remained active in the lead industry and extended his mining activities by setting up a new mine in Ible.

William’s elder brother Henry was granted arms at the 1662 Heralds’ Visitation.

This then, was a yeoman family who had, by the post-Restoration period, moved significantly up the social ladder, due to their involvement in the law and their growing wealth from the local lead industry during one of the most successful periods of its operation.

It seems the Hopkinson family’s prosperity faltered somewhat towards the very end of the century and by 1700 all links to the house built by William in 1631 were severed. A document of 1717 described the house as “formerly called Hopkinson’s House.”

The drawing shows what the building would have looked like when first built. Subsequent owners split it into three and then four dwellings. Most of the windows were replaced with ‘modern’ ones in the 18th century.

field barn project

A much admired project that the DHBT supports is the Bonsall Field Barn Project. This is dedicated to restoring the approximately 150 field barns in Bonsall Parish, Derbyshire. Bonsall resident and DHBT trustee, Liz Stoppard, is one of the leaders of the project.

This short film gives a little bit of background to the project - you can also find out more here: www.bonsallfieldbarnproject.org