which consists of the villages of Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell

Macmillan & Co Ltd 1905

Transcribed by Peter Patilla

At the foot of the hill is Whatstandwell, where the Derwent, the main road, the railway and the Cromford canal all lie amicably together in the wooded valley. Here the river is spanned by a fine bridge, to the builder of which the little village owes its curious name. For, late in the fourteenth century, so we learn from the records of Darley Abbey, one Walter Stonewell, who dwelt near by, built this bridge and, as Wat was the common abbreviation of Walter, Whatstandwell Bridge is really Wat Stonewell’s Bridge. Naturally, such a name has suffered many contortions. Even as late as 1830 it is found in print under the disguise of Hot-stand-well and Hot-Stanwell. A popular derivation was "Will't stand well?" a sceptical inquiry as to the stability of the structure. Crossing the string of bridges, we mount the opposite hill and obtain, as we look back, a fine view of the noble woods through which we have passed. Turn at the side of the village school and

xxviii CRICH STAND 427

keep well to the left until Crich Stand comes into sight. It looks tantalisingly near, but it has to be outflanked and taken in the rear by long detour. It was evening when I approached it and had to hurry to gain the summit ere the sun sank, like a molten ball of fire, over Matlock, between Masson and Riber. After the heat of the day the mist hung close and low, but I could distinguish the tangle of ridges between the Stand and Masson, each with its fringe of green woods. To count them is impossible, so confusedly do they merge one into the other. This view from Crich Stand the vowel, by the way, is long is one of the most beautiful in the county. Though the hill is only nine hundred and fifty feet above sea-level, its situation is most happy. The fairest side is towards Matlock, up the Derwent Valley by the woods of Lea Hurst, where the broad hill, intersected by winding roads, rises steeply up towards Wirksworth and confronts the wooded heights beyond Holloway and Dethick. If we change our station, we have the big straggling village of Crich itself below us, while the smoke, curling up densely a few miles away, marks the lime kilns of Bullbridge, near Ambergate. On that side, and towards Ripley and Alfreton, a large plateau lies at our feet, and beyond it, at a lower level, spreads a wider weald that stretches far away to the left, where the ground mounts to the Ashover country and the uplands of the Matlock and Darley Moors. The Stand, some fifty feet high, is a round tower set on a square base of massive blocks of stone. It looks strong enough to last for centuries, and so, doubtless, it would have done had not the lightning found it a few years ago, which, with a single stroke, drove deep fissures into it from top to bottom and tore away some of the upper blocks. The door-way, therefore, which used to give entrance to the staircase within, has been filled up and the fabric is most insecure. Originally built in 1788 by Francis Hurt, of Alderwasley, and rebuilt in 1851, it rests on the edge of a gigantic quarry which has been continuously worked for about sixty years. In places

428 CRICH CHURCH CH. xxviii

the hill itself seems willing to simplify the task of the quarrymen, for stupendous masses of stone have been partially riven from the side and appear to be waiting for a slight shock of
earthquake to come tumbling to the ground. Geologically, Crich Cliff is of some interest, owing to its being a mass of carboniferous limestone thrust up through the measures of sandstone and shale. Sixty years ago the Crich district was described as the richest mineral field in the whole wapentake of Wirksworth. The village is dull, though the church contains memorials of a Bellairs, a Beresford son and heir of Adam Beresford, of Fenny Bentley a German Pole of Wakebridge, and a John Clay, whose first wife was the daughter of the Chief Cock Matcher and Servant of the Hawks to Henry VIII. There is also a curious brass to the infant child of a former rector,
" Noe sooner bloomed but blasted, Yet to revive with time at the refreshing." The church, whose tower and steeple are landmarks only less familiar than the Stand, is in the higher part of the village, which straggles on for a mile and a half along the rather tedious road leading down to Bullbridge and Ambergate.

Home| History Index