which consists of the villages of Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell.

A Short History of Crich

- the Second Millenium
(With thanks to the efforts of J C Dawes in his work 'The Tale of Crich')

The name 'Crich' may well have appeared in recognisable form around the end of the first Millennium. It seems to have evolved from the Celtic name for crag or hill ('crue' or 'cryc') - a sign of the importance of having a settlement at the highest point on an ancient north-south routeway running parallel to the River Derwent. This track was not along the Common, as we would know it today. More likely, it was a cattle drovers route which would have climbed from Ambergate to the Hagg, and then on along the foot of the Tors, to the manor held in the early 1000's by the family of Godwin, the Saxon Earl of Wessex.

Our best record of the village and parish in these times comes from the Norman Domesday book of 1086. Much of the area would have been 'woodland pasture', where sheep or cattle would be allowed to graze along with the King's or Lord's deer. The parish was still mostly woodland in the late 1600s, it was only with the final enclosures of land into commercial farms and the felling of trees to provide for the Navy in the Napoleonic wars that this landscape changed dramatically.

In 1086 the manor was owned by Ralph Fitzhubert, with land worked by 4 ploughs, and a lead mine (valued then at 30 shillings). He became involved in a civil war and was hanged for his troubles, but the family continued to run the manor. What follows is an abbreviated history of some of the key dates of the next 900 years!


Building of Crich church started (this area remained the geographical centre of the village until the 1700s)


Crich manor pays a levy to the Crown equal to the value of supporting 30 knights


Crich Chase woods (along Derwent valley) are used by Hubert FitzRalph for hunting


Black Death strikes - possibly a third of population wiped out, leading to a shortage of peasant labour


First Whatstandwell bridge built by John de Stepul as an act of piety to the church (Wat Stonewell was previously the ford keeper at this site)


Crich manor passes to Ralph, Lord Cromwell, Treasurer to Henry IV


Crich cattle fair well established on land between the Church and the Cross (held until early 1900s)


After this date, the family of the Earl of Shrewsbury begin selling off land to a new class of yeoman farmers in the village


Crich Poorhouse (Workhouse Row) built by the edge of the Common


The Nottingham - Newhaven turnpike road (now B5035 Roes Lane, Sandy Lane) is set up


Wesley Methodist Church is built in Crich (visited by John Wesley in 1766 and 1770)


Francis Hurt rebuilds his family's wooden viewing platform as a conical stone tower (the second Crich Stand)


Final enclosures of common land take place - this means commercial farming for the first time in the Crich quarry area, Plaistow Green, the Tors area, the Common and Crich Chase. Only the area now known as the Jubilee is left for common grazing


First 'Friendly Society', 'for the benefit of sick and infirm members' is set up in Crich


Half of the working population of the parish earn a living through farming (this is less than 2% today)


Brunton's 'steam horse' tested on tramway between the Dimple and Bullbridge, reaching two and a half mph


Windmill on Mainpieces (hill to the cast of Fritchley) closed


Belper to Cromford road (A6) built, with Crich receiving a regular horse-drawn courier service en route from Derby to Manchester


George Stephenson begins the transport of limestone to Ambergate from the Cliff quarry site, for burning and conversion into lime for agriculture


Church of England 'National' School (now Crich Infants) opened on Bowns Hill


Whatstandwell station opened on Ambergate – Rowsley railway line


Crich's old wooden cross at the top of Bown's Hill is replaced by the present stone cross, designed by Isaac Petts


Baptist chapel opens on Market Place (replacing earlier one on Roes Lane)


Great rivalry between National (C of E) and 'British' (Nonconformist) schools in Crich, leading in 1885 to a new British School (now Crich Juniors)


Stone circle set up and trees planted to mark Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee (and in 1897 to mark her Diamond Jubilee)


First piped water in Crich

1914 –18

lst World War. Several local residents involved in active service, some paying the supreme sacrifice


Gas street lighting comes to Crich


Rebuilt Stand opened as a memorial by the Sherwood Foresters


Crich cinema opened


The first electricity in the village (along the Common to the Market Place)


The first council houses are built in Crich


The 2nd World War. Locals again involved in active service


Television reception possible in Crich


Tramway Museum Society moves to Crich start of National Tramway Museum


Tors Springs factory opened


Crich Area Community News Founded


Opening of the Glebe Field Centre, the village's largest ever community centre

Roger Shelley, the compiler of this article lives in Whatstandwell. He is a curator at Derby Museum. Roger is keenly interested in politics and local government. He has played a very active part on Crich Parish Council, being a former Chairman.

I thank Roger for his permission to re-print the above article, which is from the 'Special
Millenium Issue' of the 'Crich Community News', issued in December 1999.

I also acknowledge the kind permission of Geoffrey Dawes to use material from his excellent and scholarly work 'Tale of Crich'.

Alan Flint

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