The Village of Brassington
Brassington is an ancient village of about 550 people 3 miles to the west of Wirksworth and 7 miles to the north east of Ashbourne.
Most of the houses and cottages are built of local limestone, many being clustered together in narrow lanes on a steep south-facing hillside. Some of the larger houses have large sloping or terraced gardens.
There is a long history of lead mining and quarrying in the area, and the surrounding hillsides bear traces of the old mine workings in their grassy humps and hollows. Old mineshafts abound, and can even be found in a few gardens.
Large limestone quarries around Brassington, with Hopton and Middleton to the east, Longcliffe to the north and the large Tilcon quarry at Ballidon to the west still provide work for local people.
Farming in the district concentrates on cattle and sheep rearing.
There are many attractive buildings in this picturesque village. The oldest of all is St James parish church, which stands high above Church Street, overlooking the village. It is mostly Norman, with some 19th century restoration.
Tudor House, opposite the school, dates from 1615. Originally an inn, it was at one time a workhouse.
Brassington Hall was built later in the 17th century.
Many of the cottages date from the same period, one in the West End having a wall sundial which can be seen from the roadway.
There are two public houses. Ye Olde Gate Inn bears a date-stone of 1616, while the Miner's Arms was built in 1734, although later extended.
Access to this out of the way village has fluctuated over the years. At one time it stood on the main road between London and Manchester, which brought some prosperity to the village. In 1738 the road was turnpiked and other more direct routes were opened which did not pass through the village, so passing trade was lost.
However the new Cromford and High Peak Railway of 1830 with the opening of Longcliffe Station, a mile from the village, brought prosperity with the carrying of lead ore, minerals and stone from the mines and quarries, as well as milk from the farms to the large towns. The railway finally closed in 1967, and the line has been transformed into the High Peak Trail, which is very popular with walkers and cyclists alike.
This once bustling village, which once had 14 ale houses and a population of 800 during its heyday, now has only one shop, a post office and two pubs. But it is an attractive place and well worth a visit.
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