Clandestine Capture & Ancestor Sleuthing In Derbyshire: Thursday’s Special


This was where I was last Thursday morning – not posting on Thursday’s Special, but trying to find a good spot on a field path outside Hathersage so I could photograph Callow Farm. This was the place where four generations of my Fox family ancestors were tenant farmers from around 1700 to 1892. Before that, during the late 1600s, they rented another Duke of Devonshire farm, The Oaks, up on the wilder heights of Offerton Moor, not far from Callow.

As you can see, the house (centre) is covertly situated, in the lee of the hill beside the wood. I had to use a lot of zoom, hence the hazy look, though such haziness is perhaps fitting for this piece of ancestral snooping. The more readily visible buildings on the right are the farm’s barns, now an upscale holiday let.

If you go to the previous post Stepping Stones Through Time you’ll find more of the story behind this photo. This was the reason why I  had hoped to cross the stepping stones, to achieve a closer view than this one. Ah well. Maybe next time.


There’s still time to take part in last week’s Thursday’s Special. Paula says ‘Pick a word in September’. Choose from: populated, time-sensitive, companionable, burgeoning, clandestine, but first go and see her gallery of photos and be inspired.



41 thoughts on “Clandestine Capture & Ancestor Sleuthing In Derbyshire: Thursday’s Special

  1. Beautiful view, Tish and capture that respires tranquility and idyllic life in the countryside. Who is in possession of the Callow today? I could easily picture myself living there.

    1. I don’t know who lives there now. It’s been a private house, i.e. sold off from the Duke of Devonshire’s Chatsworth estate, for quite a while. The only way to it, apart from the stepping stones, is up a very long, windy lane, and all you can see from that approach are its chimneys. I think the only way to get a good view is to book the Barns self-catering cottages for a holiday. And yes, it is very lovely countryside, but very Wuthering Heights-ish too up on the moors above the house. Derbyshire farmers had to be pretty tough I think.Many of them, including the Foxes were also lead miners – another hard way to make a living.

    1. We tend to think that England is a rather overcrowded place, cluttered with roads and traffic and sprawling suburbs, and industrial estates and out-of-town shopping installations, but actually, and especially in the Derbyshire Peak District – there are just miles and miles of open space, and lots of high, wild places too with 6-4,000 year old relics of stone circles and cairns all over the moors. And lots of sky 🙂

  2. Tish the photo looks like a postcard! What a gorgeous setting. I gather from the comments that the house is no longer in the family. I don’t suppose they would have appreciated you just popping on by for a photo shoot.
    Loved your description to another reader of the wildness the area retains. Yes please to a look at the stone circles!

  3. What a lovely couple of posts. Your ancestor sounds like an amazing woman, truly strong willed and fiesty, from her love of riding to her marriages! And how lovely to see a post about Hathersage. I spent my honeymoon there (only 3 nights in a B & B on the wonderfully named Jaggers Lane) but it’s such a lovely village, so filled with history.
    And yes, Derbyshire women have to be tough. My mum still lives in Buxton and I listen out for her on the traffic report every winter – ‘The Snake Pass has been closed due to snow, as has the Cat and Fiddle … ‘
    Bristol and its warm climes and long summers sometimes feels like a world away 🙂
    Lovely post

      1. It’s a pretty scary road on a sunny day, Tish! Yep, grew up there, so Hathersage wasn’t exactly a long way to go to honeymoon. Lovely though 🙂

    1. Yes, indeed, Suzanne. But it’s a bit uncanny too. Like time travelling, mapping out the members of each generation. I mentioned it in another post, but the search on the internet also included the discovery of 2 fellow Fox descendants who were also researching. We’re each descended from 18th century Callow Fox siblings. Now that has been a really, really good find – fellow ‘Fox hunters’. We’ve joined forces!

      1. I understand!! I have found who I believed to be family members,then find other families that have named all of their children the same names also! I have a Fox I am trying to find! He went by Wilson and William. 🙂 Jen

  4. Lovely photo, Tish, and these posts truly fascinate me. I’ve done a little research into my family tree and each time I do, I learn some tidbit that amazes me — and the available history for my family is nothing like the one your family shares.

    1. It is a great feeling when you find another little piece in the family history jigsaw. Part of the reason I know so much about my family is a) I have 2 other Fox researchers in my ancestral line-up, and they are very diligent and b) the Foxes stayed in the same place for long periods of time. So much more to discover though, and on the way, you do learn a lot of history – the sort that was never covered in school.

    1. Thanks, Celia. I agree that it is enriching knowing more about past family members. It certainly improves one’s knowledge of history too – the sort of people history that mattered.

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