Blessed Earth ~ Our One And Only


And when we’ve trashed this one, there won’t be another (see postscript).


In case you’re wondering where I’ve been for the past week – we’ve been staying in a barn in the Derbyshire High Peak where we woke to views of Higger Tor and Millstone Edge (haloed here) and the wide vistas of Hope Valley. The barn in question was one my maternal ancestors would have known and used, though not in its current luxurious holiday-let manifestation of five bedrooms, three bathrooms, plus central heating, range cooker, vast TV screen and free Wifi.

For around two centuries the Fox family lived at Callow Farm, tenants of the Eyres, and later of the Dukes of Devonshire who bought the Highlow estate from the Eyres/Archers in the early nineteenth century. The Foxes were also in this particular vicinity (around Highlow and Offerton in Hathersage Outseats) for at least the preceding 500 years, although trying to unravel the multiple generations of Georges and Williams is proving pretty impossible. All the more tantalizing when we know a 19th century list of Derbyshire Charters has a certain William Fox holding a few acres at Offerton in the late 1200s.

The more recent tenant Foxes owned some land too, and so in their way were very minor landlords. This in itself is a puzzle, since from earliest times this whole territory was controlled by abbots and monarchs and thence parcelled out to sundry lords and lordlings who taxed, tithed and generally reaped the rewards of ordinary mortals’ labours.

In High Peak the bulk of those returns included a large annual cut from the proceeds of the lead mined and processed by  Derbyshire yeomen farmers like the Foxes – a raw and life-threatening trade carried out when they were not engaged in growing oats, making cheese and butter from their small dairy herds, cutting mill- and grinding stones from the precipitous millstone grit edges or minding their sheep. I have evidence of some of these multiple activities from local newspaper details of October 1892 when my great great grandfather George Brayley Fox sold off the Callow Farm stock before leaving the farm. This also means I know precisely what was in those barns at that particular time.

I have also now witnessed what the Dukes of Devonshire did at Chatsworth with the income from their tenant farmer-lead miners. The extravagant display of the 6th Duke in particular is jaw-dropping. But for all this and more – see upcoming posts.

For now here’s a daylight view from Callow farm fields, looking across the Derwent Valley to Hathersage: Higger Tor on the far right, Stanage Edge along the skyline to the left.



And here is Callow Barn – now cut off from the next door farmhouse, the properties being privately and separately owned and perhaps originally sold off from the Chatsworth Estate in either the 1930s or 1960s, both occasions when the estate’s massive death duties required the sale of extensive property and farmland.

And finally Callow Farmhouse as seen from the public footpath to Leadmill:



P.S. Much of Derbyshire – the uplands and dales – lies within the National Park. I learn this morning from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE is an organisation well worth supporting) that our government wants to bury nuclear waste in our National Parks, wilderness areas that are now used by many hundred thousand citizens for walking and cycling, and whose consistent presence there through much of the year significantly supports local rural economies. The Derbyshire national park in particular positively teems with humanity at weekends, happy families and dogs out for a jaunt and some very fresh air, away from the nearby cities of Manchester, Sheffield and Derby. Words fail.

Six Word Saturday


copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

38 thoughts on “Blessed Earth ~ Our One And Only

  1. That is utterly shocking about nuclear waste!

    It is lovely to see your photos. The Peak District is just beautiful.

  2. The work of “Campaign to Protect Rural England” is very important, I’m at loss for words what I’m learning here, Tish. Lovely impressions from an area I yet have to visit. So far I have only driven through the Peak District.

  3. Good to see you back Tish, had a very nice break in the Peaks a few years back (near Monsal Head) lovely part of the world. There was even talk a few years ago of burying nuclear waste here in Norfolk, suppose they thought us yokels wouldn’t notice! The latest scheme was to build an electricity relay station one field from the edge of our village to take ac cables from proposed wind farms offshore. Luckily they bowed to pressure and are going to use dc direct to the sub station 40 miles away! so just a great big trench. So much for ‘green energy’!

    1. It’s amazing how much of the family jigsaw has been discovered from the internet. Otherwise, it would all have been lost. Still lots of mysteries though. And as for the nuclear waste – it drives one nuts. We’ve already polluted Cumbria with the stuff.

  4. Nice research into an area in England that was totally unknown to me! With ancestral connections you were able to dig up some interesting historical facts. I am looking forward to read more on this topic. Great photos, Tish! On the first picture the cloud band looks like a saint’s halo. It must be my imagination. Best wishes! Peter

  5. How interesting to be able to trace your ancestors so far back and in such detail. The plans for nuclear waste just appall me. It calls for massive people power to protest and hopefully stop it

    1. It helped knowing where they lived. After gt gt grandfather sold up and went to live with his eldest son – also a farmer, the mystique of Callow was passed down the generations. Also the Foxes were great yarn tellers so snippets pop up here and there in old newspaper cuttings and an article written about them in the 1930s.

    1. A shocking programme. And a difficult one to watch. Maybe it is time to do something about those countries where the governments do not provide adequate waste disposal and recycling plants. Dumping garbage directly into the rivers is horrifying in this day and age. Once again it is the poorest nations that need the most assistance. And I was also horrified at the attitude of some of those lobster fishermen in Cape Cod. Perhaps people should boycott eating lobsters (not that I eat them anyway) until they bring in better measures to stop those whales being so badly injured.

  6. A great post Trish and I love the image with the halo especially. It truly beggars belief what the current government is up to and burying nuclear waste in National Parks should never be allowed to happen.

  7. I suppose the question to be asked is where CAN they dispose of nuclear waste? And plastic. A pity no-one anticipated this when embracing these new inventions. Our poor planet.

    On a more positive note, I wouldn’t mind a five-bedroom, three bathroom barn with those kind of views, but I suspect it would be eye-wateringly expensive!

  8. Remember when plastic was “invented”and all the people celebrated the event without even wondering about its final destination…..
    (What a shame , poor earth , to say nothing of the Nuke…)
    Love your photos and read!

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