Bakewell

From the quiet though prosperous country town of dhe 1940s, Bakewell has become the Piccadilly Circus of the Peak District complete with one-way streets. This is not to say that it has lost its appeal visually but during the summer months it is often thronged with too many people for comfort.




Bad-kwell or bath-spring tells us why there has been a human settlement here since the Iron Age. The warm chalybeate-saturated waters from at least 12 wells have long-since been diverted to run into the Wye or have dried up, but they not unnaturally attracted the Romans as attested by the altar found hereabouts.

The earthwork now known as Castle Hill is said to have been a military post built by Alfred the Great's son Edward the Elder in 924 against dhe possibility of Danish attacks though historians now have some doubt about its nature.

The five-spanned Gothic arched bridge over the Wye in the centre of the town has been in daily use since about 1300. The large, handsome Georgian coaching inn, the Rutland Arms, proclaims one of the great families living near - the Manners, Dukes of Rutland of Haddon Hall, descendants in the female line from the Vernons of Haddon. Elsewhere in the town is The Manners Arms which, tactlessly, and for some unknown reason, displays the arms not of the Rudands, but of the other ducal family, the Devonshires whose seat, Chatsworth, is also close by.

The fine spire of All Saints, the parish church, can be seen from most directions and the building stands on rising ground in a commanding position. There was a Saxon church here and many ancient fragments of stone remain to tell the tale including the shaft of an 8th century Anglian cross decorated with scrolls and scenes from the life of Our Lord. Most of the present building is 13th century though there was much restoration done by the Victorians. The church contains some superb monuments, especially the small wall monument of 1385 to Sir Godfrey Foljambe and his wife. In the Vernon Chapel are monuments to Sir George Vernon 'The King of the Peak' and to his daughter and co-heiress, Dorothy Vernon who married Sir John Manners and brought Haddon Hall to the family of the Dukes of Rutland.

Visit the old Market Hall. It is now the information centre for the Peak District National Park and here you should find all you need to know about the town and its surroundings (the headquarters of the Peak Park Planning Board is in Aldern House on the outskirts of the town). The Old House Museum gives marvellous glimpses into Bakewell's past.

Agriculture is still Bakewell's basic activity and the Cattle Market is one of the largest in the country. The annual Bakewell Show, started in 1843, is the most important event in the town's calendar and one of the best agricultural events of its type in the country.

Open: All Year


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