Since writing The Long Road Out of Town, I have come to a new appreciation of Wirksworth, the Derbyshire town where I grew up. Here are 10 interesting things about it.
1.Wirksworth once had an underground railway, opened in 1877 and running from the station yard to The Dale quarry.
2.The Barmote Court has been held for over 700 years. It was established in 1288 to deal with disputes and claims arising from lead mining and to collect the royalties due.
3.Haarlem Mill used to manufacture the red tape that gave its name to Whitehall bureaucracy.
4.St Mary’s parish church contains “The Wirksworth Stone”, a seventh century carved stone depicting the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary. St Mary’s is also one of the few churches in Britain which still performs the ancient custom of “clypping the church” when the congregation link hands around the church.
5.George Eliot is said to have based the town of Snowfield in her novel Adam Bede on Wirksworth, where her aunt and uncle lived.
6.Wirksworth is one of the few places in the country that still holds an annual well dressing, a thanksgiving for water
7.Sir Frederick Treves, who operated on King Edward VII and the “Elephant Man”, lived in Wirksworth.
8.D.H.Lawrence lived in Mountain Cottage in Middleton-by-Wirksworth from 1918-1919.
9.The Middleton Mine in Middleton-by-Wirksworth contains 25 miles of underground tunnels on three levels.
10.Baroness Orczy, author of The Scarlet Pimpernel featured the former Crown Inn in the Market Place in her novel Beau Brocade.