Only a few remnants of the prehistoric and Roman periods have so far been found in Wingerworth, notably a stretch of the Roman road, Ryknield Street, crossing the east of the parish. The first human settlement of any size seems to have been in Anglo-Saxon times, and the village name is first recorded in Domesday Book,1086, in which a community of fourteen households of freemen is entered. The original village was no doubt on the hill by the church. Wingerworth expanded in and after the Middle Ages, with small settlements at Swathwick, Harper Hill, Stubbing, Nethermoor etc. A section of the former Woodthorpe parish was added in 1935. The population never exceeded 500 until after the sale of the Hunloke estate in 1920. The growth of housing estates since the 1950s has resulted in an increase to around 7000 today.
The lords of the manor were the Brailsfords for most of the Middle Ages; the lordship then descended in an uncertain way to the Curzons of Kedleston and then to the Hunlokes at the end of the l 6th century. Under the Hunlokes (see separate article), Wingerworth remained an estate village with strictly controlled development and gradual dispersal of the original settlement away from the church and Hall. An independent small estate was formed at Stubbing by the 17th century and was owned by the Gladwins for most of the 18th and l9th centuries. Notable inhabitants of the mansion there were Major-General Henry Gladwin (1729-91 ), celebrated for his defence of Fort Detroit in 1763, the Rt. Hon. James Abercromby, Speaker of the House of Commons 1835-9, in the 1830s, and Olave, Lady Baden-Powell, first Chief Guide, who was born there in 1889.
Up to 1920, the village economy was based largely on mixed farming, but with important contributions from industry, small-scale at first: in particular, coal and ironstone mining, iron smelting, red lead manufacture, stone quarrying and woodland exploitation. Larger-scale coal and ironstone mining started in the mid l9th century at the Avenue and Speighthill pits, but had ceased altogether by 1930, except for extensive opencast working since the second world war. Coke and by-products were made on a large scale at the Avenue site from 1956 to 1992, using coal brought from elsewhere. Iron was smelted first in a bloomery at Smithy Pond before 1600 and then in blast furnaces at Nethermoor (c.1600-1784) and Furnace Hill (1780-1815); later furnaces treating Wingerworth ironstone were situated on Storforth Lane, outside the parish. The 18th century red lead mill was situated on the brook west of Derby Road, on the site of a former forge. Bole Hill and Stone Edge quarries were very active in the 18th and l9th centuries, and a stone sawing mill was erected on Pearce Lane in the 1820's. A corn mill stood near the foot of Mill Lane. The sheepwash on Tricket Brook was built around l 850. Several artificial ponds provided water power for many of these activities and/or leisure pursuits (e.g. Smithy Pond became a swimming pool, the Lido, in 1934). The notable dam of Stubbing Great Pond dates from about 1700.
Of the three main roads crossing the parish, Matlock Road was turnpiked in 1759, Derby Road in 1760, and Birkin Lane in 1766. Only one toll gate and house was erected in Wingerworth, however, on Birkin Lane near the Lido. A private road from Chatsworth House to Hardwick Hall once passed through Wingerworth but has long since been obliterated or reduced to a footpath. Part of the North Midland Railway from Derby to Leeds, opened in 1840 was driven through the very east of the parish. No canal ever passed through Wingerworth, although at least one was planned from Chesterfield to Ashover in 1802.
The church has some Norman - if not Saxon - features but has seen many later additions, especially the building of the tower around 1500 and the new extension opened in 1964 to accommodate the increasing congregation. For many centuries it was technically only a chapel in the large parish of Chesterfield, with only curates to serve it, but in 1867 the living was elevated to a rectory. Salem Nonconformist chapel was built in 1849, in the face of opposition from the Anglican clergyman and the Catholic Sir Henry Hunloke. A small school at Hill houses was established in the mid 18th century and used until the 1950s, succeeded by the present Deer Park and Hunloke Park schools.
For further information, see Wingerworth Landscape: a Historical Guide, by David G. Edwards, published by Chesterfield & District Local History Society,1997.
The Hunlokes were the dominant family in Wingerworth from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I until 1920, acquiring nine-tenths of the land in the parish and becoming lords of the manor. They first obtained leases of property here in the 1540s, including the ironworks, and by about 1600 had built a small Hall, where they lived until building a much grander mansion in the 1720’s, which was pulled down in 1924 leaving only the subsidiary buildings that can still be seen.
Henry Hunloke who built the first Hall had been a merchant tailor in London, presumably becoming well-off enough to purchase the freehold of the manor and settle permanently in Wingerworth. His grandson, the third Henry, sided with King Charles in the Civil War and was awarded a baronetcy in 1648 for his services, but he died quite young in 1648. His son, another Henry, was the first head of the family to profess Roman Catholicism, a religion which restricted the liberty of the Hunlokes until 1829. Four more generations of the family succeeded that Henry up to 1856, when the last of the male line died unmarried; before him, all the Hunloke baronets had married into equally prominent gentry families. In 1864 the estate was settled on Adelaide Fitzclarence (nee Sidney), descended from a female line, who took the surname Hunloke; after her death in 1904 it came to her nephew Philip. In 1920 he sold the estate, which was burdened with a large mortgage and potential death duties; besides this Philip had interests elsewhere, as sailing master to King George V.
Besides Wingerworth Hall, the Hunlokes built a mausoleum in 1783, in which sixteen of the family are interred; it now forms part of the church structure but was originally, free-standing. Other creations were (a) the Park, which extended westward from the Hall down to New Road and once contained a numerous herd of deer (b) the Avenue which ran east from the Hall down to the River Rother and beyond, and (c) the private Roman Catholic chapel housed in the Hall and later in Birdholme House, the ‘dower house’, of the family. The Hunlokes employed a succession of priests to serve the chapel, who seem to have had some success in converting up to a quarter of the local inhabitants to Catholicism in the 18th century.
For further information see: The Hunlokes of Wingerworth Hall, by David G. Edwards, 2nd edition, privately published,1976 (now out-of-print)
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