Duffield (St. Alkmund)

DUFFIELD (St. Alkmund), a parish, in the union of Belper, hundred of Appletree, S. division of the county of Derby, 4¼ miles (N.) from Derby; comprising the chapelries of Belper, Heage, Holbrook, and Turnditch, and the townships of Duffield, Hazlewood, Shottle with Postern, and Windley; the whole containing 17,664 inhabitants, of whom 3108 are in the township of Duffield. In Domesday book it is called Dunelle, and is described as having "a church, a priest, and two mills;" it afterwards formed part of the demesne of Henry de Ferrers, who, in 1096, possessed a castle on an eminence north-west of the village, the site of which is now named Castle-Orchard. This fortress was held by several of the turbulent descendants of that powerful baron; one of them, William, for rebellion in the reign of Henry II., lost his estates by confiscation, but in 1199 they were restored by King John, to his son William, with the title of Earl of Derby. Earl Robert joined in Simon de Montfort's rebellion, and garrisoned his castle of Duffield against Henry III., but was defeated and taken prisoner at Chesterfield by Henry de Almaine, upon which the king sent his son, afterwards Edward I., into the county of Derby, to ravage with fire and sword the lands of the earl, and take revenge for his disloyalty; the castle was dismantled, and the demesne fell to the crown. In 1330, Henry, Earl of Lancaster, claimed seven parks in Duffield Frith; and in the reign of Elizabeth, frequent mention is made of the extent and importance of the royal possessions at Duffield, of the appointments of stewards, rangers, and various other officers, and of great leets and three weeks' courts held here, it being then a portion of the duchy of Lancaster, which it continued to be till the reign of Charles I., when it was granted to several persons.

The parish comprises 17,390 acres, of which 3002 are in the township of Duffield; it is situated on the road from Derby to Matlock, and contains, besides several populous villages, the market-town of Belper. For an account of its cotton and silk mills, bleach-yards, and coal and iron works, see the articles on Milford, Belper, and Heage; stone is obtained for various uses, and there is a quarry for scythe-stones. The village is pleasantly situated in a fine plain through which flows the river Derwent, and contains many good houses. The Midland railway has a station here; the Eaton canal is about a mile distant. There are cattle-fairs on the Thursday following New Year's day, and on March 1st. The large and elegant mansion of Farnah Hall, a seat of the Curzon family, stands in a fine park, near the Wirksworth road. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £8. 4.; patron, the Bishop of Lichfield; impropriator, Earl Beauchamp; net income, £150. The great tithes of Duffield township have been commuted for £458, and the small for £10; the impropriate glebe consists of 120 acres, and the vicarial of 12 acres. Besides the parish church, which is an ancient structure, there are churches at Belper, Hazlewood, Heage, Holbrook, and Turnditch; and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have endowed two church districts, named respectively Bridge-Hill and Milford, and both in the patronage of the Crown and the Bishop, alternately. The Baptists, Wesleyans, and others have places of worship. William Gilbert, in the 7th of Elizabeth, surrendered lands for the maintenance of a school, towards which Joseph Webster, in 1685, bequeathed an annuity of £10; the income is £95. There is a national school; and two infant schools are maintained by subscription. An almshouse for two persons, built by Anthony Bradshaw, who died in 1614, is endowed with a rent-charge upon an estate at Holbrook, and with £100, the gift of William Potterell, in 1735. William, Lord Hastings, who was beheaded by King Richard III., was chief forester of Duffield.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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