Thursday, October 23, 2008

At Tissington

At the end of my post about Milldale I promised to write a post about the village of Tissington in Derbyshire so here it is. Tissington has special memories for me as it was always the venue of our junior school Ascension Day outing to see the well dressings. I remember being on the bus full of excited children, sent out in their best clothes that morning by anxious mothers. We would all be clutching brown paper or greaseproof paper bags full of egg or ham sandwiches - oh, how I remember the smell of those egg sandwiches - we must have had drinks too but I can't remember what they were or how we carried them. I remember the cattle grids as you entered the village and having to walk over them as we left the bus. One year my friend's little brother fell on one and banged his nose - there was blood everywhere - no one thought about 'health and safety' in those days. I would think there would be complete uproar, threats to sue and apportionments of blame nowadays, 'tis the way of the world, but then the teachers dealt with the situation and we all got on with our day.

Anyway, back to the present. Tissington is a beautiful estate village clustered around the hall, the church, the village green and the duck pond.
It is, in fact, the typical English village of our childhood dreams and imagination.
Its approach is unusually through a gate from the main Ashbourne to Buxton road, up an avenue of lime trees amongst which guinea fowl run free, in appearance it is much like a drive straight to a country house but it is the road into the village.

In The King's England, Derbyshire - my copy published in 1942, a good 15 years before my school outings, Arthur Mee described the village thus:-

'If ever roads lead to sheer delight they are surely the roads to Tissington, where a splendid lime avenue, half a mile long, brings us to little stone houses in gay gardens, gathered in haphazard array around a spacious road with wayside lawns, a fine old Hall of Elizabeth's day, and a tiny church as old again keeping them company.'

It hasn't changed.

The present hall was built in 1609 for Francis FitzHerbert. It replaced an earlier hall, possibly a moated manor house standing to the north of the church, as Tissington has been the seat of the FitzHerbert family since 1465 and they still live there.

Today the hall is a venue for conferences, weddings and civil ceremonies. Pre-booked group visits are accepted and there is a short period in spring and summer when guided tours are available. The present owner is Richard FitzHerbert and if you follow this link to the hall's website you can watch a little film of him guiding you around the inside of the hall. During his introduction he mentions ghost hunts - now how about that for a Halloween celebration?

Across the road from the hall is one of the wells, known as Hall Well for obvious reasons. There are five others dotted around the village and each year according to custom they are decorated with flowers. Here is a link that will tell you more about the history and origin of the Derbyshire Well Dressings.

The parish church of St Mary stands on a hill opposite the Hall. Built sometime in the 12th century inside is light and airy and on the wall near the chancel is a fine monument to some members of the FitzHerbert family. The people depicted below are Sir Francis FitzHerbert who died in 1619 and his son Sir John who died in 1642 with their wives.

Outside in the churchyard the other village folk lie at peace under the trees overlooking the village green and the duck pond.

Visitors can park in the village on designated verges opposite the hall but there is also parking nearby on the Tissington Trail.

A walk past the duck pond takes you to the Tissington Trail. In this village there is a farm butcher and a candle workshop, called A Wick and a Prayer, as well as Acanthus, a pretty gift shop housed in an old joiners workshop and a small garden centre or nursery where the owners sell rare and unusual plants.

There is a tea room in the old barn next to the hall and this is always very popular. We have been in for refreshment on a couple of occasions but this time we had our picnic with us.

So that is Tissington, or a small part of it anyway, I hope you enjoyed the visit.


  1. Oooh another lovely visit.I did enjoy it,thanks..and you included a tea room, which was thoughtful ;-)

  2. What an enchanted little village. It must be wonderful to live in such a place or stop by for some tea. Thank you for sharing!


  3. What a great post, Tissington is another place I've never been but it is going to the top of my list after reading this. I love the idea that the same family has lived in the Hall for over 500 years. Reading your blog is like having a particularly good guide book on hand. Derbyshire appears to be full of great places that I've never been to even though I live so close.

  4. Rosie, you write and describe things so beautifully. Thank you for showing me around Tissington.

  5. A lovely outing! It reminds me a bit of the small village I grew up in in Cheshire. It had a ruined manor house. It's a long time since I've been back though now! So your walk brought back memories, thanks.

  6. I want to go too! A couple of years ago my parents had friends from Derbyshire visiting over here in the U.S. Gwen, my Mom's friend, knowing my penchant for all things English bought me her latest copy of "Derbyshire Life and Countryside". It was the April 2006 edition and one of the featured articles was "Featuring the village of Tissington" which described the delightful village and the lovely custom of well dressing. Your article was even better.... more photos and more information about the village! Thanks for the tour.... enjoyed it immensely!

  7. Such a lovely tour! I too, remember kids falling down and getting banged up every time we went on a school outing. It was always no big deal and the parents were always grateful to the teachers for handling the situations so expertly. Times have changed.

    These are wonderful photos!

  8. I stopped by another blog of yours via the dutchess and it was great, this is also fun. Love the pictures of your visit. I love to travel through England via blog trips the photos are awsome. Thanks for sharing.

  9. A lovely visit,what a beautiful Hall. I love your writing..the piece about the egg sandwiches and the banged nose(i'm sorry) made me laugh outloud:)Times did change,my daughter is a teacher and she would have a lot of problems with an angry parent I believe!Fun post ..thank you.