First definitely recorded in 968 AD in the name of ‘Stantune’, which means ‘stony  farm’, it’s origin probably occurs even earlier c.900 when Aethelflaed, Lady of the  Mercians, and daughter of King Alfred, sold to her friend, Aldem, 2 mansae in ‘Stanture’ for 60 swine and 300 shillings. A mansa was a farm together with all its outbuildings and the people who worked on it.

Around this time, the Saxons’ resistance to the Danes was becoming more effective, under the guidance of Alfred..Stanton lay just within East Mercia, formally controlled by the Danes, but it offered the possibility of strategic importance to the Saxons who looked to use the confluence of the rivers Wye and Derwent as routes of attack.

In 917, Lady Aethelflaed successfully led the attack on the Danish trading settlement at Derby, which resulted in the English taking control of Derbyshire, and 3 years later her brother, Edward the Elder, built a castle at Bakewell, thereby negating the need to use Stanton as a military post.

The Domesday Book entry for Stanton suggests that the estate continued as its own legal entity up to the Norman Conquest in 1066. By 1086 Stanton was a poor manor, part of the barony of Henry de Ferrers, and worth only 10 shillings. It had a ‘berewick’, an outlying farm settlement at Birchover, but its overall value remained low, in keeping with other nearby manors such as Harthill, Youlgreave, and Middleton. This was probably the result, as it had been across the country, of reprisals following localised English resistance to the Norman Conquest.

However, things soon improved, presumably because it was realised that the area had good natural assets.There was enough arable land for one plough, 10 peasant families, 4 villeins (unfree peasants) and 6 bordars (unfree peasants of even less standing). 3 ploughs were shared between them. Redevelopment of the Ferrers estates in the area appears to have been concentrated on Stanton, which had 24 acres of meadow, together with a large stretch of woodland.

The little settlement began to grow, Birchover was split off, and each were given to mesne lords (middlemen) by Lord Ferrers for fee and/or promise of military service. Land ownership and development was inevitably linked to religious development. Youlgreave church was the first to be built in the locality, but one of its five ‘chapels at ease’ was founded at Stanton. The mesne lord of Yougreave gave his church, as well as its chapels, lands and tithes to the Abbey of  Mary at Leicester in 1143, but the chapel at Stanton did not survive the dissolution of St Marys in the 1530s. It might have disappeared earlier. Its site is also lost.

Stanton continued to grow. New settlements were planted at Stanton Leys and Stanton Woodhouse, and by the early 14th century the manor was split between 2 Lords, Robert son of Richard of Stanton and Robert of Dukinfield of Stanton. Further improvements were made by building a mill pond and a water mill, Stanton continuing as the small central village of a hill manor.

However, the manor continued to be held in 2 parts, or moieties, and by 1750, through various inheritances and sales, one half was owned by the Duke of Rutland, whilst the other was owned by Thornhill of Stanton who’d bought it from the Earl of Carlisle. The dates of this ownership are unclear, and access to the Thornhill Archive would be needed to resolve them.

What is clear is that the arable land in Stanton was enclosed piecemeal and privately, both the Thornhills and the Duke of Rutland probably benefitting considerably from enclosures legislation introduced in 1809.It’s also likely that they took the opportunity to exchange lands and separate their manorial rights, with Thornhill concentrating his lands in and around Stanton village.

Nevertheless, there had existed since the middle ages a number of independent freeholders, and whilst some of these were probably bought out through time, by 1832 there were 5 large tenant farmers with farms outside the main village, 8 owner occupiers living outside the village, but ten remaining freeholders living locally and concentrated in Stanton village. In 1846 Walter Holmes is described as the 3rd largest landowner in Stanton township. Therefore Stanton has never been exclusively an estate village.

As Sinar says, ‘The high number of freeholders (and before them free tenants)... coupled with a divided lordship of the manor would have made for a certain independence on the part of the more substantial inhabitants in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the mount of pasture available would have provided the funds necessary to back their independence’. He goes on to note that the ‘erection of the Methodist Chapel and Sunday School in 1829 was possibly one outcome of this’.

By 1846 things were changing as a list of inhabitants shows with, for example,  a sawyer, blacksmith, 3 shopkeepers, 2 publicans, 6 farmers, a coachman, probably part of the Thornhill staff. The Thornhills were in role as Lords of the Manor, and the newly opened quarries would have significantly swollen their rents, but the family contributed significantly to the village in terms of buiding and endowment (church, school, reading room).  

The school’s increasing numbers were also a testament to Stanton’s growth. In 1857 there were 60, by 1895 it had gone up to 93.  In 1908 it was 120. Despite the loss of one pub before 1908, leaving The Flying Childers alone, Stanton was flourishing!

Charlie Watson (with acknowledgement to J C Sinar’s article ‘Stanton –In-ThePeak’)

Short history of the village