Quality streets
Derbyshire Life|October 2020
Mike Smith explores the quaint and timeless Peak District village of Winster
Mike Smith

Protruding into the road from the south side of Main Street, Winster’s 17th century Market House consists of a brick-built, gabled upper storey and a stone-built ground floor, whose arches are now blocked-in, but were almost certainly open in former times. This ‘stand-out’ structure was acquired by the National Trust in 1906 as their first property in Derbyshire. It contains an information centre and a model of the village made by members of the local history society.

In the decades following the granting of a market charter, Winster grew rich on proceeds from lead-mining and also became an important stopping place on the turnpike road running from Nottingham to Newhaven. The resulting building boom saw the erection on both sides of Main Street of townhouses designed in the 18th century’s most fashionable architectural styles.

Amongst scores of listed buildings in this superb street, there is an unusual pair of terrace houses where Palladian-style windows located on the ground and first floors look as if they are shared in some unfathomable way by the two properties. The small doorway of a much more modest house at the other end of the street is covered, rather ostentatiously, by a large semicircular hood.

But the most eye-catching building is Winster Hall. Described by the late architectural historian John Tarn as a ‘five-bay building of moderate size but with considerably greater pretension’, the hall features a bewildering array of architectural elements, including rusticated quoins, an elliptical window set above a grand central doorway, and giant pilasters supporting a balustraded parapet. According to legend, the daughter of one incumbent of the hall and her lover leapt to their deaths from the parapet because her father had refused to give permission for them to marry.

Once the home of Llewellyn Jewitt, the distinguished engraver, scientist and author, the hall served as a public house from the 1970s to the early 1990s. It has now been converted into luxury holiday accommodation for up to 16 people.

Winster’s two remaining pubs are located to the south of Main Street where two picturesque streets, known as West Bank and East Bank, wind their way up a steep hillside.

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