Tales of a historic village
Derbyshire Life|Septemer 2020
From Ancient Britons to broken hearts – the stories behind Stoney Middleton’s fascinating past
Graham Armitage

Stoney (as its inhabitants call it) is perhaps not as well known as other local Derbyshire villages such as Bakewell, Castleton or Eyam. The small village sits astride the A623 main arterial road between Sheffield and Manchester and it is often the case that motorists travelling through tend to look neither right nor left. Also, the cliffs that tower over it, whilst popular with climbers, tend to create a somewhat gloomy aspect. All of this is misleading, however, for the village offers a great deal, including a ‘Roman’ Bath, a rare octagonal church, an awardwinning chip shop and a splendid hostelry called the Moon Inn, which has a substantial history in itself.

All of this got started around 4,000BC when the first signs of human visitation have been identified. Actual habitation dates from around 2,000BC when Ancient Britons moved in, living in mud huts. This remained the case until the Roman Occupation; regarded as running from AD43 to 410 in Britain.

After the Romans, the village experienced Anglo Saxons, Danes and the Norman Conquest, as did much of the rest of the UK. We know though that in 1415 a local lady called Joan Eyre was so delighted by the return of her husband from the battle of Agincourt that she was inspired to pay for the erection of a church in Stoney. However, in 1757 a fire broke out leaving only the tower remaining. This led to the construction of the existing octagonal design in 1759, supposedly shared with only one other church in the country, in Teignmouth, Devon.

Fast forward to 1665 and Stoney Middleton played its part in a significant historic event. In 1665, plague decimated the UK and in particular arrived in the village of Eyam, where the villagers isolated themselves to prevent the spread of the disease. Stoney is the nearest village to Eyam and its residents supplied food to help with their struggle. The parallels with modern events need hardly be drawn.

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