Where is Belper?
Where are all these places you keep talking about?
For overseas visitors and those unfamiliar with Derbyshire, here is a guide to the places and names mentioned:
The County of Derbyshire
Derbyshire is one County amongst thirty-nine in England, and is almost in the centre of the island (hence it is part of "The Midlands".) It boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the country: lakes, mountains, rolling green hills dotted by grazing sheep, woodlands watered by wandering streams, bleak moorland and rocky heights.
At one time, England was divided into "Hundreds" instead of the modern-day counties. You may see these "Hundreds" mentioned on the website, and wonder what they are. They were the old Anglo-Saxon divisions of the country: fiscal, judicial and sometimes military areas of a nominal hundred "hides" (about 12,000 acres on average). Derbyshire was divided into six Hundreds:
- Appletree - containing Belper and other places
- High Peak
- Morleyston & Litchurch
- Repton & Gresley
Belper is a small town in the Southern part of Derbyshire. Its nearest city is Derby, and a bit further away is Nottingham, a larger city (but not in Derbyshire!) See the map below:
Another historical division of the land, still in use today is the "Parish". This, as it sounds, was an ecclesiastical division and showed which church would be responsible for the hatching, matching and despatching. (Civil parishes also came into use and were roughly the same as the church parish.)
Belper is in the parish of nearby Duffield, and had no separate officiating church until the early 19th century. Hence, all early baptisms, marriages and most burials were recorded in Duffield.
"The ancient parish of Duffield, contained the townships of Hazelwood, Holbrook, Makeney, Milford, Shottle, and Windley, and the chapelries of Belper, Heage, and Turnditch. The chapelry of Belper at this period was, of course, the ancient chapel of St. John the Baptist, built by the Duke of Lancaster for the use of the foresters, and still used for divine worship.
Duffield church [St Alkmund's] is the mother church of all this district, and the Vicar of Duffield still appoints the Vicars of Belper, Heage, and Turnditch. Duffield was for many centuries by far the largest centre of population in the parish. In the Parliamentary Commissioners' report of 1650 respecting Duffield and its chapelries, Belper is described as "a hamlet appertaining to Duffield."
Burdett's Map of 1791 shows Belper as a small village with a couple of roads, a river bridge and not much else. Of course, the map showed only the houses of the gentry and important buildings such as the Mills, but even so, the populartion is sparse. The looped road is the Market Place, and the square building there is St. John's Chapel. The other Belper road leading to Belper Lane End (and Shottle) is "Bridge Street" - which sure enough leads to the ancient bridge across the river.