Mayfield Heritage Group
Mayfield Heritage Group Meetings – all welcome
Next Meeting: Mon 5th February 2018 at 3.30 pm
Church Rooms, Church Lane, Mayfield DE6 2JR
A write up of the Talk on The Early History of Burton Abbey
On the 15th November in the Church Rooms, Fran Carlisle presented the
results of her comprehensive research into the history of Burton Abbey.
A few significant events in its chequered history are recounted below.
Mentioned in the Domesday Book, the Abbey was founded in the 7th century
by Irish noblewoman St. Modwen, when on her way to Rome she stopped in
Burton with her companions and established a house of prayer on Andressey
Island. Her first Church was dedicated to St Andrew. The importance of St.
Modwen’s action was to bring Christianity to the Kingdom of Mercia.
The settlement was refounded as a Benedictine Abbey circa 1003 by Wulfric
Spott, Earl of Mercia (who was possibly descended from King Alfred).
In 1520 Abbott William Beyne established the first Grammar School.
The Abbey was dissolved in 1539, later to become a Collegiate Church. It was
subsequently suppressed in 1549. when its lands and privileges were
conferred on Sir William Paget, ancestor of the Marquis of Anglesey.
The water around Burton had long been known to be favourable for the
brewing of beer. In around 1712 George Haine opened the River Trent
Navigation and a wharf was constructed within the precinct leading to the
development of Burton as the major centre of brewing it is today.
Fran’s talk was full of detail and descriptive comments of monastic lifestyle at
this time in history and led to lively discussion amongst the audience on the
notable people who had been involved in the abbey’s history.
Many thanks to Fran for her research in raising our awareness to the life and
work of Burton Abbey; and to Graham Moodie who set up our newly acquired
projector enabling Fran to illustrate her talk.
Burton Abbey around 1661
Burton Abbey was founded in the 7th century by an Irish Saint called Modwen or Modwena and it was one of the earliest Christian establishments in Staffordshire. Until that time the region had been strictly pagan. Sadly the first Abbey was destroyed by the Great Heathen Army between 876-7 which had overwintered just downriver at Repton.
In 1002 the abbey was reestablished by a Saxon nobleman called Wulfric Spot who was the son of Wulfrun. During its colourful history, the abbey frequently suffered poor management and many of the excesses that eventually led to widespread dissatisfaction with the monastic system by the general public. Nevertheless, it was at the heart of Staffordshire throughout a very long period of its development.
‘Before the bells were hung: Joseph Simpson of Mayfield’
On Wednesday 27th September 28 members of the public joined Mayfield Heritage Group members for a presentation by Ben Simpson MBE on the life of his great-grandfather Joseph Simpson, one of the two brothers of Simpson Bros. of Mayfield Mill.
Ben said at the beginning of the evening that he was steering clear of talking too much about the mill as he was sure that local people would know much more about the mill and the properties built by his family than he did. He introduced himself as the son of the former Commissioner Metropolitan Police Sir Joseph Simpson KBE, Ben also told us of his late brother Joseph Mark Simpson who served as an officer with the British South Africa Police and also as a senior officer with Hong Kong Police.
Ben’s talk on the Simpson family history began with yeoman farmers in Westmoreland defending a tower from Scottish invaders and continued down the generations through such trades as iron and copper mining, coal mining in South Wales, brewing, cotton milling, tea merchants and many more.
Joseph Simpson was born in 1835 into a family of Quakers. Over the years Joseph was actively involved in charity work. He was a charity worker for the poor of London, a Poor Law Guardian and an Antislavery & Freedmen activist. It was due to Joseph’s keen support for the anti-slavery movement that he sailed to America to help the cause. It was on one of these visits that he met his future wife Agnes Alderson. The couple was married at Burlington, New Jersey in 1870. The newlyweds returned to England to live in Mayfield.
In 1866, having previously been involved in the cotton spinning industry, Joseph along with his brother George, leased the mill at Mayfield and began trading as Simpson Bros. The Simpsons lived at Mayfield House and Mayfield Cottage until Sunnyside was built for Joseph and Agnes and Fieldhead for George and his family. Joseph became a prominent figure in the area. He was a JP in both Staffordshire and Derbyshire, he served as a school governor, he was still active in local charities and towards the end of his life, he served as an elected Parish Councillor on the newly formed Mayfield Parish Council.
During his life, Joseph was a prolific letter writer. Ben has donated eighteen of his letters to the Anti-slavery collection at Rhodes House Library, part of the Bodleian Library at Oxford. More letters are in trust at other Anti-slavery collections.
After a short illness Joseph died in 1901. In 1902, as a memorial to Joseph, the Simpson family donated three extra bells to St. John the Baptist Church, Mayfield and funded the rehanging of the now peal of six. A large bronze plaque in the chancel of the church commemorates the donation of the bells. Joseph is buried in a family grave with his wife and alongside his son Arthur. In another part of the churchyard, there are the graves of four other members of the Simpson family.
Earlier in the day, Ben was taken on a tour of Mayfield House and the present mill. The tour had been arranged by mill manager Alan Bosworth, Alan also acted as tour guide. Pat Smith Mayfield Heritage Group member also went on the tour. Ben was the first Simpson for over seventy years to enter his families former home. Ben was quite surprised how large some of the rooms were. The tour of the mill took in some of the older parts of the mill that would have been built by Simpson Bros. The mill has some of the most modern warp processing machinery in the world. Alan explained how the processes work. After a walk by the riverside, the dam, the weir and The Terrace thanks and goodbyes were expressed. Ben stayed behind for a short while and walked his dog through what had once been his family’s once magnificent gardens
‘Before the bells were hung’ is a reference to three additional bells that were donated and hung in the village church to commemorate the death of Joseph Simpson. There is a plaque in the chancel of the church remembering Joseph Simpson.
For more information contact: email@example.com
Photos that will bring back memories.
We have been contacted by a lady in Switzerland called Verena Buser who stayed with her husband at the Sunnyside Hotel in 1965. She and her husband took many photos around Mayfield and Ashbourne between 1965 and 1989. She has kindly sent the Group a selection of photographs from those years and we would like to share them with you.
Sunnyside Hotel was run by the Hanbury family in 1965 and Verena has fond memories of her time spent there. Her husband was working at the Nestle factory in Ashbourne for a few months. Hopefully, the photos will stir up some great memories you have of Mayfield, Ashbourne and Derby.
Please click on the thumbnail below and it will enlarge the selected photo. Let us have feedback or stories that theses photos bring to memory and we will share your stories and comments online.
To see the full set of photos please click here
An Afternoon with Tomas Moore
Thomas Moore’s Cottage, Slack Lane, Upper Mayfield
The Thomas Moore event was a success with everyone enjoying the tale of Tom Moore’s time spent in Mayfield along with some excellent singing and poetry readings. The sun came out and only the threat of the wind to blow the gazebo away gave a slight concern. A big thank you to all that attended and the members of the Heritage Group that helped to stage the event. It was a good afternoon.
A fuller review of the event will be posted shortly.
What Robert Burns is to Scotland Tom Moore is to Ireland and the Heritage Group is delighted to invite you to an enchanting afternoon in the wonderful
surroundings of Moore’s Cottage, Mayfield; the house which Tom and his family occupied whilst in Mayfield from 1813 to 1817. The enchanting afternoon will consist of a summary of Moore’s life until he left Mayfield, interspersed with his poems and beautiful songs. Thomas Moore an Irish poet, singer, songwriter, and entertainer, is now best remembered for the lyrics of”The Minstrel Boy” and “The Last Rose of Summer“. He was responsible, with John Murray, for burning Lord Byron’s memoirs after his death.”
Find out more about this incredibly talented man and enjoy refreshments of Pimms and canapés to complete the experience. Entrance will be by ticket only as space is limited and tickets cost £10 per person. Due to cancellations 4 tickets are now available.
For tickets please contact: Fran Carlisle Tel: 01335 345831 or Sharon Amy 01335 664079
The Medieval Okeover Family
Mayfield Heritage and guests were treated to a most interesting and informative look into the history of our neighbours the Okeover family on Wednesday 14th June. It was presented by Peter Watson admirably assisted by his daughter Zarina. We were also pleased to welcome Sir Andrew Walker Okeover who had given Peter assistance with his research.
For a write-up of the event please click here Medieval Okeover Presentation June 2017
Old Hall Farm – Middle Mayfield
Old Hall Farm in Middle Mayfield has recently been acquired by Mr Phil Hague. The group visited the house last December to have a tour of the property and get an idea of Phil’s plans along with Phil is committed to improving and enhancing Old Hall Farm to emphasise its architectural and heritage importance. The Mayfield Heritage Group will be tracking this work with Phil as it proceeds through the planning and development process. The progress of this work will be regularly featured on our website.
For more information click here
The Mayfield Heritage Group ensures that the wealth of historic buildings, stories, and traditions of Mayfield are preserved and celebrated. We welcome anyone with an interest in Mayfield Heritage to join our monthly meetings, where we discuss the latest projects. We have a growing list of talks and visits that we arrange that are open to members and non-members. Please see the list of events on the right-hand side of this web page or go to Future events diary. To read the reviews of our visits please select Reviews of Talks and visits
Have you ever wondered what the origins of the name ‘Hanging Bridge’ are? To find out more click on the image below.
We welcome contributions of articles, photos and memories of Mayfield in the past. If you would like to share your articles, photos or memorabilia then please get in touch.
The Heritage Group visits many places of interest and we particularly enjoy showing our village to visitors: click here for more information.
Photos of Mayfield in the past