Tithes and the origins of the Parsonage House

In 1192, the Dean and Chapter of Coventry and Lichfield became entitled to collect the tithes of the large parish of Bakewell.
Most parishes had a parsonage house and a tithe barn for storing tithes. In 1534, the Diocese decided to lease the task of collecting the tithes to Ralph Gell of Hopton near Wirksworth, and pay him from the proceeds.

As part of the contract, Gell was required to “build and make on the same parsonage land a competent dwelling house for that ground” as well as a new wool tithe barn nearby.

Gell built a small, 2-bedroom dwelling of local design and structure, using materials from the immediate vicinity (limestone, gritstone, and sandstone). The ground floor included a parlour and adjoining parlour closet (probably a general-purpose kitchen, reception, and storeroom).

You can see the external doorway - this is the original entrance to the house and now leads to the courtyard. Directly opposite this is a further doorway, which was opened up during the first extension to the building.

The rooms were divided by a wattle and daub screen with two shallow-arched doors. Above the parlour was a solar or principal retiring room with a servant’s bedroom next door again divided by a wattle and daub screen. A common flue served the large fireplaces on each floor.

This is the first depiction of the Old House from c. 1720. The building is behind the Church - note the open fields around.