These tours are designed for visiting adult groups. (For schools and other young people’s  groups please see “Tours for Schools” section.) 

We regularly welcome Historical Societies, U3A groups, Rotary, Round Table, Probus, Women’s Institute and Townswomen’s Guilds and other specialized groups. 

Listed are possible tours. We are happy to design a tour to meet the specific interests of a group.

Group Tours please book via Bakewell Old House museum

Prices for each of the tours : £5 per person

Dogs are welcome and go free

Anglo Saxon Bakewell

 Bakewell is an Anglo-Saxon town. Successive invasions of the 6th and 7th centuries led to the spread of Saxon groups along the waterways of the Trent basin as far as Derbyshire.

The advent of Danish Vikings pushed the Anglo-Saxons to the far south-west of England. The successive reigns of Kings Alfred, Edward the Elder and Athelstan shaped the military, political and religious character of the English Midlands.

Bakewell has a rich heritage of Anglo-Saxon structures and artifacts and owes its early growth to the ford on the River Wye, King Edward the Elder’s defensive burh and local warm springs.

Bakewell has probably the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon sculpture in England, including two cross shafts which have listed status.

The tour can be modified to suit the specific needs of groups.

This tour includes

  • the watermeadows of the River Wye
  • the site of the Anglo-Saxon ford
  • the site of the Anglo-Saxon church
  • internationally famous collection of Anglo-Saxon sculpture
  • two Anglo-Saxon cross shafts with dual pagan-Christian messages (grade 2 listed monuments)
  • the still-visible evidence of Anglo-Saxon common field system.
  • a discussion about King Edward the Elder’s burh. The probable site of the burh is on private land and walking to a vantage point would add an extra three-quarters of an hour to the tour.

Medieval Bakewell

The standard tour of Bakewell from the river to the museum (in a westward direction) consists of six brief stops to consider features of the town across the ages – from AD 900 onwards in the case of the church.

The three parts of the town with significant medieval remains are the site of the motte&bailey castle, the bridge crossing the river in the middle of town, and the church with its equally old artefacts and churchyard.

The earthworks of the remaining motte are nearly half a mile east of the town centre and it is possible to include this in the tour. If you prefer to avoid the uphill walk to reach this (it is downhill back to town) you can learn about its significance by examining sketches and photos along with the guide’s explanation. Was it a look-out post for the proper payment of tolls or was it more of a defensive feature with views of possible movements of medieval troops goingnorth or south along the valley? And did the burh built in 920 half a mile away still have a defensive role?

The river crossing started as a ford, followed by a narrow bridge, with low parapets to accommodate caravans of packhorses with over-hanging panniers. The widening came some 75 years before the very first motor cars.

The first stone church dates from 920 and was built well above the flood plain.It is possible there was a wooden church perhaps as much as 200 years earlier. The Normans replaced the Saxon church with one in their own style, using much of the Saxon stone work as foundations. When the centre of the hillside church collapsed in the 1820s much of the earlier stone work was revealed and is now displayed. The earliest known (carbon-dated) body in the churchyard is about 1050-1100, under the enclosed cross shaft. Academics have suggested some 20.000 bodies are buried in the church yard.

The guides will be pleased to modify their standard tours to meet individual requests. Do feel free to contact us so we can meet your wishes as closely as possible.

Tudor Bakewell

Back of Old House

Bakewell grew and developed significantly during the Tudor dynasty (1485 – 1603), due largely to the wealth created by lead mining and wool production.

 Local families, notably the Manners of Haddon Hall and the Gells of Hopton made substantial contributions to the architecture and the social structures of the town.

The first civic centre was built by John Manners, the younger son of the first Earl of Rutland. Bess of Hardwick encouraged him to found the first almshouses.

The Reformation  occasioned many structural and liturgical alterations in the church. Thomas Cromwell’s agents altered its internal and external features, many of which are visible today.

The dissolution of the monasteries gave local entrepreneur, Ralph Gell the opportunity to establish his agent as a tithe collector, when the diocese of Lichfield feared it would no longer be able to collect its tithes.

The introduction of poor law legislation of 1536-1601 brought more changes to Bakewell. The early civic centre was responsible for administering the Poor Law and justice in the area.

Within a gentle walk of less than half a mile this tour will visit the old market hall, the old town hall, the almshouses, the early civic centre, the parish church, the site of the chantry chapels and the Tudor house of the Gell family.

Victorian Bakewell

This guided walking tour takes you along the spine of Bakewell , highlighting the changes that occurred during the reign of Queen Victoria.Old property was swept aside to make way for the advancements of the time. Some old buildings underwent a change in use, as the demand for schools, a police force and banking emerged.

Industry developed along the banks of the River Wye.* Several mills can be seen, which produced a wide variety of goods.

The location of the town centre had changed prior to Victoria’s reign and improvements to the new centre continued. The impressive new Rutland Arms Hotel with its state-of-the-art stables and coach houses became the central hub for coach routes. The town’s thermal baths attempted to rival the Duke of Devonshire’s at Buxton.

The Norman church underwent significant rebuilding between 1820 and 1890 and the  churchyard also saw considerable changes.

Your guides will describe for you a town which expanded and grew in stature to meet the demands of life in nineteenth century England. In a short walk you can cover the changes of a 64 year reign of one of the most memorable of British monarchs.

* For a tour devoted to the development of industry in Victorian times see Industrial Bakewell

Sir Richard Arkwright

Industrial Bakewell

Bakewell played its part in the industrial revolution owing to its fortunate position on the River Wye and Richard Arkwright’s harnessing of water power. Arkwright’s appropriation of the water rights of the Wye deprived the Duke of Rutland’s cornmill of its power causing a decade long legal case.

The fashion for Ashford Marble boomed after the Great Exhibition of 1851 following the exhibition by the Royal household of three inlaid tables made by Bakewell craftsman Thomas Woodruff. This followed the invention of marble cutting and polishing machinery by the famous Watson family. They gained their reputation as carvers working for the Dukes of Devonshire at Chatsworth. Henry Watson lived in Bakewell and established his mill on the river.

This tour will view the site of Arkwright’s Mill, the Marble mill of the Watsons, Smith’s sawmill and the Duke of Rutland’s corn mill. It is also possible to see Bakewell’s Agricultural Centre, opened in 2000, on the other side of the river.