Some interesting facts from 1861 census of Bakewell

post by Peter Robinson

In journal No. 7 (1980) of the Bakewell and District Historical Society there is an article from Dr. Vanessa S. Doe about Bakewell in 1861, and the census that took place in the April of that year. This post is a selection of interesting facts that have been found from that article

The 1861 census for Bakewell shows that there were 2704 people residing in Bakewell, with 28 of those being visitors. There were 484 dwellings in Bakewell, with an average of 5 to 6 persons per house. It also reveals that Bridge St, Matlock St, and Church St were the more prosperous areas of town. The Pitt’s kitchen at the Old House Museum can provide a good example for the kinds of living conditions that people faced at this time, although the Pitts were living in the residence in the 1890s so it is not an exact representation. 


The  census reveals that children made up the highest population numbers within Bakewell, with 326 children aged 0-4, 283 aged 5-9 and 302 aged 10-14. This made up roughly a third of the population of Bakewell for 1861. Of the older generation, there were only fourteen residents aged 80+. The census also reveals that there were two female residents who were married aged between 15-19. Speaking of married women, the census shows there were only thirty-six married women who had work in Bakewell, sixteen of whom had children. Of these sixteen women, most had work they could do in their homes with three dressmakers, two milliners, a lacemaker and a straw bonnet maker being listed. Additionally, four of these sixteen women are known to have worked in the cotton mill.


Finally, the census shows that only 44% of residents were born in Bakewell, with 17% being from surrounding areas, 11% coming from the rest of Derbyshire and 28% coming from outside of Derbyshire. The reason suggested for the high percentage of people born outside Derbyshire living in Bakewell was the activities of the Midland Railway Company. A count of 145 identifiable railway constructors was made, which represents a third of the males who were born outside Derbyshire, indicating that railway construction had drawn people into the area. 


If you would like to read the whole article about the 1861 census visit our publications pages where you can find the article, along with many other articles from the Bakewell and District Historical Society catalogue.


Some information about the founding of Bakewell and its early days

post by Peter Robinson

Having recently gone through a number of the older editions of the Bakewell and District Historical Society (BDHS) journal collection, I came across a number of articles discussing Bakewell within the Medieval period. Being a medievalist myself I couldn’t help but note down a few bits and pieces from these articles, the end result of which is this blog post. 

The name Bakewell is said to come from Badeca’s spring. Over the years the name has gone through several variations, such as Badecan Wiellon (in 924), Badequella (in Domedays book) and Bakewell in the 14th century

The founder of Bakewell town is believed to have been an Earl Uhtred from Northumbria but whose ancestors came from Friesland, an area of the Northern Netherlands. The form of his name even allows for the suggestion that his ancestors came from an area of Holland called Tjeukemeer, which is in Central Friesland. Uhtred came to control the land that became Bakewell as in 906 he purchased most of the peak lands from the Danes, before being made an Earl in 930.


Journal 2001 cover picture

In 920 Edward the Elder, king of the Anglo-Saxons, had a fortification (a burh) built in Bakewell. This event is detailed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, however it has been incorrectly dated to 924. It is possible that this fortification may also have been at the same location as the Castle Hill fortification, but this claim has been both disputed and defended. When Edward the Elder had his burh built it is possible that the area that is now Bakewell was an uninhabited but known about site. In 906 Ashford was the principal settlement in the Wye valley, due to Saxon trackway that crossed the Wye in Ashford. However after 920, Bakewell took over as the principal settlement, due the nearby burh and the development of agriculture within the area. Bakewell would also soon become a major administrative centre for Derbyshire, dealing with matter such as trade, justice, religion, tax collection and through routes. 


It has been suggested that the function of the motte and bailey castle in Bakewell (constructed circa AD 1200) was to monitor packhorse traffic. One of the most valuable commodities transported at this time was salt. The salt that would have passed through Bakewell was produced in three main sites at Northwich, Middlewich and Nantwich. From these locations the salt was transported to Congleton were packhorse teams were assembled. Salt heading from Congleton to Chesterfield had a 40 mile journey which went through Bakewell and would have taken 4 days, with mornings for travelling and afternoons for grazing. 

All of the information here was taken from articles found within BDHS journals 3 (1976), 4 (1977), 16 (1989), 26 (1999) and 45 (2018).


Famous visitors to Bakewell and the Peak District

post by Peter Robinson

Over the years a number of well-known figures have visited Bakewell and the Peak District. Within the catalogue of the Bakewell and District Historical Society (BDHS) journal, a number of these visits have been discussed, with some of my favourites being presented here.

Cecilia Fiennes

An early visitor to Bakewell in, what is thought to have been, 1697 was Cecilia Fiennes. Fiennes was a Gentlewomen who took up traveling at a time when making long journeys just for the sake of travelling was not commonplace. She writes about her visit to Bakewell in her diary where she comes across to Bakewell from Chatsworth. Fiennes describes Bakewell as “a pretty neate market town” which “stands on a hill”.


William Wordsworth

In November 1830, the famous English poet William Wordsworth travelled through Derbyshire. Wordsworth was not visiting as a tourist, taking only 3 days to pass through Derbyshire, starting at Chapel-en-le-frith and leaving by Swarkestone Bridge, south of Derby. During his journey Wordsworth travelled through Tideswell, Cressbrook and Ashford-in-the-Water before spending the night in Bakewell, perhaps in the Rutland Arms, on Bonfire Night. Wordsworth then visited Chatsworth before travelling on to Derby. Despite his short stay Wordsworth did write two poems about Chatsworth, one being written on the spot and the second being a revised and polished version of the first.  


John Ruskin

John Ruskin, the famous art critic and social thinker, viewed the building of the viaduct, for the railway, in Monsal Dale as a desecration of the beautiful landscape. He wrote about it “now every fool in Buxton can be in Bakewell in half-an-hour and every fool in Bakewell in Buxton.” 


Jane Austin

Finally, we have someone who did not actually visit Bakewell despite it being believed that they had. For some time there was a myth that in 1811 Jane Austen stayed in the Rutland Arms Hotel in Bakewell and that while she was there she revised the novel that would become Pride and Prejudice. It was also believed that Lambton and Pemberley were based on Bakewell and Chatsworth respectively. This story has been heavily disputed, as there is not historical evidence that Jane Austen ever visited Bakewell. Also, Bakewell and Chatsworth are mentioned by name within the story, making it unlikely that they were replacements for Austen’s fictional locations.


All of the information here was taken from articles found within BDHS journals 7 (1980), 16 (1989), 19 (1992) and 36 (2009) .


A collection of events from throughout Bakewell’s past

post by Peter Robinson

The Bakewell and District Historical Society (BDHS) journals feature all sorts of stories about the colourful people and events that taken place in Bakewell. Here are some the best stories I have found reading through the journal catalogue. 

1327 - Robert Barnard Vicar of Bakewell

In 1327 Robert Barnard was made the third vicar of Bakewell. Barnard was a man of unsavoury character and at Christmas that same year he was defrocked and thrown out of Bakewell church by the parishioners who had had enough of him. Barnard complained to the Lichfield diocese and the parishioners were excommunicated, a Barnard took up his position again. Further incidents occurred while Barnard was Vicar of Bakewell, such as Barnard being connected to the local Cotterel gang, until Pope John XXII wrote to the Bishop of Lichfield and had Barnard removed from his position. This letter must have been written at some point after 1331 but unfortunately has been lost. 

1608 - Witches of Bakewell

In 1608, two women from Bakewell,  Mrs Stafford and her assistant, were hanged as witches in Derby. The women were accused of witchcraft by a Scottish lodger who was found naked and lost in London. When questioned as to where his cloths were, he told a magistrate that they were in Bakewell. He explained that he had awoken one night, as he had heard a noise, and looking through a gap in a door he witnessed the two women giving him lodging performing a ritual, where upon he was transported to London. This testimony was enough to have the two women hanged for Witchcraft. Unfortunately for Mrs Stafford when her home was searched, for proof of the lodgers claims, she had retained some of the lodgers clothing. It is believed that the clothes were actually in Mrs Stafford’s possession as payment for the lodgings since the Scottish man could not pay otherwise. After being evicted from her home, the Scottish man then made his way to London, stripped himself and accused the two innocent women of witchcraft leading to their deaths.

1797 - Bakewell Riots

In 1797 there was the Bakewell Riots, which was caused by a mob of men from the area breaking into Bakewell’s old town hall and burning the militia roll. The militias was a system set up by the Government as a source of law and order in this time and it was ruled that all able bodied men aged between 18 and 45 were liable to serve. Militia service was very unpopular due to the onerous nature of the job and because people could not afford to be away from their work. Nor could they afford to hire a substitute, which was a way to avoid service. The only ones exempt from militia service were poor men with several small children. In war times the Militia was a full time duty but in peace times there were annual training periods of 28 days.

1863 - Bakewell Pudding

There is a common tale associated with the creation of the Bakewell pudding. It is generally known that the Bakewell Pudding was invented by Mrs Ann Greaves who worked at the Rutland Arms Hotel, with the earliest dateable recipe for the pudding coming from 1863. The story told is that the pudding was actually created by accident by one of Mrs Greaves cooking assistants. The assistant had either forgotten or misunderstood Mrs Greaves’ instructions for making strawberry tarts and poured the egg mixture over the top of the strawberry jam, instead of the other way round. This accidental pudding proved popular with guests so it was decided to keep making them that way. This story was first circulated by Bakewell’s town clerk Vernon Cockerton, who first published the story in the 1936 Bakewell town guide, and it was repeatedly printed in later town guides until 1999. 

1905 - Circus Elephant

In May 1905 Lord John Sanger’s circus visited Bakewell. During an evening performance a large male elephant called ‘Old Paul’ became angry and refused to obey its keepers. When the elephant grabbed one of the main tent poles and began to shake it the audience panicked and ran for exits. The elephant then made its way outside but became entangled in tent robes, further enraging it. The keeper of the menagerie, Mr George Sanger Cunningham and another man were both badly injured. It was eventually decided that the elephant had become too dangerous and that it should be put down. A unit of Sherwood Foresters and Derbyshire Yeomanry were called in and the elephant was shot by the Yeomanry. One of the elephant’s feet and a tooth have been donated to the Old House Museum and can be seen on display.  

1861 - Bakewell Newspaper

From February 1861 to August 1869 Bakewell had its own short-lived local newspaper, The Bakewell Standard. The first edition cost one penny for eight pages – three for foreign and general news, two for local intelligence, two for advertisements and one for ‘metropolitan gossip’. The paper ran all sorts of local news stories but had its own problems with circulation, along with frequent variation in format and price. The paper ultimately failed, with the last edition dated to 28th August 1869, as it seems Bakewell was just too small a town to support its own local newspaper at that time. 

All of the information here was taken from articles found within BDHS journals 16 (1989), 17 (1990), 19 (1992), 26 (1999), 27 (2000) and 31 (2004)

Picture by kind permission of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery