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The Old Ford & Bridge in Baslow

Villages and settlements throughout the ages were established for a variety of reasons, whether it was due to their geographic, economic or political advantages.

In the case of Baslow, the early packhorse roads from Calver to Bakewell and from Chesterfield to Bakewell converged on the river crossing, close to where the medieval stone bridge was built.

The old ford started at the steps close to the wall of the churchyard and traversed the river diagonally downstream to St Anne’s Close on Bubnell Lane.

The original path up to the opposite bank was filled in when the houses were built in the 1930s.

It was originally paved and some of the old ford’s stones are still visible today, especially when the river is at its lowest during the summer months.

There is no exact date for when the river crossing was first constructed, but Baslow is first recorded in the Doomsday book as Basselou, an Anglian name meaning the mound or hill of Bassa, which is possibly the burial mound of Bassa ‚ÄĒ a local village chief. ¬†

Baslow’s neighbouring settlement, Bubnell, was recorded at the same time as Bubnelli, meaning the Hill of Bubba, another local chief. Historians suggest that the village names have been in use since around 700AD and it is likely that the ford would have been in use from the early medieval period (5-10th centuries).

It is not known how long there has been a bridge in Baslow, but the first one was recorded in 1366, when the Baslow Court Rolls included the phrase ‚Äúthe Bridge of Bobenhull (Bubnell) of Lord Richard de Vernon‚ÄĚ.

The next mention is in 1500 when the court jury decreed that: “henceforth no-one shall lead or carry millstones over the bridge of Baslow under the pain of a fine of 6 shillings and 8 pence (£220 today).

The present bridge was built in 1603, although it could have been built in 1609 ‚Äď but the last digit carved into the west pier is difficult to read. It is a sturdy structure and the oldest surviving bridge over the River Derwent.

By the 1920s its narrow carriageway was inadequate for the increasing traffic and the new Devonshire Bridge was completed in 1925.

A unique feature of the old bridge is the Watchman’s Hut, probably built as the same time as the bridge itself. 

It is said that every able-bodied man in the village had to take his turn keeping watch from 9pm to 6am. No doubt the custom stopped when the village got its own policeman in the mid-1800s.

For more information about Baslow and its history visit the following sites: Baslow History Group and: Baslow History.

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