TISSINGTON INSIDER'S GUIDE
For many visitors, Tissington is the perfect White Peak village: neat stone cottages fronting onto broad greenswards, a village green complete with a duck pond (known here as a “mere”), and everything watched over by an elegant Jacobean manor house and the squat Norman tower of the parish church...
The home of well-dressing
This is FitzHerbert country, and most of the cottages were built and owned by the family which still occupies Tissington Hall, as it has for four centuries. Before 1998, the public were only allowed to gaze at this lovely building through Robert Bakewell’s wrought-iron gate. But now they are allowed in to see several of the rooms of this charming house, the home of Sir Richard FitzHerbert and his family (see Places to Go below).
The only thing that Tissington seems to lack is a village pub – for the nearest one you will have to go to neighbouring Fenny Bentley.
Avoiding the village in a wide sweep to the east is the Tissington Trail, a pleasant walking and riding route which follows the line of the former London and North West Railway’s Ashbourne to Buxton railway line, closed by Dr Beeching’s axe in 1967. It was one of the last lines to be built during the “Railway Age”, opening in 1894 but it was never successful and was re-opened by the Peak District National Park Authority as a walking and cycling leisure route in 1971.
Where is it
Tissington is three miles (5 km) north of Ashbourne, just off the A515 Buxton road.
Tissington is first recorded phonetically as “Tizinctun” in the Domesday Book and was owned by Henry de Ferrers. The Old English name is thought to mean “Tidsige’s Farm.”
Evidence of earlier occupation is provided by the results of excavations in the neighbourhood, which have disclosed Bronze Age human remains and Anglo Saxon burials.
The story is that Tissington’s famous well-dressings were first executed to give thanks when the village was spared the ravages of the Black Death during the Middle Ages. But they may also commemorate the fact that the wells never failed during the great drought of 1615, when rain only fell three times in 19 weeks, and sheep and cattle starved to death because the grass withered and died.
The later history of the village is inextricably tied in with that of the landowning FitzHerbert family, who have been lords of an estate which extends from Bradbourne Mill in the east to the River Dove in the west, for over four hundred years.
Places to go
Tissington's parish church is St Mary's, a fine example of Norman architecture despite a major renovation in 1854.
Home of the FitzHerbert family for over 400 years, the present Tissington Hall (01335 352200) dates from the early 18th century, but has been much added to over the centuries. From the stone-flagged Main Hall, the visitor is shown into the oak-panelled Dining Room, the dark and mysterious Library, and the East and West Drawing Rooms. The hall was originally built by Francis FitzHerbert in 1609 to replace a moated manor house to the north of the church and it remains one of Derbyshire’s most pleasing and intimate manor houses. There is a pleasant, award-winning tea room and restaurant in the former village schoolbuildings next door.
Sir Richard FitzHerbert introduced a new scheme in 2009 which also allows guests to stay in the house. The £2,000 price tag for four days includes accommodation and dinner at the hall, along with visits to 10 other properties, including Chatsworth and the National Trust’s Calke Abbey.
No less than six well dressings are held at Ascensiontide in Tissington, where the custom was first recorded in 1758. The beautiful well-dressings – traditionally the first in the Peak’ well-dressing season – are at the Yew Tree Well, Hall Well, Hands Well, Coffin Well, Town Well and the Childrens’ Well, and each are masterpieces of this unique local form of folk art. Large crowds congregate to see Tissington’s well-dressings, and parking can sometimes be a problem.
Things to do
WALKING & CYCLING
You can hire cycles to ride along the Tissington Trail, or just enjoy walking along the traffic-free route which passes through some of the finest of the White Peak’s rolling countryside.
Food & drink
The Bluebell Inn and Restaurant (01335 350317) on the A515 Buxton Road specialises in home-made dishes using locally-sourced produce and diners can choose from around 40 main courses, including many healthy options.
The Old Coach House Tea Rooms (01335 350501) near the Hall in Tissington village centre serves morning coffee, hot and cold lunches and afternoon tea. Outdoor tables and seating is available. Another friendly local tea room which is actually on a working farm is at Bassett Wood Farm, Tissington (01335 350254), where specialities include homemade cakes and scones with cream and jam, which you can enjoy while watching the cows grazing in the fields.
Ashbourne Tourist Information Centre, 13 Market Place, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 1EU, 01335 343666, www.visitpeakdistrict.com, open all year.
Hospitals: St Oswald’s Hospital, Belle Vue Road, Ashbourne, 01335 342121.
© Let's Stay Peak District.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015