WINSTER INSIDER'S GUIDE
HOME OF THE MORRIS MEN - Winster boasts one of the finest street's of houses anywhere in the Peak District...
Winster is one of the Peak District’s most complete 18th century villages, and the whole of the centre of the village is a designated Conservation Area. Despite its size, like Bakewell and Hartington it manages to give the impression of a small town. Actually, it was not granted the right to hold a market until around the turn of the 17th century, and the grand red brick Market Hall (National Trust) dates from the end of that century.
Perhaps Winster is best known for the Winster Morris Men, the Peak’s only morris dancing team and one of the oldest troups in the country, who have their own dances and tunes and often perform at local and national festivities. Winster’s Morris Men uniquely perform with a team of 16 dancers, split into Ladies’ and Gents’ sides.
The famous folk song collector Cecil Sharp travelled to Winster in 1908 to listen to and record the Winster Gallop and other tunes. Sharp’s visit was re-enacted on its centenary in 2008.
Pilastered 18th century Winster Hall (private), almost opposite the Market Hall, was the home of Llewellyn Jewitt, the distinguished late 19th century Derbyshire antiquarian, and was formerly a public house. The double-gabled Dower House (private) at the western end of Winster’s main street, has a 17th century date, but most of Winster’s fine street of houses date from the 18th century heyday of the local lead mining industry.
WHERE IS IT?
Winster is about five miles south of Bakewell on the B5056, and four miles west of Matlock.
Winster is thought to get its name from Wyns Tor, to the south of the village, a curiously pitted rocky outcrop, pock-marked like Gruyere cheese and hidded behind a horse chestnut tree.
The medieval village of Winster grew up at the foot of Bonsall Moor, but with the increase in the importance of lead mining, which reached its height in the 17th and 18th centuries, the settlement expanded uphill towards where the lead mines were.
Winster became one of the Peak’s most important centres for lead mining, and there are many remains of this ancient White Peak industry scattered among its green fields, especially on Bonsall Moor. They also include a reconstructed Ore House above the village on the Ashbourne Road, where the precious lead ore (or galena), was stored in a secure building.
PLACES TO GO
THE PARISH CHURCH
Winster’s parish church of St John the Baptist has an unusual two-aisled nave which was added in 1833 and which is divided by a lofty arcade. The rather plain tower dates from 1721.
THE MARKET HALL
The Tudor Winster Market Hall in Main Street was the first property the National Trust acquired in the Peak District as long ago as 1906, and is a reminder of the time when a weekly market of locally-produced goods was an important feature of local village life. The arcaded ground floor originally was open, and the brick upper floor and gables was added later. The building echoes Bakewell’s Old Market Hall, although it that case, the pointed arches have been filled in, and the building now serves as the Tourist Information Centre. Winster Market Hall (01335 350503) is open daily, from March to October.
A famous Winster tradition is the Pancake Race held annually on Shrove Tuesday, where local housewives and children complete in races down the Main Street.
THINGS TO DO
The six-mile circular walk from East Bank at the top of the village across Bonsall Moor to Bonsall’s Upper Town and back is a good introduction to the pitted landscape left behind by generations of lead miners.
FOOD AND DRINK
Winster’s lead mining history is reflected in the name of the Miners’ Standard Inn (01629 650279), just outside the village at Banktop at the top of West Bank. The name recalls the unit of measurement of lead ore. It is a traditional country pub, complete with wood-burning stove and games room, where cask-conditioned ales and home-cooked bar food are served at lunch and dinner time with the bar open all-day every day.
In the centre of the village, near the historic market hall, is the Old Bowling Green (DE4 2DS, 01629 650219), where beers from local micro-breweries are served, and good food is served in the evenings and on Sundays. Closed Monday and Tuesday all day and every lunchtime except on Sundays.
Winster isn’t short of few places to stay – see the full list of Winster accommodation.
Bakewell Tourist Information Centre, The Old Market Hall, Bridge Street, Bakewell, DE45 1DS; Tel: 01629 816558; www.peakdistrict.gov.uk, open daily.
Neil's Taxis: 07816 201746 or 07541 541 708
Doctors: Winster Surgery, Leacroft Road, Winster, Derbyshire DE4 2DI, 01629 650207.
© Let's Stay Peak District
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015