The 18th century Woodhouse


The 18th century Woodhouse was still a tiny hamlet in Horsley Parish, as it had been since the 13th century. It prob-ably did not exist in 1086 when the Domesday Survey mentions Horsley as a manor with probably more than 100 inhabitants. Woodhouse is a fairly common English place-name (Dronfield Woodhouse and Stanton Woodhouse are other Derbyshire examples) denoting a house (or houses) in a wood detached from a parent settlement. Not until 1878 did Horsley Woodhouse become a separate parish, though by then its population was twice that of the mother settlement, Horsley.


The industries supporting and often attracting newcomers (apart from agri-culture which has been a constant fea-ture) were nail-making, which had spread out from its Belper base four miles to the south-east, framework knit-ting and, above all, tanning. The history of the tannery is vague. The Richardson family operated it in the 17th century, using the oak bark then plentiful in what was still a fairly well-wooded area at a time when the national stock of timber was diminishing alarmingly. They moved to St Peter’s Street, Derby in the following century and then to the Eagle Leather Works, close to the site of the present Playhouse, in the 19th century before moving to a 20-acre site by the railway at Normanton in 1930. On a reduced scale, they are still in business in Derby, mainly as curriers, search more interesting facts here.

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This continuity has been paralleled on the cricket field, where three successive generations of Richardsons have played for Derbyshire. Arthur captained the side in its championship-winning year of 1936, and his son and grandson have since played for Derbyshire.


Presumably in other hands, the Woodhouse tannery continued in opera-tion into this century. The building still stands in a decrepit state on Mr Askey’s farm close by the post office. If it’s not a listed building it should be: it is by far the most interesting building in Horsley Woodhouse, look at this compare annecy hotels website too.

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The church is also interesting for its unusual dedication to St Susannah, an obscure 10th century eastern saint, a choice likely to have been influenced by the fact that Mrs Susannah Holcombe (nee Sitwell) paid most of the bills submitted by F.J Robinson, the architect, and his fellow-Derbeians Walker and Slater who built the church between October 1881 and the following May. As often in Derbyshire, learn more about Europe Cities,  the Nonconformists were ahead of the Anglicans, the first Wesleyan church in Woodhouse being built as early as 1799. A Wesleyan Reformers Chapel built in 1856, closed 30 years later, by which time the Central Methodist Chapel (opened towards the end of the ‘hungry forties’) had become well established.