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What's in your parish: Mackworth

Farm buildings such as barns can be dated by their style and construction.

For may people, especially if you live in Derby, the name Mackworth is synonymous with a large, mostly post-war housing estate on the northwest edge of the city. The estate is a large, bustling suburb, home to over 14,000 people. It has shops, schools and a church. It also has a regular public transport service - the buses - and of course pubs. However, tucked away just off the main Derby to Ashbourne road is the heart of the parish of Mackworth from which the estate derived it's name. If you compare to two, then it would be hard to find two more contrasting places.

Yes, the 'original' has a school, a church and well, that's about it. The school was built in the 19th century and was active for many years, but is now a private residence. The church of All Saints was the victim of an arson attack a little over a year ago which has largely left it a shell. But there is still a story to tell about the village and plenty to see if you know what to look for. Let's begin with a potted history of the parish and then take a walk from the church along Lower Road through just some of the parish and see what there is.

What is the history of the parish?

The Gatehouse of Mackworth 'Castle'.

Well, the parish is to be found in what was the 'wapentake' and later the 'hundred' of Morleston and Litchurch, and in the deanery of Derby, lies about two miles north-west from Derby. These are administrative units dating back to Saxon and Viking times. Mackworth (Macheuorde)* is mentioned in the Domesday survey as an outlier or berewick of Markeaton (Marchetone) manor and at the time of the Conquest it was very likely held by the lord Siward who was the Earl of Northumbria. His name suggests a possible Anglo-Scandinavian origin or heritage. It was tied to Markeaton manor, although quite where the manor was is open to debate. At the time of Domesday it had been 'passed' to Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, by William for his 'support' during the Conquest. It was a turbulent time after the Battle of Hastings, largely as a result of the extensive restructuring of the upper levels of society. Before the arrival of the Normans there were some 4,000 Saxon landowners, but by the time of Domesday there were 300 Norman landowners - 200 nobles & 100 bishops - and just two powerful Saxon landowners. Quite a change.

Anyway, back to the survey; it recorded that Markeaton had "9 carucates** of land (assessed) to the geld. (There is) land for 9 ploughs. There Earl Hugh has 2 ploughs in demesne; and 15 villeins and 7 bordars who have 5 ploughs. There (is) a priest and a church, and i mill (rendering) 6 shillings and 8 pence, and i fishery and 24 acres of meadow. Wood(land) for pannage i league in length and half a league in breadth. In King Edward's time it was worth 4 pounds; now (it is worth) 3 pounds."

Gold Lane. One of the small, medieval routes out to the fields.

Mackworth was recorded along with two other outliers of Markeaton - Kniveton (Cheniuetun) and Allestree (Adelardestreu). Here there was "4 carucates of land taxable. Land for 4 ploughs. Waste. Meadow 30 acres; woodland pasture 1 league long and half a league wide. One of these 4 carucates lies (in the land of) Ednaston, Henry's manor. Jocelyn holds it from the Earl, and Colle pays Jocelyn 10s 8d from it." It is interesting to note here there are no households in the outliers mentioned here but that was not unusual as they were likely to be at the bottom of the social ladder. Even from this early time, the manors of Mackworth and Markeaton have been closely linked.

By the reign of King John the parish became linked with the Tuschet/Touchet family, a Norman family who apparently were part of the Conquest forces of William. Their name appears in the rolls of Battle Abbey and the Norman Chronicles. Around 1200, Matthew de Tuschet was rector of the church and the manors of Markeaton and Mackworth were held by Thomas, son of Eobert Touchet (still under the Earl of Chester). The interesting thing here is that the record refers to a church in Mackworth, not Markeaton. Clearly something has changed in the parish by this date.

We hear more of the Touchet family in 1238 when one Simon Touchet was appointed rector, on the presentation of Thomas Touchet. Simon Touchet, probably with the permission of both his father and of Bishop Alexander de Stavenby granted to the abbot of Darley tithes of Welleflat, Marledeflat, and Feliceflat, all fields within the parish of Mackworth. Some years later, in 1251, a Thomas Touchet obtained a grant of a free warren, which was also confirmed to his son Robert Touchet by Edward I. The family also claimed a park at Markeaton, and a gallows for the execution of criminals in 1330. The estate continued to be held by the Tuchet family, but in the reign of Richard II, Sir John Touchet married Joan, daughter and co-heiress of James, Lord Audley, and as a result of the death of Joan's sister Margaret, Sir John inherited the barony of Audley, and took the title of Lord Audley.

Much of the history of Mackworth is unclear and has not been thoroughly investigated. For example, different sources tell us very different stories. One tells us that the manors of Mackworth and Markeaton remained with the Audley family until around 1576 when John Touchet, Lord Audley, sold the manors of Markeaton and Mackworth to Sir John Mundy, who was a member of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and Lord Mayor of London in 1522. Other sources tell us of a history of the manor and Mackworth Castle. The precise origins of the 'Castle' are unclear. It is possible that the 15th century fortified manorial complex was built on the same site as earlier timber built complexes dating back to the 11th century. The castle, better described as a fortified house, itself may have been built some time after August 1404 when the brothers John and Thomas Mackworth were granted the right to bear part of the arms of Audley and Touchet. Thomas was founder of the family line that subsequently held the estate at Mackworth until, according to a Deed of Conveyance dated 16th June 1655, it was sold by Sir Thomas Mackworth to Sir John Curzon. The Curzon family also own nearby Kedleston Hall and estate. Whatever the story turns out to be, there looks to be an interesting project there for someone!

A walk through history

A cursory look at a map or aerial photograph of Mackworth will show you what seems to be the unusual layout of the village. It appears to have a linear form where there is just one street - Lower Road - oriented roughly SE-NW. Most of the houses have frontages onto this street, but there is more to Mackworth than this.

The church

We'll begin at All Saint's church which is at the eastern end of the village. As you can see in these images, the Grade 1 listed church was very badly damaged in the arson attack. There are the remains of timbers and fragments of worked stone lying in neat piles, and it is easy to think of them as pieces of a 3D jigsaw puzzle. There are plans afoot to repair the structure and will be something like the work being undertaken at Notre Dame in Paris, but not quite as grand!

The story of the church is another puzzle which persists and begins with Domesday. There no record of a church in Markeaton at any time apart from the Domesday reference, so we must ask if it is referencing Mackworth? There is strong evidence of a church at Mackworth by 1200 when Mathew Touchet was recorded as the rector there, but there is no evidence of such an early church is visible in the architecture of the present church building (Cox, 1904). The church was described in 1848 as:

"a venerable structure partly in the decorated style, consisting of a nave, chancel, a fine tower, and an octagonal spire; the chancel, built about the time of Edward I., is much older than the other parts, and the details of the whole are very correct." (Lewis, 1848)

Edward I reigned from 1272-1307 and indeed much of the church we see today is largely of 13th and 14th century construction, some 200 years after the Conquest and so this, and a reference in the Darley Abbey chartulary, suggests there must have been an earlier church on or near the present site. Cox, writing in 1879, considered the church to be undoubtedly situated at Mackworth rather than at Markeaton, based on information in the chartulary of Darley Abbey dated around 1200. The same source contains another reference to a church at Mackworth by the early 14th century. Cox later cites the 1331 resolution of a long-standing dispute between the Abbey and the rector Edmund Touchet (Cox, 1904: 93). He also believed much of the body of the church to date almost exclusively from c1370-1380, when it was evidently rebuilt throughout. It consists of "a chancel with a vestry and organ chamber; a nave with north and south aisles; a tower at the west end surmounted with a spire and a large porch with a parvise over it". A few years after Lewis' description of the church was published a general restoration of the building took place. The 1851 work was carried out, according to Cox, "with much care, and with less destruction of old parts than might have been expected". In the 20th century the great architectural historian Nicholas Pevsner (1953: 269) believed that the west window of the church dated to c1300.

The village

Consider the location of the church; it now seems to stand alone at one end of the village, yet the typical location for the parish church was somewhere near the centre of the settlement or village. Before the fire limited access, it was possible to see more of Mackworth's past when looking to the north beyond the church.

Land on the south side of Lower Road near the church. Earthworks aplenty here.

The eastern end of the village, which contains the medieval church, is predominantly associated with the former agricultural field system but there are a number of earthworks to the north and south of the church which have been interpreted as late medieval house platforms. A significant event just a few years before the rebuilding of the church in the 14th century was of course the Black Death of 1348/9. It is possible that these platforms illustrate some re-ordering resulting from depopulation following the Black Death. These earthworks show the various elements of the village which is also scheduled as an ancient monument and therefore protected by law. You can read more on the medieval village here.

Lower Road/Jeavey's Lane showing depth of the way.

The main thoroughfare is Lower Road, and this is probably the original village street. There are a few small lanes which cross it. These lanes would have been the route taken by villagers out to the fields - fields which can clearly be seen in the Lidar. Lower Road shows signs of its age as is it lower than much of the land and properties it passes through. In this image from the western end where it turns into Jarvey's Lane, you can see how much higher the ground is to both sides, but especially the left.

So, despite its age much of what we see today is relatively modern. A little over 100 years ago - in 1848 - the parish was some 1400 acres and was home to 361 residents. The parish was:

"chiefly in pasture, and considerable quantities of cheese are sent to market. The surface is pleasingly varied, and richly wooded; the principal timber is oak and ash, which thrive well. The parish is the property of William Mundy, Esq., and Lord Scarsdale...valued in the king's books at £9. 3.; net income, £161; patron and impropriator, Mr. Mundy... Schools are supported by the Mundy family; and among the charities is a payment of twelve guineas annually, the gift of German Pole, of Radbourn, for apprenticing a boy. Here is the gateway of a castle, anciently the seat of the De Mackworths, and said to have been demolished during the parliamentary war.(Lewis, 1848).

The Thatched Cottage, hidden behind a hedge.

There are still some older houses to be found in the village if you know where to look. in the heart of Mackworth is The Thatched Cottage. It is unsurprisingly a cottage with a thatch roof! Elements of it have been dated to the 17th century, and so it gives an idea of the type of housing almost 400 years ago.

Perhaps the most famous building, or what might be left of it, is known as The Gatehouse. It is said to be the gatehouse to Mackworth Castle, and built during the reign of Henry VII. There is not much to show of a castle now, and some authors believe it was more likely to have been a fortified or castellated house. Nevertheless it does suggest that in the later medieval period Mackworth was held by someone with some standing and wealth. Exactly who is unknown!

At the western end of the village there is another listed building and this one is interesting as the two ranges or wings are of different ages. The western one is the earlier of the two dating to the early 18th century, and the building was enlarged in the 19th century with the addition of the eastern range which doubled its size in mid-19th century. Built of Red brick with plain tile roofs it also has a courtyard layout of farm buildings to the north.

Hopefully this short account of some of the things you will encounter when you visit the village and perhaps set you to thinking what might be hiding in plain sight where you live.

By the church there is a small wall which helps retain the ground. These are known as Ha-ha's!

*The development of the names for Mackworth can be seen here.

** A carucate was a measure of land based on the amount a single team of oxen could plough in a season - thought to equal to about 120 acres.


Bailey, G. (1911) Mackworth Castle. Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 33: 205-208.

Cox, J C, The Churches of Derbyshire, (1879), Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 1: 286-287

Cox, J. C. (1904) 'The chartulary of the Abbey of Darley and of the Oratory of St. Helen, Derby.' Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 26: 82-140.

Lewis, S. (Ed) (1848) A Topographical Dictionary of England, London.

Pevsner, N. (1953) Derbyshire. Pevsner Architectural Guides. (Revised by Elizabeth Williamson). Yale University Press. London.


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