Monday, 20 March 2017

Ilam - Derbyshire

There are some who would argue that Ilam is in Staffordshire, but we will go with the National Trust and say Derbyshire. Whatever, there is no doubt that you stand on the boundary between the two counties when you walk the grounds of Ilam Park.

Ashbourne is the southern gateway into the Peak District, and Ilam is just four miles away, though it might as well be one hundred if you go by the feel of the place.

The River Manifold gives its name to the attractive valley that hosts the village of Ilam. The waters are white crested at almost all times of the year as they speed towards the River Dove. They certainly add to the charm of the place and it is worth hiking down to the bridges and the riverside walks.

There is a hall on the estate, but this is run by the NT as a Youth Hostel. This was the terms of the agreement that saw the estate pass to the control of the National Trust in 1934. The intriguing Church of the Holy Cross is open to all. Saxon in origin it was renovated and restored twice, once in the 17th century and again 200 years later, but the smell that greets the visitor is one of great age.

The hall was built in 1546. Its location and ambience made it very popular with many notable visitors, including Lichfield's own Dr Samael Johnson who, never stuck for words, left off compiling his dictionary to write a novel whilst hosted on the estate.

In 1820 the estate was bought by Jesse Watts-Russell. With the hall came most of the village and Watts-Russell set about rebuilding the village to remind him of Switzerland. He also built the village school in 1857.

Ilam school



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