Chelmorton is a unique and fascinating village with a number of claims to fame.
Chelmorton is the highest village in Derbyshire and is one of the highest villages in the whole of England. On the edge of the village stands the Fivewells Cairn, reputed to be the highest neolithic tomb in Britain. Then there are the bronze age tumuli on the summit of Chelmorton Low and nearby Nether Low. (Low in the peaks signifies a hill). Attest to the early human habitation in the area there is no doubt that the earliest settlers made their home on the banks of the stream which is locally known as “Illy Willy Water”.
Supplied by a spring rising from the hill and providing a constant source of pure water, the stream dictated the shape of the village running for about a quarter of a mile filling several troughs along the way, before disappearing under ground.
Other curious features are the earthwork mound and ditch which lies at the bottom of the village and the ancient field system which not only predates the enclosure act but also the Norman invasion. In fact most ancient crofts were probably laid out by our early celtic ancestors long before the saxons arrived.
Chelmorton lies within the White Peak. The limestone rock of the white peak plateau is actually the fossilized remains of creatures and plants that lived in a warm shallow sea which covered the area in the carboniferous period some 350 million years ago. Carboniferous limestone now forms the fabric of Chelmorton, from its cottages to its barns and stone walls. Even the village telephone box is stone built.
The Church Inn dates back to 1700’s and was originally known as The Blacksmiths Arms. The old Smithy sat at the rear and was owned by George Holmes who was reputed to be his own best customer. There is a register of former landlords on display in the pub today, along with many other interesting photographs, paintings and poetry depicting Chelmorton life over the years.
Alexander Ollerenshaw, the landlord between 1793 and 1827 spent most of his life trying to perfect his perpetual motion machine. He was an eccentric man and died never being able to realise his dream. It is reported the machine was dismantled and local people kept bits as a reminder of him.
The church of St John the Baptist sits on the hillside opposite the Church Inn. England’s highest church with a spire. The 15th century spire built onto the 13th century tower is topped by a weathervane in the form of a locust - a reminder of the Baptist’s time in the wilderness.
Parts of the grade ll listed church, including the south arcade, date from the 13th century and has a complete 14th century perpendicular style stone chancel screen.
The tower has a tuneful ring of 5 bells. Restored in 1960 both the tenor and the treble bells were re-cast incorporating metal from the bells of Derwent woodlands chapel, which was destroyed to make way for the construction of the ladybower reservoir in the 1930s.