RELEASED: 00:00 12th September 2019

The main road through Turndtich

The main road through Turndtich

Ashley Franklin Photography

On a return visit after 15 years, Ashley Franklin notes that this parish in the middle of Derbyshire has remained an idyllic little corner of old England.


The last time I wrote about the community of Turnditch & Windley in County Derbyshire in 2004, I first painted a suitably romantic portrait of the place and described John Bryer's plow as "carving fresh, dark tones" on the sloping fields of Turnditch Hall Farm. Cotton cumulus clouds hovered high over the kilometer-long blue sky. & # 39;

Fifteen years later, I called John again to see the view and picture I'd taken of him on his tractor on the wall, unchanged. But above all, I noticed the many condolence cards that flowed from the window sill to the table. John's wife Jean had died the week before and the congregation had clearly gathered to offer comfort to John. Later he told me that Jean had many well-wishers at his funeral at Turnditch All Saints' Church, recalling the words of the headmaster of the village school, John Bolton, "This is a deeply caring community in which everyone take care of each other. "

John also has the close support of his son Charlie, who runs the farm and lives with his family next door. It looks like Charlie's 14-year-old son Zac, the fifth generation of Bryers, would be farming the 250-acre mixed dairy, sheep and crop farm. "The work is never done," says John, why he still joins at almost 84 years old, as he did when he was ten. "Did you drive a tractor as a boy?" I asked, to which John answered: "Actually we used horses at that time."

Turnditch & Windley was largely a peasant community back then, unlike today when Bryers Farm was one of only five remaining. Although Windley's original name means "pasture clearing" and was first mentioned in 1297, farms were not established until the 17th century, when local forests were cleared. Both Turnditch (which means "winding ditch") and Windley were in the middle of Duffield Frith, a royal hunting ground where fallow deer roamed wild boars and wolves. The first apartments in Windley and Turnditch were largely for rangers, and the All Saints Church was built in the 13th century as a chapel of lightness.

John Bryer on his tractor at Turnditch Hall Farm - photo 2004John Bryer on his tractor at Turnditch Hall Farm – photo 2004

For almost 175 years, it was a simple chapel for the primary school, which is directly opposite. "We use the church as another classroom," says Headmaster John, who tells me that Turnditch C of E "is an integrative, caring and compassionate school based on Christian values."

The school opened in 1846 and, with its dovetail tower, John Smith of Derby clock and original lattice windows, has the finest school front in Derbyshire. John describes Turnditch Primary as "the jewel of a school where outstanding staff, supportive parents, and wonderful children work," and where his students are far above the national average in reading, writing, and arithmetic. After attending school in 2000, John has reached the rewarding stage of meeting parents who were once students. This shows how rooted the families in this community are. He noted that in the cemetery of All Saints' Day many surnames are found on gravestones from past centuries.

John proudly speaks of the school, "which enriches children's lives through close links with the local community." This is shown in an extraordinary way by Turnditch Primary. The school's participation in the annual Turnditch & Windley Show is probably the reason why this is probably the country's biggest and best small village show – all the more remarkable as the community's total population is only about 500.

Much credit also goes to the retired former headmaster, Michael Halls, who made sure each child participated in the show: 11 out of 15 classes for children are decided by the school and complement the requirements of the National Curriculum. Michael is now even more involved in the show after assuming the role of the secretary of the late Margaret Beardsley, who has been her linchpin for more than 55 years. The beauty of the show, as Michael points out, is that it "preserves the traditional atmosphere of a small show in the village". If you enter the marquee with handicrafts, cakes, chutneys, plums, dahlias, impracticable beans and unbelievably large onions, you enter a portal at the beginning of the show in the late 1940s. Fortunately, according to Chairman Les Blanchon, entries have been up on the previous year over the last decade, and visitor numbers are also high.

Scenes from the Turnditch & Windley Show 2018Scenes from the Turnditch & Windley Show 2018

"People love the show because it's such a friendly and fulfilling family event," says committee member Jean Harrison, who has been involved in every show since his childhood 70 years ago.

The show, which now takes place on fields along Wirksworth Road, grew out of a WI garden party at Flower Lilies, the home of Lady Inglefield, the wife of Admiral Sir Frederick Samuel Inglefield and the heiress of Derbyshire banker John Gilbert Crompton. One of her sons, Sir Gilbert Samuel Inglefield, became Lord Mayor of London. As a great benefactor of Turnditch & Windley, Lady Inglefield became known as Lady of the Manor, and her name lives on through Crompton Inglefield Village Hall, a bustling school, playgroup, art group, dance class, and karate club and WI.

Next to the town hall is the 150-year-old Tiger Inn, In 2004, it was run by Richard Strzyzewski and his partner Jacqui, who worked hard to "create an old-fashioned pub spirit". This spirit seems to have been bottled by Richard's son Marc and his wife Rosie who took it over in 2011. Marc, who had a career as a restaurant manager at Little Chef, does not regret it. "It's ironic," Marc muses, "I was just a cook in my little boss's day, but this bar made me a chef." Well located off the A517 Belper to Ashbourne Road, the menu offers mesmerizing dishes such as Brazilian Shrimp Stew and Beetroot, Brie & Cheddar Tart. On Thursdays, Pie Night is always occupied by all 54 indoor courts and on warm nights the odd 40 outdoor seats. The list of pastries with puff pastry or shortbread has grown to 150 – a world record, Marc believes. I have listed pies ranging from lamb over mixed berries to Three Fish and Leek, and even Frank Lambard Pie, in honor of Derby County's former manager. Marc is aiming for 200, so I suggested creating one for the newest Rams boss, maybe Cocu's Curry Pie!

Flower Lilies, the former residence of Lady InglefieldFlower Lilies, the former residence of Lady Inglefield

If you eat al fresco, you have a beautiful view of the kilometer-long landscape. Inside, you can enjoy a drink in the bar and even play darts or dominoes. Better still, the tiger is currently being renovated. "Running a pub is a big commitment," says Marc, "but it does not feel like work." It's more of a way of life and so many customers have become friends. We love Turnditch too – it's a wonderful place to raise our two kids. & # 39;

Unfortunately, that is cross keys Further down the mountain is closed in 2017, along with the butcher shop, and the future is uncertain. A recent petition for the construction of four houses was rejected by the Amber Valley Borough Council, which also won the contract cross keys The building has the status of an indeterminate heritage as Heritage England and is essentially a post office from the 16th century. Resident Lindsay Burton, who runs the Turnditch Life website, suggests that the villagers could be inspired by Holbrook and re-open the site cross keys as a community pub. Lindsay was inspired to launch the site when she heard about the planning application: "I realized that our own history is quickly being lost by the insatiable need for new homes." This has led to a local history page and the general realization that a village website is a valuable asset, especially in a community like Turnditch & Windley, both bandless settlements. "This is a beautiful place to live close to the amenities of Belper and the countryside on our doorstep," remarks Lindsay, promoting the good spirit of community we already have. & # 39;

Lindsay runs her own metallurgical industry, Lindsay's Still Room, which dates back to the Middle Ages, when wine and beer were brewed with fruits, flowers and herbs from the vegetable garden or the countryside. Currently, Lindsay produces cocktail syrups to create "garden to glass" compositions. Luckily she lives in a very fertile place.

When Rosalind Bliss, the daughter of renowned artist Douglas Percy Bliss, came to Hillside Cottage in Windley at the end of World War II, she found an orchard with more than 100 fruit trees behind her house and garden flowers, which grew into giant blossoms. As Rosalind told me, "I buy big plants so they can compete with what's already here."

A panorama of the Ecclesbourne Valley, taken from the highest point in TurnditchA panorama of the Ecclesbourne Valley, taken from the highest point in Turnditch

It was a pleasure to see Rosalind's lush garden and paintings of her father and daughter in her home. In Rosalind's studio, I saw everything, from small engravings to large wall murals and paintings that confirmed what I read about her work, namely that she is characterized by a rhapsodic atmosphere in which trees and sky are full of movement and drama. & # 39; I also saw her father inspire Rosalind's love of trees – "her shapes and subtleties" – and watch the same "energy" that Rosalind so admires about her father's work.

Although Douglas became director of the Glasgow College of Art until 1964, he retained the family home, not least because of the inspiring landscape. I admiringly pointed to his pastoral painting of cows resting in a field. "You can go through this picture," Rosalind remarked. "He loved this landscape and he especially loved trees, though it was much greener here than he painted."

However, there is still plenty of greenery, one of the reasons why Stephen Milward and his partner Sarah moved here in 2011. Stephen confirms more than his real estate credentials – he leads A & S in Belper – and describes how he decided to move to Windley: & # 39; As soon as we saw the signpost to "Windley Only", we felt a quiet , rural, isolated hamlet. Our house is ideal, the neighbors are warm and friendly, we love the food, drink and socializing of the tiger and there are scenic walks across open fields offering breathtaking views and abundant wildlife. It is idyllic. & # 39;

If you want to experience the same thing, the Old Cheese Factory, which was just that, is now a luxury five-star vacation rental on the grounds of Windley Hall, which was recently unveiled Sunday times & # 39; 100 Cool Cottages & # 39; List. I had a breathtaking view when Charlie Bryer denied me access to the hill opposite Turnditch Hall Farm. Charlie promised – and delivered – the perfect panorama for my camera: a view of the Ecclesbourne Valley in all its glory.

With a smile on his friendly, weathered face reminiscent of a well-lived peasant life, John spoke of his love for this landscape and its place in it. "You could not live in a better part of the world. Although I'm in my 80s, I wake up every morning at 5:30 am and appreciate the tranquility that is interrupted only by birdsong. OK, it's not so romantic on a February frost where the wind can blow up the chimney, especially here where it's one or two degrees colder than the valley below. However, I love being a guardian of the soil, where work is different every day. It is wonderful to sit on the tractor, enjoy the view and see the fields change with the seasons. Also this area has remained relatively untouched, as has the light – it is beautifully clear and clean. This is the place to live if you want to see the stars. & # 39;

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