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Crich Stand, Sherwood Foresters War Memorial

The Sherwood Foresters' Memorial was the third Crich Stand to be built. The first was an observation tower built in 1788 by Francis Hurt of Alderwasley. In 1840 Adam wrote in "Gem of the Peak" that "from the top of Crich Stand (belonging to Mr. Hurt, of Alderwasley) the most extensive prospects are obtained, embracing (it is said) a range of over five counties, and from whence, on a clear day, the magnificent Cathedral of Lincoln can be seen"[1].

"Derbyshire Courier", 15 November 1845

Crich Stand.— The prospect tower, which for nearly a century crowned the summit of Crich Cliff [sic, see dates below], and from which the view extended into five counties, is now levelled the ground. It had been for some years in a ruinous state, in consequence of the timber of the interior having been from time to time removed; and last winter a considerable portion of the tower fell ; and the part which remained, being highly insecure, was, by the order of the proprietor, (T. Hunt [sic, this was F. Hurt], Esq., of Alderwasley.) blasted down with gunpowder, a week or two ago. It is, we hear, intended, that the tower shall be rebuilt.

Adam did not comment on the building's condition but by 1851 Crich Stand, described as "a somewhat rude observatory", had been a heap of ruins for some years (see newspaper report above) and was being rebuilt on the summit of Crich Cliff. Two stones, inscribed with "F. H., 1788" and "Rebuilt A.D. 1851" were laid by Mr. Hurt. The new structure was to be 48 feet high and have about 50 winding steps[2].

The second Crich Stand,
built by Francis Hurt

By the time J. B. Firth visited it, in the early twentieth century, the second Stand was in a somewhat dangerous condition. "The Stand, some fifty feet high, is a round tower set on a square base of massive blocks of stone. It looks strong enough to last for centuries, and so, doubtless, it would have done had not the lightning found it a few years ago, which, with a single stroke, drove deep fissures into it from top to bottom and tore away some of the upper block. The doorway, therefore, which used to give entrance to the staircase within, has been filled up and the fabric is most insecure". He also noted that it was on the edge of a gigantic quarry, which had then been worked for about sixty years[3]. By 1922 the quarry had been worked so far back that the structure was in danger of collapsing. Workmen began to take down the masonry but the stone was preserved for re-erection further back from the face of the cliff[4].The replacement Crich Stand, which is the one in place today, was erected to form a conspicuous landmark on the summit of Crich Hill which is about 1,000 feet above sea level.

Two postcards showing the extent of the lightning and quarrying damage to the second stand at Crich. The dated stones can be seen on right hand image. They are on the left, just above the bottom stone ring.

In 1923 the work on the imposing war memorial, with its handsome dome, was completed and it was unveiled on August Bank Holiday Monday by General Sir Horace L. Smith-Dorrien, Governor of Gibraltar and Colonel of the Sherwood Foresters (Notts. and Derby Regiment). It was estimated that those attending numbered around 60,000, with special trains laid on and a large number travelling to the site by charabanc. Also taking part in the opening ceremony were the Duke of Portland (Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire), the Duke of Devonshire (Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire), the Bishop of Southwell and the Bishop of Derby. The memorial tower, some 64 feet high, was a tribute to the 11,409 men of the Sherwood Foresters who had fallen in the Great War as well as honouring the 140,000 of the thirty-two battalions who served. Seven of their number had been awarded the Victoria Cross. The tower cost over £4000 to build, with money raised from one flag day in every town, village and hamlet in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. It was also a beacon and visible over the five counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Shropshire and Staffordshire and bore an inscription on the Tower "To remind us of great sacrifices and of our duty". The stones laid by Mr. Hurt in 1851 were included in the new structure[5]. One of the stones can be seen on the stand, slightly above the left hand side of the door. In the following years, on the anniversary of the unveiling, Sherwood Foresters would continue to meet at Crich Stand[6].

The beacon was lit by electricity for the first time in November 1926[7]. It continued to give out light until the Second World War. After a gap of over five years it was switched on once more on 15 July, 1945, the day of the annual pilgrimage of the Sherwood Foresters[8]. Five thousand people travelled to Crich Stand at the time. After this war this magnificent beacon became the war memorial to the Sherwood Foresters' dead in both world wars[9]. It is visited at all times of the year by large numbers of people.  

A flight of steps had been added, about 1950

1. "Sherwood Foresters War Memorial, Crich". Published by F. Smith, Newsagents, etc., Crich, Matlock. No.14814. Not posted. © Ann Andrews collection.
2. "Crich Stand" Colonial series, No. 1470. The earliest card of the stand was in 1904.
3. "Crich Stand showing Chasm under the Base", published by Blounts, No.124. No date.
4. "Crich Stand, Showing Dated Stones". Blount's Real Photo Series (stamped on the back), No. 126. Posted 1918.
5. "Sherwood Foresters Memorial, Crich, Nr. Matlock". Published in "Derbyshire Beauty Spots, No. 2" (about 1950) No.87), Photo: Simpson's the Printers, Friar Gate, Derby. Ann Andrews collection. Published with the kind permission of Michael Simpson on behalf of the Simpson family.
Images 2,3 and 4 in the collection of, provided by and © Susan Tomlinson.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Adam, W. (1840) "The Gem of the Peak" London; Longman & Co., Paternoster Row

[2] "The Derby Mercury", 23 July 1851.

[3] Firth, J. B. (1908) "Highways and Byways in Derbyshire" MacMillan & Co., London

[4] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 28 January 1922. Crich Stand Disappearing.

[5] "ibid.,", 7 August 1923. Imposing War Memorial at Crich Stand.

[6] "ibid.,", 6 August 1924. Foresters Meet at the Tower of Memory. The issue of 2 August 1927 described a vast crowd gathering from all parts if the Midlands.

[7] "ibid.,", 22 November 1926.

[8] "ibid.,", 6 July 1945 and 16 July 1945.

[9] "ibid.,", 29 June 1950.

Also see:
The Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire
The Wolley Manuscripts, Matlock
Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, 1891: Crich, Derbyshire
Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811

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