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Crich Stand, Sherwood Foresters War Memorial


The Sherwood Foresters' Memorial was the third Crich Stand to be built of stone although it was not erected on quite the same spot as the earlier structures. The story of Crich Stand, though, pre-dates the three stone towers as a wooden construction had been built in 1760, probably to mark the coronation of King George III. It was replaced in 1878 by something more substantial - an observation tower built of limestone that was paid for by Francis Hurt of Alderwasley.

In 1833 Glover tells us that "On Crich Cliff, the greatest elevation in the neighbourhood, and about half a mile north of the church, Francis Hurt, esq., grandfather of the present Francis Hurt of Alderwasley, Esq., erected an obelisk, called Crich stand, which commands a very extensive view over the surrounding country, particularly towards the east and the south and was one of the stations chosen by Colonel Mudge when he made his general survey of the kingdom. The circular tower serves as a landmark among the hills of Derbyshire"[1]. William Mudge was the first director of Ordnance Survey.

It was said to be "a rude circular battlemented tower on a pedestal of similar form"[2]. In 1840 Adam described the view: "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"[3].


"Derbyshire Courier", 15 November 1845

"Crich Stand. - The prospect tower, which for nearly a century crowned the summit of Crich Cliff, 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*, Esq, of Alderwasley) blasted down with gunpowder, a week or two ago. It is, we hear, intended, that the tower shall be rebuilt".
*"T. Hunt" was F. Hurt


Adam did not comment on the building's condition but by 1851 Crich Stand, "a somewhat rude observatory, commonly designated the Stand", had been a heap of ruins for some years but 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 internal winding steps[4].


 
The second Crich Stand built by Francis Hurt.
In 1856 rockets were fired from the top during
celebrations marking the end of the Crimean War.
Whilst both of these images show protective fencing,
the above view is the earlier of the pair as the left hand side
of the base has not sustained any damage.


The first sign of a problem occurred in 1882 when a landslip engulfed four properties belonging to Mrs. Alsop, though fortunately there was no loss of life. A crack had appeared in the stand the previous year but was filled in[5].

A group of local boys were playing cricket near Crich Stand in June 1888 when a thunderstorm developed. They sheltered inside but lightning struck the west side of the tower and a piece of stone was dislodged. One of the group, Arthur Tomlinson, was knocked unconscious although eventually recovered. The landmark showed signs of lightning damage[6]; with its elevated position on top of a high hill it had also turned into a lightning conductor. However, the real damage to the structure occurred in 1899 during a very severe storm. The Stand was again struck by lightning but this time nearly 6ft of it was torn away and a large crack appeared up the centre of the tower. Crich Cliff was also said to have been affected; four workmen sitting in a cabin at the foot of the cliff witnessed what seems to have been a huge ball of fire enter where they were, tear up the ground, and fly out again. The parish church was also damaged in the same storm, so a catastrophe for the village[7].

By the time J. B. Firth visited it, in the early twentieth century, the 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[8].

In January 1908 negotiations were underway between the Parish Council and the Clay Cross Company, who owned the quarry and were prepared to exchange the land it was on for a new site for the Stand but were only willing to pay half the cost. An inspection had found that limestone in the quarry had broken away - to within ten feet of the stand - as the limestone had slipped on three clay bands. There was also a recent crack a foot under the west corner of the base. Mr. Hurt made it clear that the company should pay all the legal costs as he did not want to be out of pocket. There was no fund to repair it, but it was discovered that the stand had been dedicated to the public for ever[9].


"Derbyshire Courier", 4 June 1910

Resolution sent by Crich Parish Council to district and county newspapers:
"This Council is of opinion, from information received, that the Clay Cross Company, Ltd., and that Company alone, is responsible for the Stand coming down, and for the rebuilding of it".


The Clay Cross Company were major employers in the district and the output from the quarries below Crich Stand was around 30,000 tons per annum. The Mountain Limestone being quarried had a very high degree of purity and, according to an advertisement in 1913, there was an unlimited market for Crich Lime[10].

At the end of 1910 there was a further landslip and hundreds of tons of stone fell into the quarry[11]. By 1915 the stand was said to be on the very edge of the quarry and one Sunday there was a large influx of visitors as it was thought the stand was about to be demolished[12].

The quarry had been worked so far back by 1922 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[13].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. It was to serve a very different purpose from the previous stands as it was to commemorate the many local soldiers of the Sherwood Foresters who had been casualties of war.


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[14]. One of the stones can be seen on the stand, slightly above the left hand side of the door. In the succeeding years, on the anniversary of the unveiling, Sherwood Foresters would continue to meet at Crich Stand[15], a tradition that has continued to the present day.

The beacon was lit by electricity for the first time in November 1926[16]. The following month it was announced that it was to be illuminated with a 15,000 candle power light on certain dates during the year and to commemorate the regiment's battle honours[17]. A high-powered revolving beacon was installed in August 1934, and its light could be seen 20 miles away. It was a memorial to General Smith-Dorrien[18].

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[19]. 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[20]. Later re-dedications have included those Forester's killed in service since then. It is visited at all times of the year by large numbers of people.

The limestone quarry is now the site of the Tramway Museum.

 

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". No publisher, but the postcard has a divided back. No.3882. Unposted, though someone has written on the back. The note reads Sherwood Foresters Regiment Crich. This is incorrect as this shows Mr. Hurt's second Crich stand, not the Sherwood Foresters' Memorial..
4. "Crich Stand showing Chasm under the Base", published by Blounts, No.124. No date.
5. "Crich Stand, Showing Dated Stones". Blount's Real Photo Series (stamped on the back), No. 126. Posted 1918.
6. "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.

References:

[1] Glover, Stephen (1833) "The History and Gazetteer of the County of Derby ..." Edited by T. Noble. pub. Derby and London.

[2] "Derbyshire Courier", 9 July 1842. Tour of North Derbyshire.

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

[4] "The Derby Mercury", 23 July 1851. Interesting Events at Crich.

[5] "ibid.", 12 July 1882. Great landslip at Crich.

[6] "ibid.", 13 June 1888. Crich Stand Struck by Lightning. Several Boys Injured.

[7] "ibid.", 4 October 1899. Terrific Storm at Crich

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

[9] "Belper News", 17 January 1908.

[10] "The Times", 1 Dec, 1913. The Clay Cross Company Ltd. Large Advertisement.

[11] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 2 December 1910. Landslip at Crich. A Famous "Stand" in Danger.

[12] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph" 24 July 1915 and "Belper News", 30 July 1915.

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

[14] "ibid.", 7 August 1923. Imposing War Memorial at Crich Stand and "The Times", 1 Aug, 1923. Sherwood Foresters' War Memorial.

[15] "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.

[16] "ibid.", 22 November 1926. Crich War Memorial Lit by Electricity.

[17] "ibid.", 22 December 1926. Crich Stand. Beacon Lighted on Battle Dates.

[18] "ibid.", 23 August 1934. Light seen 20 miles away, at Burton

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

[20] "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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