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Eyam Hall

Eyam Hall is on Church Street at the heart of the village of Eyam and close to the Cross and the old stocks (on the opposite side of the road), St. Helen's Church and the Plague Cottages. The guide book author J. B. Firth (1908) tells us that "Eyam Hall is Tudor in practically every detail"[1], though it was built in 1676, whereas other writers such as Mee[2] describe it as Jacobean. From the date it was erected it should be Carolean. Nikolaus Pevsner (1953)[3] believed the style was not unusual for Derbyshire as it corresponded with the county's other late 17th century houses, although the architectural style was no longer used in the south of the country. Firth states that "it was an exact copy of Bradshaw Hall at Eyam, of which only one forlorn wing now remains, and, indeed, it was actually built from the stone of that dismantled house"[1]. Bradshaw Hall was the manor house before Eyam Hall was built.

Firth, unlike Mee, had a high opinion of the Hall and described the building thus:

"Beyond the church, and opposite the entrance to a little dale called the Delf, is Eyam Hall, one of the best preserved of the Derbyshire manor houses, a delightful home in grey stone, the possession of which must be a constant joy. It was built by Thomas Wright, one of the Wrights of Longstone, soon after the plague, the fabric being completed in 1676. This date appears on the leaden rain spouts, and the hall itself has never been dwelt in save by descendants of those whose initials are there traced. It stands back from the village street, being approached through two courts, the lower with smooth lawns, the upper flagged with stone. A low parapet wall with broad flight of steps divides the two. The principal garden lies to the east side, with a fine old bowling-green surrounded by yew trees and terraces, grass walks and dense hedges of yew. The shallow centre part of the house is almost wholly covered with creepers which spread round to the wings. Eyam Hall remains just as it was when it was built; even the small panes of glass in the beautiful mullioned windows are unchanged. This glass is of a delightful green tint, and many of the panes are scratched with names and dates, covering a period of more than two centuries. The house contains a fine oak staircase with twisted balustrades, which together with the doors and panels of the principal rooms came from the older house of the end of the fifteenth or the beginning of the sixteenth century"[1].

Eyam Hall, an illustration by Nelly Erichsen[1]

A hundred and seventy years ago Peter Wright, who was unmarried, was living in the Hall with his two sisters; they were there in 1851 and Peter was described as both a landed proprietor and a farmer[4]. He had been baptised at St. Helen's on 1 Mar 1781; he died at the Hall on 15 February 1862 and was buried at the church on 22 Feb 1862, aged 81. His family appear to have had very loyal servants as a death announcement for Elizabeth Rippon, aged 73, who lived with the family at Eyam Hall stated that: "The deceased had resided at Eyam Hall, in the capacity of servant, for the long period of 54 years, without any intermission"[5].

In late 1876 A "Country Vicar" writing in what was the current number of the Churchman's Shilling Magazine said:

"One comes upon Eyam rather suddenly, as a sharp turn in the road about a mile from Stoney Middleton brings you at once into the secluded village. Our good fortune again attended us here, as upon inquiring for the parish clerk we met the courteous and kind Mr. Wright of Eyam Hall. Mr. Wright not only showed us the beauties of Eyam, the pulpit-rock called the Cucklet Church where Mompesson preached to his scared flock when it was not safe to go into his parish church, and which is in his own grounds, but also permitted us to view his house, and several family portraits by Van-dyke of great interest. We were much pleased with our visit to Eyam, and should these lines meet the eye of the courteous squire we hope he will once more accept our hearty thanks"[6].

The gentleman referred to by the "Country Vicar" was John Wright, who had been born in Sheffield in 1805 and had worked as a solicitor in Tamworth for many years before moving into Eyam Hall. He passed away on 15 Jul 1881[7] and his widow Mary Ann (nee Ratcliff) died at the Hall in 1883. Her younger sister, Jane Amelia Ratcliff, also died at Eyam Hall on 21 Oct the same year[8]. The couple's daughters were then in residence and remained there until the youngest, Harriet Elizabeth, died on 12 July 1915[9].

Eyam Hall is still owned by the Wright family and in recent years they leased the property to the National Trust, who showed the hall until the end of 2017. The property is now back in the family's hands. There is a craft centre in the stable yard.

Photographic postcard of the Terrace Steps, Eyam Hall.

Eyam is mentioned in the following on-site transcripts:

Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811, Parishes E, which has more about the village.

Kelly's 1891 Directory, Eyam

The Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire, mention Eyam and the Wrights, including two Wills of the Great Longstone Wrights.

1. "Eyam Hall". The Artistic Publishing Co., 9 Bury Court, St. Mary Axe, London, E.C.,Series No.384. Phototyped in Bavaria. Not used
2. Eyam Hall, illustrated by Nelly Erichsen[1] and published in Firth's "Highways and Byeways".
3. "Terrace Steps, Old Hall, Eyam". Postcard published by E. L. S., No.164-79. Unused. Edgar Leonard Scrivens (13 Mar 1882-22 Feb 1950) had a Photographic Printing & Enlarging Works in Doncaster.
Images in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


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

[2] Mee, Arthur (ed.) (1937) "Derbyshire: The Peak Country", The King's England Series, Hodder and Stoughton Limited, London. Mee gives the completion year as 1671, though this conflicts with other sources.

[3] Pevsner, Nikolaus (1953), "The Buildings of England, Derbyshire", Penguin Books

[4] From England and Wales census returns held by The National Archive and available on Find My Past.

[5] "Derby Mercury", 10 November 1858. Elizabeth Rippon was born in Eyam. She was living with Peter Wright and his sisters in both the 1841 and the 1851 census alongside another servant called Mary Low.

[6] Reproduced in "The Derby Mercury", 8 November 1876.

[7] "Derby Mercury", 27 July 1881.

[8] "Derbyshire Courier", 22 September 1883. Death of Mrs. Wright, Eyam Hall. Also "Derbyshire Times", 10 November 1883. Wright-Ratcliff.

[9] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 23 July 1915.

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