Local History

Paraphrased from articles by L Webb and L Hardy on their excellent website Brackenfield.net

The Plough Inn is a 16th century grade II listed building which was originally a farmhouse, and at some point was also used, rumour has it, as a courthouse.

It’s recorded on an early Brackenfield tithe map as ‘Moor House’, though in the tithe schedule it is actually referred to as ‘the Plough Public House’, and indeed in Kelly’s later Directory of 1891, the Inn shares this duality, possibly to supplement the farmers income, or to indulge his passion for the ale! When the farmhouse began serving drinks is somewhat unclear, however it probably took on its current singular role around the turn of the 19th century.

The village name comes from the Norse, ‘Brackenthwaite’, as it was known in early medieval times, which literally means ‘bracken clearing’.Bracken and gorse still flourish on the acid soils overlying the dark gritstone from which many of the older village cottages & farmhouses, including the Plough, are constructed.

Rural Brackenfield was at its acme in 1851, when White’s Directory recorded the population at 399 inhabitants – considerably more than today.Agriculture was then the main source of income for the area, the chief crops being wheat, oats and pasture, but other sources of employment were beginning to open up.

In addition to traditional rural occupations such as Tanner, Stonemason and Wheelwright, White’s also lists Railway Contractor – Perhaps someone was employed on the Midland railway line that now crossed the eastern edge of the parish.Collieries at Shirland and Stretton provided many jobs for those in neighbouring villages, and Lea Mills cotton factory near Cromford, undoubtedly employed some locals.

Squire of Ogston Hall from 1836 to 1872 was the redoubtable Gladwin Turbutt; Magistrate, High Sheriff, Deputy Lieutenant and militia officer.In addition to his many civic duties, Gladwin was a generous benefactor to the church, and it was he who donated the site of Holy Trinity Church, which was constructed in 1856 to replace the antiquated and neglected Trinity Chapel near Mather’s grave.

The ever useful White’s Directory of 1857 gives a potted history of the village’s earliest lords and landowners:”The family of Heriz (who also held land in South Wingfield) possessed Ogstone and Brackenfield in the reign of King John.Sir Richard Willoughby (of Ripley) held Brackenfield under the Deincourts in 1369.About this time Ogstone became the property and seat of the Revell family.

The Revells were originally a Warwickshire family, but were landowners in Derbyshire from the early 15th century.Besides the Ogston Revells, another branch of the family owned Carnfield Hall near Alfreton.The two branches of the family were on different sides in the English Civil War:the Ogston Revells and their friends the Eyres of Hassop, and the Sitwells of Renishaw, were all firm Royalists, while the Carnfield Revells took Parliament’s side, and Edward Revell became a Captain of Horse under the Roundhead general, Sir John Gell.

In 1706 the last of the male Ogston Revells had died, and the estate passed to the Doncaster family of Turbutt, when Mary Ann Revell married Richard Turbutt in 1717.The family were just as influential as their predecessors had been, and active in Brackenfield.William Turbutt for example, who inherited the estate in 1758, set about purchasing property, planting beech trees around Ogston, and improving his farms.

The fact that agricultural rents were rising, and that coal lay beneath his lands in neighbouring Shirland and Stretton, no doubt made it a good time to expand the family fortune.

While William leased land for coal, “Parson Dicky” – The Rector, Richard Turbutt, looked after the spiritual needs of Brackenfield.The village was at that time part of the parish of Morton, and ‘Dicky’ rode over to take service at the old Trinity Chapel every Sunday at 1.00pm, calling to wet his whistle at the Plough Inn beforehand.

For dark deeds and stories of local ne’er do wells, please view the ‘Grisly goings on in Brackenfield’ page!

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