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Things to do in Etwall, Derbyshire

Portland Street © Shirley Leedham

At first, Etwall seems like any other Derbyshire village. However, beneath the surface hides a village of great historical interest, dating back to the 16th century.

The dominating feature is St Helen Church on the hill and the 300 year old Yew Tree that over looks Main St and the village green.

Along the main street can be seen many 18th and 19th century buildngs. Opposite is John Port School and in front of that the village green.

The green comes alive with the celebrations of the Well Dressings during the end of May. At this time, the spring wells are decorated with natural materials like flower petals, stones, pebbles, pieces of bark and wood, embedded in a layer of clay.

You can park your car by St Helen Church and take a walk round the village. Doing so, you will see the Almshouses behind the church and the Bakewell Wrought Iron Gates - once the gates entrance to Etwall Hall.

This was built by the Port family in the 16th century, renovated in 1650 with stone from Tutbury Castle but then demolished in 1950. During the second World War it was a military hospital of the Airman from Hilton US Air Force Base.

The last owner was the racing driver Reg Parnel. John Port School - built for the children of Etwall and surrounding villages - is built on the site of the Old Hall.

Taking a short stroll down the lane on the left round by the church and following the path down to the village green you may fancy sitting on the iron seat that surrounds the old lime tree. After stopping a while, you could take the path down the hill through John Port School grounds to the fish pond where you might watch the wildlife in this small nature reserve.

There are ducks, coots and moore hens to see and you might also spot dragon flies skimming the water. Return up the path, the stone structure on your left is Town Well - once the main source of the village water. Cattle, horses and people drank from this well. Journeymen also washed their carts and coaches.

Leaflets and information are available from the Post Office or Library and Information Centre which are a short walk away. Strolling up past the library and over King George playing fields, you may wish to follow the path to Frank Wickham Village Hall. If you make your way from here down Portland Street you will see some of the oldest and prettiest cottages in the village.

If possible, you should make a point of visiting St Helen Church and viewing the fine, colourful stain glass windows and St Helen embroidery. The embroidery was designed by Sarah Burgess and embroidered by members of the congregation before being erected into position in the millennium year.

There is a half hourly bus service serving Etwall from ether Derby or Burton-on-Trent.

There are various places worth a visit in the area, not least the Tara Buddhist Centre at Ashe Hall or Longford Hall and village with watermill. If you are feeling energetic, you may like to walk or cycle part of the once Great Northern Railway track which is now a cycle way and footpath.

To find it, follow the road down Sutton Lane. Other places to visit farther out are Tutbury (a small country town with Castle Ruins and long history) or the pretty village of Rolleston - once the estate of the Mosley family. A few miles further away is Sudbury Hall, once the home of the Vernons, with its interesting museum of childhoood.

Many residents commute to work from Etwall to Derby, Burton or Uttoxeter. The JCB plant is near Uttoxeter. This is a main employer in the area, another being the Toyota car manufacturers.

When it comes to refreshments the Hawk and Buckle Inn offers the atmosphere of an Old English pub. It was built in 1851 by the Cotton family. You can get a bar meal here, as you can also so at the Spread Eagle.

If it's coffee or a pot of tea you crave then the Post Office and Bakery offers a cosy cafe. Its known as the 'Dutch House' as there's evidence of an older building made of wood in the Dutch style.

Description by Shirley Leedham

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Images of Etwall

Well Dressings © Shirley Leedham
Main St Etwall © Shirley Leedham
St Helen Embroidery © Shirley Leedham
Alms houses and through Bakewell Gate © Shirley Leedham
St Helen Church and Yew Tree © Shirley Leedham
Bakery Cafe, Post Office © Shirley Leedham

* Distances shown are in a direct line. Distances by road will be longer.
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