It is on the eastern side of Morley Moor, with Morley Smithy to the north. The parish church of St Matthew stands near the (converted) Tithe Barn and dovecote of Morley Hall. The church features a wall of stained glass depicting the story of Robert of Knaresborough along the north aisle which came from Dale Abbey in 1539, home of the fine Sacheverell tombs.
Morley is first certainly mentioned in 1009, as (in) Moreleage, though later copies of a 1002 document in which it appears as (æt) Morlege may be genuine. The name probably means "open ground by a moor", from Old English mōr "moor, clearing, pasture" + lẽah "open ground, clearing". In 1009 Æþelræd Unræd (King Ethelred the Unready) signed a charter at the Great Council which recognised the position and boundaries of Westune. The land described in that charter included the lands now known as Shardlow, Great Wilne, Church Wilne, Crich, Morley, Smalley, Weston and Aston-on-Trent. Under this charter Æþelræd gave his minister, Morcar, a number of rights that made him free from tax and to his own rule within the manor.
Sir Streynsham Master who was involved in the early East India Company and who was High Sheriff of Derbyshire in 1712, resided with his wife at Stanley Grange in Morley. Joseph Whittaker (1815-1892), botanist, lived and died here.
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