|Population||5,038 (Parish, 2011)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||East Midlands|
Wirksworth is a market town in the Derbyshire Dales district of Derbyshire, England, with a population recorded as 5,038 in the 2011 census. It contains the source of the River Ecclesbourne. The town was granted a market charter by Edward I in 1306. The market is held today on Tuesdays in the market square. The parish church of St Mary's is believed to date from about 653. Wirksworth developed as a centre for lead mining and later stone quarrying. Many lead mines in the area were owned by the Gell family of nearby Hopton Hall.
The origins of Wirksworth are considered to be dependent on the presence of thermal warm water springs in the immediate vicinity coupled with a relatively sheltered location at the head of a glaciated valley, which was capable of producing cereals such as oats and provided fine woodland with wood suitable for building.
The location of Wirksworth in the White Peak is well known for its Neolithic and Bronze Age remains.
Woolly rhino bones were found by lead miners in 1822, in Dream Cave, on private land between Wirksworth and present-day Carsington Water. Another nearby cave at Carsington Pasture yielded prehistoric finds in the late 20th century.
In Roman Britain the limestone area of present-day Derbyshire was an important source of lead, with the primary area of production probably being around Lutudarum in the hills south and west of present-day Matlock. Wirksworth is one of the candidates for the site of Lutudarum. Roman roads lead to Buxton (The Street) and to Brough on Noe (The Portway) from Wirksworth  Wirksworth also has the oldest charter of any town in the Peak District, which dates from 835 AD in which the Abbess of Wirksworth granted land around the town to Duke Humbert of Mercia 
Wirksworth is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. Outlying farms or berwicks were Cromford, Middleton, Hopton, Wellesdene (sic), Carsington, Kirk Ireton and Callow. The ancient Wirksworth wapentake or hundred was named after the town.
In Anglo-Saxon times there were many lead mines owned by the abbey of Repton. Three lead mines are identified in the entry for Wirksworth in the Domesday Book. There is a tiny carving in Wirksworth Church, taken from Bonsall Church during a restoration project and never returned, of a miner with his pick and "kibble" or basket. The carving is known as "th' Owd Man of Bonsall." The ore was washed out by means of a sieve, the iron wire for which had been drawn in Hathersage since the Middle Ages. Smelting was carried out in "boles", hence the name Bolehill. The lead industry, the miner, the ore and the waste, were known collectively as "t'owd man".
Henry VIII granted a charter to hold a miners' court in the town called the Bar Moot. Every man had the right to dig for ore wherever he chose, except in churchyards, gardens or roadways. All that was necessary to stake a claim was to place one's "stowce" or winch on the site and extract enough ore to pay tribute to the "barmaster". The present Bar Moot building dates from 1814. Within it is a brass dish for measuring the levy which was due to the Crown. Even into the 20th century, the punishment for stealing from a mine was to have one's hand nailed to the stowce. One then had the choice of tearing oneself loose or starving to death. The Barmote Court is still held today, in the Bar Moot hall on Chapel Lane, and controls all matters of lead mining.
By the 18th century there were many thousand lead mines, all worked individually. Defoe gives an eye-witness account of a lead miner's family and of the miner himself at work. At this time, the London Lead Company was formed, which provided finance to dig deeper mines, with drainage channels, called soughs, and introduce Newcomen steam engine pumps.
Many of the institutions in the area have connections with the Gell family, of nearby Hopton Hall, whose most famous member was Sir John Gell, 1st Baronet, who fought on Parliament's side in the Civil War. One of his predecessors, Anthony Gell, founded the local grammar school, and one of his successors, Phillip Gell, opened the curiously named Via Gellia (possibly an allusion to the Roman Via Appia), a road from the family's lead mines around Wirksworth to the smelter in Cromford. More recently he has been remembered in the name of Anthony Gell School.
The carboniferous limestone around Wirksworth has been extensively quarried through the town's history, resulting in several rock faces and cliffs in the hills that surround the town.
In 1777 Richard Arkwright leased the land and premises of a corn mill from Philip Gell of Hopton and converted it to spin cotton, using his water frame. It was the first cotton mill in the world to use a steam engine, which it used to replenish the millpond that drove the mill's waterwheel. This mill was adjacent to another, Speedwell Mill, owned by John Dalley, a local merchant. Arkwright's mill was sublet in 1792, when Arkwright's son, Richard, began to sell off the family's property assets in his move towards banking. It was named Haarlem Mill in 1815, when it was converted to weaving tape, by Madely, Hackett and Riley, who had established Haarlem Tape Works in Derby in 1806. In 1879 the Wheatcroft family, who were producing tape at Speedwell Mill, expanded into Haarlem. The two mills together employed 230 people, and it was said that their weekly output equalled the circumference of the earth, and that Wirksworth was the primary producer of red tape for Whitehall. These mills are close together at Miller's Green next to the Derby road; Haarlem Mill now houses an art collective, while Speedwell Mill is now private houses and a carpentry workshop.
Districts of Wirksworth include Yokecliffe, Gorsey Bank, Bolehill, Mountford and Miller's Green. Bolehill, although technically a hamlet in its own right in Wirksworth's suburbs, is the oldest and most northern part of the town, while Yokecliffe is a fairly new estate in the western area of the town. Modern houses have recently been built in the Three Trees area and at the bottom of Steeple Grange, this housing estate is called Spring Close.
There are five schools in Wirksworth: (Church of England and county infants, and regular combined but on two sites), Wirksworth Junior School, the Anthony Gell School and Callow Park College. Anthony Gell was a local man who was requested by Agnes Fearne to build a grammar school on her death. The original site is now a private house on the edge of the churchyard. The current school is an 11–18 comprehensive on a larger site by the Hannage Brook with about 800 pupils. The school's four houses are named after Fearne, Arkwright (Sir Richard Arkwright), Wright (Joseph Wright of Derby) and Gell. Its catchment area is the town and the surrounding villages of Middleton, Carsington, Brassington, Kirk Ireton, Turnditch, Matlock Bath, Cromford and Crich. The Anthony Gell School qualifies as a Sports College.
Culture and community
- Early April – The Wirksworth Book Festival. Launched in 2016, this sister event to the Wirksworth Festival celebrates books and reading, featuring mainly local writers.
- Early June: The Wirksworth well dressing and carnival. The well dressing was adapted after the arrival of piped water so that not only wells but also taps were decorated.
- First Sunday after 8 September: The clipping or clypping of the church is an ancient custom where the congregation joins hands to encircle the building. This takes place on the Sunday after the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – the church's dedication.
- September: Since 1995 the Wirksworth Festival has celebrated and promoted arts in the town. It is held every September and features crafts, exhibitions and street theatre.
- First Weekend in December: Glee Club's Annual Pantomime
Fanny Shaw's Playing Field, just out of the centre of town, is the principal recreation area for the north of the town. It houses a new skate park and play area. In the south of the town, there is the "Rec", where there is another children's play area, along with cricket and football pitches.
Haarlem Mill has been mentioned as the possible model for the mill in George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss. The town of Snowfield in George Eliot's Adam Bede is also said to be based in Wirksworth; Dinah Morris, a character in that novel, is based on Eliot's aunt, who lived in Wirksworth and whose husband ran the silk mill, now Wirksworth Heritage Centre.
Wirksworth was the prime location of ITV's Sweet Medicine (2003), as well as featuring as an occasional location in its forerunner Peak Practice. More recently, part of Mobile was filmed on a train on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, and much of an episode of the BBC series Casualty was filmed here.
Wirksworth features in the 2015 memoir The Long Road Out of Town by author and journalist Greg Watts, who grew up there.
Middle Peak Quarry on the outskirts of Wirksworth featured in the 2010 music video "Unlikely Hero" by the Hoosiers.
In alphabetical order:
- Abraham Bennet was curate of Wirksworth in the 18th century and did important early work in electricity, in association with Erasmus Darwin. There is a memorial plaque in Wirksworth Church and a portrait by an unknown artist.
- The oldest man in Britain, the Rev Thomas Reginald "Reg" Dean, lived at a care home in the town until his death on 5 January 2013. Born at Tunstall, Staffordshire on 4 November 1902, he lived in Derbyshire from 1947 and served as minister at the United Reformed Churches in Wirksworth and nearby Matlock for some 20 years until retiring in 1980. He also helped form the Dalesmen Male Voice Choir in the late 1980s and was made its life president.
- One rector of Wirksworth was Anthony Draycot, from 1535 until his imprisonment in 1560. He was the judge at the heresy trial of Joan Waste.
- D. H. Lawrence lived at Mountain Cottage with his wife Frieda in 1918–19. It stands below the B5023 road on the edge of Middleton-by-Wirksworth, about 1 1⁄2 miles (2.4 km) north-west of Wirksworth. Lawrence also reputedly spent time at Woodland Cottage on the far side of New Road. While in Middleton in the bitter winter of 1918–19, he wrote the short story "A Wintry Peacock", published in 1921.
- Surgeon and author Frederick Treves was in practice in the town in 1877–79. A house in Coldwell Street is named after him.
- John Woodward, naturalist (1665–1728), may have been born here.
Within Wirksworth civil parish are 108 structures that are listed by Historic England for their historic or architectural interest. The Parish Church of St Mary is listed Grade I and eight structures (15 Market Place, 35 Green Hill, 1 Coldwell Street, Haarlem Mill, Wigwell Grange, the Red Lion Hotel, Gate House and the former grammar school) are Grade II*. Wirksworth Heritage Centre is just off Market Place in Crown Yard. The exhibition shows the history of Wirksworth from its prehistoric Dream Cave and woolly rhinos, through its Roman and lead mining histories, to the modern era. Other nearby attractions include the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, the Steeple Grange Light Railway and Peak District National Park.
The study Wirksworth and Five Miles Around, written by Richard R Hackett (1843–1900), includes census information, notes on church monuments, accounts of crimes, church wardens' accounts, maps, a transcription of "Ince's pedigrees", monument inscriptions and old photographs, parish registers and wills.
- UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Wirksworth Parish (1170212845)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
- Wiltshire M, 2016, "Wirksworth: A History", Bannister Publications (Chesterfield), pp 1-5
- Hart CR, 1984, "The North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500", Derbyshire Archaeological Society, pp 17-68
- Wirksworth history site [http://gowirksworth.com/sample-pages/history/ Retrieved 24 June 2018.
- Millward, Roy; Robinson, Adrian (1975). The Peak District. The Regions of Britain. Eyre Methuen. pp. 129–130. ISBN 0-413-31550-9.
- Wiltshire, M. (2016), Wirksworth: A History, Bannister Publications (Chesterfield), pp 4-6
- Wirksworth Archaeological Society: Reports.
- Wiltshire M, 2016, "Wirksworth: A History", Bannister Publications (Chesterfield), p 12
- Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 2003. ISBN 0-14-143994-7 p.741
- Outlying farms or berwicks were Cromford, Middleton, Hopton, Wellesdene (sic), Carsington, Kirk Ireton and Callow.
- Daniel Defoe, (c. 1724) A tour thro' the whole island of Great Britain, divided into circuits or journies: Letter 8, Part 2: The Peak District, Reprnted: London: JM Dent and Co, 1927 
- Higginbotham, P. (2007), Workhouses of the Midlands, Tempus, Stroud. Page 27. ISBN 978-0-7524-4488-8
- Fitton, R. S. (1989), The Arkwrights: spinners of fortune, Manchester: Manchester University Press, p. 57, ISBN 0-7190-2646-6, retrieved 2010-08-14
- Tann, Jennifer (July 1979), "Arkwright's Employment of Steam Power", Business History, 21 (2): 248, doi:10.1080/00076797900000030, retrieved 2010-08-14
- "Wirksworth Federation Infant Schools". Wirksworth-federation-inf.ik.org. 30 April 2012. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
- 1860s picture, PictureThePast, Retrieved August 2009
- "Second year for Wirksworth Book Festival". Wirksworth Festival. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
- "carnival site". Wirksworthcarnival.co.uk.
- "Town hall lifts curtain to reveal major makeover". Derby Telegraph. 27 December 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2017.[permanent dead link]
- Peddy, Chris (8 March 2015). "'I escaped Wirksworth but failed to become a priest', reveals Derbyshire writer Greg Watts". Derby Telegraph. Archived from the original on 21 May 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
- Elliott, P. (1999), "Abraham Bennet F.R.S. (1749–1799): a provincial electrician in 18th-century England" (PDF), Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, 53 (1): 59–78, doi:10.1098/rsnr.1999.0063.[permanent dead link]
- "BRITAIN'S oldest man, who lives in Wirksworth, has celebrated his 108th birthday". This is Derbyshire. 5 November 2010.
- Gordon Goodwin, "Draycot, Anthony (d. 1571)", rev. Andrew A. Chibi, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 28 Feb 2009
- "WIRKSWORTH-Parish Records 1608-1899-Old Photos". Wirksworth.org.uk.
- ODNB entry for John Woodward: Retrieved 14 October 2011. Pay-walled.
- "Listed Buildings in Wirksworth, Derbyshire Dales, Derbyshire". britishlistedbuildings.co.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wirksworth.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Wirksworth.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Wirksworth.|
- Go Wirksworth - Community web site
- The Wirksworth Heritage Centre
- Discover Derbyshire and the Peak District: Wirksworth
- Wirksworth Parish Records 1600-1900
- Lutudarum.com - It is thought that Wirksworth is the site of the lost Roman town of Lutudarum