The Old House Museum. 

This enchanting museum is lies beyond Bakewell Parish Church. So why not go up the Hill of History from King Street where the Old Town Hall faces the butter market, see the recently- restored almshouses round the corner and go through the churchyard past the Viking-Age crosses and learn about the church’s history?

The museum has10 beamed rooms. The houseplace has a massive Tudor fireplace and you can see the roof beams in the solar. Everyone comments on the Tudor garderobe (toilet).

Displays include historic costumes, lace, samplers and other textiles; toys; china and the stories of the Bakewell pudding and the circus elephant shot in 1905. There is a 20th century gallery with recollections of the world wars and a large collection of local historical photographs. Local industries displayed include black marble ornaments and Lumford Mill as first a cotton factory and then a battery factory making enormous submarine batteries. There is a large stainless steel sculpture representing part of a giant water wheel which provided the power to run the mill.

The museum is open from 11am to 4 pm every day from 1st April to 5th November. We offer party visits, with buffet or light refreshments if desired, and tours round the town. School parties are particularly welcomed and they can take part in various activities.

The Old House Museum, Cunningham Place, Off North Church Street, Bakewell.  DE45 1DD. Tel. 01629 813642



The Old House was built in Henry VIII’s reign as a tax collector’s house, and extended in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, as the base for collecting tithes and managing the parsonage (church land). In the early church, Christians made voluntary gifts to build and maintain a church, relieve the poor and sick and pay a priest.  Following the Norman Conquest, these voluntary offerings were made an obligatory annual payment of a tenth, or tithe, of a parishioner’s produce or income.  Most of these payments were made in kind – hay, corn, wool, lead, geese, honey, etc – and many parishes had a tithe barn for their storage, before their eventual sale.

The first written record of the Parsonage House was in a lease of 1534 from the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield to Ralph Gell of Hopton by Wirksworth, a prospering lawyer, lead dealer and sheep farmer.  Gell was paid to collect the church tithes in the High and Low Peak. Later the Dean and Chapter sold the right to collect the tithes to Ralph Gell, whose steward, Christopher Plant, was given the task of collection.  The oldest part of the Parsonage House was built as his house and office.

Additions and improvements probably began in 1549. A substantial northern wing was added.  A screens passage (now lost) from the porch gave access to the house place and to a stair  leading to the first floor.  On the ground floor this house place or hall has a great fireplace. Beyond were the buttery and kitchen, perhaps with a bake oven.  On the upper floor a screens passage (now lost) led to the porch closet or through a left hand door into the withdrawing chamber above the houseplace.  The withdrawing chamber has access through an arch in a studded partition to the garderobe chamber, whose privy (toilet) is over a pit with a clearance hole at ground–floor level.

Sir Richard Arkwright, following the success of his famous cotton mill at Cromford, built another in 1778 at Lumford, upstream of Bakewell. He needed cheap accommodation for his workers so he acquired the Parsonage House and divided it into five small cottages each with a stair to bedrooms on the first floor.  New factory – style, iron windows were inserted into some rooms. The Tudor garderobe was sealed off and toilets built behind the cottages.  A sixth cottage was built on.  Four more families were accommodated in the adjacent tithe barn.

These cottages had no running water and, despite extra fireplaces, were damp and cold.  They gradually deteriorated into slums.  After the Second World War they were declared unfit for habitation and the Council was going to demolish three of them. The Bakewell and District Historical Society was formed to save the building and run it as a museum. It has been maintained and improved, mostly by the voluntary efforts of the Society’s members. Most of Arkwright’s alterations were removed in the early days but you can see how a family lived in the Victorian kitchen. More recently, grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other bodies allowed many improvements to be made including a new gallery for local industries.



Bakewell was the ancient capital of the royal Peacland estate in the early Middle Ages and a  church was probably built here soon after Christianity came to the Anglo Saxons of Mercia in the middle of the 7th century. It was rebuilt in about 1135 and parts of that Norman church can still be seen. Much of the church was rebuilt in the middle of the 19th century after the tower and spire had to be demolished in 1825 because they were built on poor foundations. During the rebuilding a large number of carved Anglo Saxon stones came to light and they are displayed in the porch and at the back of the north aisle. They form the best collection in the country of such early sculptured stonework

The two crosses in the churchyard date from the Viking Age. Bakewell was where, in 920, the Vikings and other northern rulers accepted King Alfred’s son, Edward the Elder, as overlord. From the images carved on them, the crosses are thought to date from that period. The cross near the porch was taken from  Beeley Moor  and moved for some years to the grounds of Holt House near Darley Bridge. Although only the base and lower part of the shaft survive, it stands over five feet high and is carved on all four faces.

The Great Cross is almost complete. It may originally have stood at a cross roads near Hassop roundabout and a recent excavation gives some support to that legend.

Bakewell also has numerous Antique shops and an Antiques Centre.