At 13 acres, this is the biggest village green in Derbyshire. It has not always been the level open space you see today.
Around 1200, the Lord of the Manor of Wessington built a chantry chapel at Wessington Manor (now Roadnook Farm) on the boundary between Wessington and Brackenfield. A dispute soon developed between the Rector of Morton and the Abbot of Derley (now Darley) regarding the apportionment of tithes paid, such that an appeal was made to Pope Innocent lll, who set up a committee to investigate. The Rector of Morton had to surrender his claim but received a lifelong payment, suggesting that part of the Manor and its land was in Morton Parish. Until the parish boundary changes of 1972, the Grade II listed barns, barracks and garden wall remained in Brackenfield Parish and the boundary ran through Roadnook Farmhouse. In 1893 the Rev’d C.H Leacroft wrote: “When last we beat the bounds we walked through the manor house and put a boy through the window.”
Common Pasture pertaining to the village of Brakenthweyt (Brackenfield) is the subject of an agreement made between John de Heryz of Wessington Manor and Henry, Abbot of Derley in 1275 showing that it was in their control at that time. (Records of Derley Abbey Charters held at Belvoir).
The Green remained as common land, as indicated in mediaeval maps. Until the 1930s cattle were grazed on the Green by tenant farmers, from where they walked their cattle all the way to Chatsworth Park for summer grazing. It has also provided a source of fuel, as a coal seam runs close to the surface as the land slopes eastward towards the river Amber. There was probably a combination of ‘Open-Cast’ and small scale ‘Bell-Pits’ which would have resulted in relatively large areas of ‘rough-land’ and associated spoil heaps that became rubbish tips with random areas of gorse and bramble.
It was cleared, re-landscaped / levelled, drained, and its previously open brook culverted in the mid-1960s. Later, a wildlife area was developed on the south-eastern corner of the Green to promote wildlife and provide a secluded spot for walking and exploration.
You can hear in some of the accounts below how the Green has been used as a refuse tip and also a wildlife and adventure area by the children of the village. In more recent times, the Green has been used to host well-dressing festivals, Jubilee celebrations and a village “Picnic on the Green”.
Can you see the Millenium Oak and refurbished village pump and the Jubilee trees by the bus stop?
The Village School
The most prominent and imposing building at the north end of the green is now the Church Hall. Built around 1845 as the village school and adjoining school teacher’s house, it had around ninety pupils at the turn of the century. Numbers dwindled and the school closed in 1954, the teacher’s house becoming a private dwelling. Listen to this account of attending school in the 1920s.
Head up Church Lane and take the first turn on the right (Carr Lane). Continue for about 400 metres walking past Sycamore Farm on the left. At the second set of metal gates on the left climb the stile and head up the path keeping the hedge on your left. Turn and look at the view. Go through a wooden footpath gate onto a walled track and continue until it joins White Carr Lane. Turn right and in about 50 metres you will see a spring by the wall on your left. QR plaque 2 is on the footpath signpost by the stile.