The pretty village of Alstonefield lies on the border of Staffordshire and Derbyshire, between the valleys of the River Dove and the River Manifold, surrounded by the most beautiful, rolling Peak District countryside.
An ancient settlement
The village of Alstonefield is built upon an ancient site, with the name most probably deriving from ‘Aelfstan’s field’, Aelfstan being an Anglo-Saxon name. The Saxon occupation of this area is evidenced by the many fortified hill farms and ancient field systems in the surrounding valleys. There are also fragments of Saxon crosses in the village churchyard.
The village was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as a small farming community. By 1308 Alstonefield was granted a charter for a market and the village became a centre for trade, with many packhorse routes passing close by. However, as the importance of the packhorse routes declined over the centuries in favour of canal and rail transport, Alstonefield was overlooked in favour of its neighbours Hartington and Ashbourne.
There are still many historic buildings to be seen in the village and surrounding area, including an ancient tithe barn, the 16th Century rectory, the early 17th Century Stanshope Hall, and the three-storey workhouse known as The Hermitage, built in 1790.
The lovely church of St Peter’s is Grade I listed. Parts of the building date back to the 12th Century, although it is likely that there was an even earlier Saxon church on the site. The churchyard contains a circular memorial stone to Ann Green, who died on 11 April 1518. The grave is believed to be the oldest legible gravestone in England. A further remarkable grave is that of Mary Barclay, who died in 1731 at the ripe old age of 107!
The poet and writer Charles Cotton was born in Alstonefield in 1630. He was best known for writing the fisherman’s ‘bible’ The Compleat Angler with Izaak Walton in 1653, and was a renowned angler of the River Dove.
Alstonefield today is a peaceful, very picturesque place, with stone houses clustered around a village green, dotted with mature trees and watched over by a historic country inn, The George, the only survivor of the three pubs once in the village.
Alstonefield is a beautiful place to wander and while away the hours, and the surrounding countryside is superb for walking, with a number of routes through neighbouring Beresford Dale, Wolfscote Dale, Milldale, Hall Dale and Dovedale.