The lovely village of Monyash is an absolute gem, with pretty stone cottages lining quiet lanes and a country inn overlooking a village green. It is located in the White Peak at the head of the beautiful Lathkill Dale, surrounded by rolling fields and gentle hills.
There has been a settlement here since Neolithic times. The impressive stone circle and henge at nearby Arbor Low was constructed around 2000BC by the early inhabitants of the area.
The Romans later developed lead mining in the area and constructed a road which forms the southern boundary of the parish. Monyash grew in importance due to its location at the intersection of a number of trade routes.
The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as ‘Maneis’. The name Monyash comes from the Old English words ‘Mane’ and ‘Eas’, meaning many waters. The name arose because of the unusual band of clay running beneath the village, deposited during the last Ice Age. This clay bed allows pools of water to collect in the area, uncommon in a limestone region. The villagers used this to their advantage, creating ponds and wells to allow access to fresh water all year round. In the past the village had no less than five ponds and twenty wells. One such pond, Fere Mere, still remains in the centre, and is a picturesque feature.
The lovely church of St Leonard’s dates from as far back as 1100, at which time it was a small building most probably used by the Early Britons in the area to worship pagan gods. Over the centuries it has been added to and developed, and it is now a large church, Grade II listed. There is also a Quaker Chapel, or Friends’ Meeting House, in the village; Monyash was a centre for Quakerism from the 18th Century thanks to the residence of John Gratton who lived there for 34 years. The village also has a Methodist Chapel, built in 1835.
Monyash continued to prosper as a community over the centuries. The surrounding land was rich in lead and the area became a centre for lead mining, as well as limestone quarrying and farming the lush grazing land. In 1340 Monyash was granted a charter to hold a weekly market and a three day fair.
By the mid 1800s Monyash was a large, busy village, double its size today. Among the trades listed within the village population were: blacksmiths, cobblers, butchers, wheelwrights, wool merchants, joiners, dressmakers and shoemakers, as well as a village policeman. There were five pubs in the village, a garage and a Post Office, and over 100 children in the local school.
Monyash today is a smaller, more peaceful settlement, but with a thriving community spirit. The economy is now based largely on farming. The one remaining pub, The Bull’s Head, is one of the oldest buildings in the village and is renowned for its great food and good beer. There is also a popular café next door, The Old Smithy tea rooms.
Surrounded by stunning countryside and with numerous footpaths across the White Peak landscape, including the long-distance trail The Limestone Way, Monyash is a great place to visit.