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In Hac Habitasse

The village of Stanton–by-Dale retains its unspoilt charm and peace and quiet of days gone by, despite being only a short distance from a major industrialised area, and with the M1 motorway passing through the parish.


 

Industrialisation first began when several attempts were made to set up blast furnaces in the area, but real progress only came when iron pipes rapidly replaced wooden and earthenware ones. Encouraged by the Earl of Stanhope, who owned the estate which included the village, Stanton Ironworks was eventually successfully established, joining with Staveley Ironworks in 1960 and being known throughout the world for cast iron products.

 

In 1912, the Stanton Company bought Earl Stanhope’s estate and maintained the buildings in the village in a diligent manner. The policy was one of repair rather than alteration. Very little building took place other than the six semi-detached houses on Quarry Hill for foremen from the ironworks. Today much of the village remains the same as it was in the early part of the 20th century. Most of Stanton lies within a conservation area and is subject to an Article 4 Direction. This should ensure that the village will continue to retain its unique character in future years.

 

Stanton Hall was the home in 1846 of Benjamin Smith, ‘The Ironmaster’, who took a 21-year lease from Earl Stanhope and established an ironworks by the Nutbrook Canal, which saw the beginning of the Stanton Ironworks. However, he and his son went bankrupt in 1849 and the creditors carried on the business before selling it to James Haywood who made it financially sound.

 

St Michael’s and All Angels Church dates back to the early 14th century, but was substantially restored in the 19th century. A former rector the Rev William Fox, achieved fame as ‘the sledging rector’, by using a horsedrawn Russian sledge, in winter, to get between his two parishes.

 

At the bottom of the path leading to the church is a large rectangular stone that once formed part of a cheese press. On the right are the Middlemore Almshouses that blend so harmoniously that they would appear to have all been built at the same time. This is not the case: there is nearly two hundred years between the first four to be built and the last one. The row is named after Mrs Winifred Middlemore, who gave the four houses nearest the church for occupation by eight poor people

The Village Cross stands at the foot of Pepper Lane, under the shade of an old horse chestnut tree, its Fleur-de-lys style head dating back nearly 400 years. Further down Stanhope Street, the cast iron pump used to act as a drinking fountain and provides a plinth for resting water containers while they were filled. It was a gift from the women of the village to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

 

On the opposite side of the street numbers 16-24 are probably the first workers’ cottages to be built in the village. The house in the centre’s date stone indicates it was built in 1790. Below is the Manor House, which was used to house important visitors to the Ironworks, now a private house.

 

There are two public houses in the village, the Stanhope Arms and the Chequers Inn - where during the Second World War the landlord, because of the shortage of barbers, used to cut customers’ hair, while they downed a pint! This provided a rather novel excuse for slipping out of the house for a drink, rather than the more usual one of taking the dog for a walk.

 Over Dale Road and up the field from the Chequers, is the village cricket ground. Formed in 1868, the team had the rather grand name of ‘The True Britons’. 

After passing Stanton Hall, now a residential home for the elderly, at the next road junction is the Christian Meeting Centre, sited in what used to be the village school. At the rear, the village shop and post office (open mornings only), occupies a converted air raid shelter.

 

The three pairs of semi-detached houses on Quarry Hill used to be occupied by foremen at the ironworks and across the road is what remains of the village pound where stray animals were kept.

 

Only a short distance from the village, but unseen in the valley below, are Stanton Plc and Stanton Bonna. The former is the UK’s leading manufacturer of manhole covers, surface boxes, gully gates and iron pipes. Stanton Bonna formed in 1989 between Stanton Plc and Bonna, is the largest manufacturer of pre-cast concrete products in Europe.    

 


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