Updated 22 Jun 2007

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Photo 324


Cromford Bridge and St Mary's Church..

Unposted. Track to Willersley Castle on the right.

15th C pointed arches on the East (downstream) side, with the Church tower behind.

An undated close-up of the East side of the bridge.

Rounded arches on the West (upstream) side, built when the bridge was widened.

Cromford Bridge and Church

Cromford Bridge and Church, photo taken from Willersley Castle. St Mary's was built in 1797 as a chapel of ease due to the rapid expansion of Cromford. Sir Richard Arkwright built the world's first water-powered cotton spinning mill nearby in 1776, and new houses for the workers. The bridge was built in the 1400s. In the background is the railway embankment. Arkwright's canal finishes at Cromford wharf, just behind the Church. The postcard is published by Charles Colledge, Smedley St, Matlock.

The parapet of the bridge has a mysterious inscription:
There are many theories about what this means, my own is given below. For others, see Cromford Village in Derbyshire.

The carving on the parapet, photo by Maurice Guise 2005 Posted 1917. The church hidden in summer. Posted 1913. The church revealed in winter. Taken pre-1902 (undivided back). Cromford Church interior. Posted 1963. The church clock reads AD 1839 and 4.15 pm

Photo taken:

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    The following letter by the Author was published in 1996 in the DFHS magazine.


    On the parapet of 15C Cromford Bridge is a crude inscription:


    According to The Cromford Guide "this commemorates a feat of horsemanship, when Mr Benjamin Haywood's mare took fright and jumped over the parapet, miraculously bearing her rider to safety."

    A search of the B.Ts reveals 28 entries with these initials. Eliminating those of the wrong gender, or too young, or who died before 1697, only one person remains: Bernard HEYWOOD. He married Ann THOMPSON in 1674 and they had 9 children before 1697. The first 8 were girls, 6 of whom died in childhood. The 9th was their first son, named Benjamin. Unfortunately Benjamin died after 1 week in 1696. No more children are recorded, Ann was probably in her late 40's, and the household atmosphere was probably unhappy with 7 deaths of children. If Bernard was set on producing a son, a run of eight daughters would not have cheered him up. Then when his first son dies at the age of 1 week, Bernard may have felt suicidal. Perhaps there is another explanation for the mare jumping off Cromford Bridge nearly 300 years ago?

    Later information from the Wirksworth Parish registers shows 9 daughters: Sarah bap 1677, Elizabeth died 1679, Ann bap 1679, Mary died 1680, Mary bap 1682, Hellen bap 1686, Aquilla died 1689, Dinah died 1693, Lydia died 1695. Benjamin was bap 27 May and died 5 Jun 1696. Ann was probably born in 1653 and married at 21. No baptism has been found for Bernard. Bernard married Ann on 2 Aug 1674 at Wirksworth. Bernard died 20 Jul 1706 and Ann his wife died 30 Jan 1709. The family lived at Middleton-by-Wirksworth. The surname was variously spelled: HAYWOOD, HEAWOOD, HEYWOOD, HEWOOD

                      |                         |
                      |                         | 1653
                      Bernard       1674        Ann
                      1706            |         1709
    |     |         |    |    |    |      |       |     |     |
    1677            1679      1682 1686                       1696
    Sarah Elizabeth Ann  Mary Mary Hellen Aquilla Dinah Lydia Benjamin
          1679           1680             1689    1693  1695  1696

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