Monday, 6 May 2013

VILLAGE LIFE: THE PEAK DISTRICT



Approaching Derbyshire from the south, skirting around the massive urban sprawl that is Birmingham, the beer-soaked town of Burton Upon Trent, and the cathedral city of Derby itself, it comes as something of a surprise to suddenly find oneself in the Derbyshire Peak District National Park, which in the south is characterised by rolling hills and dales, while the High Peak in the north is all dramatic, windswept uplands.  Nestled among all this scenic splendour are a range of villages and small towns, several of which were used in the filming of the BBC drama The Village starring Maxine Peake and John Simm, which chronicles the life of a fictional village amid the changing social and political landscape of the early 20th century.  The first series covered the period up to 1920, but there are plans for subsequent series taking the viewer further into the century.

The main village used in the series is Hayfield in the north-west of the national park, which lies at the foot of Kinder Scout, a moorland plateau which includes, at 636 metres above sea level, the highest point in the Peak District.  The village was on the old packhorse route from Cheshire to Yorkshire.  With the arrival of cotton in the 19th century the village spread down the Sett Valley and into Birch Vale.  The village has a range of specialist shops, seven pubs and good walking routes.  Once an important industrial centre, the village is now considered a desirable place to live, with property prices reflecting its popularity.  Each year in May there is a May Queen procession, while nearby Little Hayfield hosts sheepdog trials.  Locations in Hayfield which feature in the series include The Old Vicarage, The Royal Hotel, the cricket club and the Library.  Hayfield's other TV connection is that it was the birthplace of Arthur Lowe, who played Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army, while at Little Hayfield the Lantern Pike pub was a favourite of Tony Warren, creator of Coronation Street, who used to work on writing the episodes while enjoying a pint or two at the pub.



Hayfield © 2005 Dave Dunford, via Wikimedia Commons

Edale is another attractive Derbyshire village, and its main claim to fame is that it is at the southern end of the Pennine Way.  The village is on a railway line, and its station was used in The Village.  Edale is also where some of the farm scenes were filmed.   There is a Peak District National Park Visitor Centre in Edale.  Another location used in the series is Chapel-en-le-Frith, whose French-sounding name derives from the fact that the original settlement was founded by Normans in the 12th century for the purpose of hunting.  The Normans also built the town's first chapel, now the Church of St Thomas Becket.  The town's Playhouse Theatre was used as the village theatre in the series.  The church in the fictional TV village was actually a church in Glossop.  The Middleton Farm which formed the centrepiece of the drama was represented by Far Coombes Farm in Charlesworth.  Further afield in Cheshire, Tatton Park Farm, which forms part of Tatton Park Estate in Knutsford, was also used in the series.  

Further information about the Peak District Natioanl Park can be found here.

2 comments:

  1. The Middleton farm is actually Tagsnaze Farm in Edale. The chapel scenes are filmed at Charlesworth though, as are some early scenes in Series 1.

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    1. Thanks for the extra info. (Sorry, was on holiday, have only just seen your comment).

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