Vicar's bizarre marriage and the man who stole the parson's sheep are recorded in Illustrated Tales of Derbyshire

Derbyshire is awash with stories, from real-life experiences shared through the generations to fairy tales which wouldn’t look out of place in a Hans Christian Andersen book.

By Gay Bolton
Thursday, 5th March 2020, 7:22 am
David Paul's new book Illustrated Tales of Derbyshire.
David Paul's new book Illustrated Tales of Derbyshire.

Even if you have lived in the county all your life the chances are that some of the gems uncovered by author David Paul will come as a big surprise.

His new book, Illustrated Tales of Derbyshire, reveals strange and mythical stories from rural landscapes to towns and cities and from ancient settlements and villages to places that grew up around industry.

Over the past two years, retired teacher David has published similar books about Cheshire, Yorkshire, Shropshire and Lancashire.

Miners Arms in Eyam where a drunken vicar found himself as a bridegroom in a mock wedding and was later ordered by a bishop to do it for real.

David, 74 , said: “Of the five counties that I have written about, it is Derbyshire that has totally captured my interest and imagination.

“There are many very interesting stories that I was able to uncover, but amongst my favourites was the story relating to the Pentrich Rising – an event, in my opinion, that has not been given the prominence which it deserves in national social history.

“Another story which I found very interesting was A Bizarre Marriage (about a vicar who was forced by the bishop into matrimony after a mock wedding in an Eyam pub) which is a reflection on the different attitudes which were prevalent at that time.”

David was amused by the tale of The Man Who Stole The Parson’s Sheep at Calver and horrified by The Brutal Murder of Harriet Wager, who lived near Calver.

David Paul, author of Illustrated Tales of Derbyshire.

He discovered several myths about Chesterfield’s crooked spire and found that Dore had its own version of The Elves and the Shoemaker fairy story.

The book is a fascinating insight into some of Derbyshire’s quaint customs. There are stories of pancakes being tossed over the church steeple for children to catch in baskets at Dronfield and burying cakes being shared at Castleton on funeral days.

David said: “Since becoming totally engrossed in the countryside of Derbyshire and its rich history, I have now started to research my next book. The book will be called Historic Churches of Derbyshire and is scheduled for publication early next year.”

Illustrated Tales of Derbyshire, published by Amberley Books, costs £14.99.

Early morning street scene in Castleton.
Today Calver is an oasis of tranquillity but it has had a chequered past as David Paul's book Illustrated Tales of Derbyshire reveals.