Sutton Scarsdale is a tiny hamlet surrounded by pretty Derbyshire countryside but dominated by the ruined shell of Sutton Scarsdale Hall.
The Hall is said to be haunted and perhaps one of the ghosts is its builder, Nicholas Leake, the 4th and last Earl of Scarsdale. Once the Crown's Ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor, Nicholas was accused of plotting with the Jacobite rebels in 1715 and sent to the Tower of London. He bought his freedom and returned to his family home in Sutton Scarsdale Hall. But it was his ambition to have a mansion to rival Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth, so he began work on the old Hall.
Every wall was expensively decorated, from the Corinthian pillars and pilasters to the stuccoed pediment and elaborate cornice. As proof of his achievement, Nicholas died bankrupt in 1736.
The Hall passed from hand to hand until it was put up for auction in 1820. One of the bidders was sitting in a simple buff coat and fawn breeches and the auctioneer was worried that he wouldn't be able to pay the deposit, let alone the capital sum. The man took from his pocket a banknote for £20,000 saying 'There are only 4 of these printed, and the other 3 are at home.' This was Richard Arkwright, the son of the inventor of the Factory System, Sir Richard Arkwright.
The Hall was sold again in the 1920s to a building firm. Intending to demolish it, they stripped the Hall of everything that could be torn from it, up to and including the lead from the roof. But, with one day to spare, Osbert Sitwell from Renishaw Hall, stepped in and bought it and, today, the Hall is owned by English Heritage.
Equally impressive is St Mary's Church next to the Hall. Dating from the 13th Century, it is one of the oldest in Derbyshire and has a rare tomb depicting a carver of a Norman household, one of only 3 in Britain. Usually closed, the Church is open on Saturday afternoons and, in 2007, was granted money by English Heritage for repair work.
SK 439687 53.21354 -1.34406
Free parking available at Sutton Scarsdale Hall.
Leave M1 motorway at junction 29 and take A6175 (signposted Clay Cross). Take 1st right turn into Heath village. Follow road through village for approx 1 mile, then turn right out of village onto Shire Lane. As lane curves round to right take left turn onto Sutton Lane.
Take A617 to junction with M1 motorway and, at roundabout select left lane and take 2nd exit (A6175). Then follow route from North/South.
Follow A619 to Chesterfield. At traffic light controlled roundabout (Lidl on left) select middle lane and take 3rd exit. Keep in left lane and, at traffic lights go straight on. At roundabout select middle lane and take 2nd exit (A632 signposted Bolsover). Follow road through Calow and on to Arkwright Town. At roundabout (Arkwright Town) take 3rd exit onto Sutton Lane.
- Picnic site
- Children welcome
- Dogs accepted