With its imposing stone buildings and intricate network of narrow lanes, yards and alleys, Wirksworth is a magnet for lovers of industrial history and heritage.
Its past fortunes were built on lead mining, a key commercial activity dating back to Roman times, quarrying and textiles - introduced by industrial pioneer Sir Richard Arkwright at Haarlem Mill, considered by some to be the mill in George Eliot's novel The Mill on the Floss.
Dinah Morris, a character in the book, is based on Eliot's aunt, who lived in Wirksworth and was married to the manager of the Silk Mill, the original home of Wirksworth Heritage Centre. Eliot is also thought to have based the fictional town of Snowfield in another novel, Adam Bede, on Wirksworth.
The new Wirksworth Heritage Centre on St John's Street is benefiting from a £1.3 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to renovate and convert the building into an accessible space housing the town's museum collections, as well hosting as a diverse programme of events, exhibitions and activities. When complete, it will preserve and promote the fascinating stories of Wirksworth and its people.
Like many of the Peak District and Derbyshire's market towns, Wirksworth is perhaps best explored on foot. The imposing Church of St Mary boasts many interesting features, including a Saxon coffin lid, Norman font and fine carvings, and is linked with the ancient ceremony of 'Church Clypping' around its boundaries each September.
Annual local traditions range from Well Dressing in June to the annual Carnival and Arts Festival and Art & Architectural Trail each September. This is the time to experience the buzz of street theatre, music, fun family events and great food and drink.
More than 150 artists throw open their doors for visitors to browse and buy original and affordable art and take a look inside some of the most historical and quirky homes and buildings in Derbyshire.
Booking & Payment Details
- Cash Point
- Gift shop
- On-site catering
Map & Directions
From Derby, take the A6 north. Just before reaching Duffield, take a sign posted left turn onto the B5023, and continue on this road to Wirksworth.The nearest railway station is Cromford, which is 2 miles away.