Author Alison Uttley: The facts

Councillor Andrew Lewer, Derbyshire County Council leader and cabinet member for culture and blue plaque nominator Gilly Groom unveil the Alison Uttley blue plaque
Councillor Andrew Lewer, Derbyshire County Council leader and cabinet member for culture and blue plaque nominator Gilly Groom unveil the Alison Uttley blue plaque

Popular author Alison Uttley’s childhood home in Cromford is now the proud bearer of a Derbyshire County Council Blue Plaque.

County council leader and cabinet member for culture Councillor Andrew Lewer unveiled the plaque at Castle Top Farm, Cromford on September 24 – her birthplace and the inspiration for her Little Grey Rabbit stories.

He was joined for the honours by Alison Uttley’s biographer Denis Judd, president of the Alison Uttley Literary Property Trust, along with fans of the author.

Unveiling the new blue plaque, Councillor Lewer said: “Alison was a fascinating Derbyshire personality who was well known in her lifetime as an excellent author, particularly of children’s books.

“By putting up this plaque at her childhood home, I would like to think we are helping her gain even wider recognition and ensure her name lives on in the place that inspired her – rural Derbyshire.”

Alison Uttley was born at Castle Top Farm in 1884 and lived there throughout her childhood. She became a well-known author after her Little Grey Rabbit stories – inspired by life on the farm - were published. She later wrote the novel A Traveller in Time about a plot to rescue Mary Queen of Scots.

Former Blue Peter presenter Simon Groom and his wife Gilly, who live in the house in Dethick where the Mary Queen of Scots rescue plot was hatched by Anthony Babington, nominated her for the blue plaque.

The public then voted for their favourites, securing Uttley one of six blue plaques awarded in the third round of Derbyshire County Council’s scheme.

The other five are: Samuel Slater of Belper; gardener William Barron; engineer Henry Royce; manufacturer John Smedley and engineer Joseph Whitworth.

Helping unveil the plaque on a dry stone wall adjoining the property and clearly visible from a nearby footpath, her biographer Denis Judd said the writer would have been very happy to see the farm – and “the bedrock” of her life – commemorated.

“Alison will be looking down and feeling really happy. Her spirit will be in raptures,” he said.

Attending the unveiling, Gilly Groom said she was very pleased to see the plaque in place: “She is a very famous Derbyshire person and she should be commemorated,” she added.

The plaque was put into a dry stone wall at the entrance to the farm by local drystonewaller Edd Smith of Matlock, who built the wall.