COLUMN: Mystery over Belper’s former manor house

NBENBE110920c3, Belper strutts centre, The Chevin singers. Chairman Viv Wilson
NBENBE110920c3, Belper strutts centre, The Chevin singers. Chairman Viv Wilson

By Viv Scott

Belper resident

Two weekends packed with history are coming up: September 13 and 14 at No 28 Market Place and September 21 at Strutt’s North Mill.

The Manor House which stood in Belper in the fourteenth century has completely disappeared.

Historians have puzzled over its whereabouts; a number of possible sites have been suggested but so far nothing of significance has been found.

Belper U3A members are running an archaeology project in a garden near the Market Place and visitors to No28 on September 13 and 14 can see what’s been found and learn more about the Manor House.

The free exhibition is open on Saturday from 9­am to 4pm and Sunday from 10­am to 4pm.

Children can try their hands at archaeology and refreshments will be available.Another mystery puzzling local historians: where was the tree that sheltered John Wesley when he preached in Belper ?

On Saturday, September 13, after the farmers’ market a tree will spring up in the Market Place, constructed by young people at Fleet Arts in a project to recreate the scene.

Also at No28 on Saturday, September 13, is a ‘Belper Joe’ evening.

On show will be three little figurines of this nineteenth century local character. They were manufactured by Crown Derby and are now highly collectible and we would love to know if there are any more in Belper. Former Derbyshire Poet Laureate Matt Black will read poems about Belper Joe and there will be a ‘pudding club’.

Anyone can bring a small pudding to share, reviving a custom reputedly introduced by Belper Joe himself. Tickets are available by email on: twentyeightbelper@btinternet.com or by post to No28, Market Place, Belper DE56 1FZ.

The following Sunday, September 21 will see a history fair at Strutt’s North Mill when The Loyal Volunteers demonstrate their military marching techniques in order to be ready for a Napoleonic invasion.

And visitors will be able to get close up to authentic weaponry used in Belper’s medieval hunting forest. Children’s activities include an archaeological dig and there will be displays by local societies showing what’s happening to keep local history alive in the area. There will be short talks and demonstrations by experts on a wide range of historical topics and refreshments throughout the day. Event times are 11am to 3pm. A small admission charge includes a museum tour. No need to book, just turn up ­ a great day out for the whole family.