Bakewell is a small market town in Derbyshire, England, deriving its name from 'Badeca's Well'. It is the only town included in the Peak District National Park. It is located on the River Wye, about thirteen miles (21 km) southwest of Sheffield, close to the tourist attractions of Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall. It is well known for the local confection Bakewell tart (also called Bakewell pudding).
HistoryAlthough there is evidence of earlier settlements in the area, Bakewell itself was probably founded in Anglo Saxon times, when Bakewell was in the Anglian kingdom of Mercia. Bakewell Parish Church, a Grade I listed building, was founded in 920 and has a 9th century cross in the churchyard. The present church was constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries but was virtually rebuilt in the 1840s by William Flockton. By Norman times Bakewell had gained some importance—the town, and its church (having two priests) being mentioned in the Domesday Book.
A market was established in 1254, and Bakewell developed as a trading centre. The Grade I listed five-arched bridge over the River Wye at Bakewell was constructed in the 13th century, and is one of the few surviving remnants of this earlier period. A chalybeate spring was discovered, and a bath house built in 1697. This led to an 18th century bid to develop Bakewell as a spa town, in the manner of Buxton. The construction of the Lumford Mill by Richard Arkwright in 1777 was followed by the rebuilding of much of the town in the 19th century.
GeographyVillages near Bakewell include Ashford-in-the-Water, Elton, Great Longstone, Monyash, Over Haddon, Sheldon, Rowsley and Youlgreave.
DemographyAccording to the 2001 Census the civil parish of Bakewell had a population of 3,979.
Bakewell attracts many domestic and international tourists. Monday is a particularly popular day for visitors as this is the day that the traditional market is held in the town. The cattle market is housed in a new purpose built agricultural centre, across the river from the main part of the town. A medium sized stall market is held in the town centre. There is a picturesque public park, alongside the River Wye, which has its source in nearby Buxton. For a town of its size, it has a very large town centre. This is mainly because of the touristic nature of the town.
LandmarksAll Saints Church is a Grade I listed church founded in 920, during Saxon times and the churchyard has two 9th century Saxon crosses. During restoration work, in the 1840s, many carved fragments of Saxon stonework were found in and around the porch, as well as some ancient stone coffins.
One cross is the Beeley Cross, dug up in a field at a disputed location near Beeley and moved for some years to the grounds of Holt House near Darley Bridge. Although only the base and lower part of the shaft survive, it stands over five feet high and is carved on all four faces.
The other cross is the Bakewell Cross, eight feet high and almost complete. It was carved in the seventh of eighth century and shows a number of scenes including one of the Annunciation. This cross may originally have stood at Hassop Cross Roads, although there is no firm evidence as to this.
RailwayAccess was much improved by the arrival of the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway in 1862, later the Midland Railway and LMS main line from London to Manchester. John Ruskin objected to what he saw as the desecration of the Derbyshire countryside, all so that "a Buxton fool may be able to find himself in Bakewell in twelve minutes, and vice versa." In return for the Duke of Rutland's permission for the line to pass through his estate at Haddon Hall, the Bakewell station buildings, located on the hillside overlooking the town, are more imposing than a small town might be thought to justify, and the Duke's coat of arms are carved into the stonework. Such pandering to the nobility and landowners, was typical of the time, since their support would be necessary to obtain the Act of Parliament, even though the inconvenient high contour of the railway, which forced the station to be placed out of town, was due to the Duke insisting that the line ran out of sight of Haddon Hall. The station buildings are now used for small businesses, because the line between Matlock and Buxton closed in 1968: most of the trackway is in use as a quiet motor-traffic-free track for walking, cycling, and horseriding.
"Normal" trains now run from Derby only as far as Matlock, and from Manchester only as far as Buxton. There have been repeated proposals for fully reopening the remaining, Wye Valley, portion of the line, which would run through Bakewell and over the magnificent Monsal Dale viaduct. Peak Rail, a local preserved railway venture, has shown the way by reopening the line from Matlock to Rowsley, a village that is a few miles to the east of Bakewell near Haddon Hall. Reaching Bakewell is just one of Peak Rail's long-term ambitions, and in order to keep alive the intention for a future return of the railway (under one auspice or another), Derbyshire County Council is protecting the trackbed from development.
The Bakewell tart is a jam pastry with an egg and ground almond enriched filling. It is also called a Bakewell pudding. The origins of the tart are not clear, however the generally accepted story is that it was first made by accident in 1820 when the landlady of the White Horse Inn, (now called the Rutland Arms) left instructions for her cook to make a jam tart with an egg and almond paste pastry base. The cook, instead of stirring the eggs and almond paste mixture into the pastry, spread it on top of the jam. When cooked the jam rose through the paste. The result was successful enough for it to become a popular dish at the inn, and commercial variations, usually with icing sugar on top, have spread the name. It has spawned popular jokes such as "What do you call a prostitute from Derby? A Bakewell Tart".
Two shops in Bakewell offer what they both claim is the original recipe pasty - The Bakewell Tart Shop & Coffee House sells a "Bakewell Tart", while The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop sells a "Bakewell Pudding".
EventsThere are a number of annual events that take place in the town. The Peak District traditional "well dressing" takes place during June in which colourful images made of petals embedded into clay appear at several places throughout the town. The Bakewell Agricultural Show (the Little Royal) is the largest covered agricultural show in the UK, and attracts around 50,000 visitors.It takes place on the first Wednesday and Thursday in August at the Bakewell Agricultural Centre. August also has the Bakewell Arts Festival — a music and theatre event that started in 1997. The Peak Literary Festival is held in the Spring and Autumn of each year. The Spring festival starts on the last Friday in May and the autumn on the last Friday in October. Carnival week, culminating in a procession through the town, is held at the beginning of July.
SportRugby union is played regularly in the town by the Bakewell Mannerians, who currently compete in Midlands 3 East (North)..
Stephen Downing caseBakewell was the focus of attention during the Stephen Downing case, which was also known as the "Bakewell Tart" murder. The case involved the conviction and imprisonment in 1974 of a 17-year-old council worker, Stephen Downing, for the murder of a 32 year old legal secretary in Bakewell cemetery. Following a campaign by a local newspaper, his conviction was overturned in 2002, after Downing had served 27 years in prison. The case is thought to be the longest miscarriage of justice in British legal history, and attracted worldwide media attention.