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Pictures of Winster

in the county of Derbyshire
Winster, Derbyshire

About Winster

This fine Derbyshire village occupies a commanding position about 800 feet above sea level close to the spectacular limestone and rich grit-stone moorland of the Peak District National Park.

The village owes it existence to the riches garnered from lead-mining. Many of the picturesque pale limestone and creamy sandstone cottages were built during the 17th-century when the mining industry was in its hey-day. The larger, handsome houses to be seen in Winster were the homes of the mine owners. The styles of the properties reflect the faded glory of an industry that continued into the 20th-century when the last mine closed down.

In the main village street the most noticeable building is the Market House which quite possibly dates back to the 15th-century. It has a pitched roof and beautiful arches which are now closed in. It was the first building in Derbyshire to be acquired by the National Trust and is now a tourist information centre. Winster Hall is a large, elegant three-storey house built entirely of gritstone and dates from the 17th-century. The hall was once the home of a noted local historian and is said to be haunted. It is now converted to provide luxurious hotel accommodation. Of the twenty or so public houses used by miners of centuries, a few still remain, but some, like the house with 'Shoulder of Mutton' carved above the door, have been converted to dwelling houses.

The village still holds dear to traditions established hundreds of years ago. It celebrates wakes week in time-honoured fashion with a procession led by a king and queen attended by a jester and a troupe of Winster Morris men - one of the oldest in the country. The scene is preceded by a good natured witch who makes play of sweeping the path clean for their majesties triumphal progress. Just as with the annual Pancake Race on Shrove Tuesday, it is all good fun and everyone has everyone has a jolly time. Another tradition is the ringing of the village curfew bell which still chimes at 8 p.m. each evening.

In a lovely hillside setting you can find the church dedicated to St.John the Baptist. The building has fine stained glass windows and a tower dating from 1721. Inside there is a cast-iron relief of Leonardo's painting - The Last Supper, which dates from the 19th-century. In the shaded churchyard lie the graves and tombstones of centuries.

Today, this graceful village with its sweeping main street and quiet little alleyways is a tourist destination of character and charm. As such, it makes an interesting base from which to tour the wonderful Peak District National Park where you can experience breathtaking views of towering pinnacles, luminous caves and caverns, and magnificent waterways.

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