Derbyshire

 

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Derbyshire: 53.104678, -1.562388

Derbyshire, or Derbys, is a county situated in the East Midlands region of England. It is bordered by Greater Manchester in the northwest, West Yorkshire to the north, South Yorkshire to the northeast, Nottinghamshire to the east, Leicestershire to the southeast, Staffordshire to the west and southwest and Cheshire also to the west. The city of Derby is a unitary authority area, but remains part of the ceremonial county of Derbyshire.

A substantial portion of the Peak District National Park lies within Derbyshire. The southern extremity of the Pennine range of hills extends into the north of the county. The county contains part of the National Forest. Kinder Scout, at 636 metres (2,087 ft), is the highest point in the county, whilst Trent Meadows, where the River Trent leaves Derbyshire, is its lowest point at 27 metres (89 ft).[1]:1[2] The River Derwent is the county's longest river at 66 miles (106 km), and runs roughly north to south through the county.

The Romans, chiefly interested in the county for its lead and the springs at Buxton, established a number of forts and roads. Christianity came with the first religious house in Mercia built at Repton in 656 (where the Saxon crypt survives), but thereafter Danish invasions placed Derbyshire in the front line of battle until 1013, when Sweyn conquered the whole country. Throughout the medieval period Derbyshire remained sparsely populated, but numerous market charters were granted and there is a reference to coal-mining near Ilkeston in 1285. The county suffered grievously from the plague, the final outbreak occurring famously in 1665 when six-sevenths of the population of Eyam died. The Civil War saw Derby occupied by parliamentarians in 1643 and, with the north and west of the county royalist in sentiment, a number of small battles followed, including skirmishes at Hartington and Wirksworth (1643). However, Derbyshire's chief importance to the Stuarts came in 1745, when the young pretender and his army occupied Derby before retreating to Scotland. By the 17th cent., the Cavendishes had established themselves as the premier family, mostly due to Bess of Hardwick (countess of Shrewsbury) (1520–1608); they owned 14 per cent of Derbyshire at one stage, controlled one of the county's two MPs, built the magnificent Chatsworth House (1687–1707), and in 1756–7 William Cavendish, 4th duke of Devonshire, was prime minister.

In the east and north, where iron, cotton, and coal dominated the economy, and where much of Derbyshire's industry is still based, runs the M1 motorway, past Ilkeston and Alfreton. Above them is Chesterfield, with its celebrated twisted spire atop an exceptional Gothic church, and Dronfield, which has almost merged with Sheffield. The north-west tip of Derbyshire is the least populated part and contains the Ladybower reservoir, opened in 1945; its largest town, Glossop, retains the appearance of a Victorian mill town, but has a number of attractive 17th-cent. gabled houses.

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