The village of Hollinsclough nestles unexpectedly at the head of the upland reaches of the Dove Valley. A picturesque cluster of buildings, which includes a chapel and a school, lies in a secluded corner of the valley at 883 feet. The larger parish of Hollinsclough consists of 1842 acres of upland pasture and scattered settlement, rising as high as 1,513 feet at Summerhill.
The River Dove forms the Northern boundary of the Parish which is also the county boundary with Derbyshire and tributaries of the Dove and the River Manifold form the Eastern boundary with Longnor. Hollinsclough borders the parishes of Heathylee on the South West and Quarnford to the West.
A feature of the upper valley of the River Dove is the row of sharp-edged limestone hills which line the north side of the river almost like teeth. These hills, notably Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill, are the remains of coral reefs which once made up the edge of the shallow lagoon in which the limestone rocks were laid down on the early Carboniferous era, 340 million years ago. They are among the most spectacular sights of the area. The river Dove widens as it reaches Hollinsclough. It then flows south of Chrome and Parkhouse before passing High Wheeldon with its cave that has yielded stone age remains. Artefacts found here are exhibited in Buxton museum.
To read more about the geology of the area click here.
There is evidence of human settlement in the area from Palaeolithic times onwards. Some of the earliest written records show the importance of agriculture with a reference to a ‘corn field’. In recent times the emphasis has been on dairy and sheep, with most farmland described in 1988 as grassland or rough grazing and with many small farms contributing to the “dual economy” by supporting a smallholding through other work. Traditionally the men have worked in the quarries or limeworks or calamine mines on Chrome Hill or on the railways, whilst the women folk did the farm chores. Earlier still, local people must have served as pedlars and travellers or as shop-keepers and weavers.
Hollinsclough is probably best known for its Methodist Chapel, founded in 1801 by John Lomas, packhorse man and silk trader, who successfully represented the interests of hawkers and pedlars before the House of Commons in 1785 and who later became a lay preacher. It was built in his garden and took four years and cost £365.
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century Hollinsclough was on the silk routes to Macclesfield and was a local centre of silk weaving and button making. Three Hollinsclough button manufacturers were mentioned in 1800, two were listed in 1834 and women button-makers from Hollinsclough were probably involved in an attempt to form a button-makers union in 1834.
Hollinsclough today is noted for its strong community spirit. Although small, with a population, at the most recent count of only 163, it hosts a range of village activities, many of which draw in visitors from further afield. Hollinsclough is well known locally for its village silver band and thriving school. The Chapel acts as a focal point for a range of seasonal events, which include Carols by Candlelight, a May Flower Festival, an Autumn meat and potato pie supper and a Good Friday Tea Party. A good number of Chapel events raise considerable sums of money for local and national charities.
Over the Summer months, the Chapel Hall is open to the public on Sundays and Bank Holidays between 11 and 4 for refreshments and offers a welcome stopping off point for walkers, cyclists and even the occasional coach party. Visitors enjoy the home-made food and friendly welcome. The Chapel Hall serves as a community room for the whole parish and offers space on a regular monthly basis to History Live, a local history group.
The Village Action Group also meets here. Fifteen or more people, (a figure which represents around 10 % of the total population) gather here every month to plan improvements to the Village under the SRB programme. The Group has opened a Parish Office to house the state of the art photocopier and several computers which are available to all residents.
There is still a thriving school, accommodated in a modern building, situated behind its 19th century predecessor, the Frank Wheldon School, an imposing building topped with a wooden 'dove-cote' bell tower which once summoned the children from outlying farms to school. It is now an outdoor centre. There has been a school in Hollinsclough for more than a century. Children of many generations have received their entire education at the tiny school. A Church of England primary school, it is comfortably furnished and well resourced with massive support from parents and the community. The School also hosts a variety of social and fund-raising events which attract visitors throughout the year. These range from an ambitious Summer fete to the fell race up the spectacular Chrome Hill and a traditional Christmas pantomime. It is a tribute to the tenacity and determination of the Hollinsclough community that the School has not only remained open, but is more flourishing than ever, with a full roll. The Parish Council continues to meet in the School.
Visitors to the village often return again and again. Hollinsclough provides a haven for ramblers with its wealth of old packhorse routes or Rakes, as they are traditionally known. It boasts walks of breath-taking beauty, along which you can marvel at the wide variety of flora and wildlife.
Hollinsclough is a place steeped in rural traditions but not afraid to look towards the future.