Guide to Bakewell
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History of Bakewell
Although there is evidence of prehistoric, Iron Age settlement in the area, Bakewell itself was probably founded in Anglo Saxon times, with settlers being attracted by a cluster of warm springs.
The crossing of the River Wye, where the Grade I-listed five-arch bridge now stands, was key to Bakewell’s establishment as a meeting and crossing point and led to the town’s development as a trading centre, a market being established in 1254. There was an abortive bid in the 18th century to develop Bakewell as a spa town similar to nearby Buxton.
The name Bakewell means a spring or stream of a man named Badeca or Beadeca, so deriving from a personal name with the Old English suffix wella. In 949 it was called Badecanwelle and in the 1086 Domesday Book Badequelle.
Bakewell Parish Church, now 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 obviously gained some importance as it was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
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, and now tourism is the main industry, thanks mainly to its standing, since 1951, as Derbyshire’s capital town of the Peak District National Park.
Things to do & see in Bakewell
Here you will find a paradoxical, yet harmonious mix of ancient and modern, with bistros and boutiques incongruously sited in historic surroundings. Special events are spread through the year, including the renowned agricultural and horticultural show; well dressing week, which reaches a climax with the annual gala; and an arts festival. On top of all this, as the only town in the Peak District National Park, Bakewell is the ideal centre for outdoor activities such as walking, biking, climbing, golf, and horse riding.
You will be ‘tickled pink’ by one of Bakewell’s more unusual features hidden away in one of the medieval courtyards. There, complete with lopsided walls and latticed windows, is the ‘pink building’, a florist’s shop full of character and charm and crying out to be photographed. If you want an area which captures completely the atmosphere of the town then head for King’s Court, another of the secluded squares which litter the cluttered jumble of Bakewell’s back streets.