Sheldon Jottings for December 2014

Living in Sheldon we are all acutely aware of the wonders of nature around us. At dawn and at dusk each day during November we have been treated to a spectacular event. We first noticed it this year on the 2nd November and since then it has been a wonderful twice-daily sight as a great cloud of Starlings flies over our village. As it gets light they come from their roosting grounds on the far side of Longstone Edge on Middleton Moor, past Longstone and Ashford, over the River Wye and up over Shacklow Wood. They then fly over the village to their feeding grounds in the fields of Flagg, Monyash and beyond. The flock returns at twilight and although it can vary in size is a sight well worth seeing. For an even greater spectacle go to Middleton Moor and see the ‘murmuration‘ where the flocks are coming in from all directions, creating amazing patterns in the sky before settling down to roost in the reeds. It happened last year and should now continue throughout the winter months.

With the shorter days of winter the number of visitors to our area has greatly diminished. Several of our farmers have heaved a sigh of relief. Pete Bush, our Area Ranger, has been in touch and has asked us to include the following:

Over the last 3 years a number of stone stiles in Sheldon Parish have been badly damaged. At first I thought by cattle as some of the adjacent walls are not that robust, but it has continued to happen sporadically, with the latest attack resulting in 3 stiles being completely smashed with some large through stones being broken in two. Some of these stiles were built at least 3 generations ago, when they were most commonly used by local people coming and going to work.

Now they are used mostly for recreation by local people and visitors to the area and have to be stock proof whilst at the same time relatively easy for people to use. What used to be regarded as suitable is not always the case today and the Peak District National Park Rangers have worked with many farmers in the area to improve their gates and stiles.

There is often a dilemma in changing a stile to improve access as it may be a heritage feature but in most cases we are able to alter it sympathetically.

There are limited resources so we cannot tackle everything at once but if there are stiles causing problems please contact me:

Pete Bush
PDNPA Area Ranger
Tel: 01629 884992
Email: [email protected]

We all need to keep an eye out and report damage if we are out enjoying the Countryside; please contact Pete if you see anything untoward.

In mid-December last year the History Group met in the village hall for the Christmas ‘Do’. With one of the worst gales of the winter raging outside Simon Unwin entertained us with his ‘Story of Magpie Mine’ in music, pictures and verse. The atmosphere was tremendous – it was probably one of the most gripping and pleasurable evenings held in the Hall for many years. We are happy to report that Simon is coming once more on December 17th to entertain us with his latest extravaganza. Come and join us, entry is free, we all bring some food (savoury of sweet), some drink is supplied, and enjoy a great evening with neighbours and friends – you will be most welcome.

If you did not manage to get to Sheldon History Group in October when Martha Lawrence from Buxton Museum came to talk on the pre-history of our area then you missed a treat. It was fascinating to think how ourancestors were living so long ago.

On Christmas Day it will be Noel’s birthday. We wish you and your family a happy day Noel.

The planning application for the substantial development at Home Farm has been unanimously turned down by the PDNPA Planning Committee.

Finally, villagers can sleep safely in their beds in the knowledge that the recently vandalised ‘fence’ was nothing more than a piece of string that two cows, Daisy and Buttercup, got caught in. Neither of them will admit responsibility but keep blaming each udder!

Happy Christmas and a great New Year to you all and to our friends in Ashford.


Monday 1st December
Christmas Wreath Making Night – 7.30pm Village Hall
Contact Lindsey for information

Tuesday 2nd December
Vicar’s Coffee Morning – Cock & Pullet (with Church Meeting afterwards)

Tuesday 9th December
Sheldon Seniors Christmas Lunch – Cock & Pullet

Wednesday 10th December
Sheldon Parish Meeting – 7.30pm Village Hall

Wednesday 17th December
Sheldon History Group Christmas ‘Do’ with Simon Unwin – 7.30pm Village Hall

Sheldon Jottings – Extra

We hope you all had a really great Christmas.

The celebrations in Sheldon really started on the 17th with the ‘Old Folks’ Christmas Dinner at the ‘Cock and Pullet’. Thirteen of the over 65’s enjoyed the good company, excellent food, and good cheer at this annual event. The time passed all too quickly and Harold won the raffle. Thanks to Ralph for organising us all and Kath for her tremendous hospitality.

The following evening with the wind howling and the hail cracking against the windows a hardy group gathered in the Hall for the History Group’s annual Christmas get together. We were entertained and ‘educated’ by Simon Unwin with a slide and musical presentation interspersed with Simon reading his wonderfully evocative poetry. The whole was based on the story of the Magpie Mine and the surrounding landscape and was a real treat. Christmas food and drink followed and by the time we wended our way home the wind had dropped – or so it seemed!!

The Sunday before Christmas, and it was time for the Nativity procession through the village. It all started in the Church, where a large crowd had gathered, including many grandparents, relatives and friends who are always very welcome. As the Vicar was about to start, a donkey arrived to join us, it’s the first time we have seen Tony lost for words!! After being introduced to a charming Mary and Joseph, two year old Eliza and three year old George, and singing ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, thanks to Andrew H for playing the organ for us, we continued telling the Christmas story as we made our way to the ‘Cock and Pullet’. Here people left the warmth of the fire to join us in singing ‘O come all ye faithful’. With Alec playing the trumpet, William on the flute and Andrew Joly on the mandolin to accompany us, (thanks to them all, such a talented threesome!). After more carols, we arrived at Top Farm. The scene which met us was truly magical. Inside the barn were a sheep, hens, a turkey (yes! He’s still surviving!!), a calf and our donkey, were gathered around the manger with the star above it. Well done Top Farm, you created a wonderful Nativity that none of us will forget! The Christmas story reached its climax and Canon Tony gave us his blessing. Afterwards the memorable evening was ended with mulled wine and mince pies – thanks go to Julia, Michelle and Lindsey. Thanks to you all for turning out and taking part, even though it was so cold, to make this such a gloriously happy occasion which put us all in a festive mood. Only in Sheldon could one enjoy such a marvellous celebration of the Christmas story.

Christmas Eve saw many of us in church again for a candlelit Mass, led by Tony and Aaron. Lit only by the candles we were holding and those placed around the Church, the service was very atmospheric. A good sized congregation was swelled by some visitors to our village. Thanks again to Andrew H for playing the organ. Mulled wine and mince pies prepared and served by Julia, Michelle and Lindsey concluded a beautiful service.

Wow! What a lead up to Christmas in our lovely village!

A Happy and Healthy New Year to you all.

Sheldon Jottings for January 2014

Happy New Year everyone! We hope that you all enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and have made all those New Year resolutions which no doubt we will all break! Unfortunately the deadlines for the Magazine do not let us report on the Christmas Nativity procession through the village and the festive season – more in next months jottings.

The “Great Gale” at the beginning of December certainly hit Sheldon hard, ripping off the side of a barn, taking tiles from roofs, blowing out the glass from a greenhouse not to mention the branches and trees damaged by the terrific wind. But apart from that Autumn and early Winter have treated us kindly so far – but we are still without gritting so we must hope that the rest of the Winter continues the same way.

Has anyone else noticed the flocks of starlings flying south over the village at sunrise and back again in the twilight each evening? They are apparently roosting overnight at the lagoons on Middleton Moor. A couple of residents have commented on the fact that the number of small birds, especially the sparrows and blue tits seemed to have declined this Winter and that the sparrowhawk has been particularly active. Is there a connection, or is it the normal predations of Winter?

We extend a hearty Sheldon welcome to Charlotte and Richard who have moved into Devonshire View, it was wonderful to see Charlotte attending and participating so wholeheartedly at the December Parish Meeting.

Brian’s book about the school here in Sheldon, This Remote Little School, has virtually sold out and looks as if it will need to be reprinted, still one or two copies if anyone wants one. He has even had an order from Japan! Ah, the wonders of the internet!

January and February are usually quiet months in Sheldon, except for the weather! However the History Group meets as usual. A cheery welcome is extended to anyone who would like to join us – it is always interesting and Julia’s cake is worth turning out for on its own! The Group meets on the third Wednesday of each month, so why not come and join us.

Dates for the Diary

Wednesday January 15th – History Group Meeting – 7:30 in the Village Hall. We will be showing a DVD of The Peak District on Film. There are a series of beautiful amateur and professional archive films which have been enhanced and re-edited to illustrate what life was like in our spectacular National Park in the past. We invite you to come and join us – our meetings are open to all.

No Vicars coffee morning this month.

Sheldon Jottings for December 2013

After so much rain here over the last few weeks we were treated to one or two frosty mornings, creating black ice. As we all know, Kirk Dale can be treacherous in bad weather, not only because it is a long steep hill but there are narrow, severe bends nearer the bottom and no pedestrian pathway. Already we have had a car collision – into the lovely new wall being rebuilt. So, the thorny question of whether high altitude Sheldon should have a decent council gritting service is raised once again as winter approaches.

We hear that Noel is settling in to a new home at Ashgate. We wish him well and Happy Birthday on Christmas Day. Adrienne continues to cope well with her worsening sight problem, even to the extent she can still do much of the housework – all those brasses get polished regularly she told us.

Next year it will be 100 years since the outbreak of the first world war and the BBC will be launching a programme on this. BBC Radio Derby have been collecting information in our area because of Sheldon’s famous Maria Gyte Diaries, and Anne and Brian have given short interviews; the programme is due to be shown next February.

This month we have a note from Alice Ford, daughter of Andy and Angie at Lower Farm:

Having recently returned from Durban, South Africa, I am now living with my parents whilst on the hunt for a new job. I am very much enjoying my time in Sheldon, especially as it’s the first time I have actually stayed here, but having swapped monkeys and the odd snake for sheep and the occasional pheasant, it’s definitely going to take a little adjusting to. I won’t even begin to comment on the weather! I am a programme manager in the international development field and have been very lucky to work in both Swaziland and S. Africa over the past 4 years.  I’ve had some incredible experiences, having travelled to Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania and around S. Africa, with some beautiful photos to go along with it – perhaps I could put a few up on the website? I look forward to meeting you all in the village and I’m sure the Christmas season will provide plenty of opportunities.

Please note, there will be no Christmas Day Church Service or Sheldon Light Up this year.

A very Happy Christmas to you all and to all our friends in Ashford.


Tuesday 3rd December
Vicar’s Coffee Morning in village hall at 10.00

Wednesday 18th December
History Group Christmas ‘do’. Simon Unwin will entertain us with history stories

Sunday 22nd December
Nativity Procession. Start 4.00pm at church and finish at Top Farm in the Barn – with refreshments

Tuesday 24th December
Christmas Eve Service in Church at 6.00pm

Sheldon Jottings for February 2013

The festive season has come and gone. Bernard, the turkey and his 2 female companions have survived another Christmas and we all look forward to the coming year. The white hellebore flowers with their yellow centres are brightening up the gardens, 2 cows and their calves are living in the croft at Top Farm, owls have been heard eerily calling in the night, the resident sparrow hawk continues to decimate our small bird population, George has had his 1st birthday and Harold has just celebrated his 84th.  2013 is in full swing in Sheldon.

John Herbert’s funeral dominated events before Christmas. The service was attended by so many people, it was standing room only in our small church. From Queensland, Australia to Sheldon, via Hong Kong and Singapore, running radio stations, training BBC reporters, as Professor of Journalism setting up courses at Staffordshire University, Chair of the Peak Park Planning Committee and our own Parish Meeting, John led a successful and eventful life. After the funeral we all came together in the village hall to enjoy food and drink prepared by the people of the village as a tribute to John. Our thoughts as ever are with Margaret and her family. He will not be forgotten.

A week before all this the village Light-Up took place. Another successful event organised by Pauline and her helpers raising £332 for the Air Ambulance and £270 for the Church. As well as the now famous turkey baps, the lights on the engines and Andrew’s tractor, Father Christmas (Brian P) on his sleigh giving exciting rides for the children up and down the village, Lindsey and Colin’s mulled wine, tea in the warmth of the village hall with Pat, the event brought some much needed light and joy to the pre-Christmas period.

The Carol Service was held on the Sunday before Christmas.  Rev. Tony excelled, lighting some 40 candles around the Church celebrating the birth of Jesus and we were all given candles to hold during the service. The 9 readers and Sermon were excellent and the 30+ who attended sang the traditional carols with gusto, helped by Stephen on the organ. Julia and Michelle provided drinks and mince pies after what everyone agreed was a truly uplifting and enjoyable hour.

We would like to extend a warm Sheldon welcome to Angela and Alistair who have moved into Devonshire Arms Farm and hope they will be very happy here.

With the Council still refusing to grit our roads again this winter even after a request by the police following 2 crashes on the Dale, one involving Pauline’s milk float which was turned over (she survived unhurt), one can only hope for a mild few months or a change of heart on the part of the Council before something even more serious occurs.

Important Dates

Parish Meeting Weds 13th Feb 7.30pm
History Group Weds 20th Feb 7.30pm
Vicar’s Coffee Morning Tues 5th Feb in the Cock and Pullet

Editors Note

Jottings are now being written by Brian, Marlene and Bronwen