Sheldon Jottings for March 2018

January’s cold and dismal weather has followed us into February. At the time of writing we have had seven bouts of snow in Sheldon – admittedly for several of them we have noticed that the fields around Ashford have remained green whilst those ‘on the heights’ are white! Not only has it been snowy but it has been icy and the wind has been strong, causing us to experience a wind chill which has forced us back indoors. We have kept the bird table replenished and been rewarded with a steady stream of visitors – more blackbirds than we are used to among the collared doves, sparrows, goldfinches, chaffinches, great tits, blue tits and a solitary pheasant!. Ideal for the annual RSPB winter bird count.

To cap it all we lost the water supply for a day in early February due to a burst water main on Johnson Lane. By all accounts the engineers who came to it were asked by everyone passing them in their van what had caused it – patient men!

Those of us who could just throw another log on the stove or fire and toast our toes, often thought of those who were going to work, braving the slippery Dale although we were gritted on occasion by the Council. Colin, of course, never missed a beat, the milk was on the doorstep on time each day – thank you Colin. Phil and the lads at the garage always turn up as usual and the post drops through the letter box on time. The cows at Top Farm appear in the yard being fed as normal, but milking on really cold, frosty mornings can be no joke. Despite the adverse weather, life in Sheldon goes on as usual – worry not, we are told Spring is on the way……!

We can look forward to the Annual History Group Exhibition on the weekend of March 24th and 25th from 11.00am to 4.00pm each day. This exhibition in the village hall has become quite a fixture in the Sheldon calendar. Visitors often ask us if there is really enough history in this village to support such an extravaganza each year. The answer is yes! There is something new each year.

Mesolithic hunter gathering peoples were here in 7000-5000BC and left traces of a shelter and stone age tools at Stoney Low just south of the village. There are round barrows at Manor Farm – burial mounds from the Bronze age – and the Iron age hill fort of Fin Cop looms to the north. Sheldon is mentioned as Scelhadun ( from Scelf – a shelf or shelving terrain; Hoed – heather or uncultivated land; and Dun – a hill) in the Doomsday Book and a hoard of coins was found here dating to the twelfth century. The Senior Map of 1617 shows the village practicing a one field system and that lead mining was established. Farming and mining for lead were to be the mainstays of village life for many years. Do we need to go on! We could mention the Churches, school, various buildings in the village and two World Wars, all of which impacted on village life. There are over 1,000 documents in the Chatsworth Archives relevant to Sheldon and many others in the Derbyshire Record Office – Wow!

So come along to the Exhibition – learn something new about Sheldon and enjoy a free cup of tea or coffee and a piece of cake, a warm welcome and a pleasant chat. It is all free and you will see photographs and artefacts from Stone age tools to lead whorls, coins to pottery, and implements from a bygone era.

If you have anything you would like recorded in the Sheldon Jottings please let Bron or Brian know – we can’t report what we don’t know about.
The lucky Church Draw winner for this month is Ian Melland with no. 97


Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th March from 11.00am to 4.00pm each day in the village hall
Annual Sheldon History Group Exhibition. All welcome….

Friday 30th March = Good Friday

Sheldon Jottings for September 2017

The family holiday season is in full swing as we write (Aug 12th) and by the time you read this it will be almost ‘back to school’ time again. Our short summer seems to go so quickly and we have certainly had more than our fair share of rain in this area. Sadly Bakewell Show was inundated and not just on one of the Show days but on both. Such real bad luck. Hay-making is definitely on hold until we get a longer spell of dry weather…..

On Sheldon Day (July 22nd) we were fortunate as, although rain was forecast, it held off until evening. What a brilliant day we had raising around £4000 for our village amenities – our little community should be VERY pleased. A big thank you to everyone. Just think – we are a population of around 65 people and together with our children, friends and relatives we can raise that amount of money on what is, for us, a quite large event. This money goes towards the upkeep of our village hall and playing field area – plus – the crippling costs of helping to maintain our beautiful little church – plus a small amount for our ‘golden oldies’ to have a Christmas lunch at the pub!

We are an amazing community.

Did you see the write-up and photos the roving reporter did for the Matlock Mercury? Such fame…. It’s a few years since we had a reporter visit our ever- popular Sheldon Day family event.

We now say Hello to our new neighbours at Manor Farm. Julia, John and family moved in around 3 weeks ago and we hope they will enjoy living in our community and enthrall at those amazing ‘top of the world’ views of our wonderful countryside from up there.

Nature notes over the last few months – We are so pleased to say that after an absence of 3 years, a pair of swallows have nested in our little barn again. We leave the top doors open each year hoping they will take up residence and this year a pair thought the old building would be perfect. However, overall there are so few swallows and house martins around the village this summer. So very sad. They need all the help they can get.

The spotted flycatchers did nest in the garden again this year – we are so lucky. They are such pretty little birds and they also (like the swallows) have to travel thousands of miles to get here from an area south of the equator and then back again. How DO they do it? We think the pair had 2 broods and worked so hard flying from their various perches (such as prominent tree branches or the roof of the bird table) to catch insects for their young. It was a lovely sight to watch. We actually photographed a young one which was close to a window. This was 3-4 weeks ago now and since a couple of days after that, we have neither seen any young nor the parents again. Surely a bit early to leave us to go back?

The gorgeous song thrushes were around but did not nest in our garden this year. They were heard singing many times nearby and were seen looking for worms and snails – lots of empty snail shells about. Sadly, early in the season we found a dead, fully-fledged one. Were they nesting in your garden? The different pairs of blackbirds nested in the front and back garden and they always seem to do well – we think there is quite some competition for territory and nest sites. We also had the robins and we saw the friendly young ones who came for tiny morsels as we weeded the garden.

If you want lots of wonderful butterflies in your garden you must have some Buddleia shrubs. On good days without rain or high wind the ones around us here have been covered with Red Admirals mainly, but also the occasional Peacock, Painted Lady, Small tortoiseshell and the White varieties. Also the wonderful flowers provide food for other insects and many different bees, not just our honey bees. A sight to behold…perhaps 20 + butterflies all at one time!

The defibrillator and CPR training evening in the village hall in July was very successful and we thank Alistair for guiding us and providing the mannequins for us to practise on. It was in part, a fun evening but obviously there were very serious issues and meaning behind what we were learning. If anyone wants to borrow a mannequin for themselves or their families to practise on then do let us know – we still have them.

The lucky winner of the Church Draw for August was Keith Blackshaw with number 83.

Sheldon Jottings for February 2017

February is the month of the snowdrops. They have been pushing their green shoots through the ground for a couple of months with small white flashes showing since the middle of January. Soon their white carpet will be spreading through the hellebores, bringing the garden to life to cheer us through the cold winter days.

This month is also the middle of winter in Sheldon. We have already been warned of icy and snowy mornings and because we so rarely have the gritter now, accidents have already happened down Kirk Dale. A very long stretch of wall has been knocked down by a colliding vehicle. Indeed the road was closed by the police for some time after this collision.

Has anyone else noticed, when, joining Kirk Dale nothing has been seen coming down from the top of the Dale – but progressing downwards for a short distance a vehicle is suddenly behind us having travelled so fast down the length of the Dale. This road is indeed very much a rat – run nowadays for commuters who, for some inexplicable reason cannot take on board its dangers regarding its downwards trajectory and its bends – and the weather conditions.

The atrocious high winds of January 11th left their mark as a field barn roof took off and a wonderful, very old ash tree on Hage Lane lost a large limb. We are so pleased that our Parish Council have had all our village street trees inspected, not only for human safety but also because they are so close to houses.

Also on the morning of the 11th around 8.15 I was walking down the street to post a letter when wave after wave after wave of starlings flew overhead, battling against the wind to reach their feeding grounds to the south of Sheldon. It was an amazing sight…

Despite the difficult weather we can experience in Sheldon, as always there is a silver lining. We do have some exceptionally clear days as the clean arctic air sweeps across us and the views from the village when this is the case (particularly to the north) are spectacular.

We have seen very few hares this year in the fields. They are difficult to see at the best of times, but there seem to be fewer around at the moment. On days when snow lies on the ground however they reveal their presence as they move from their snow hides leaving their tell-tale tracks across the snow. If this happens it will give us a good indication of whether their numbers have declined or whether old eyes are unable to pick them out as they lie in the grass or dash across the fields and over the walls.

The ‘Old Folks’ – that is those over 65, would like to thank Kath and her team at the ‘Cock and Pullet’ for an excellent Christmas Dinner. We had a great time with good cheer and lively chat. Tony won the raffle prize of a bottle of Port and Sam was given whisky when he cheekily suggested one would go well with his Christmas pudding!!  The dinner is paid for by the village (via Sheldon Day) so we thank you all for this opportunity for us to get together once a year and to enjoy each other’s company.

This month’s meeting of the History Group takes place at the Village Hall on Wednesday 15th February. The meeting is the opportunity for anyone to bring an artefact of any description from kitchen utensil to peculiarly shaped stone, from farming implement to old coin – indeed anything which might be of interest. Tell the meeting what it is and what it is used for or if you don’t know perhaps someone will be able to identify it.  We hope also to show some old photos of people who lived in the village in years gone by.  Do come, you will be very welcome.

The lucky winner of the Church Draw for January was no. 82 – Joe Tibbles. Congratulations!

Sheldon Jottings for March 2016

A walk in ‘our patch’ in mid-February showed the effects of the unusually mild winter continuing as the days begin to draw out. Patches of hawthorn were beginning to turn the lovely fresh green which we will see to full effect in spring. In sheltered spots, favoured by the sun to warm them, were the occasional primrose and cowslip daring to show us a splash of their wonderful pale yellow – one of the most beautiful colours of spring.  ‘Our’ spring/summer resident song thrush was back almost to the day, singing in the tops of the trees. We are told he probably goes down to Shacklow Wood to spend the winter where conditions are not so harsh. We also saw a bullfinch resplendent with its red breast, bright and shiny ready for courting – easily rivalling that of the robin on a nearby tree. Even the blackcaps at the feeder were clothed in the brighter colours of spring. All this at least a month earlier than expected. But what lies in store?  Will this weather hold? Will everything be checked before the full beauty of Spring arrives in our spectacular part of the world?

Terrific news – Melanie and Oliver have become engaged to be married.  Needless to say all at Top Farm are delighted. Congratulations from us all.

Two horse chestnut trees have been planted in the far corner of the playing field. The dream is that in years to come village children will collect the fruit and be able to play the time honoured game of ‘conkers’ as they did in the past.

Small piles of grit have appeared down the Dale.  We must thank Joel for getting the grit and for distributing it.  Anyone who has lived in Sheldon for a few years is aware of the dangers of snow and ice on the hill, so we are all grateful to Joel for this service.

The History Group had a super meeting last month with Tony telling us the background to the redevelopment of Hope Cottage which is one of the oldest houses in the village. Amanda told us of the history of Barleycorn Croft, which could well have been built by a mining company, and of the succession of people who have lived there.

In March, we look forward to The Annual Exhibition put on by the History Group in the village hall. This will take place on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th March from 10.00 – 4.00pm on each day. Not only will this include a photographic display but also a range of artifacts ranging from stone-age flints to 20th century household and farming implements. If you have anything relevant to the historic record of Sheldon and its people and you think others may like to see, please bring it/them along. This is a popular event, entry is free and there is always a cup of tea plus cake and biscuits to welcome you!  There is something to interest everyone and we look forward to seeing you there.

At the Parish Meeting held on February 10th we learnt that the defibrillator has been delivered to the village and will shortly be installed on an outside wall of the village hall. A training session will be held so that we all know what it looks like and how easy it is to use it in order to help someone in need.

It is that time again when Lindsey will be asking for volunteers to help with cream teas this summer at the village hall. These raise much needed funds for the upkeep of the hall which is so vital as a centre for our village activities. Thanks to Lindsey for organising these.

The lucky Church Draw winner for February was number 28 –  Mary Barber from Monyash.

Finally and sadly, we end by saying that Alistair is stepping down from the position of Parish Chair at our next AGM.  He says he has thoroughly enjoyed the experience but feels other pressures mean he must relinquish the post.  We have all felt that during his office the village has been in safe hands and that he has done an excellent job. We must now elect a successor at the Parish Meeting  AGM on April 13th. So, can we all ask, cajole or arm – twist any one of the many suitable people who live in our village to continue the good work??

Sheldon Jottings for February 2016

Early in January the snowdrops were already showing white and some even nodding their heads. The aconites in the warmer parts of the garden were opening their yellow flowers and the white and purple of the hellebores were ready to begin their annual display. We are promised much colder weather during the latter part of winter so those plants beginning to grow in answer to the mild weather will need watching.

Virtually all the animals are inside now sheltered from what may come, only the hardiest are still outside. The first lambs have appeared in the fields on our route to Buxton and have been outside since they were first noticed at the end of December.

Increasingly large flocks of starlings are flying over the village on their early morning and twilight journeys to and from feeding in the fields towards Monyash and Flagg, from their roost on Middleton Moor.  However, we are told numbers are well down on last year. The jackdaws are beginning to investigate the openings, nooks and crannies of the tithe barn looking for nesting sites. We hear that two collared doves have already started building a nest. They may have to put their efforts on hold if colder weather comes!

There is a Parish Meeting this month on Wednesday 10th February in the Village Hall at 7.30pm, we look forward to seeing you there. As always there will be a welcoming cup of tea and cake, good companionship and interesting discussion. The Parish Meeting is arguably the most democratic method of local governance, where everyone can attend the meeting, give their opinion and vote on the many issues which occur, even in a small village like ours. Your opinion is much valued so come along and join in.

The following Wednesday 17th February at 7.30pm in the Village Hall is the next meeting of the History Group. Again there is the opportunity to enjoy a welcoming cup of tea or coffee and a piece of cake. It is always a relaxing evening with the bonus that we learn something new about the area in which we all live. This meeting is of particular interest as it is entitled ‘Top Farm’ and is an illustrated talk about one of our three fully functioning farms. At one time almost every family in the village was engaged in farming in one form or another, but times have changed and here is a unique opportunity to learn more about a subject in which we surely all have an interest. You will be made very welcome.

If anyone would like a 15 page booklet ‘A brief history of Magpie Mine –  a guide for visitors’, they are being sold  (£1 at Hope Cottage) on behalf of The Peak District Mines Historical Society. It is a very useful little booklet, short, concise and illustrated, and a good read for locals and for visitors to the area.

The lucky winner of the Church Draw for January was number 98 – Tim Robinson from Reapsmoor.


Wednesday February 10th – Parish Meeting
Village Hall at 7.30pm

Wednesday February 17th – History Group talk ‘Top Farm’
Village Hall at 7.30pm