Heage is a scattered village lying between the larger towns of Ripley, Ambergate and Belper. The village ls in two main parts, Heage itself,
and Nether Heage (or formerly High Heage and Low Heage). Neither
village has a centre and consists of houses and cottages scattered along
the roads and lanes, with some small estates of modern housing. Tne
name is from the Anglo-Saxon 'Heegge' meaning high, lofty or sublime.
Situated in the Amber Valley area, the main occupations of the original inhabitants would have been farming. There are still family-owned
farms today, rearing sheep and dairy cattle and growing cereal and root
In the early days of the industrial revolution coal mining and the
ironworks at Morley Park and later at Butterley were major employers. At Morley Park are the stubby remains of the first coke-fired blast furnaces in Derbyshire. One dates from 1780, the other 1818. Now a grasy field the area was once a complex of coke ovens and iron casting sheds interconnected by a web of tramlines.
There was a drift mine in the village (now a small housing estate ) and
coal was mined at nearby Hartshay and taken on horse drawn barges
along the Cromford Canal. Village folk also gained employment at the cotton mills and hosiery factories in Belper.
In Modern times villagers find work at L.B.Plastics in Nether Heage, once the site of a POW camp, or Bowmer and Kirkland,
builders in Heage. Heage is also home to many small businesses.
The Yew tree studio owned and run by Charlie Downes is in one of the
oldest houses in Heage. It was once owned by Joseph Spendlove, who
was responsible for bringing piped water into the village. Previously
water was drawn from numerous wells and springs in the area. Mr
Spendlove was also the founder of Bowmer & Kirkland which was then a
builder's, joiner's and undertaker's.
The oldest building in the village is probably Heage Hall, situated in
Nether Heage, which is now a farm. Parts of the Hall date back to the
15th century. There have been many stories concerning the Hall over the
centuries. One of the ghosts is said to be of the wife of George Pole, an
eccentric dandy and owner of the Hall during the 17th century. George
so ill-treated his wife that when she died he paid for the rebuilding of
Heage church in penance. His own ghost is supposed to have been seen
either with his dogs in the fields or driving his coach and horses in the
Later occupants of the Hall were the Shore family, who also owned
and worked Heage windmill and water mill (no longer in existence) at
the bottom of Dungeley Hill. The windmill has six sails and is a
landmark seen from miles around, especially from the west. It has recently been restored. Please visit www.heagewindmill.co.uk for more information.
The parish church, dedicated to St Luke, was originally built of wood,
but was destroyed by a violent tempest in June 1545. Rebuilt in 1661 and
enlarged in 1836, it has no square tower or spire, but an unusual
octagonal bell tower on the north side of a barn-shaped structure, with
the oldest part of the church at right angles to this.
In 1842 three men from Heage were involved in criminal activities
which must have caused quite a stir at the time and gave rise to local
sayings such as 'They 'ang 'em in bunches in Heage', and 'You can tell a
man from Heage by the rope mark on his neck'. The three men Samuel
Bonsall, William Bland and John Hulme, a tinker born in Leek, went to
rob a house at Stanley Common one September night. The dwelling was
owned and lived in by spinsters Martha and Sarah Goddard. Both were
beaten by the robbers, Sarah survived but Martha died.
The post box in the wall of the village post office in Brook Street is of
particular interest. It is one of a few in the country that is embossed with
the initials of Edward VII.