Netherseal is situated 4 miles south of Swadlincote, close to the A444 in South Derbyshire on the banks of the river Mease, overlooking Leicestershire. The village was once part of the district of Seal, which included quite a few settlements, many of which form Netherseal and Overseal in modern times. The “Seal” suggests the area was once heavily forested and Nether means ‘lower’ and Over means ‘upper’.
Though now a picturesque village ( population 786 in 1991) with many listed buildings, Netherseal was once a thriving mining community with a two-shaft colliery and several related industries.
Netherseal was recorded in the Domesday Book as being a wooded area on the edge of the Ashby Woulds and the trading routes the Walton Way and Salt Way ran through the Parish.
The Gresley family owned the land until the late 12th Century when it was sold to William de Ferrers who gave large tracts of wood and pastureland in the area to the monks at Merevale Abbey.
The Lord of the Manor during the 13th century became William de Rydeware who owned land around Alrewas in Staffordshire. The Salt Way provided a good link between the two areas.
Although Overseal is located closer to the main mineral field of the Ashby Woulds, there was a large colliery at Netherseal where two shafts were sunk in 1867.
The mine was producing 500 tons of coal a day for domestic and manufacturing use by 1879.
The colliery employed around 500 men while maintaining this output at the end of the 19th century started using an underground haulage system which worked on compressed air, the first one in use in South Derbyshire.
The centre of Netherseal village is now a conservation area and has many listed buildings including the 17th century almshouses. A Tudor Hall, once occupied by the Gresley family was demolished in 1933. A Leonard Chesire Home has been built on the site.
St Peter’s Church was built in the 19th century but stands on the site of a 13th century church.
Several of the features of the earlier church remain including the tower and some of the monuments inside, one dedicated to Roger Doulton, a former rector who died in 1500.
Sir Nigel Gresley, an engineer who designed the locomotive The Mallard, is buried in Netherseal cemetery.
The Mallard set the world speed record when it achieved 126 mph for a few seconds in 1938 and many train buffs make the pilgrimage to Sir Gresley’s final resting place.
There is also a Baptist Meeting House in the village which was built in 1840.
There are two pubs in the village, the Holly Bush and the Seal.
Holly Bush is a common name for public houses throughout the country and refers to the tradition of inns or beer houses placing a bush outside of their door. This custom was taken from the Romans who would hang a vine outside their wine houses.
The Seal Inn is a reference to the old name of the area, Seal.
Of interest to visitors is Grangewood Garden Centre, situated in the Walled Garden of Grangewood Hall. In addition to garden products, the centre houses craft rooms, pine furniture, aquatics and a tea room.
Old Hall Hotel is a Grade II Listed Manor House dating c.1644. It is set in 7 acres of gardens with lake and woodland on edge of the village.