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Smisby in Derbyshire

Smisby is a small village situated in South Derbyshire, close to Ashby de la Zouch and the Derbyshire-Leicestershire boundary, which forms part of the parish boundary. It is an ancient farming settlement probably deriving its name from the Old Norse of 'Smidesbie', literally Smith's Farm, and was also once known as Smithesby, the village of the smiths. The parish includes the hamlets of Annswell and Boundary.

The small village shows many signs of its mediaeval past. In 1068 monks from nearby Repton built a chapel of ease here. In the 14th century, Ann Comyn, a lady of the local manor house (Smisby Manor) had the present church, dedicated to St James, built incorporating the chapel of ease into the south aisle. Her descendants were the Kendalls who in 1660 sold the manor and village to the Crewes of Calke Abbey, who still owned much of the land into the 20th century.

The small church built of grey sandstone contains a mid 14th century alabaster effigy of Joan Comyn as well as monuments to the Kendalls. Oak panelling in the church is said to have come from Ashby Castle.

The present Smisby Manor, now a hotel, dates from around 1500 and is the third building to be built on this site. Nearby is Tornament field, mentioned by Sir Walter Scott in Ivanhoe, and the place where the knights from the nearby castle at Ashby held their jousts. Also of interest is the early 18th century roundhouse or village lockup.

Seventy years ago the village consisted of 6 farms and 20 cottages. Each farm fad tied cottages for it's labourers and the other cottages were mainly occupied by miners and clay workers. The small farms have gone and the farm buildings turned into residential units. The young population has dwindled resulting in the closure of the village school but Smisby does have a private nursery school, village hall and an inn called the Smisby Arms

Because of it's connections with Ivanhoe and the Kendall's, who have many American descendants, Smisby recieves quite afew tourists. Another attraction is Hannah Bailey birthplace. She and her husband Charles Baker sailed for New Zealand in 1828 as two of the first party of missionaries to work there. They were instrumental in bringing the Maoris to agreement with settlers and are revered by their many descendants.

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