Snelston is a small, attractive 19th century model village situated 3 miles south west of Ashbourne. Snelston nestles in a valley bounded on it's eastern side by Darley Moor through which the A515 passes, and on its westernside by the river Dove, beside which a railway use to run. A small brook, which joins the river Dove, flows through the centre of the village and flooding has occured in times of torrential rain.
Snelston Hall, once the seat of the Stanton family was built in 1828 by Cottingham, occupied until around 1945 and demolished in 1951. It was a mini version of the Earl of Shrewsbury's Alton Towers with a baronial type entrance hall. Thirty acres of pleasure gardens which included terraces and flower beds surrounded the building. From the gate lodges, the coach road passed through 300 acres of park land with a variety of trees. A unique feature was a plantation of 80 monkey puzzle trees, the first to grow successfully in Europe. They are still there.
The squire John Harrison also commissioned Cottingham to design and remodel the village, which is the one we see today. Many houses feature Flemish brickwork with Tudor chimney stacks, and lacy-style windows set in deep stone mullions. There are some timber framed houses, the best examples being the former inn, the Stanton Arms, and the old post office which closed in 1989. The school, built in 1847 to educate 40 pupils, was erected and maintained entirely at the expense of John Harrison.
The Stanton Arms carried the Stanton coat of arms and had only a 6 day licience to prevent Sunday brawling. The only pub left is the Queen Adelaide situated on the Snelston Common-Cockshead Lane. Closeby is Mine Farm, which takes it's name from the old lead mine about 500 yards along the road. Jist opposite the mine was Birchwood stone quarry, worked until it's closure in 1957.
Of St Peter's church in Snelston, only the tower with its diagonal buttresses, battlements and pinnacles, is old, the remainder having been twice rebuilt - in 1825 and again in 1907.
Michael Sadler was born in Snelston, Derbyshire in 1780. On 16th March 1832 Sadler introduced a Bill in the House of Commons that proposed limiting the hours of all persons under the age of 18 to ten hours a day. After much debate it was clear that Parliament was unwilling to pass Sadler's bill. However, in April 1832 it was agreed that there should be another parliamentary enquiry into child labour. Sadler was made chairman and for the next three months the parliamentary committee interviewed 48 people who had worked in textile factories as children.
.Sadler's report was published in January 1833. The information in the report shocked the British public and Parliament came under increasing pressure to protect the children working in factories.