Swarkestone village in South Derbyshire is a small, pretty village, clinging to the north bank of the river Trent, bisected by the road that passes over Swarkestone bridge.
Swarkestone is situated 5 miles south of Derby and was the most southerly point reached by the advance guard of Bonnie Prince Charlies army in 1745, on their march to London. Swarkestone also saw battle in the Civil War when Sir John Gell routed the Cavaliers in 1643.
Swarkestone bridge is about three quarters of a mile long, though only a part actually crosses the river. It was originally built in the 14th century and is still a remarkable example of medieval public works. The part crossing the river is in fine classical design with 5 round headed arches. The bridge once possessed a bridge chapel, one of only 3 built in Derbyshire. Legend has it that the bridge and chapel were built by 2 daughters of the Harpur family, who lost their lovers in the waters of the Trent during a flood. They built the bridge and chapel as a memorial.
Swarkestone summer house, as it is known, stands in the meadow above the village and is probably a relic of the Harpur estate. The old hall that was part of that estate was demolished when the family moved to Calke Abbey.
The Parish Church of St James was heavily restored in 1874-76, by F.J.Robinson, with only the south west tower and the Harpur chapel remaining intact. The chapel contains alabaster monuments to Sir Richard Harpur (1577) and Sir John Harpur (1627), and a chancel tomb to John Rolleston who died in 1482.
Nearby is evidence of an Iron Age field system, and a Bronze age barrow lies at Swarkestone Lowes.
The Crewe and Harpur is a very popular pub and restaurant, sitting at the corner of the bridge, with a garden running down to the river.
Larger photographs of Swarkestone
Swarkestone and river Trent photographs