Updated: Apr 5, 2022
In the last post on the lost Stork Inn in Derby I suggested that I'd visit a couple of
prime candidates for writing about on the bike should the meteorological conditions return to being favourable. Well, they did (albeit very briefly) and I have. Well, I've visited one of them if I'm being truly accurate.
The day broke fine and sunny. Fine, sunny and warm even. Fine, sunny and warm enough for me to expose my calves. The knees require the mercury to rise a few more degrees before they would be allowed to contribute to raising my body's vitamin D level.
Off we set, Mrs. Bygone Boozer and I. Through the lanes to Hartington, only stopping at Heathcote Mere to allow me to be a rebel. It won't be the only time that that name will crop up in this post.
Wheeeeee! Down the hill to cross the River Dove, entering Staffordshire as we do so, and then it's time to regain all that lost altitude by climbing past the Staffordshire Knot into Sheen, before continuing along the ridge to reach Longnor and Cobbles.
Cobbles café or Cobbles cafe? That is the question. Is cafe now an English word and so no longer needs to wear its diacritical mark? The spellchecker doesn't think so and gives the naked version its wiggly red line treatment, but the word does appear in the Cambridge Dictionary as an alternative so I suppose either is acceptable. I'll continue to use the accented version simply so that I can boast that I know the keyboard shortcut for an e acute. (It's Alt + 0223 if you want to be as sad an individual as I am.)
Cobbles is located on the cobbled square in the centre of the village, opposite the former Crewe and Harpur Arms which featured in this earlier post on Longnor's lost locals. It's a great little place to spend a while to sit, soak in the rays and watch the world, and the motorbikes, go by. The coffee and oatcakes are both great too.
Cappuccino and Americano consumed, cheese and bacon oatcakes eaten, it was time to move on.
Wheeeeee! Down to cross the River Dove once again and re-enter Derbyshire, past the Packhorse and turn left to avoid the hairpin climb up from Crowdecote. It's never an attractive proposition in my mind and certainly not when weighed down with oatcakes. Instead, the slightly less steep route past Aldery Cliff into Earl Sterndale appealed more to the heavy legs and even heavier belly.
Earl Sterndale, whilst less than half a dozen miles from Buxton, has a very remote feel about it. Opposite the village church dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels, which somehow managed to find itself on the wrong end of the Luftwaffe's delivery of an incendiary bomb eighty years ago – quite what they were aiming for God only knows – stood the village's only pub. It too caught fire that night in1941 but as the fire brigade couldn't find the church warden to gain access to the house of worship they put out the burning boozer first.
When it ceased trading in 2020 the Quite Woman joined the Berney Arms, which featured here, as being one of those pubs that I'd always promised myself that I'd visit before it became too late, but never did. Pre-Covid, a group of us, simply as a change from the Duke of York, used to visit various pubs in the surrounding villages on Friday evenings. The King's Head in Bonsall, the Flying Childers in Stanton in Peak, the Packhorse in Little Longstone, the Three Stags' Heads at Wardlow Mires...
The Quiet Woman was on the list but we never made it. My Friday night companions had all been in it before, one of them more times that he can remember, and the tales of the legendary locally made pork pies certainly added an additional pull factor. I just can't resist a nice bit of hot water crust, especially if it's enclosing a nice piece of porcine protein. To witness the presence of an undertaker's laying-out table in a pub was another draw.
At quite possibly over 400 years old the Quiet Woman probably evolved from a farmhouse pub and was reputedly run for well over a three centuries by the Heathcote family. Remember that name? I said we'd meet it again.
Three hundred years is a long time. The earliest that I can pin the family down to having been there is that the UK's Death Duty Register records a Joseph Heathcote being an innkeeper in Sterndale at the time of his demise in 1811. Thirty years later his widowed daughter Ellen is similarly employed.
Ellen died in 1844 and by the time of the next census her nephew, Joseph's grandson who's also called Joseph, is in charge.
When Joseph dies in the pub in 1872 his widow Selina takes up the reins at the Quiet Woman...
...before becoming a quiet woman herself in December 1888 and her earthly remains being placed in the earth and the care of St. Michael and all his angels on January 2nd 1889.
The job of taking care of the pub now fell to Selina's and Joseph's son Herbert. A butcher by trade, he continued at the Quiet Woman until the mid 1920s. Kelly's directory of 1925 has him there but the Heathcote connection probably ended with his death two years later, if it hadn't done so a little earlier.
Today the Quiet Woman looks like this. Quiet.
Other than the small entrance porch its appearance hasn't changed much since the 1930s...
...or even 1915...
...or from when Herbert and family had their picture taken around the time of the 1911 census.
If Herbert was the last of the Heathcote landlords, the Quiet Women's final landlord was Ken Mellor who sadly died in August 2020 after serving pork pies and pints there for thirty years. It's just a shame that in one of those years I didn't manage to cross the threshold. I'd like to hope that, just like after I'd prepared a post on the Cat and Fiddle it reopened, the same might happen in this case but I won't be holding my breath.
Edit 5th April 2022
Thanks to Tim who provided this link to an article suggesting that the bomb was probably originally intended for the ammunition dump at Harpur Hill or the submarine battery works at Bakewell.
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