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Sod it! I'm off to Snelston.

Updated: May 18

That's it! Wind's dropped. Sun's shining. I'm off out.

What about that shielding?

Twat Mancock, or whatever his name is, has said that it's a matter of assessing and balancing risk, so that's exactly what I'm doing. Up until last week I wasn't shielded, so no problems about riding then. 'Lung lady' changed my prescribed medication in my recent phone consultation which seems to have stirred a computer somewhere deep within the NHS into action. As it awoke it churned out a letter informing me that I'd been promoted to the Premier League of the vulnerable. (I feel it's a bit of a paradox that a change of treatment which has improved my symptoms noticeably should now mean that I am deemed to be at greater risk.) It's not as if I'll meet anyone whilst pedalling through the Derbyshire lanes. There are no cafes or pubs open to stop at and the only surface I'll touch will be my handlebars. New pedals also mean that I might manage to extract my feet without keeling over sideways when stopping thereby reducing the chance of a visit to A&E. Risks assessed and balanced, so sod it, I'm going out on the bike.

Mrs. Bygone Boozer had planned a route through the lanes south of Ashbourne so I thought I'd tag along. With the forecast offering a hot, sunny day and with no cafes or pubs available it was load up the bike with two large bottles, increasing its weight by 25%, then slap on the factor 30 and head south. Back to the land of hedges.

Around a surprisingly quiet Carsington Water, skirting Bradley and stopping only to remove our arm warmers we pass through the likes of Osmaston and Yeavely, cross the A50 and stop for a bite to eat sitting on the wall in front of Sudbury Hall. Across the road is the Vernon Arms which closed in 2019 for renovations. Hopefully it will be reopening at some point.

Looking for a tenant. Any takers?

Let's hope the quality of the refurbishment is better than that of the spelling.

If you fancy taking on this former coaching inn it's currently up for grabs here.

Fed, watered and factor 30ed in a few minutes it's time to head back north, over the A50 once more and on to Snelston Common and today's first bygone boozer.

Snelston is an estate village and its current appearance owes much to John Harrison who was Lord of the Manor in the first part of the eighteenth century. With his wealth, which originated with his father's foundry in Derby, he set about rebuilding Snelston Hall and much of the rest of the village in the Gothic Revival style. The Queen Adelaide was an estate pub on Snelston Common. I'm not sure when it closed, but there must be folks alive who have supped a pint or two of Pedigree there. It was marked on the 1987 Ordnance Survey map and there's a colour photograph of it on the Lost Pubs Project website. It was sold by the estate and now lives behind a couple of gates: a posh, high one with an intercom and a galvanised five-bar effort of a tradesman's entrance which made it impossible for me to get a good shot of it. I might need to return in the winter when the foliage has fallen.

A quick left and right and just what I need appears. A field entrance set well back from the road. Having lightened the liquid load and feeling more comfortable, a little clamber on the bars of the field gate provided me with a bit of a view, albeit a distant one, of the Queen Adelaide as it appears today.

The former Queen Adelaide at Snelston Common.

Edit May 2024.

Thanks to Dave Pantry who has provided me with this interior shot taken in the Queen Adelaide in July 1999.

Queen Adelaide Snelston.
The Queen Adelaide, Snelston. 9th July 1999.

Continuing on towards the village itself the descent of the tree-shrouded Cackle Hill came as a bit of a surprise, but soon after passing the old smithy I was deposited at bygone boozer number two.

The Three Horseshoes was run by blacksmith Samuel Banks who probably spent the days thwacking lumps of red-hot iron a few yards away and the evenings pouring pints. Listed in directories and censuses as a blacksmith and victualler since at least 1829, when he was listed in Glover, Samuel dies in 1872. I can find no reference to the Three Horseshoes as a pub after this, but a couple of clues to the building's former life remain. The name Three Horseshoes Cottage is one but there's also a nice wrought iron attachment to the gable end where once there would have hung a sign. Possibly some of Samuel's own work?

The former Three Horseshoes. Is that bracket a piece of Samuel's handiwork?

As mentioned above, the village is part of the estate once owned by John Harrison who acquired it in the early part of the nineteenth century. Feeling that there was no house suitable to match his status he commissioned the architect L.N.Cottingham to build him one and at the same time to sort out some of the other structures in the village. The result, completed in 1828, is pictured in this Tuck postcard.

The hall stood until 1951 when because, according to its new owner, it was 'oversized and gloomy, seized by dry rot and in need of an army of helpers to run it’ it was demolished.

Whilst Cottingham's Snelston Hall is no longer with us, the inn that he built at the same time still is. A listed building since 1985 it originally went by the imaginative name of the Snelston Inn. With the majority of innkeepers also being shown as farmers this bygone boozer changed its name in the first part of the twentieth century, becoming the Stanton Arms to reflect the change of name of the Lord of the Manor. In 1906, ownership of the estate passed into the Stanton family by way of John Harrison's daughter Florence who'd married into it. It was also down to Florence's disapproval of drinking on the sabbath that meant the inn only had a six-day license.

The former Snelston Inn/Stanton Arms in the 2020s...

...and as it was in the 1920s in another Tuck postcard. Not much changes in Snelston.

The former Snelston Inn/Stanton Arms.

I'm not certain, but I believe that the Stanton Arms closed in the 1980s. It's still listed in the 1984 telephone directory (Ellastone 303) but has disappeared from the 1987 Ordnance Survey map which still shows the Queen Adelaide.

After a couple of pieces of homemade flapjack it was time to leave Snelston, passing the listed ruins of the hall. Clifton arrived much more quickly than expected and then it was a sprint in an attempt to get through the roadworks on the A52 before the traffic lights changed. That was a fail! On past the Royal Oak, up Swinscoe Hill, before turning right at the old tollhouse. There followed several minutes of attempting to avoid the ovine obstacles that were scattered over the road as we traversed the parkland between Okeover Hall and the river. On through Mappleton, where directories suggest a number of bygone boozers await to be found, to Tissington, enjoying the view over to Dovedale.

Mrs. Bygone Boozer heading from Mappleton to Tissington, with Dovedale on the left.

Through Tissington and then the hurtle down to the ford. I might've ridden through the one in Biggin, but this faster, deeper one was avoided by wimping out and taking the footbridge on the left. I stopped on the bridge and broke social-distancing rules for a minute to chat with a young blonde. I've heard that blondes are pretty safe when it comes to passing on Covid-19. Four-year-old ones at least. She and her younger sister proudly showed me the bullhead that their intrepid father, who was still wading in the river, had just dropped into a lunch box. It was the first example that I'd seen in years.

I'm not riding through there!

Just the climb to the Jug & Glass at Longcliffe left to test the by now tiring legs and then across the moor to arrive home and remove the Brewdog product which was waitng in the fridge for my return. Another three bygone boozers and fifty-three miles. My longest ride for ten months. That must mean it's time to create a bit more space in the fridge.

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