The Lilies Inn 1916 Photo from Winster, Bonsall, Elton and Birchover Remembered by Keith Taylor
The Lilies is situated on the busy Via Gellia road, the A5012 from Cromford to Newhaven just south of Grangemill in the area known as Griffe Grange Valley. The road running along the valley was originally paid for by Sir Phillip Gell of Hopton Hall hence the name, and constructed in 1791 to move lead from his mines. The steep winding road that follows the valley up the hill was and still is a busy trade route for moving minerals from local quarries originally by horse and carriage now by heavy lorry!!
There were originally 3 toll gates on the road, one at Cromford, one at the Hopton Road junction and another at Grangemill. The photo shows the toll house at ‘Four Roads End’, the Hopton junction, no trace of which can be seen on the road now.
We are part of the village or hamlet of Grangemill, a small group of houses, cottages and farms together with what was the original 18th Century corn mill, an old cheese factory built in 1875 and the Hollybush Inn. Our house is south of the crossroads past Prospect Quarry, one of many in this limestone rich area, now owned and run by Permanite Asphalt, no longer producing stone. Opposite the inn at Grangemill is what is now a fairly insignificant track but was once the main road to Derby known as The Portway.
As still to be seen on the side of what was once an old barn on our property the house was for many years an inn. Census records indicate use for this purpose before 1841. It is named after the Lily-of-the-Valley flower which covered wide areas of the steep wooded valley and were at one time harvested and sold. It is said to have been popular with local farmers and workers who would walk down for a pint of beer and gather watercress form the stream running through our property on the way home. We have found a number of old beer bottles and glasses whilst doing building work including one from Matlock Bath Aerated and Mineral Water Works known to be in existence in 1875 when it was run by Mary Whittaker but sadly closed around the mid to late 60s.
The Lilies was also a popular destination for Sunday excursions by bike, horse and trap or later charabanc from Matlock Bath. The property ceased to be an inn during the later years of the last century.
The stream running down the valley from where the men gathered their watercress once powered 7 mills on it’s way to Cromford at the bottom of the valley.
None remain working today although there are some remains including the shell of one at the very end of an area next to our house, a water powered corn mill thought to have been built before 1700. It was used by farmers from Ible for the milling of their crops. The 1841 and 1851 census both refer to a John Watson living at the Lilies and note his occupation as publican and miller.
Information taken from:-