History of the Museum

A small museum tucked away in the heart of the Peak District, this Tudor house has seen a lot!

Built during the reign of Henry VIII, the museum was originally a tax collector's cottage. Ralph Gell of Hopton, near Wirksworth, had taken over the collection of tithes (the tenth of all produce that was due to the church) and needed a house for his steward, Christopher Plant.

Subsequently, the house was made much bigger and converted into a gentleman's residence during the reign of Elizabeth I. It even had the luxury of an internal toilet! The central room was given a large fireplace, where much of the cooking would have been done. 

In 1777 Richard Arkwright - founder of the modern factory system - divided the Old House into five cottages for workers at the mill. They provided adequate accommodation, but by the 1950s the cottages were condemned as unfit for human habitation. Scheduled for demolition, the house was saved by the Bakewell & District Historical Society who converted the house to its current use.