The parish of Heath and Holmewood in North East Derbyshire is well-known for its significant diversity, for its dual character- from the historic, rural, small picturesque village with its associated traditional buff-coloured sand stone buildings, designated a conservation area, to the purpose built, early 20th century terraced housing of the colliery village.
Heath Village lies approximately five miles to the south east of Chesterfield and seven miles to the north west of Mansfield. Today, it stands aside the A617 dual carriageway, formerly the trackway of the Great Central Railway, and is adjacent to junction 29 of the M1 motorway and the A6175 to Clay Cross.
Historically, the village is mentioned in the Domesday survey as being two settlements (Lunt, Lowne, Lund, Lune). The settlement in the valley bottom to the east went into decline in the 14th century but ruins remain of the 12th century church owned by the former Abbey of Croxton. The other settlement on the top heathland to the west prospered and from which the present village probably takes its name. Following the closure of the monastries, circa 1538, the Savages of nearby Stainsby became lords of the manor and in turn sold it to Bess of Hardwick thus beginning the Cavendish connection. Today the Chatsworth Estate is the major landowner in Heath Village.
William Senior’s map of 1609 shows the village, with little exception, in its present layout of fields, linear nature and disposition of buildings. In the late medieval period, wool and later arable and cattle farming provided a living for what was an agricultural environment and a self sufficient community. Records show that the village school was established in 1687. The Chatsworth Estate undertook widespread rebuilding in the early 19th century and vernacular architecture is reflected in the building materials and traditional construction of the farmers’ cottages. Modern in-filling has not detracted from the architectural unity of the village. The Parish church of All Saints consecrated in 1853 is a Grade II Listed building as is the cruck-built, aptly named ‘Thatched Cottage’ which is a fine example of a late 16th century worker’s dwelling.
In 1850 the population of the Parish stood at 340. Demographic change however, came quickly with the massive expansion in the British Coal Industry between 1870-1913, which saw the opening of the Holmewood and Williamthorpe collieries. To ensure an available labour force, the mining community of Holmewood, approximately one mile to the south- west of Heath Village was built consisting of terraced housing erected by the Hardwick Colliery Company between 1902-1908. Population expanded rapidly reaching 2,281 in 1921. Further council housing development in the post World War Two era included Heath Estate and expansion of Holmewood Village increasing the parish population figure to 3,000 in 1996 and 3,715 in 2,001.
The two distinct parts of Heath and Holmewood Parish combine to make the whole. Each has a rich heritage and special character to celebrate and each is capable of understanding and respecting the traditions and values of the other, using them to inform rather than restrict change. As neighbouring villages the residents stand side by side to enhance rather than dilute the spirit of the parish community.