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Wirksworth is a market town on the south-eastern borders of the Peak District.
With roots dating back to Roman times, the prosperity of Wirksworth grew first around the lead mining industry, then limestone quarrying, and later around cotton, especially in the 18th-19th centuries. Limestone quarrtying is still important local industry, and a couple of the mills are also still operating. The story of the rise, fall and subsequent rebirth of Wirksworth from the 1980's is fascinating and explained in depth in the Heritage Centre in the town.
The town contains a very impressive architectural heritage with numerous fascinating buildings and features to discover as you explore, many prompting your mind to wander back in time to what life must have been like here three or four hundred years ago.
The heart of the town is around market place, lined by some very impressive 18th-19th century townhouses dating from the time of the town's greatest prosperity. Just off from the market square be sure to spend some time exploring the narrow alleys that pass between the ancient cottages - surely this is where the 'real' Wirksworth is best discovered.
The church is undoubtedly the most important building in Wirksworth. With origins dating back perhaps to the 7th century it was an important early centre for teaching Christian beliefs. The current building dates from the 13th century.
Set in the wall inside the church be sure to see the Wirksworth Stone - an ornately carved stone (the lid from an important coffin) dating from the early 9th century in the church that relates various important biblical stories (Christ washing the feet of the disciples, the descent of the sinners to hell, etc), then follow the path that leads around the outside of the church through the old churchyard.
The weekly market is held each Tuesday, in Wirksworth Market Place, a right granted to the town in 1306 and carried on ever since.
(Note: photo is copyright)