Glossop is a busy, bustling former mill town and the largest settlement in the north-western corner of the Peak - though like Buxton it lies just outside the National Park boundaries.
View of Glossop
The name Glossop is thought to be of Saxon origin, derived from Glott's Hop - where hop is a small valley and Glott was probably a chieftain's name. However, the area was certainly inhabited long before the Saxons, as the Bronze Age burial site on Shire Hill and the Bronze Age remains around Torside testify. When the Romans arrived in 78 AD the area was under the control of the Brigantes, a tribe whose main base was in Yorkshire, and the main purpose of the fort at Melandra was to subjugate this warlike tribe.
The area was settled by the Angles in the seventh century and by the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 there were twelve villages listed in the Glossop parish. However, after the conquest of 1066 the area was confiscated from its Saxon Carl and incorporated into the Royal Forest of the Peak under the stewardship of William Peveril. This set back settlement and farming in the area for several hundred years, for farming and grazing of animals in the forest was forbidden, and much of the surrounding area was recorded in Domesday as 'waste'.
Houses in Old Glossop
In 1157 Henry II gave the manor of Glossop to the abbey of Basingwerke, which was based at Holywell in North Wales, and over the next 200 years the monks were responsible for steadily improving the agriculture of the area and encroaching on the royal forest. They also gained Glossop's first market charter in 1290, and one for Charlesworth in 1328.
In the early 14th century the manor of Glossop was leased to the Talbot family, later Earls of Shrewsbury, who retained it until the Dissolution in 1537. In 1606 it came into the ownership of the Howard family - the Dukes of Norfolk - who held it for the next 300 years with Glossop usually being given to the younger son of the family. The town was then based around Old Glossop and in the 16th and 17th centuries it expanded considerably as the wool and cotton spinning industries developed, and a number of old weavers' cottages can still be seen in Old Glossop.
The next expansion was powered by the machinery of Arkwright and since Glossop had a plentiful water supply the new cotton industry developed rapidly here in the late 18th and early 19th centuries - no less than 46 mills were built in this period, of which one of the first (1785) was Rolfes Mill in Wesley Street, which still stands opposite the school. The railway arrived in the 1840s to complete a period in which the population of Glossop multiplied by a factor of six in less than 50 years.
The town became the Borough of Glossop in 1866 and in this period several fine buildings were constructed around the new centre of the town at Norfolk Square - the Town Hall and the Market Hall to name just two. On the opposite side of the square from the Market Hall lies the Heritage Centre (unfortunately currently closed due to funding issues), which records the history of Glossop.
In the 20th century cotton spinning has declined and most of the mills have closed, the Howard family have left and the railway no longer goes from Glossop under the Pennines. However Glossop is still a thriving, prosperous town with some interesting sights, a good shopping area, a range of accommodation and a strategic position at the western edge of the Peak. It provides an excellent base for accessing and visiting the western parts of the Dark Peak, including Black Hill, Bleaklow and Crowden as well as Chinley and Coombes. The drive west across Snake Pass towards Sheffield is dramatic and beautiful but not to be undertaken lightly in harsh winter conditions.