THE KING'S LARDER, ITS BARONS AND KNIGHTS
Tideswell, a place of importance in the middle ages was known as the "Kings Larder." The church is known as the 'Cathedral of the Peak' and inside is the final resting place of Sir Sampson Meveril a local knight and landowner who fought at Agincourt and served in France with the Duke of Bedford against Joan of Arc. He was not above taking the law into his own hands and would abduct jurors brought to try him over land disputes! Here is an account: -
"Just before the case was due to be heard Meveril had gathered a band of `divers malefactors and outlaws` who assaulted the jurors empanelled to hear the case `and had chased and captured Henry de Longesdon one of the jurors and compelled him to swear on the book that he would find a verdict for the said Sampson and Isabella` and had threatened to kill any juryman who gave a verdict against them." It was similar disputes over land that found Robert of Loxley and Nicholas Meveril in court in Huntingdon.
Also resting at Tideswell lays Bishop Robert Purseglove who was a distinguished clergyman. He was an agent of Thomas Cromwell, and Henry VIII's chancellor. His involvement in the dissolution of the Catholic monasteries brought him great wealth and although Queen Mary was herself Catholic he continued in the church but was reduced in status to that of Bishop. Another notable figure was Robert Lytton who was the Under-Treasurer of England in the reign of Henry VI and a man of great importance.
However, the most impressive tomb is that of Sir Thurstan de Bower. For five generations the Bower family held the position of "sergentry" to the kings of England for which honour they held land of the king in the Royal Forest of the Peak for services rendered to him. Thurstan de Bower became "scutifero" (Shield-bearer) to Thomas Nevil who became Lord Furnival Treasurer of England and Calais. [The Nevils were in Skelbrooke at Barnsdale, they were sheriffs of Yorkshire, Governor of Scarbrough Castle and Lord of the Manor of Hallamshire, the documented birth place of Robin Hood.] Thurstan became one of the elite group of squires retained by the king who were chosen for their skill in arms, wisdom, wealth and social standing in the country. Chaucer reliably informs us it "were a great honour, exceedingly rare, and given only to a chosen few." He fought in the Scottish campaign and in the battle of Shrewsbury dressed in the king's livery and for services rendered Thurstan became Lord of the Manor of Little Longstone. He lived to see five medieval kings on the throne of England and received Royal Commissions for the defence of the realm during the king's absence in France.
OUTLAWS ROB ABBOT OF SHEEP AND GEESE
Tideswell was rich in natural resources and in addition to the usual farming there was hunting for the nobility, their barons, squires and knights as well as for the bishops and members of the cloth. The lead mining was a valuable source of revenue and silver was also extracted. It seems to be a truth that where there is money, greed and avarice are never far away and King John was no exception. While he was still the Earl of Mortain he acted in an arbitrary and illegal manner by granting the chapel of Tideswell to Hugh, Bishop of Coventry. This resulted in “litigation extending over three centuries between various claimants including the priories of Lenton and Litchfield resulting in “many riots and blood-shedding lamentable to record.” And so it happened that in 1250-51 monks from Lenton Priory, with connections to William Peveril a previous sheriff of Nottingham and builder of nearby Peveril Castle, invaded Tideswell forcibly sizing flocks of sheep and bales of wool and proceeded to lock them in the church for safe keeping. The monks of Tideswell were forced to break into their own church to recover their livestock resulting not unnaturally in a fight. Sheep and lambs were killed either under the horse’s hoofs or by the weapons of the combatants and some monks were also injured. All church services had to be suspended until the church and churchyard were cleaned and the bishop had formally reconciled the warring parties. In this encounter eighteen lambs were killed in the church and fourteen were carried off to the grange of Lenton along with geese, hay and sheaves of oats. Such was the rivalry between priories that when word reached the chapter of Litchfield arrangements were made with the notorious outlaw James Coterel who confronted the Abbot of Lenton in nearby Edale and robbed him of his livestock. And so the notorious and dangerous outlaw James Coterel robbed an Abbot not of his gold or silver, but robbed him of his sheep and geese.
This overview of the people and some of the places in the Royal Forest of the Peak is to put into perspective the importance of the Royal Forest that can boast many prominent, wealthy and important people who possessed land either in the Royal Forest itself or in the surrounding Derbyshire countryside close to Loxley and Hathersage. Tideswell is only one town among several and no other Royal Forest can match Peak Forest either for the richness of hunting or the nobility who held land there. Little wonder William the Conqueror included Derbyshire along with Nottingham in his grants to William Peveril and Roger de Buslie for Nottingham's forests had little life in them due to the poor clay soil of the Trent Valley flood plain. King John was breeding Sparrow Hawks and hunting horses for his own use not in Sherwood but in the Royal Forest of the Peak. It is unlikely that in any other part of his vast estates in England would the king have such variety of sport except perhaps on the Welsh border extending into Milbank Forest or the New Forest.