Summary of the history of Morton

Morton is an ancient Anglo-Saxon settlement with a Roman connection, which also has the distinction of being mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086. It is situated within easy reach of some of the most outstanding countryside: the Peak District National Park and the Nottingham Sherwood Forests. It is close also to three of England’s finest stately homes – Chatsworth, Hardwick and Haddon.

The recent discovery of a large batch of Roman coins between Hagg House Farm and Morton Lodge Farm clearly indicates human activity in the area as early as 210AD; this being the date it is estimated the coins were buried.

The village very likely owes its existence to the church pond, filled in about 1951. With a pack-horse road linking this part of Derbyshire with the Trent at Newark, passing close by, there would obviously be a need for water and shelter.

Morton church, probably founded in the 8th century, was one of the oldest in the Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. Although rebuilt several times, fragments of earlier churches are built into the present building. Of particular interest are the four Norman gargoyles built into the tower walls, one of which depicts the Derby Ram.

In 1002, Wulfric Spott, a wealthy Mercian nobleman attached to the Court of King Ethelred, bequeathed Morton to Burton Abbey in his will.

Later, Morton passed to Swain Cilt and after the Norman Conquest to the Norman Baron Walter Deincourt. The entry in the Domesday Book of 1086 shows Morton to be held by Walter of Aincourt (Walter Deincourt). The main seat of the Deincourts was at Blankney, Lincolnshire with a Derbyshire branch established later at Park Hall.

The first recorded Rector of Morton was Thomas Clencus de Morton in 1252.

The present Morton Church tower built in the perpendicular style dates from about 1400, with the tower arch somewhat earlier.

After being held by the Deincourts, Morton over the centuries passed through various hands until acquired by the Sitwells in 1749. The Sitwells then held Morton until 1912 when the estate was split up and sold.

In 1577, Bess of Hardwick’s 4th husband, George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, became patron of Morton Church. He spent a lot of his time at the Court of Queen Elizabeth and was also jailer to Mary Queen of Scots.

In 1850, the nave and chancel of Morton Church were extensively rebuilt. Thankfully the 15 century church tower and certain other areas appear to have remained intact.

On 1st May 1862, the Midland Railway opened their Erewash Valley Extension, which passed through Morton en-route from Pye Bridge to Clay Cross. Our local station was at Doe Hill, which was actually in Tibshelf Parish.

The first Morton school opened on Monday 12th January 1863. A one roomed stone building known as the Old Dames School, near the church.

In 1865 George Stephenson’s Clay Cross Company opened their Colliery No: 5 at Morton, followed in 1874 by Colliery No: 6 at Morton, known as the Hard Coal. The two shafts together formed Morton Colliery. Over the next few years, there was a considerable increase in population. The village being transformed from a sleepy farming community into one affected by the Industrial Revolution.

The present Morton School opened in 1884 to replace the existing one, which had become far too small.

Soon after the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Morton received its first evacuees.

On 8th April 1941 the German Luftwaffe dropped incendiary bombs on Pit Lane, Station Road and Morton Colliery. In 1942 the part of Morton Colliery known as the Hard Coal closed (Clay Cross Company No: 6).

Exceptionally heavy snow-fall in 1947 adversely affected the road transport and food supplies to the village.

Morton Colliery (Clay Cross Company No: 5) closed in May 1965, with some of the work force being transferred to other pits in the area.

The population of Morton is approximately 1,800 made up of 540 houses, historically a farming village up until the sinking of the coal mines in 1865. The mines lasted 100 years with closure in 1965.

The village of Morton is situated approximately one mile from the Derby – Chesterfield A61 road. It is a ribboned village approximately 2 miles long, clinging to either side of the B6014.

Morton is first mentioned in the will of Wulfric Spott in 1002 and again mentioned in the Domesday Book as one of the manors belonging to Walter D’Aincourt.

Morton today would be described as a rural community, a mixture of young and old, the working population being mainly commuters.