THE MAP OF RISLEY AND BREASTON was made in 1722 and the original is held at The Derbyshire Records Office at Matlock. It is twice the size of the copy you see before you. You can judge its importance as it is considered to be the 11th of Derbyshire’s 50 greatest treasures. It was made by Matthias Aston (seen on the right) for Sir Thomas Aston, third baronet of Aston near Runcorn in Cheshire. His coat of arms appears at the top left of the map. The first baronet of Aston (also Sir Thomas) lost both his wife and children; his second wife was our own Ann Willoughby of Risley. He was killed during the Civil War, and Ann married Anchitel Grey of Groby. Their coats of arms can be seen just to the right of the main door to St Michael’s church at Breaston.
THERE ARE NO FAMILIAR LANDMARKS, and North is towards the top right corner, but the map roughly covers the area from the M1 to the Railway line, and from the reservoirs to No Man’s Lane on the way to Dale Abbey.
THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE about the map are the colours indicating different fields, all the field names are shown, together with the names of their owners and their acreage. Some of these names are still familiar to us today such as Mill Field (now Mill Hill) and Home Close.
THE ROADS AND LANES FOLLOW EXACTLY THE SAME PATH AS THEY DO TODAY. You can pick out the houses around The Green, and the Church is shown, as is Breaston Hall which was demolished early in the 19th Century. You can follow Risley Lane (in those days perhaps known by its old name of Duck Lane).
WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT RISLEY, you can again follow the roads along routes which you know so well, past Risley Hall (demolished in the late 18th century) to the Church, Latin House, past the area known as ‘The City’ and on to the Latin School. The School was completed in 1718 and so was practically new when the map was made. It also tells us something else about the map that is not apparent at first. Each of the school buildings is shown individually, in its correct position, the two school rooms with the Master’s house between them and set back a little. From this it can be assumed that every building in the two villages at that time is individually represented on the map, and each tiny house represents someone’s home or business.
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