Early Farming days in Burbage

The key point about the history of Burbage is that Burbage was in the Manor of Hartington and not in the Manor of Buxton, so information is found under that heading. A 1614 map of the Manor of Hartington by Heyward shows Burbage as an isolated block of enclosed fields with scattered farmhouses, between Burbage Edge and the Manor boundary by Gadley Lane . The enclosed land is shown divided into 15 fields and the total area of enclosed land is 385 acres. The Nedeham (or Nedham) family are listed as the tenants for approximately half of this area and the other tenants listed had the surnames Tidderimgton, Lomas, Brocklehurst, Knolles, Ferne, Dakyne and Bennet.

Farm buildings were shown in positions corresponding to the present locations of Gutter, Beet and Watford Farms. The other key location on the map is Otterhole mill, described as "now decayed". The mill was rebuilt in 1684 at a cost of £46. 5s and Andrew Norton paid £10 yearly rental as the miller but there are no further references to it on later documents.

At Otterhole (adjacent to Otterhole Farm which is not shown on the 1614 map), a spring emerges from the limestone rock and the water flows into the Wye, a short distance away. The mill was located between the entry point of the spring water and Gadley Lane. Slight traces of the mill can be seen in the Wye - rows of stones (normally submerged) where the weir and side channel of the mill system had been before being displaced and a localised widening of the river channel.

The main field pattern has been modified over the centuries, particularly by the construction of the Cavendish Golf course on part of the land, but the main outlines can still be traced. This field system represents a planned enclosure of common land before 1614. One possible reason for the enclosure was the construction of Buxton Hall in the 1570s, by the Earl of Shrewsbury for the accommodation of Mary Queen of Scots. Her stay, along with her retinue and the Earl of Shrewsbury's attendants, would have required additional food supplies in this rather remote area, so cultivated land with a mill would have been useful for that food supply.

A further instance of the Earl's involvement in this area came in 1608, with a dispute that went to the Star Chamber in London. The Earl of Shrewsbury owned the tithes and members of the Dakin family went to collect the tithes owed by Brocklehurst. This resulted in a violent dispute with allegations of attacks by pitchforks and damage to walls.