Chapel-en-le-Frith is a small town in Derbyshire, England, on the edge of the Peak District. Dubbed “The Capital Of The Peak District”, as for many years the “council” office base for the area. Originally a settlement established by the Normans in the 12th century, as a hunting lodge within the Forest of High Peak. This led to the French-derived name of Chapel-en-le-Frith (“Chapel in the forest clearing”). The population of ‘Chapel’, as the locals commonly refer to it, is approximately 10,000.
The Market Place is still cobbled and a market is held every Thursday, bringing in people from nearby districts. It is surrounded by pubs and most of the remaining old buildings of the town. The Market Place also contains a fine old market cross, the old town stocks, the war memorial and a horse trough placed here to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Chapel’s Old Town Trail takes in historic buildings such as the 13th Century Church of St Thomas Becket, from which the town derives its name. The church was largely remodelled in 1733, but in the churchyard sits the grave of a woodcutter dating from the town’s earliest days of the Royal Forest. The original chapel is renowned for a horrific incident which took place here during the Civil War. Around 1,500 Royalist Scottish prisoners were held captive in the original chapel after the Battle of Preston in 1648 for 16 days in dire conditions. Forty-four of the men died.
A wide choice of walking trails are easily accessed from Chapel-en-le-Frith including connecting footpaths to the Peak Forest Tramway Trail; the short Eccles Pike walk affording spectacular views of the Peak District; and walks from Combs Reservoir. Popular Peak District walks such as Mam Tor near Castleton are also easily accessible from Chapel-en-le-Frith.
Attractions near Chapel-en-le-Frith include The Chestnut Centre Otter, Owl & Wildlife Park. To the west of the town is Combs Reservoir which is popular for sailing and has its own sailing club. This Peak District reservoir was constructed much earlier than the Goyt Valley reservoirs in 1797. Combs Reservoir was built specifically to service the Peak Forest Canal.
The Chestnut Centre Conservation Wildlife Park is located just off the A625, 2km to the east of Chapel-en-le-Frith. This family attraction features Europe’s largest collection of multi-specied otters and owls. Other animals in the park include deer, harvest mice, polecats, pine martens, red foxes and Scottish wildcats. The park is home to the UK’s only Giant Otter, an endangered species native to South America.
The otter, owl and other animal enclosures all sit along a circular trail at The Chestnut Centre which is set in 50 acres of stunning landscaped grounds. The woodland trails are home to a variety of wild birds and wildlife.
Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities in Chapel-en-le-Frith include the parkland golf course and cutting-edge indoor leisure centre.
The Parkwood Leisure Centre Located alongside Chapel High School on Long Lane contains a choice of leisure facilities including a 37 station gym, cafe bar, tennis courts, sports hall, sauna & steam rooms and an astroturf floodlit pitch.
A curfew bell has been rung in the town since 1070, and on Shrove Tuesday a Pudding Bell is rung at eleven in the morning to remind housewives to prepare their batter.
The Market Place, cobbled and raised above the High Street, is still used every Thursday to host the local market. The market cross has a faint date which may read 1636, but the cross itself is considerably older.
Chapel-en-le-Frith railway station is located 1.5 km from the town centre, on the commuter line from Buxton to Manchester Picadilly.
Each year in June Chapel-en-le-Frith comes alive for the local carnival. The streets are decorated, local shopkeepers deck out their windows, and a colourful procession wends its way to the Memorial Park. Usually during the following week many of the local wells are dressed with tableaus made from flowers and petals, although many of these wells are long since gone.