Abbey House and Ranton Abbey, Ranton, Staffordshire

Ranton is a quiet little hamlet in Staffordshire, around 3 miles from Stafford and it is recorded in the Doomsday Book in 1086 under the Pirehill Hundred.

One thing about Ranton though is that it has hidden a couple of pretty big pieces of history that most people in Staffordshire probably know nothing about. Ranton Abbey's surviving 14th century tower and the ruins of Abbey House, a large country manor house in a 300 acre estate.

Ranton Abbey (also known as Ranton Priory), was built in 1150 by Robert Fitz Noel of Ellenhall. It was an Augustian Abbey and flourished in the 13th century, as a subordinate house to Haughmond Abbey (near Shrewsbury). Life at Ranton was not necessarily the peaceful existence which we might expect though, as there are many recorded problems with discipline and mismanagement, particularly in the 14th century.

The Abbey was dissolved by the Act of 1536 (Dissolution of the Monasteries). There is some evidence that the cloisters and some other parts were st…

Mandale Mine, Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire

Hidden deep in the valley of Lathkill Dale in The Peak District is a little known Scheduled Ancient Monument. This is one of the most beautiful valleys in the Derbyshire Dales and is only about 3 miles from Bakewell. You can park at the pay and display car park at Over Haddon and then head down the steep road that decends into the valley.

This area is a nature reserve of national significance and contains several rare species of plants including the rare Jacobs Ladder that is found growing in one location, isolated, in Lathkill Dale.  As you walk along the beautiful and crystal clear river in the valley, you start to see remnants of an industrial past. The odd bit of rock that doesn't quite look natural, or parts of the river that look man made. It's only when you come to the open mouth of a cave next to you that you realise this is a place of some importance.

Keep walking along the path by the river and keep a look on your right, as out of the trees you will see the huge skeletal remains of Mandale Mine. This absolutely amazing building is incredible in just how big and well preserved it is. Especially when you think how difficult it must have been to build it here, yet how perfect the spot it for water power and access to the underground mines that were already formed.

There has been mining in this area from the 16th century, which is an impressive history, as you can see from the smaller workings in the area. The mine was primarily worked for lead by the Mandale Mine and the London Lead Mine (taken over by the Lathkill Dale Mining Company). However, the workings were always having water problems and flooding issues, so the mine closed fully in 1851, leaving us a relatively intact workings and open mine shafts that are still accessible by competent cavers today.


The ruins of the Beam Engine House are in the care of the Peak District Mines Historical Society.
This is a fantastic walk that isn't too difficult and has lots of interesting features along the way. The details on where to find this fantastic piece of industrial heritage can be found below.

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