In the thirteenth century, a vast area of the Peak District bordered by the rivers Goyt, Etherow, Derwent and Wye, was covered by a Royal Forest that served as a hunting ground for the Norman Kings. In 1225, the Earl of Derby gave permission for the forester's to build a chapel in the forest (a Chapel-en-le-Frith). The foresters' chapel was constructed on a spur of the land below Eccles Pike, in a wide valley sheltered by the long, high, ridge of the Combs Moss.
The settlement that grew up around the new Church quickly became a centre of government for the Royal Forest of the Peak and an important stopping point on the trade routes which ran between Cheshire and Yorkshire.
The modern parish of Chapel-en-le-Frith is home to more than 9000 people. As one would expect in town with a history that stretches across seven centuries, there is a substantial "Old Town" at it's core. Old stone houses cling to the hillside below the parish Church, which occupies the site of the original thirteenth century Chapel, and there is a cluster of ancient inns on the perimeter of the Market Place - clear evidence of the town's historic role as a staging post on coaching routes.
The Old Town area of Chapel-en-le-Frith is one of the Peak District's best kept secrets, for it stands on rising land behind the façade of the main street and is largely hidden from view of passing motorists. Even the Market Place is raised above street level.
On your next visit to the Peak District, pause in Chapel-en-le-Frith and follow the Old Town Trail, which will unlock the secrets of the Old Town and guide you along picturesque streets and alleyways, where you will discover fascinating old buildings.