Although there are records of Denstone going back to Norman times, it was not until the arrival of Sir Thomas Percival Heywood in 1840 that the village was really established. Prior to this time, Denstone was an agricultural area bounded by the River Churnet and consisting of sparsely populated, scattered hamlets.
The Heywoods were a wealthy banking family from Manchester and Sir Thomas had a wish to become a squire of his own village and Parish. To this end he employed one of the finest architects of the day, George Edmund Street, a leader in the Victorian Gothic Revival, to build Denstone Church.
The Church was completed in 1862, and Sir Thomas then had the original village school built in 1870 and the Church Room in 1890. Both the old school and Church Room are now private dwellings.
Sir Thomas was also instrumental in founding Denstone College which opened in 1873.
The major housing developments in Denstone have taken place in the last fifty years, although some local authority houses were built in the 1930s.
Denstone has been transformed from a small village of about fifty dwellings, firmly based on agriculture, to a thriving community today with 425 dwellings within the village and the hamlets of Stubwood, Quixhill and Prestwood which are part of the Parish.
Denstone is possibly unique in comparison with other rural villages of similar size, in that there are two significant organisations within walking distance of the village centre – i.e. Denstone College, and the main plant and World Headquarters of JCB which started operating on this site in 1950.
Over the years, the College has grown from its origin as a boys-only boarding school and it now caters for over six hundred students, both boys and girls, including both boarding and day pupils. It employs over one hundred and fifty staff – many living in Denstone and surrounding villages.
JCB has also grown, with the actual numbers employed at the Lakeside increasing from twenty in 1950 to over two thousand at times. Many of their employees reside in Denstone. Whilst JCB is not actually in Denstone Parish, it is just outside the Parish boundary, and the lakes with their resident waterbirds are valued as a local amenity.
*The old sepia-coloured photographs above (“The Bridge 1955”, “The Tavern 1955” and “Denstone Village Centre 1955”) can be purchased framed in various sizes from the Francis Frith Collection, by clicking here http://www.francisfrith.com/search/