Weird Derbyshire and Peakland – Richard Bradley

An exhibition of photographs and ephemera at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery by our colleague Richard Bradley exploring “the fascinating folklore and curious customs that can be found throughout Derbyshire and Peaklands.”

St George’s Day Parade, Deby (23rd April) – © Richard Bradley 2019.

“Derbyshire – and the Peak District, which spills over into the neighbouring counties of Cheshire, Greater Manchester and South and West Yorkshire – has one of the highest concentrations of calendar customs in the UK.”

“These encompass everything from rituals of very ancient (possibly Pagan) origin like the well dressings and the Castleton Garland Ceremony; to more modern alternative annual sporting contests dreamed up over a pint or three down the local pub…”

Invesiture of the Mayor of Rainow (July) – © Richard Bradley 2019.

“Since 2015 Richard Bradley (born Sheffield 1980; raised South Darley and Two Dales near Matlock) has been traveling the area documenting these strange rituals. Living in a post-agrarian age, we have become woefully out of touch with the turning of the seasons. Whilst many of our fellow creatures hunker down and hibernate during the long, cold and dark winter months, we humans keep the electric lights blazing and carry on, some suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) ion the process. Could embracing the large array of annual customs, festivals and ceremonies reconnect us to the landscape and the natural rhythms of the passing year?” (exhibition text)

The exhibition continues until November 9th 2019.

If visiting the recently refurbished Museum the new ground floor display celebrating the ‘House of Wonders’ created by Randolph Osborne Douglas in nearby Castleton is worth a visit. Randolf and his wife Hetty ran the ‘Douglas Museum’ in their cottage, which was open to the public from 1926 until 1978, charging a sixpence for entry.

The display includes examples of Douglas’s silversmithing, miniature models and complete display cases from the Museum along with items from his time as ‘The Great Randini’ an escapologist, magician and friend of Harry (‘handcuff’) Houdini including drawings and descriptions of tricks he devised. In fact it was Randolph who showed Harry an upside down straitjacket escape, which became one of Houdini’s iconic tricks.

Andrew Robinson, October 2019.