One of the features of the Derby Heritage Forum, and indeed it's main purpose, is to examine Derby's history and to validate and verify it in relation to the evidence.  Often the  historic facts can  become blurred or even wrong when previous writers have published their versions of history. So it was that a recent visit to Rose Hill House caused me to question Burdett's map and the source of the name 'Rose Hill'. In the subsequent discussions and examination of the relevant deeds and maps a curious thought struck me. Where did the name 'Rose Hill' come from and when? I admit to a vested interest in the subject because I was born next to the Arboretum Park which itself covers a considerable area of Rose Hill and I knew that the area stretched from at least Grove Street, down Normanton Road, along Rose Hill Street and down to the corner of Reginald Street and Osmaston Road where stood my old school, Rose Hill also known as Reginald Street school. However, the name 'Rose Hill' as an area is recent and becomes common in the early nineteenth century. Time to turn to the maps!

Burdett's 1791 map was surveyed in the middle of the eighteenth century and makes no mention of an area called 'Rose Hill'. The "parent" borough that contains Rose Hill is Litchurch and this is marked on the map and within this locality is the description 'Gallows' which I, and everyone else it seems, have assumed indicates the location of the this instrument of capital punishment.



However, our discussions and reviews of old maps from the deeds and Kevin Archer's redrawn tithe map, section shown below, left me suspicious of my assumption. A careful study of Burdett's map shows that specific locations are identified by some symbol or other whereas areas are just named, as with Litchurch. Gallows follows this latter convention suggesting that it is referring to an area and that area is coincidental with much of Rose Hill. In fact Rose Hill House was built on Lower Gallows Close so should it really be called Gallows Close House? The same applies to Rose Hill Cottages. I also know from the research of the late Chris Harris that Strutt bought up a number of the Gallows Closes to create the gardens that were to become the Arboretum. So, was the name of the area changed from Gallows to Rose Hill to placate the wealthy people that were building their new houses? Would you want to live in Gallows or Rose Hill? 


This reasoning takes us back to Burdett's map and the indication 'Gallows' that we find on it. Some years ago, when I was writing the Heritage column in The Derby Trader, I was reporting on the research carried out by Chris Harris and mentioned the fact that he had found that the Arboretum stood on the Gallows Closes. In following up on this information someone else told me that on the deeds of a house in Madely Street it was written that the Gibbet stood where the gardens to the house were now laid out. I also had a Trader reader to get in touch and relate to me that when she was young she often visited a house at the bottom of Louden Street which was then occupied by an antiquarian who told her that the Gallows themselves had once stood in his garden which were at the end of the Gallows Baulk. So, all those years ago, I had received corroborating information from three separate sources which are now seeming to confirm the location of the Gallows and the surrounding area to which they lent their name. This is being supported by other documented references and mapping evidence from both the nineteenth century and the eighteenth century. I am beginning to feel confident enough to claim that the term Gallows on Burdett's map refers to an area which was to become Rose Hill and not to the actual location of the Gallows themselves. Further research is needed to positively confirm this assertion but I think the case is strong. The following map is the Gallows Closes overlaid on a section of a Derby Street Map.

A picture of the Gallows Closes laid over a Derby street map

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