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Welcome to The Peak Hotel. The building was established as an inn during1809. The Peak Hotel has always been at the heart of the community, and has played host to many a local and traveller alike.

Castleton's Ancient Garland Ceremony

Originally derived from an Oak Apple Day festival, to celebrate the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660. Up until 1859, May 29th was a public holiday in England so a Garland was always held on this date - unless it fell on a Sunday!

The Oak leaf became a Royalist symbol after Charles II hid in an Oak Tree to escape the Roundheads after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

Waving an Oak branch was seen to be as proud as waving the Nation's Flag, and to this day during the Garland Ceremony, you could be flogged for not wearing your sprig of oak!!

Oak Apple Day Festival
Peak Hotel with its Swiss style balcony 1891
The King's March
Market Place, Castleton 1909

Double Murder At Winnats Pass

The double murder in Winnyates Pass as it was then known, of absconding lovers nearly 300 years ago. There are a few versions of this folklore, but the details which all agree on are this: Allen and Clara (as they have been dubbed overtime), were travelling from Scotland to Peak Forest Chapel where they had decided to elope. Allen was allegedly from a poor family and Clara, a wealthy one, which is why her parents objected to the match. 

They made their way to Stoney Middleton and stayed overnight at The Royal Oak. The following day they went to Castleton and stopped for a rest at another inn. A group of raucous and drunken miners was also there. Seeing the couple dressed in fine clothes, the men decided to follow them up the Winnats where they robbed them of £200, brutally murdered them, and threw their bodies down a mine shaft, where they went undiscovered for ten years by miners after they sunk an engine pit.

The four men who murdered this unfortunate couple are then said to have been punished by the divine. 

When James Ashton of Castleton was on his deathbed in 1778, he ‘was most miserably afflicted and tormented in his conscience’ and confessed his murderous act to a vicar, Rev Hanby. He described how he and his four companions, whom he named as Nicholas Cook, John Bradshaw, Thomas Hall and Francis Butler, had slit the man’s throat and then killed the woman with a pick axe, ignoring her desperate pleas for mercy.

After the terrible event, the miners divided the money between them. Ashton was a coal carrier and he bought some horses with his share, which turned out to be a poor investment and left him in hardship. The others all met a violent end; Nicholas Cock fell from a precipice near to the spot where the lovers were slain, and John Bradshaw was killed by a falling stone, also near the scene of the crime. Thomas Hall hanged himself, and Francis Butler ‘went mad, and died in a most miserable manner’ after several unsuccessful suicide attempts.  The final one, James Ashton, died shortly after his shocking confession.

The remains of ‘Alan and Clara’ were buried in St Edmund’s Church, Castleton. Their spirits are said to haunt Winnats Pass and can be heard begging for their lives on dark, windy nights.

Some other interesting news from the past:

In July 1896, Miss Elizabeth Cooper who was a member of a choir picnic party, went to retrieve her hat which had blown off nearby to the castle, and fell 60ft resulting in her death. A makeshift stretcher was conveyed from the Peak Hotel to carry her body. On Tuesday evening 1st February 1910, the Peak Hotel was in danger of being destroyed by fire. One of the bedrooms was on fire causing sparks to catch onto a ladies dress and other clothes, resulting in the destruction of of a silver tea service, all of which belonged to the daughter of the innkeeper at the time, Mr Johnstone. Damage was estimated to be £30 (which was a lot back then!), but thankfully he had insurance! 

In May 1914, Mr Johnstone of the Peak Hotel died age 70, he was also the proprietor of the Millstone Quarries, Hathersage. In October 1917, Thomas Hall died aged 65; he had attained wide celebrity as the "King of the Garland". For nearly 40 years he represented the character of King Charles in the picturesque cavalcade on Royal Oak Day held May 29 in the village, where the Garland was held at various inns including The Peak Hotel, which had been a posting house. 

Famous Faces

There have been many distinguished visitors to Castleton from all over the world, such as Grand Duke Michael of Russia & his Suite who arrived in July 1818 to Castleton from Chatsworth and stayed overnight to view the Caverns and village. In the early 1970's Hollywood Film Legend Paul Newman and his family stayed in the village for a week. 

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