Alstonefield is the major village of the region which lies between the lower Dove and Manifold valleys. It is a pretty village which has not been spoilt by the large number of tourists it receives each weekend.
Alstonefield village green
The village is centred around the village green with the George Inn on one side, the church is down a cul-de-sac to the south and the newer part of the village to the north and west.
The village was once a busy junction of packhorse routes and was granted a market charter in 1308. It is not known how long markets continued, but livestock markets were held up until Victorian times. Alstonefield's situation between the steep-sided Dove and Manifold valleys have meant that the major modern transport routes have passed it by, leaving it as a backwater apart from tourism.
The church is mostly 16th century, built in 1590, though there are some Norman bits and there was a Saxon church on the site as a pastoral visit of the Archbishop of York is recorded from 892 AD. Like many other local churches it was heavily restored in Victorian times.
An interesting internal feature is the unusual box pew (painted a rather garish colour) of the Cotton family, owners of nearby Beresford Hall, whose famous scion Charles Cotton featured in 'The Compleat Angler', written by his friend Izaak Walton. This box pew contrasts sharply with much simpler seats available for the rest of the congregation.
From the church it is a fine walk to Milldale and the Dove. In the direction of the village green there lies the Manor House, dated 1587, which used to be the rectory, and a fine old tithe barn.
Around the green there was once a workhouse (built in 1790 and now private dwellings), a reading room, a village pump (which can still be seen), and a tea shop cum post office which has recently closed.
Hopedale and Stanshope are two hamlets situated just to the south of Alstonefield. Hopedale lies in a valley leading down to Milldale and has a very nice pub, the Watts Russell Arms, and once had a cheese factory. Stanshope is a farming hamlet centred around Stanshope Hall Farm, a fine 18th century building.