Trusley as a conservation area

Please click here for a copy of South Derbyshire's 2013 document "Trusley Conservation Area: Character Statement."

The Trusley Conservation Area was designated by Derbyshire County Council on 25th July, 1968 - making it one of the first in England (the concept was introduced nationally in 1967) and the first in the South Derbyshire district.

Conservation Areas are designated as such for their special architectural and historic interest.

Those living in a Conservation Area may need permission from the Council before making alterations such as cladding, inserting windows, installing satellite dishes and solar panels, adding conservatories or other extensions, laying paving or building walls. The Council must be notified 6 weeks in advance of any tree felling or pruning - this gives the Council time to assess the contribution the tree makes to the character of the conservation area and decide whether to make a Tree Preservation Order. Permission is also required from the Council for any demolition or substantial demolition of a building.

Why Trusley?

Trusley is very small and, though technically a village because it has a church, it is the size of a small hamlet.

What makes it almost unique is that it is an estate village which has been in the hands of one family for centuries. In fact the entire parish is in the hands of one family (or the family's trust) with the single exception of The Old Rectory which passed into private hands in the 1940s when sold off by the Church of England. The irony is that The Old Rectory is now owned by the founder of DASH: Derbyshire Atheists, Secularists and Humanists.

Trusley has remained almost unchanged for a very long time. The last new buildings, two semi-detached cottages for agricultural workers, were added in the 1950s and Trusley Manor was built during the Edwardian era. Before that the early 19th Century saw additions and changes to farm buildings.

Frozen in time?

Many people think that Conservation Area status means "no change" but that is certainly not the case. It simply means that permission must be sought before any change takes place to ensure that it is in sympathy with the area as a whole.

Trusley is not frozen in time - though sometimes it feels like that - which is what we enjoy about the place.

All communities are dynamic: the people living in them change over time, what they do for a living changes over time, and how they expect to live changes over time.

Those of us from rural backgrounds can remember the 1950s/60s when living on a farm meant no electricity, outside toilets, single glazing, no central heating, condensation running down the windows and walls and icicles forming inside the bedrooms on winter nights.

In the second decade of the 21st century it is not reasonable to expect people to live that way - so the place has to change to cater for reasonable modern living expectations.

When would you freeze it?

If conservation really meant freezing things in time the question becomes "when would you choose?"

We could demolish the 1950s semi-detached cottages and take the place back to the Edwardian era. We could demolish the Manor and take it back to the early 19th Century. We could demolish some farm buildings and probably get back to the Elizabethan era. In fact, we could demolish almost everything and get back to a few round houses in a "brushwood clearing" - which is where we think the name "Trusley" comes from.

The time chosen for freezing would be arbitrary - and that's not what conservation means anyway.

Trusley is no longer agrarian in character

The Conservation Area report talks about the "agrarian character" of Trusley and it is true that, from the outside, very little appears to have changed since the 19th century - and long may it remain that way! However, closer examination reveals a different picture.

At the end of the 19th century almost everyone living here would have been involved in agriculture, or running the estate, in one way or another.

In 2021 that is no longer the case and the following jobs are represented by those living here today (in no particular order):

      Gardening/landscape contractors
      Actor, film maker and corporate motivator
      Wildlife artist
      Architecture manager
      Retired leather and fancy goods supplier
      Retired magazine editor
      Retired software/electronics designer
      Retired English teacher
      Retired widow of a textile mill owner
      Estate land holder
      Wedding venue company director

Note "farmer" singular within the conservation area.

The changing pattern of land usage

In common with many estates throughout the country Trusley has, in the last 25 years, seen the biggest change in the pattern of land usage since the time of the enclosures.

The traditional small tenant farm: farm house, farm buildings and between 100 and 150 acres of land, is now a rarity. In Trusley only four three farms: Gold Hurst, Home, Trusley Wood and Grange Fields are now tenanted. Tenants have no long-term incentive to maintain and enhance farm buildings since any such investment increases the capital asset value of the land owner, not the tenant.

As a farm tenancy lapses estates bring the buildings and land "in hand" - i.e. under the direct control of the estate rather than farmed by a tenant for life. Farming tenancies may pass from one generation to the next as long as it can be shown that the next generation has been dependent on the farm for a living. The NFU deals with hundreds of disputes each year over the transfer of tenancies in this way. In many cases the children of tenant farmers have other careers and do not wish to continue farming - so the death or retirement of a tenant means the farm is immediately taken in hand.

Rent from land is insufficient to maintain the buildings on an estate and to provide a living for the landowner's family. By taking everything "in hand" estates can double their income by renting out farm houses to those who want to live in the countryside while the land can be rented out, on short-term leases, to whoever bids the highest. An estate of 1,000+ acres that brought in perhaps £100,000 from land rental can now bring in between £250,000 and £300,000 from the mixture of land, home tenants and holiday lets. It is no surprise that many small estates are moving this way.

Those small farms that do exist cannot afford all the heavy equipment for today's farming (a modern combine harvester can cost over £300,000) - hence many of them act as sub-contractors to others, renting out their time and the equipment they have.

Unfortunate unforeseen consequences

  • There are no farms for young farmers to start their careers.
  • Farm workers cannot afford to buy or rent property in the countryside. Click here to see the latest prices on Rightmove.
  • Farmers renting land for short periods of time have no incentive to manage hedges, fences, gateways and, more importantly, ditches - all have suffered in the last few years along with the lanes which now flood more often.
  • Farmers now rent land wherever they can get it. This results in very muddy and dangerous lanes as their tractors move stock from one field to another and as they plough, sow, spray and harvest crops in fields dispersed over a wide area.
  • The use of contractors means that heavy equipment is always moving along the lanes from one field to another. The lanes round Trusley get pretty hectic during silaging time. ("Hectic" is a relative term, in our case it may mean a couple of extra tractor movements per day - our lanes are not exactly "busy" - apart from an increasing number of push bikes.)
  • Farmers have no incentive to improve the environment for wildlife - hence narrow headlands to maximise the return per acre and a significant decline in wildlife species and numbers. Many land owners have failed work with their tenants to create and implement schemes to maintain a balance of wildlife on their estates.

    Those older than about 50 will remember coming home from a car trip to find the windscreen covered in insects - Halfords used to supply a special spray to get remove them This is no longer the case and, as the insects disappear, so do the birds and small animals that depend on them.

  • Many farmers are dropping out of the dairy business for two reasons: the pressure on prices due mainly to large supermarkets and the long hours - up at 5:00am every morning and two milkings a day, 365 days a year. Beef cattle and sheep remain but the growth of arable farming means that much of our countryside may become an animal-free, green desert within the next decade.

Stasis and change since conservation area status

Comparison of the tithe map and the 2010 South Derbyshire planning map shows changes over the last 170 years.

Click for the full Trusley 1839 tithe map

Click for a larger image


  • Significant development has take place at Ivy Close Farm and Home Farm with the addition of Victorian and 20th century farm buildings.
  • Trusley Manor did not exist in 1840. When it was built in 1902 the tenants of Old Hall Farm were moved out to the newly built Goldhurst Farm.
  • In the 1940s a significant part of The Manor was demolished leaving it at its current size.
  • Old Hall Farm has become Trusley Old Hall with considerable additions including the Victorian Memorial Hall.
  • The 1950s saw the building of Nos 1 and 2 Taylors Lane.

The last 50 years

  • Eatons Cottage had an extension.
  • Outbuildings at Lane End Cottage were converted into an additional room.
  • Parts of Home Farm and its Victorian outbuildings are now in a state of relative decay.
  • A wooden shed was converted into a brick garage and garden shed in what used to be a pig yard at The Old Rectory.
  • A dilapidated single story outbuilding to the west of the Old Rectory was converted into a utility room and boiler room. The oil tank was buried underground.
  • A conservatory was added to The Old Rectory.
  • A brick carriage shed, described by the Conservation Officer as "of no architectural merit", was converted into an extension at The Old Rectory. At the same time all overhead electricity and telephone wires were removed and put underground. Telephone and electricity cables in the centre of the village remain an eyesore.
  • A tennis court has been added to Trusley Old Hall.
  • Trusley Old Hall has seen other changes to its buildings.
  • There has been significant tree planting on various parts of Trusley Estate.
  • The modern barns and sheds have been removed from Ivy Close Farm. The Victorian barns are surplus to requirements and remain unused in a state of advancing decay. Ivy Close farmhouse is now "The Old Court House" and was an Airbnb rental before becoming a family home.
  • Ultrafast, Fibre To The Premises, broadband arrived in May 2019.
  • The unnamed road through the village (between Butterpot Lane and "The Triangle"), was repaired and resurfaced in September, 2021.
  • The wall at The Old Rectory, facing Home Farm, was in danger of falling down so was replaced (with planning permission) in May, 2022.

Beyond the boundaries of the conservation area:

  • Trusley Brook Farm and its land have been taken "in hand" and the house is now rented out as a home.
  • Trusley Brook outbuildings were converted for light industrial use and, for a few years, used as a micro-brewery. A local company now uses them for developing and testing explosives.
  • Hardley Hill Farm and its land have been taken "in hand" and the house is now rented out as a home. Planning permission has been granted to turn it into an up-market restaurant.
  • Ivy Close Farm has been taken "in hand", the house was rented out via Airbnb as "The Old Court House" but is now a family home.
  • The land at Broad Close Farm has been taken "in hand" and the house is now rented out to the retired farmer who was previously the tenant.
  • Grangefields Cottages, near Osleston on the border with Thurvaston, have been sold, demolished and replaced by two modern homes.
  • Grangefields Farm is now a wedding venue.