Thank you Eileen Brownson for your request for a picture of Townhead. Here are some provided by Mike G, with kind permission from Rosemary and Stuart:
Here also is an extract from “Gardening in Parwich: a celebration of the Parwich & District Horticultural Society’s Golden Jubilee ” produced in 2002, but now out of print:
This Georgian house built around 1770/1780 has a particularly fine long Derbyshire stair widow on the garden front. In the 1843 Tithe map the domestic garden and orchard plots are as present. Below the garden is now a further orchard, but was then two separate houses with gardens. No obvious traces of these houses remain. In the nineteenth century censuses one of these houses was inhabited by the blacksmith whose smithy further down gives Smithy Lane its name. Townhead was relatively unusual for the larger Georgian houses in the village, as it was owned separately to the Parwich Estate. Its name refers to the fact that until the establishing of the post-Enclosure Act farms, of which the neighbouring Foufinside was one of the earliest, it was the last house in the parish. The was also a further green here, known as Town Head Green. The lane as it runs along side the garden is worth examining as its narrowness and sunken nature indicate it is likely to be an ancient route out of the village (see Francis, 2001).
During the nineteenth century Townhead was the home of the Brownson family. Helena Birkental (1952, reprinted 2001) tells us “The Brownsons came from Scotland with Mary Queen of Scots in 1568; after her execution a branch of their family settled in Parwich. They lived in various houses: Hall Cliffe, the Hall and Alsop Hall. Miss Mary Brownson lived and died at Town Head. After her death at the age of 96 (in 1906), a sale of many Jacobean relics attracted buyers from far and near. The Duke of Portland secured many of them, including the Portland goblet and a beaded pin-cushion, which bore the words embroidered in beads, “Up with Prince Charlie and down with the Parliament”. Peacocks strutted across the lawns of Town Head, nesting in a great box high up in a tree. Their raucous cries heralded throughout the village the approach of bad weather.”
The gardens during Mary Brownson’s tenure as well as having peacocks, were sufficient to warrant a live in gardener: James Hopkins who was aged 30 in 1891. The censuses only list one other gardener in the village at the time who is thought to have worked at the Hall. Of Mary Brownson’s garden, a number of old yew trees and a fine beech tree remain. Also the splendid old wrought iron gate and the unusual tufa rockeries next to it would probably be recognised by her. In the early 1900 a doctor rented the house. Wallace Wrigley Brownson was the last of his family to live at Townhead. He died in 1942. The Brownsons sold the property as a working farm to George Staley in 1943, and it continued as such until the farmland was sold to Foufinside Farm in the early 1980s.
The (previous) owners bought the house in the late 1980s … … …. , when the garage was built on the site of the cow shed. The house was altered in the 1990s when the existing kitchen (formerly the dairy) was enlarged, and the other outbuildings restored. The previous owners had laid the lower lawn on the former kitchen garden, and the present owners joined the two parts of the garden, placing the pair of urns to mark the way through. They also placed the old stone salting sink in its present position. Before this it had been in use in the house, upside down, as a table.
Now the visitor sees a traditional English country garden with lawns, shrubberies, herbaceous plants, rockeries and a compact working kitchen garden. The distinctive features of the garden are its mature trees, unusual for a Parwich garden other than the Hall gardens, and its privacy. As the 1986 sales prospectus for the property tells us: “the gardens enjoy breathtaking views on all sides, in the direction of Parwich Hill to the East and to the South over the village of Parwich and fields and woodland beyond.”
Pictured in the garden at Townhead, are the winning cast from
the 1982 Women’s Institute Drama Festival with their trophy.
If you are not already familiar with the site you might like to look at Parwich & District Local History Society’s website. We have more information relating to the Parwich Brownsons to follow.