A postcard from lovers’ Leap - pride, prejudice and the picturesque: the story of a Peak District legend

ROBINSON, Andrew (2023). A postcard from lovers’ Leap - pride, prejudice and the picturesque: the story of a Peak District legend. The Revenant.

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Although locations named Lover’s Leap dating back hundreds of years, are to be found around the world, academic research investigating the origins and development of such sites, along with the myths and legends associated with them and the material culture they produce is relatively limited, especially for sites within the United Kingdom. This paper presents an in-depth analysis of one such site, Lover’s Leap in Ashwood Dale just south of Buxton, Derbyshire, as an example of the complex interplay of folklore, legend, and landscape, alongside notions of the picturesque and sublime and the related material culture often associated with such sites. The legend of Buxton’s Lover’s Leap gave name to a site which was to become a Peak District beauty spot within easy access of the town that is shown to have played a previously overlooked role in the establishment of Buxton as a tourist destination in the 18th century. For over 150 years Lover’s Leap and the picturesque limestone gorge at whose entrance the precipice stands were praised by travel writers, described in florid terms by poets, sketched, painted and photographed by artists, all celebrating the site as slice of the sublime just a short walk from the centre of this Peak District town. As access improved and nearby industrial extraction developed in the early 20th century the site became increasingly isolated whilst at the same time the needs and desire of tourists changed. If the site itself has now largely been forgotten, the legend lives on through retellings in collections of Derbyshire folklore, the tales of local storytellers and the wealth of visual material culture still to be found in antiques shops, museums and on online auction sites. This paper explores the complex interplay of legend, landscape, tourism and the sublime alongside its representation through vernacular visual culture across more than 230 years.

Plain Text Summary

An exploration of the history and visual representation of a Peak District Legend - Lover's Leap, Ashwood Dale, Buxton - and it's role in the development of the town as a tourist destination during the 18th and 19th century.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Department of Art and Design; Art and Design Research Centre; Lover’s Leap, folklore, folktale, myth, legend, tourism, landscape, sublime, picturesque, turnpike, limestone, elopement, Peak District, Buxton, spa, Derbyshire, Sherbrook Dell, Ashwood Dale, River Wye, Dukes Drive, Chatsworth, Peak Forest, The Crescent, postcard.
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2023 08:58
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 13:30
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/32097

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