At Fairlight Books, one of our 2019 New Year’s resolutions is to ramp up the amount of blogging that we do on our www.fairlightbooks.com website about all of the UK’s fabulous bookshops. Every bookshop blog that we put on our main website, we will repost here on the Hub, with some additional content that other booksellers and bookshop owners might find useful or interesting.
Today’s blog is about Reading Matters, a bookshop in the heart of the Peak District, which plays a key role within the local community and provides essential supplies to visitors – local history books and guide books and maps for both walkers, cyclists and drivers Since the local tourist information centre closed down, the shop also doubles as an informal provider of tourist information! We popped in on a rainy day in September and chatted with one of the owners, Lyndsay, who has been running the shop with Sue, for over 6 years.
Reading Matters, Chapel-en-le-Frith
An essential stop off for anyone visiting the Peak District: a gorgeous little bookshop with a wide selection of holiday reading, plenty of local guide books and maps, a lovely children’s room and a French language books section. Dog friendly.
For any fans of Jane Austen, a visit to the Peak District is a must. Here is the setting for Mr Darcy’s Derbyshire estate, the famous Pemberley, where Mr Darcy finally convinces Elizabeth Bennet of his good nature.
But for those who are not fans of Austen, the varied landscape, with its dramatically creased hills, rocky outcrops and moorland, has been used as inspiration by countless other writers – from Wordsworth, Arthur Conan Doyle and Lord Byron to Beatrix Potter. The village of Morton in Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre was based on Hathersage, where Brontë stayed in 1845. So there is no doubting the literary credentials of the region, and for any writers looking for inspiration, or book lovers looking to retrace the lives of their favourite authors, a visit to the Peak District has got to be on the to-do list.
One of our favourite bookshops in the area is Reading Matters, in the little market town of Chapel-en-le-Frith. It’s the ‘go-to’ place for local guide books and maps, but it also has a fantastic range of literary fiction, non fiction and preloved railway books – including all the classics you’ve wanted to read but never got round to, plus a wide selection of books hand-picked by the owners. There are greeting cards, postcards and stationery, as well as lots of bookish gifts.
The bookshop plays an important role in the local community being the central point of contact for the local history group, a monthly book club and hosting local literary events. If you are stuck for ideas for where to eat out or things to see or do, then feel free to ask in the bookshop. Lyndsay said that since the local tourist information centre closed down, they have been acting as an informal tourist office.
The shop also has a dedicated children’s room crammed with books, soft toys games and puzzles for 0 -12 years.
We asked Lyndsay why a town in the heart of the UK has a French name. Apparently at the time of the Normans, vast parts of the High Peak were forested and the town was the site of a Norman hunting lodge, called Chapel-en-le-Frith, which means chapel in the forest in French. Reading Matters also has its own French language fiction section.
If you are thinking of visiting the Peak District, Chapel-en-le-Frith, the capital of the High Peak, is a great base: it’s about a half-hour drive from Chatsworth House, which was believed to be the inspiration for Austen’s Pemberley, and from the village of Longnor, which was used for filming scenes of Lambton in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. The BBC production also used the interior of Sudbury Hall, just to the south of the Peak District, for the interior shots of Pemberley and the outside of Lyme Hall, just 20 minutes west of Chapel-en-le-Frith, for the exterior shots.
Links to all these locations are included below.
If you are thinking of visiting the area, also worth checking out is the website www.peakdistrict.gov.uk which has lots of information on guided walks and, for the very active, information on how to enjoy off-road cycling, potholing, climbing, pony trekking, fell running, fishing and paragliding.
We hope you enjoy the Peak District and visiting Chapel-en-le-Frith as much as we did!
Address – 48 Market Street, Chapel-en-le-Frith, High Peak SK23 0HY
website – https://readingmattersbookshop.co.uk/
Contact – 01298 938166
Where to Stay
A 17th-century inn offering traditional home-cooked food, a selection of cask ales, and rooms on a B&B basis in the old coach house. The Roebuck overlooks the market place with its ancient market cross and old town stocks.
A newly refurbished, family-friendly bar and grill with comfortable rooms. A welcome return from a day out walking, with hearty food and roaring fires.
Where to Eat
Very popular with the locals, this little café features Greek meze and sandwiches.
Q&A with Lyndsay Noden, Owner
We choose our books knowing what our customers like. Some are from the bestsellers list and we use social media to see what’s trending.
We love your French section – obviously tying in with the name of the town. What inspired this and what sort of books do you stock in it?
We wanted to expand into stocking books in another language and chose French as it is one of the main languages taught in the local schools. The town of Chapel-en-le-Frith dates back to 1401 and the name itself means ‘chapel in the forest’; its French derivative is hunting lodge. So yes, there is a French connection! In terms of the type of French books we stock, there are some classics and what is currently trending in the French Literature bestseller lists. We can order from over 100 titles available. There will be titles in Spanish and German later this year.
We also love your Children’s Room – it’s very cosy and inviting. What have you added to achieve that?
We have tried to make it as colourful and vibrant for children with posters, bunting and floor cushions and we encourage children to go in on their own while the parent/adult is choosing their own book!