Monyash is an unspoilt village clustered around the village green, its main preoccupation is now farming and tourism but at it was an important lead-mining centre from medieval times to the end of the 19th century and had its own Barmote Court. The village cross dates from 1340, when Monyash was granted a licence for a weekly market and two annual fairs. Around the village may be seen characteristic narrow fields which were enclosures of medieval strips and, further away, the larger fields which resulted from the 1771 Enclosures Act.
Monyash and the surrounding area have been settled since Neolithic times, as can be inferred from its proximity to Arbor Low, which dates from 2000BC or earlier. The village has a good water source and sits on a deposit of clay, which means that the water does not sink immediately into underlying limestone, as it usually does in this area. This led to the creation of several ponds or 'meres' and at least one survives until the present day. The village was mentioned in the Domesday Book as 'Maneis', which is often translated as 'many ash trees' (cf. Oxford Dictionary of British Placenames), but research by Professor Bob Johnston indicates that it is more likely derived from the Old English words mani and eas for many waters.
The Romans built a road which follows the ridge to the south-east of the village, and which probably follows the line of a much earlier trackway. Later, the Saxons overran the area, which became part of the territory of the 'Pecsaete' tribe (some people believe that 'Peak District' is derived from this tribe's name) and a celebrated Saxon burial at Benty Grange just south of Monyash was probably one of their chieftains.
Some of the farms are quite ancient, such as One Ash Grange, about a mile from the main village, which was originally a farming outpost of Roche Abbey. It later belonged to the Bowman family, who were noted Quakers - and the village became a Quaker centre because it was also the home of John Gratton, a prominent early Quaker. Though it is no longer used as such, the Quaker meeting house still stands along the road towards Flagg and behind it there is a poignant Quaker cemetery. John Bright, of the Anti Corn-Law League, was a friend of the Bowman family and spent his honeymoon at One Ash Grange.
The lead mines for which Monyash was famous also provide a Quaker connection, since they were worked in the 17th and 18th centuries by the London Lead Company, a Quaker firm. Sheldon House was once one of the mining offices and the miners were said to have queued for their pay here.
Evidence of other industries of bygone days may be found in the local names of Shuttle Lane and Chandler House. Monyash's most recent claim to fame is as the burial place of Sir Maurice Oldfield, a local man who became the head of MI6 and was the model for 'M' in the James Bond books.
The village lies at the head of Lathkill Dale and is therefore very busy with walkers and hikers at weekends, since it is a good base for exploring the surrounding area. There is a pub, the Bull's Head, where the Barmote Court still meets twice yearly. Next door to the Bull's Head there is a popular cafe. Monyash has an annual well-dressing at the end of May.