Ilam is an estate village on the banks of the Manifold, closely tied to Ilam Hall. The current village is the result of a complete redesign by Jesse Watts Russell, a shipping magnate who owned the hall. He employed John Shaw to rebuild the hall in the Gothic style, and the village in the cottage Ornee style.
The Hall is now owned by the National Trust, who loan it out to the Youth Hostels Association. The park and grounds are now open to visitors.
The village is now a popular tourist destination because of its proximity to Dovedale, just over half a mile away to the east. A footpath leads from the carpark at Dovedale into Ilam.