Chesterfield in Derbyshire, England, with its crooked spire, is Derbyshire's second largest town. It is surrounded by some of the loveliest and unspoilt countryside in the county. It is built over a Roman site which is also on top of an Iron Age fort. The Romans probably settled here because the area is so rich in natural minerals like coal, lead and tin.
In Domesday, the town was known as Cestrefeld meaning open field, and its early prosperity was largely a result of its role as a market town, which served the whole of the north east of Derbyshire. The market still remains an important part of the towns economy. Every monday, friday and saturday, more than 250 stalls crowd into the town centre, enabling the visitor to purchase almost anything.
The 19th century saw Chesterfield developing rapidly into an industrial centre, especially with the coming of the railway. It was George Stevenson who supervised the construction of the Midland Line through the town, as he had done earlier with other Derbyshire towns. Today Chesterfield can boast excellent communications from all directions by both road and rail. It is close to the M1 motorway, the Midland Railway station is only a short distance from the town centre and there is a comprehensive bus service.
The Chesterfield area played host to many coal mines but from 1981 to 2002, 15,000 jobs in the coal industry disappeared and not a single colliery remains open. A cycle and walking track called the "Five Pits Trail" now links some of the former collieries.
In the middle of the market is the Victorian market hall which is open throughout the week providing shopping facilities and function rooms. Nearby is a part of the town known as the Shambles which originally dates back to the 12th century. The shamble's narrow streets are both quaint and home to good shops, tea rooms and an interesting timber framed pub called the Royal Oak. A sign ouside, records the fact that a pub has been sited here since 1772 and before that a rest house for ' the knights templar, a band of crusaders'.
The Tourist Information Centre is housed in a new building, beside St Mary and All Saints church in Rykneld Way. It moved from the old Peacock Centre, now a coffee bar, several years ago. It is open all year Monday to Saturday
9 am-5 pm (Winter) and
9 am-5.30 pm (Easter to October). Tel: +44 (0)1246 345777/8
The peaceful Queen's park has been the focus of much of Chesterfields leisure since Victorian times. It provides a boating lake, gardens, childrens play area and is occasionally used for county cricket matches. There is also a modern sports centre, providing facilities for squash, badminton, swimming, tennis and other sports. Chesterfield Football Club, known as the Spireites after the Crooked Spire, play at the Recreation Ground ( Saltergate ).
Chesterfield's popular Pomegranate Theatre in Corporation St started life in 1879 as the Stephenson Memorial Hall in tribute to George Stephenson who is buried at the Holy Trinity church on Newbold Road.
The Pomegranate also spent a part of its life as a cinema and as the Chesterfield Civic Theatre before becoming the Pomegranate in 1982. See www.pomegranatetheatre.co.uk for more information on exhibitions and performances held at the Pomegranate. The night life in Chesterfield is well-regarded with a large number of pubs and night clubs in the town.
Chesterfield is synonymous with the crooked spire on top of the church of Our Lady and All Saints. It gives Chesterfield its identity. Built, along with much of the rest of the church in the 14th century, it was straight for several centuries before it began to twist, probably as a result of unseasoned timber being used for its construction. It now leans nearly 9ft to the south and is still moving.
The large church is a fine cruciform building consisting of an aisled nave of 6 bays, a central tower, transepts and a 2 bay chancel, flanked by a chapel dedicated to St Katherine to the north and by a Lady chapel to the south. There are a further 2 chapels, one to the Holy Cross, the other to St Peter. The many chapels are due to the numerous guilds which once existed in the town, the oldest of which, the guild of Our Lady and the Holy Cross, was founded in 1218. The lady chapel contains a series of alabaster tombs of the Foljambe family. A particularly fine one is that of Sir Godfrey Foljambe and his wife.
The history of Chesterfield is exhibited in the town's museum and Art Gallery, which can be found in St Mary's Gate.
The museum is open Mon-sat (except wed), 10am-4pm
For information on food and drink in Chesterfield see Places to eat and drink in Chesterfield
Accommodation in Chesterfield
Cowclose Farm B&B - A warm welcome awaits you at Cowclose Farm. Our beautiful, 200 year old stone farmhouse is in a quiet, but not isolated location, with lovely views of the surrounding countryside. We are near the Linacre Valley and one mile to the eastern edge of The Peak District National Park. Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall, Hardwick Hall, Renishaw Gardens, not to mention Chesterfield and Sheffield are all within a 30 minute drive.
Read more at Cowclose Farm B&B
For more accommodation see
Derbyshire and Peak District Accommodation
Guest Houses with B&B in Derbyshire and Peak District
Holiday Cottages in Derbyshire and Peak District
Hotels in Derbyshire and Peak District
Peak District Holiday Guide
Peak District Accommodation
Derbyshire and Peak District Photographs
The Derby Guide