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A busy redbrick town, with more than 250 stalls doing a lively trade on market days, a delightful cricket ground at Queens Park and an unusual church spire. Second only to Derby in population in the county, it is quite different in style and character to any of its neighbours in the Peak District.


It is the crooked spire, that does most to make Chesterfield famous and the first thing newcomers usually look for on arrival in the town. The spire to St Mary and All Saints Church, started its life straight, but is now 9 feet 5 inches out of line and leans a tiny bit further every year. It gives the impression that it could fall down in the next strong gale, but having stood for over 600 years, it is quite safe for a long time yet. In fact, a report a number of years ago did cause some safety concerns. The spire was not the problem; the transept roofs were unsafe.


Many, fanciful reasons have been advanced for the spire leaning. The local legend being that the Devil having accidentally had a nail driven into his foot by a Bolsover blacksmith flew over the church, and in lashing out in pain, struck the spire. Another story is that it was caused by bell ringing, which considering the spire weighs 32 tons, must have required some very loud bells and immensely strong ringers!


The experts say that the spire is crooked because the lead and timber used are incompatible. This caused the timber to warp because of the heat of the sun on the lead casing.






As the spire was being built at the time of the Black Death in 1349, a theory has been put forward that the original craftsmen may have died. As a result, less experienced men completed the job and they made the mistake of using green timber. Whatever happened, it has proved to be a masterstroke in increasing Chesterfield’s name awareness and marketing potential in the tourism trade.


Chesterfield’s early prosperity came as a market town serving the whole of North East Derbyshire. The area around the town was rich in minerals. And coal, ironstone and lead extraction increased the town’s importance as a regional centre.


The real expansion of Chesterfield began with the Industrial Revolution. With its mineral resources it was in a prime position to exploit the town’s geographical location, close to the centre of the country. Chesterfield Canal and later the railway opened up markets much further afield than North East Derbyshire.


In 1901, as the result of much needed boundary changes, Chesterfield was no longer restricted to a small central area, which had been a major factor in limiting its growth. Houses had been crowded together, in alleyways and yards, poorly constructed and with inadequate sanitation. The lifting of the restrictions allowed the town to expand and grow much more freely and a programme of demolition started of the sub-standard housing. This went well into the 20th century and it is only in recent years that Conservation Area status has been granted to the market place and its environs.


Originally, the market place extended further to the east, where the Shambles is today, but gradually permanent buildings replaced the temporary stalls. It was once the ‘Flesh-Shambles’, where the butchers had their market. Now, it is a fascinating area to explore with narrow medieval streets lined with shops and cafes. But everything would have been so much different, had the Borough Council’s plans for re-development not met such stern local opposition; then the Shambles and Chesterfield’s Market Place would have disappeared.


Along Irongate, a narrow lane in the Shambles, is the Royal Oak, one of the town’s oldest public houses, a 16th century timber framed building. According to the notice board outside, it claims that it was first mentioned as an inn, in 1722 and prior to that was a rest house for the Knights Templar a band of crusaders. However, there is some doubt as to the authenticity of this notice.




Chesterfield’s spacious market place really catches the eye, so much so, that following its redevelopment, it received a prestigious European award in recognition of the design and exemplary workmanship. The brightly covered market stalls laden with goods are busy with shoppers on Monday, Friday and Saturday. On Thursdays, ‘Flea Markets’ are held. A farmers’ market takes place on the second Thursday of every month and once a year a ‘Medieval Market’ takes place when the traders dress up in traditional costumes. You might even bump into a rat catcher in the street!


The Market Place Pump, erected in 1826, was a meeting point, where in the past passionate speeches have been made and even riots started. Behind it the Market Hall, built in 1857 did not initially fare very well, and came in for a lot of criticism, but over the years views have changed, and it is now accepted as an important part of the market scene.


On the edge of the market area, housed in what was the Peacock Inn is the Peacock Centre. A rather inconspicuous building, it was closed in 1973 for re-development. When a small fire revealed some ancient timbers under its modern exterior, that proved to be a 16th century oak framed structure. Across the square is a late-Georgian House, named after Thomas Secker from Chesterfield, who became Archbishop of Canterbury in the 18th century.


Lovely Queens Park is only a few minutes walk away, with its boating lake, miniature railway and children’s play area. It has an impressive array of sporting facilities and has even hosted top class basketball matches. The jewel in the crown is its cricket ground, widely acclaimed by sports writers everywhere as one of the prettiest grounds anywhere in the world. It no longer hosts county cricket, the county club complaining about inadequate facilities that need upgrading and the cost of playing away from their base at Derby. Apart from the first class county matches, Chesterfield loses the tourist potential of one of its finest assets. {The return of County Cricket 2005 - click here for more information.}


Chesterfield Town Football Club play at Saltergate, and the team usually plays in the lower reaches of the Football League. Everything was different in 1997, when they had their moment of glory, reaching the FA cup semi-finals.


The Chesterfield Canal opened in 1777, giving the town easier access to other parts of the country, but the railway soon superseded it. In 1838, railway pioneer George Stephenson came to live on the outskirts of Chesterfield. He was involved in many successful engineering projects. An advocate of sound training, he was a strong supporter of providing good educational facilities in the town and engineering became one of the main industries in the area.


After Stephenson’s death, the Stephenson Memorial Hall opened in 1879. The complex comprised of a public hall, lecture hall and numerous other rooms. It has had a number of users and now is home to the Pomegranate Theatre. Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery occupy another part of the complex, where you can learn more about George Stephenson, the ‘Father of the Railways’.


The mainline railway station is at the bottom of the hill from the Stephenson Memorial Hall and the M1 Motorway less than five miles away on a fast road. This puts Chesterfield in a good position to benefit from its excellent communication network and meet the competitive challenges of the 21st century


The Winding Wheel, the town’s concert and conference centre was the Picture House until 1936. Silent films were shown here for seven years from 1923 while Reginald Dixon, later of Blackpool Tower fame, played the organ. After a spell as the Odeon Cinema, it was purchased by the Corporation and put to its present use.


Situated just off West Bars the courthouse, which opened in 1965, is of an unusual eye - catching design. Higher up the slope, occupying a pre-eminent position is the Town Hall, a long elegant building. North East Derbyshire Council Offices are located a little further back.


There is a wide range of shops in the centre of the town and under cover shopping provided at ‘The Pavements Shopping Centre’. The new public library is close by and is excellent in content and appearance.


In September 2004, Chesterfield celebrates the 800th anniversary of its Market Charter. The town's well dressings also take place at the same time.




1. Railway Station.
2. Pomegranate Theatre.
3. Museum.
4. Winding Wheel.
5. Crooked spire.
6. Shambles.
7. Royal Oak.
8. Library.
9. Pavements shopping centre.
10. Market Place Pump.
11. Market Hall.
12. Peacock Centre.
13. Market Place.
14. Secker's House.
15. Cricket Ground.
16. Court House.
17. Town Hall-Chesterfield Borough.
18. Chesterfield FC.
19. Town Hall-NE Derbyshire council.
20. Queen's Park.


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Revolution House, (Tel. 01246 453554/345727) situated in the village of Old Whittington three miles north of Chesterfield. It takes its name from the 1688 Revolution, when it was an alehouse. It was where three noblemen met to plot the overthrow of King James II in favour of William and Mary of Orange. The house now provides an interesting exhibition of that period. Please telephone for opening details or visit website.

Bolsover Castle, (Tel. 01246 822844) an award winning attraction that provides a romantic example of a Cavalier’s pleasure palace. Under the control of English Heritage, there is a shop a spacious café. For further information website:

Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery, (Tel. 01246 345727) tells the fascinating ‘Story of Chesterfield.’ Here you can find out how the Parish Church was built and what went wrong to make the spire lean! Open all year on Mondays, Tuesdays and from Thursday to Saturday.


Smithy Pond (Tel. 01246 557177) is a comparatively new modern style pub overlooking a large pond from which it gets its name. There is a good selection of food available all day. Seating outside facing across the pond.

Wingerworth Garden Centre (Tel. 01246 204214) on Birkin Lane is a pleasant well-stocked little garden centre. Plans are in hand to open a teashop early in 2003.The Garden Centre is open daily throughout the year and is passed on the walk.




Provides a wide range of features  with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.


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This walk takes you through lovely peaceful countryside along well defined tracks and quiet lanes only two miles to the south of the centre of Chesterfield. There are good views of Derbyshire lowland agricultural scenery to the south and west.


The site of Bole Hill Quarry is soon reached, where in the 18th century ironstone was mined. A ‘bole’ being the name used for a site where iron-ore and lead was smelted.


A short walk across fields brings you to Salem Chapel, founded in 1849 by Joseph Fletcher. He was a colliery steward at the local ironworks and built the chapel against the wishes of the catholic Hunloke family of Wingerworth Hall. Opposition was so strong that permission to use stone from local quarries was withheld and money had to be borrowed to bring stone in from outside the area.


The walk continues along the edge of Stubbing Great Pond constructed as an ornamental and fishing pond by the Hunlokes, before returning to the start passed Wingerworth Garden Centre. 


 Chesterfield Walk



Queen's Park - County Cricket

Chesterfield Walk

Chesterfield Christmas Market and Lights

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