Chesterfield visitor guide
...inspiring market town
Chesterfield, the historic market town just to the East of the Peak District National Park is most famous for its very own 'wonder of the world' - the Crooked Spire.
WHERE IS CHESTERFIELD?
From M1: take junction 29, then A617 to Chesterfield.
From the west: take the A6 Buxton Road to Chapel en le Frith; turn left on to A623 towards Sparrow Pit; at Baslow turn left on to A619 to Chesterfield.
From Stoke-on-Trent: head north on the A53 towards Leek, then Buxton. Turn right on A6 to Bakewell; then turn left on to B6001 Baslow Road, joining up with the A619; stay on A619 through Baslow into Chesterfield.
By Bus: Numerous buses and coach services link Chesterfield with surrounding villages, towns and cities. For details see www.derbysbus.info
By Rail: Chesterfield railway stations is the main Midland Mainline link for the Peak District. An hourly direct service operates between the town and London St Pancras; all trains north stop at Sheffield for links to other lines.
Airport: The nearest airports are Manchester, Robin Hood Doncaster, Birmingham or Nottingham East Midlands.
BRIEF HISTORY OF CHESTERFIELD
Synonymous with sofas and American cigarettes, Chesterfield has been around a lot longer than either.
The town is reputedly built on the site of an Iron Age hillfort, though the name comes from the Roman camp, or ‘caester’, which replaced it around 70 AD. The Domesday book lists it as Cestrefeld – camp field – at that time a bailiwick of Newbold, which is now merely a suburb.
However, Chesterfield’s identity has been defined by its market, which is recorded as far back as 1165 and received its official charter from King John in 1204. The town still has one of the largest open air markets in the country.
The other key factor in its evolution was the railway. George Stephenson built the North Midland Line through its centre in the late 1830s – and liked the place so much that he settled there and is buried in Trinity Churchyard. During construction of the line, a seam of coal was discovered and Stephenson set up a trading company.
This left Chesterfield well placed to capitalise on the industrial revolution and for well over a century it was a key centre for engineering and manufacturing. Everything from steel pipes to glassware and medical supplies to sweets were made in the town. But the computer age has now taken its toll and little trace is left of the industrial past. Bryan Donkin is now a business and retail park; Chesterfield Cylinders is a cinema and health club; the Markham works (which produced boring machines used in digging the Channel Tunnel) is now a housing estate; and Dema Glass, which has now become the new home of Chesterfield FC.
These days the town’s biggest employer is the Post Office, which transferred its Accountant General’s Department from London in 1963 and is now based in a new building, known as Future Walk, in West Bars, with the Royal Mail pensions department nearby in Rowland Hill House.
Chesterfield is Derbyshire’s second town, nestling in the fertile vale of Scarsdale, at the confluence of the River Rother and the River Hipper. Located in the north of the county, at the eastern boundary of the Peak District, its bedrock is chiefly of coal measures, sandstone and millstone grit. The area is rich in natural minerals and has been quarried for stone and mined for lead, zinc and silver, as well as coal, ironstone and fireclays.
ATTRACTIONS IN CHESTERFIELD
Crooked spire and Parish Church of St Mary and All Saints
Chesterfield’s best-known attraction is the world famous 'Crooked Spire'.
Situated a mile and a half or so outside the town centre, with excellent road, rail and air links, the b2net stadium - the new home of Chesterfield FC - is now North Derbyshire's premier venue for all occasions, whether business or pleasure. Catering for up to 400 guests, the b2net has a range of impressive, state-of-the-art suites, all glass-fronted with panoramic views over the impressive 10,600 capacity stadium.
The stadium is furnished to the highest specifications in order to provide a setting to match the prestige and importance of your event, and has ample car parking with 400 free spaces. All events are managed in-house and the conference and events team offer a bespoke service to all clients.
The football team itself is currently managed by ex Republic of Ireland international John Sheridan and is enjoying a great period of success both on and off the field.
Chesterfield Museum & Art Gallery
Opposite the church is the Stephenson Memorial Hall, built in 1879 as a mechanics’ institute. It later served as the town’s public library before being transformed into a museum and art gallery in 1994.
It tells the story of Chesterfield from Roman times to present day and includes exhibits such as a medieval builders’ windlass used in the construction of the 14th century parish church. Other collections relate to the social and industrial history of the area, local artist Joseph Syddall and George Stephenson the venerable railway pioneer after whom the building was named.
Art works displayed elsewhere around the town centre include A System of Support and Balance by Paul Lewthwaite, outside the new Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court, and Dame Barbara Hepworth’s Rosewall sculpture, currently on a plinth in Future Walk, pending relocation to a permanent home at the Chesterfield Waterside development in 2011.
Opened in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, the 23-acre park has recently undergone a £4 million restoration. Features include a boating lake, miniature ride-on railway, bandstand, playgrounds and story-telling area.
It also has a picturesque cricket ground which has been home to Chesterfield Cricket Club since1894 and, as an outground for Derbyshire, also hosts county cricket matches. Cricketing legends WG Grace and Don Bradman have both played at the ground.
On the western side of the park is a sports and leisure centre, complete with 33m swimming pool and flume, sports courts, fitness suite and café.
The Winding Wheel centre was built in 1923 as a picture house. It was the Odeon Cinema and later Fusion nightclub before being restored and reopened as a conference and entertainment venue. It is now a listed building, hosting everything from concerts and exhibitions to blood donor sessions.
There are three main halls: the auditorium, with period décor and an original 1920s proscenium arch; the oak-panelled ballroom with its vintage stained glass dome; and the smaller function room and bar area.
Part of the Stephenson Memorial Hall, the theatre was bought by the local corporation and later leased to a cinema company. A public appeal was then organised by local amateur societies and it reopened in 1949 as Chesterfield Civic Theatre.
As a repertory theatre it was home to luminaries including Diana Rigg, but that era ended in 1981. The following year, with a programme of touring productions, it was rebranded as the Pomegranate (from an element in the borough coast of arms). The theatre celebrates its diamond jubilee in 2009 and continues to stage a broad programme of drama and music.
Once the town’s most important trade route, the 46-mile Chesterfield Canal was surveyed by James Brindley and John Varley and opened in 1777, linking the town with the River Trent in Nottinghamshire. It fell victim to increasing rail and road traffic and in 1907 the Norwood Tunnel collapsed, cutting it off from the rest of the national network.
However, proposals to officially abandon the canal triggered a storm of protests and restoration bids began in the 1970s. The Chesterfield end is now in good condition: Tapton lock was reopened in 1990 and the five-miles to Staveley is now fully navigable.
Chesterfield Canal Trust runs a visitor centre at Tapton Lock and boat rides are a popular feature on Sundays and bank holiday Mondays.
The one-time Cock & Pynot alehouse can claim to have played a part in changing the history of England. It was the scene of a meeting between three noblemen - the Earl of Devonshire, the Earl of Danby and John D’Arcy – who plotted to overthrow of Catholic King James II in favour of Protestant Willliam of Orange.
Today the so-called Plotting Parlour is a tiny museum, housing a display of 17th century furniture, a changing programme of local exhibitions and a video telling the story.
EVENTS IN CHESTERFIELD
Peak District Border Country Walking Festival – last week in June
A growing annual festival, featuring more than 40 walks, to suit all abilities, as well as cycle rides and a programme of lectures. Full details from Chesterfield Tourist Information Centre.
Medieval Market – last Tuesday in July
Chesterfield turns back the clock to its medieval roots with a day of fun and frivolity starring knights, jesters, minstrels and damsels, centred on the cobbled Market Place. Activities include skirmishes, jousting, live music and, of course, market traders.
Well Dressing – second week in September
A chance to see Derbyshire’s unique custom in action. Watch the well dressers as they clay the boards, outline the designs, and press in natural materials from flowers and berries to straw and peppercorns. Work goes on throughout the week at the Pavements Shopping Centre; the finished well dressing goes on display from tea-time on Friday at the town pump in the centre of the Market Place.
Arts & Market Festival – last weekend in October
The festival was launched in 2003 to celebrate Chesterfield’s historic market and promote the arts. Events include concerts, comedy, a beer festival, various markets, children’s entertainment, Garden of Light illuminations and a lantern parade finale.
ACTIVITIES IN CHESTERFIELD
Chesterfield is developing its cycling infrastructure with routes including the Hipper Valley and Holmebrook Valley trails. A network of cycle lanes link them with the Trans-Pennine Trail and the Chesterfield Canal.
There are a number of golf clubs around the area. Tapton Park, just outside the town centre, is a municipal 18-hole course. Booking seven days in advance is available for the main course; other courses are pay and play only. Contact (01246) 239500.
The Chesterfield Bowl is a 16-lane alley, available for hire by the hour. The scoring system is fully computerised and there are bumper lanes and ramps for children. Bookings: (01246) 550092.
As the biggest town in north Derbyshire, Chesterfield is a popular night spot and has a number of clubs to choose from, each with its own character and devotees. Check out Escapade in Cavendish Street; Mojo & The Beach in Church Walk; Elements in Knifesmithgate; Livingstones in Holywell Street; and Club Fever in Beetwell Street.
Despite its urban image, Chesterfield offers varied terrain for the walker. Venture beyond the town centre in almost any direction and you stumble upon parks and trails, as well as the nearby Peak countryside.
To the south, Grassmoor Country Park is home of the Five Pits Trail, an undulating off-road route between former coal mines, transformed into peaceful lakes and parks. To the north, the 200-acres Linacre Reservoirs site offers a variety of picturesque woodland trails.
Chesterfield is the gateway to the Peak District, making it an ideal centre for touring the countryside. Regular buses and coaches depart from the town centre and both the Dark Peak and the White Peak are within easy reach.
Equally, the town is a good central location between the cities of Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham, with Manchester just the other side of the Pennines.
WINING AND DINING IN CHESTERFIELD
It’s never going to compete with neighbouring Sheffield, but Chesterfield’s dining out scene has improved in leaps and bounds over the last few years, with new additions ranging from classic European to Thai and Japanese.
Just up Newbold Road is the Restaurant with One Table, a quirky variation on the fine dining theme, run by master chef Nick Buckingham at his eponymous hotel.
Peacocks coffee lounge in Low Pavement, occupying one of the oldest buildings in town, formerly a heritage centre, complete with wattle and daub wall.
If history is your thing, don’t miss the Royal Oak pub in The Shambles – a black and white timber-framed building dating back to the 12th century and claiming to have been a meeting place for the Knights Templar during the Crusades.
Another Royal Oak that’s well worth a visit is the one in Chatsworth Road, famous for its live music and real ale. And there’s no shortage of other watering holes that neck of the woods – known as the Brampton Mile. At one time there were more than two dozen pubs in the stretch; there are fewer these days, but still too many to down a pint in each.
Chatsworth Road is also home to a good selection of restaurants. La Chameleon is a wine bar and bistro offering traditional French farmhouse cuisine, with a modern touch. Lambarelli’s is an authentic Italian ristorante and deli and just up the road is Koo’s coffee shop, complete with a continental-style pavement café.
For those with more exotic tastes there’s Dynasty, a great Chinese restaurant with a pagoda-esque exterior or Zahid, serving quality Indian food.
SHOPPING IN CHESTERFIELD
As the region’s biggest market town, the cobbled Market Place and nearby New Square are good starting places for shoppers, with extra stalls spreading out along adjoining roads.
The number of stalls has dropped in recent years, but there’s still a good selection of goods on offer – from traditional fruit and veg, pies and preserves, to jewellery, toys, haberdashery and stationery – just about anything, in fact.
Market days are every Monday, Friday and Saturday throughout the year and the Flea Market, on Thursdays, is a popular haunt for bargain-hunters.
Local produce is on sale at the twice-monthly Farmers’ Market (held on the second Thursday and last Sunday). Meat and fish is also available, along with other goods, in the refurbished Market Hall, which is open six days a week but closed on Wednesday afternoons.
The Pavements shopping centre, just off the Market Square, is home to various chain stores including Boots, WH Smith and Tesco Metro, as well as the local library. A modern precinct, linked by a footbridge with one of the main car parks, it is cleverly hidden behind the original shop fronts, giving the place a unique character. It was officially opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981.
Nearby, Vicar Lane was pedestrianised and redeveloped in 2000 to create a new open-air shopping centre. Here are many popular high street stores, including BhS, Wilkinson and Argos.
Those who like off-beat independent shops will enjoy exploring The Yards, with its eclectic mix of jewellery, organic foods, handicraft, handmade chocolates and clothing. Or, just across the Market Place, The Shambles, with more speciality boutiques.
Also worth a look for ardent shoppers is Chatsworth Road – just outside the town centre in Brampton – which boasts a range of independent retailers selling everything from Oriental rugs, antiques, clothes, shoes and models to a delicatessen, an art gallery, ceramics workshop, the Northern Tea Merchant, hi-fi specialist and a traditional ironmongery.
SELECTED CHESTERFIELD ACCOMMODATION
Chesterfield offers a wide choice of holiday accommodation – see the full list of Chesterfield accommodation.
Ringwood Hall Hotel is a regal Georgian manor house, listed as a Grade II building, and one of Derbyshire’s top-rated hotels. The hotel also has three luxury apartments, available for short stays or even lets of up to six months.
West Wing House in Old Brampton is a spacious ground floor apartment for two, while Spinney Top Cottage is a dog friendly, 3 star holiday home in Wingerworth.
NEARBY TOWNS AND ATTRACTIONS
Chesterfield is well placed to serve as a base for numerous beauty spots and tourist attractions including:
Barrow Hill Roundhouse Railway Centre
Renishaw Hall and Gardens
Matlock Farm Park
Rother Valley Country Park
Chatsworth House and Farm Shop
Gulliver’s Kingdom and Heights of Abraham at Matlock Bath
Peak Rail steam trains
Caudwell’s Mill and Craft Centre, Rowsley
Peak Outlet shopping village, Rowsley
Meadowhall Shopping Centre, Sheffield
Sheffield Museums and Art Galleries
Botanical Gardens, Sheffield
USEFUL INFORMATION IN CHESTERFIELD
Chesterfield has an award-winning, purpose-built Tourist Information Centre:
Tel: (01246) 345777
There are numerous surface and multi-storey car parks in and around the town centre – expect to pay around £1.50 for up to two hours (though some are as little as 50p). There is also limited on-street parking, pay-and-display with time restrictions.
Various stores in the town centre have customer toilets; public conveniences are located in the basement of the Market Hall; the Pavements shopping centre; Queens Park North Lodge; Beetwell Street coach station; and Chesterfield Library.
All major denominations have churches in the Chesterfield area. Those closest to the town centre are:
Anglican – Our Lady & All Saints’ Parish Church, Church Way (01246) 206506
Roman Catholic – Church of the Annunciation, 2 Spencer Street (01246) 232686
Chesterfield Baptist Church – Cross Sreet (01246) 221105
Central Methodist Church – 38 Saltergate (01246) 277390
Rose Hill United Reformed Church – 22 Soresby Street (01246) 204697
Elder Yard Unitarian Chapel – Elder Way (01246) 559407
A Line Cars – (01246) 222444
County Cars – (01246) 557755
Big D Taxis – (01246) 558300
Central Cars – (01246) 200500
Club Taxis – (01246) 221111
Avenue House Surgery 109 Saltergate Tel: (01246) 244040
Avondale Surgery 3-5 Avondale Road Tel: (01246) 232946
The Medical Centre 1 Tennyson Avenue Tel: (01246) 270505
Holywell House Surgery, Holywell Street Tel: (01246) 273075
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Peak District accommodation
Last Updated: 14 May 2017