St Mary & All Saints Church
Ask just about anybody if they’ve heard of Chesterfield there’s a good chance the first thing they’ll mention is the twisted church spire. Yet there’s more to this Derbyshire market town at the edge of the Peak District National Park. The town is in easy reach of some great natural highlights in the area. Chesterfield also found itself at the centre of some important historical events like the plot to overthrow King James II/VII, and the industrial revolution. It was also the home of the Victorian-era ‘father of railways’, George Stephenson. The town has a weekly market, a broad range of shops, banks, supermarkets and a good choice of evening entertainment too.
Built in the late 13th century, St Mary and All Saints ended up with a crooked spire because green timber was used in the construction of the structure. 32 tons of lead tiles were placed on top which buckled the frame. Many of the skilled workers had already succumbed to the plague, and this only left the less experienced men to complete the job. This is the thinking behind why the wrong type of wood was sourced for the construction of the spire. Standing at 228 feet from the ground, the spire weaves its way 9.5 feet away from the true centre point, yet the sheer weight of the lead tiles keeps it all steady. Don’t forget to inspect the spire yourself. Chesterfield architechture
Historians take a few hours out of your schedule to have a look around the town museum, that tells the story of Chesterfield, from the area’s very first building, a Roman fort, to the aforementioned ‘Crooked Spire’ at St Mary and All Saints, and the town’s part in the industrial revolution. There’s an art gallery with a fluid programme of exhibitions and events too. Another interesting spot, well known for a famous meeting of three noblemen to overthrow King James II / VII is Revolution House in nearby Old Whittington. Nowadays, it is a free museum with a display of 17th century furniture, and a short film about the Revolution of 1688.
The last remaining example of a working roundhouse is found at Barrow Hill and it’s one of the best locomotive museums in the UK because of it. A roundhouse is a vast garage for train engines with a revolving circular turntable that connects each train to the exit track. The site in Barrow Hill, near to Chesterfield is a great day out for all the family and you may even time your visit right to go for a trip on a steam locomotive.
“There’s more to Chesterfield than meets the eye…”
To the west are the gloriously beautiful and bleak landscapes of the Peak District National Park, with its diverse habitats, treks to embark on and outcrops to climb! Why not look into taking a course in rock climbing, or caving. There are plenty in the area, and you are in reasonable driving distance of Creswell Crags for exploration and sheer, dramatic, big sky views. You can also visit Robin Hood’s Cave to see the UK’s only example of Ice Age art.
Within Chesterfield there are some great places to eat and to catch a movie. A town of Chesterfield’s size boasts a good sample of the main chain restaurants alongside a choice of Chinese, Indian, Italian establishments and more to tempt the taste buds. See a blockbuster at the local cinema or something a little off-beat at The Pomegranite, which is also the town art centre and theatre.
Chesterfield is within good driving distance to Matlock and Belper for shopping alternatives and days out. In Matlock Bath you’ll find The Heights of Abraham and in Belper, evidence of its place as one of the historical centres of the industrial revolution.
Chesterfield is a very good base to explore Derbyshire and the Peak District National Park from. There are also plenty of activities in town to entertain all the family.