Chesterfield is a large market town located in Derbyshire and is worth visiting while exploring the Peak District for its style and character. The borough’s aesthetic is defined by the imposing Crooked Spire Church which dominated Chesterfield’s skyline; the unusual, twisted spire never ceases to amaze, and its uniqueness is indictive of the towns spirit.
Visitors can expect to be warmly embraced by Chesterfield’s 800-year-old Open-Air Market, which has maintained an enduring popularity amongst locals and tourists alike, being one of the biggest and most well-known markets still active in Britain today.
Surrounded by idyllic and unique countryside spots, such as the Linacre Reservoirs and Creswell Crags, visitors are certainly not short of activities to do in the surrounding areas of Chesterfield. Visitors can expect to be overwhelmed by the amount of stately homes and castles that are found in the area, such as Bolsover Castle, Hardwick Hall, and Chatsworth.
Chesterfield Open-Air Market – Chesterfield’s Open-Air Market has been busy for over 800 years, and still, today, is one of the biggest markets in the whole of Britain – with over 250 stalls. Still so immensely popular, and such a vital part of life in Chesterfield, that it recently received a £4 million refurbishment. Recognised by the National Association of British Market Authorities as being the best market facility in Britain, the Chesterfield Open-Air Market is where you’ll find the absolute best in local produce, fashion, jewellery, food, and much, much more. The market opens its doors from 0900 to 1600 on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Crooked Spire Church – Its official name is Chesterfield Parish Church but due to the highly unusual twist in the spire it has become more commonly known as the Crooked Spire Church. The 228-feet high spire is quite the phenomenon – leaning at a 9 feet and 5 inches angle – and after years of speculation, experts are convinced that this twist is due to the lead found in the structure that heats up and contracts in the sun. However, much common folklore relating to the spire is kept alive today by Chesterfield locals, including stories involving the devil. The Crooked Spire serves as a major emblem for the town of Chesterfield, and even features on the crest of the local football team, Chesterfield F.C. Tours of the spire are available but, due to its structural limitations, visitors can only climb part of the way up. Still, one can spectate most of Chesterfield and surrounding areas from the spire.
Linacre Reservoirs – There are three reservoirs dating back to 1855 found at Linacre, near the small village of Old Brampton, which hold 240 million gallons of water between them. The thick surrounding woods makes this location an epicentre for Chesterfield wildlife, and is home to Nuthatches, flycatchers, and woodpeckers. A plethora of trails can be walked along through the surrounding countryside, and there’s even a boardwalk taking you across an upper section of the reservoirs. Perfect for springtime walks, nature walks, or a place to catch a tranquil respite.
Creswell Crags – Creswell Crags is a limestone gorge near the former mining village of Creswell and offers a unique portal into the last ice age – around 50, 000 years ago. Many of the caves found in the gorge were occupied by Neanderthals, who left behind fascinating cave paintings which can be viewed as part of a guided tour. This is the most northern example of cave art in the world, and the only location in the whole of Britain. Creswell Crags also showcases tools and ancient artefacts while offering an immersive experience in learning how Neanderthals and early humans lived, survived, and hunted.
Stately Homes & Castles
Bolsover Castle – Bolsover Castle is in the town of Bolsover, north-east of the English county of Derbyshire, and dates to the 17th Century. The grade-I listed building is currently under the care of the English Heritage Charity and was originally built as a venue for social events and entertainment. Today, the entrance and the front of the building is merely a shell of what it once was, but it’s not difficult to envision the gargantuan social spaces that were once there, and the lively events that took place within. Visitors are free to explore the main body of the castle freely, much of which remains intact down to meticulous care over the years. Despite this, guests are welcome to touch anything in the castle, including the ancient frescos, tapestries, and woodwork. Spectacular views are guaranteed of the surrounding landscape from the exterior wall, which, if walked around entirely, offers a lovely leisurely walk with fantastic scenery. Younger visitors will no doubt find the ancient castle fascinating enough, however, if not, there is also a playground next to the gift shop. This site, like many others like it, has become a major attraction for those drawn to supernatural occurrences, and was even voted the spookiest site in the country by English Heritage staff in 2017.
Hardwick Hall – The Bess of Hardwick instigated the construction of Hardwick Hall in the 1500s but has been regularly modified and expanded in the centuries since, standing today as a scrapbook of many different architectural styles and influences. Today, visitors can explore the restored former bedrooms of some of the most significant figures Hardwick has housed over time, including ‘the Last Lady of Hardwick’ Duchess Evelyn, and Arabella Stuart, niece to Mary Queen of Scots. Hardwick Hall also has 400-year-old stable yards, a 300-acre park with lakes, a stonemasonry centre, and the Stainsby Mill. The imposing main building was used as the filming location for Malfoy’s home in ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’. Open 364 days a year, Hardwick Hall makes for a great family day out.
Chatsworth – Chatsworth House is an English Baroque-style stately home located in Bakewell, Derbyshire. The 105-acre estate was originally procured by Sir William Cavendish and his wife Bess of Hardwick in 1594 and is today the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, having been passed down through 12 generations of the Cavendish family. Through the centuries, Chatsworth has played host to a vast number of the country’s rich and powerful, from noblemen to royalty; most notably, Mary Queen of Scots, who was held prisoner at Chatsworth regularly between 1569 and 1584. The building has undergone reconstruction regularly since its inception, having been last modified in the 19th Century under the eye of then-Duke of Devonshire, William Spencer Cavendish, who contributed the newest part of the house, the North Wing. Visitors today can explore over 25 rooms of the history-rich house, which includes restored guest bedrooms, the Victorian theatre, and the sketch gallery. Home also to Devonshire Collections – one of the largest private art collections in Britain – the house boasts paintings and artwork by the likes of Rembrandt, Veronese, and Reynolds, alongside ancient Roman and Egyptian artefacts and sculptures. The surrounding grounds, too, are worth exploring; complete with an exotic plant-decorated Victorian rock garden, a yew maze, and several bright and decorative floral gardens. For younger age groups, there is a modern wooden adventure playpark. There is also a working farmyard, which offers daily cow milking demonstrations.