Chesterfield’s old town hall revealed

Chesterfield’s present municipal hall is a very grand affair on Rosehill, opened in 1938. But Chesterfield also had another town hall in Chesterfield Market Place, designed by the famous York architect John Carr. Though demolished long ago, this blog looks at how you can see what we believe are a few remnants of this building, which brought some grace to the street-scene – at least if a well-known engraving of the time is to be believed.

This illustration from Ford’s 1839 ‘History of Chesterfield’ is well-known. It show the old Town Hall to the extreme left, on the corner of the Market Place with Gluman Gate.

This town hall was on the site of present HSBC Bank, at the corner of Glumangate and the Market Place. Our first (well-known) picture, from Ford’s 1839 History of Chesterfield, shows the town hall, of 1787-8 which was manorial (that’s to say not used by the Chesterfield Corporation). Designed by John Carr of York, it passed from the 3rd duke of Portland to the 5th duke of Devonshire in 1792. On the ground floor was a debtors prison, the room above being used for quarter and petty sessions. Its story is told in our ‘Chesterfield Streets and Houses’ book.

This town hall building was itself replaced by the building in our second photograph (Scales & Sons), taken from an Edwardian guide to Chesterfield. The present building – now the HSBC bank – may have been constructed sometime in the early 1920s. It’s shown to the bottom left on our fourth (and modern) photograph. Note that the HSBC building has part of the town hall’s replacement building surviving on Glumangate. The London and Midland Bank Ltd. (a constituent of the HSBC) didn’t open in Chesterfield until 1892 and then at premises on Low Pavement.

By the time of this view, from an Edwardian guide to Chesterfield, was taken the old town hall had been demolished and replaced by what looks like a quite well-mannered Victorian building.

We think that there’s a very small remnant of the original town hall surviving. Our final modern picture shows this as the stone-work now acting as a boundary wall and access point to the rear of buildings on Glumangate. This belief is somewhat confirmed by local historian W Jacques. On 26 July 1926 he is reported in the Derbyshire Times saying that ‘…If one stood …in Glumangate and looked across, they would see where a door which gave access to the Court [to the hall] had been built up.’

A modern view looking down Glumangate to the Market Place. The present HSBC bank is to the far left. The brick-built portion appears to be a remnant of the old town hall’s replacement Victorian building.

So, next time you are in Chesterfield have a look to see if you can spot the remnants of a once rather grand looking town hall.

Access to a rear court yard on Glumangate is probably the only fragment remaining of the John Carr’s old town hall.

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