Webmaster, Derbyshire VCH Trust

Successful Wingerworth book launch – report

This book is now available at Waterstones in Chesterfield or direct from the Trust using the link here – Derbyshire VCH Trust (google.com) (opens in a new window). It retails at £20. It is another in our series of interim VCH ‘spin-off’ books.

The book’s author – David Edwards – is pictured left with series and county editor Philip Riden, right.

The book is the third produced by the Derbyshire Victoria County History Trust in a series of interim studies of Chesterfield and its adjoining communities. It is by far the most detailed account of Wingerworth yet published. The author – David Edwards – has been a resident of the parish since the 1960s and has long taken a keen scholarly interest in its history. Of just over 200 pages, in A4 hard-back format, it is fully indexed, with copious references and over 40 illustrations and maps. To find out more about the book, take a look at our recent post here.

The book’s launch included a well-attended free talk given by Philip Riden, in the parish church, which gave an overview of both the book and of Wingerworth’s history.
After the talk refreshments were served and book sales held in the Church Centre.
Our thanks to members of the congregation at Wingerworth parish Church for facilitating the launch event. We presented them with a copy of Dr Edward’s book at the launch event. The parish churchwarden is seen here, far right, receiving the book, together with Dr Edwards and Philip Riden.
The event also included a chance to see, first hand, this commemorative mug made by Pearsons of Whittington Moor. It was produced by Philip Hunloke in 1906. This side shows Wingerworth Hall, the other side has Major Hunloke’s crest, initials and date on it. This image is taken from the book.

Many thanks to our team of volunteers who helped organise the launch event, serve refreshments and sell books. A big thank you to those who attended.

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Wingerworth book – details about our new publication

Front cover of our new Wingerworth book.

The launch

Our latest Victoria County History (VCH) ‘spin-off’ book – ‘A History of Wingerworth’ by David Edwards – was launched at Wingerworth Parish Church on Friday 1 March 2024. There was a free talk by our county editor Philip Riden, in the church, followed by refreshments and book sales in the adjacent Church Centre.

The book

The book is the third produced by the Derbyshire Victoria County History Trust in a series of interim studies of Chesterfield and its adjoining communities. It is by far the most detailed account of Wingerworth yet published. The author – David Edwards – has been a resident of the parish since the 1960s and has long taken a keen scholarly interest in its history. Of just over 200 pages, in A4 hard-back format, it is fully indexed, with copious references and over 40 illustrations and maps. It retails at £20.

The book should appeal to both local residents and anyone with a serious interest in Derbyshire history. It is available at Waterstones in Chesterfield and by on-line ordering from the Trust at this link – Derbyshire VCH Trust (google.com) (opens in a new window).

Dr David Edwards (left) with series and county editor Philip Riden, in the Church Centre, Wingerworth following the successful launch of our latest VCH ‘spin-off’ book on the parish. There are some more pictures of the launch even in our post here.

Wingerworth

Until modern changes Wingerworth was a township and chapelry forming the southernmost part of the ancient parish of Chesterfield, extending from the River Rother in the east to the edge of East Moors at Stone Edge in the west, and from Birdholme Brook in the north to Tricket Brook in the south. It was a thinly populated area, in which most of the land belonged to either the Hunloke family of Wingerworth Hall or the succession of families which owned Stubbing Court in the west of the township.

Although mainly a farming community, Wingerworth also has a long history of small-scale ironsmelting, coalmining and stone quarrying. In 1920 the Hunloke estate was broken up by sale. The Hall (pictured on the book’s cover) was demolished a few years later and some new housing was built.

After the Second World War Wingerworth saw very extensive residential development, which transformed both the landscape and the community. In addition, in the 1950s one of Europe’s largest coke-making plants was built alongside the railway at the eastern edge of the parish, which closed at the turn of the century and the site cleared and remediated.

Sample pages from the book

The book presents the story of Wingerworth in VCH standard chapter headings.
Two examples of the just over 40-odd plates and maps in the book.
Extract from a map of the parish boundary.
Extract from a map of the parish boundary.
The first page of an introduction to the parish. All sources are thoroughly referenced at the foot of each page.
A sample page – looking at coal mining in Wingerworth.
Part of the very comprehensive index – this page relates to Wingerworth itself.

Of the other two ‘spin-off’ books we have published our book on Hasland is out of print, but ‘Chesterfield Streets and Houses’ remains available. Please see our publications page for further details.

This post was last edited on 2 March 2024 when it was updated following the book’s launch.

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Spital Leper Hospital, Chesterfield: a short history

The leper hospital, dedicated to St Leonard, from which the modern suburb takes its name, is first mentioned in 1195. Historically it was just outside the old borough of Chesterfield, in the large parish of Hasland.

After the Dissolution, the site and buildings were granted to George 6th earl of Shrewsbury, the lord of the manor of Chesterfield between 1560 and 1590, and its lands were merged into the manorial estate.

An extract from our Hasland book, showing the approximate site of the Leper hospital dedicated to St Leonard, which was first mentioned in 1195.

Where was the hospital?

William Senior’s survey of 1633 marks a large farmstead named Spittle, with a house on one side of a quadrangular range of buildings, on the north side of the main road from Chesterfield to Bolsover at the foot of Hady Hill, opposite the end of Spital Lane. This tenement is assumed to stand on the site of the hospital, although it is possible that the hospital was moved early in its life.

A deed probably dating from the end of the reign of Henry III (1216–72) conveys 2½ acres of land and a ‘holme’ (probably meaning an island) at Reynolf’s bridge, where the old hospital formerly was. The tenement known as Spittle in fact stood very close to Spital Bridge, on the main road leading east out of Chesterfield, which seems likely to be the bridge referred to in the deed. If so, what exactly the reference to the ‘old hospital’ means, or how far it moved, is unclear.

Few other properties at what became the settlement known as Spital are denoted on William Senior’s survey of Chesterfield (1633). Apart from the Spittle and the house opposite, the only other settlement marked by Senior in this area was a tenement named ‘Bell’s House’, at the top of Hady Hill.

Around 1850 the sister of local businessmen and worthy TP Wood sketched a 17th century built stone house near the junction of Hady Hill and Spital Lane. It was supposed, almost certainly incorrectly, to occupy the site of the medieval leper hospital. Instead, it probably showed a house near the hospital site known as Spitalfield. This house stood within the area acquired in 1857 for the building of Spital Cemetery and was demolished to make way for the lodge. The inference made by Wood may be responsible for Ordnance Survey maps denoting the site of the leper hospital in this area – whereas it was more likely to have been on the opposite side of Hady Hill, although Spitalfield house and the land on which it stood may have been part of the former hospital estate.

The leper hospital priest found buried in the garden of 16 Hady Hill was reinterred near to the entrance gatehouse at Spital Cemetery in 2001.

A priest’s burial

Adding to the available leper hospital site evidence was the discovery of a skeleton in the grounds of number 16 Hady Hill in 2000. It was thought that the person buried may well have been a priest at the hospital. He was buried in a ‘composite stone coffin’ with a paten and a chalice.

During excavations, evidence was found of a wall, thought likely to have been part of the southern wall of a chapel. Consequently, was thought that the priest, aged about 50, may have been buried inside a chapel to the hospital.

The priest was buried some time between the late 12th and the early 13th century. The bones were subsequently reinterred in Spital Cemetery – the site is marked by a simple head-stone, situated near to the gatehouse, illustrated in this blog.

Rumours

There have been stories of timbers reclaimed from the hospital and used elsewhere. This was presumably enhanced by TP Wood recording in his Alamac for 1903 a tradition that oak beams from the Spittle farmstead had been removed and incorporated into a barn at Dobbin Clough Farm.

Now and again the perhaps age-old rumours of secret tunnels from the hospital (and indeed from elsewhere) to the parish church reoccur. The phenomenon of secret passageways is not confined to Chesterfield. These can be dismissed as rubbish – despite extensive building and more recently properly undertaken archaeological excavations – no evidence for these tunnels has been found.

A sketch of around 1850 by TP Wood’s sister Eliza of a 17th-century stone-built house which stood near the junction of Hady Hill and Spital Lane. It has been wrongly said to occupy the site of the medieval leper hospital, probably leading to the Ordnance Survey mis-identifying the hospital as being on the south side of the bottom of Hady Hill. In fact it is probably the property known as Spitalfield.  This image was published in TP Wood’s Almanac for 1903.
By the time of this 1898 25-inch to 1 mile Ordnance Survey map the site of ‘St Leonard’s hospital’ had been, wrongly, identified as being on the south side of Hady Hill. (Derbyshire sheet XXV.6, published: 1898. Courtesy https://maps.nls.uk/).

A more detailed history?

Front cover the excavation report published following discovery of a priest’s skeleton and remains of the leper hospital chapel in the garden of number 16 Hady Hill. A copy will be available for reference in Chesterfield Local Studies Library.  The skeleton was subsequently reinterred in Spital Cemetery. The report was published before an analysis of the skeleton determined that the most likely burial date was between the late 12th and the early 13th centuries.

For a fully referenced and detailed history we would refer you to the account in our History of Hasland book, but briefly the leper hospital was originally endowed by King John, when he was count of Mortain between 1189 and 1199 (during the reign of his brother, King Richard I), with the dues from the markets and fairs of the borough. In 1195 this was replaced by a rent charge of £6 on the manor of Chesterfield. In the first year of his reign John granted protection to the lepers of Chesterfield; in 1206 the income due to the hospital from the manor was £6 10s.; and in 1207 the king confirmed to the ‘Blessed Leonard and to the infirm of Chesterfield’ the rent charge granted a decade earlier.

Other early references include 1225 when the Crown gave 5 marks for the infirm of Chesterfield. In the same year a Gilbert was named as chaplain of the infirmary at Chesterfield. Three years later the king granted two oaks from the royal forest at Carburt on (Nottinghamshire) for the repair of the chapel at the hospital, and in 1230 assigned 6 acres of pasture in Peak Forest to St Leonard’s.

The hospital was one of a number of houses in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire which in 1246 received a gift of pigs from the stock at Nottingham castle. A grant of protection of 1276 to ‘the hospital of St Nicholas’ appears to be a simple error; there was no other hospital in Chesterfield and the house at Spital is consistently said to be dedicated to St Leonard. In 1291 its annual value was given as £6 13s. 4d. The appointment of the hospital’s master was vested in the lord of the manor. Thereafter there are a string of references to the hospital, all alluded to in our Hasland book. Including an ownership dispute in 1531 between George Talbot, 4th earl of Shrewsbury as part of an exchange of estates between Shrewsbury and the countess Salisbury. This dispute was still in progress in 1535.

After it was dissolved the hospital and its lands passed to the Crown. The estate was sold in 1588 and was later absorbed into the manorial estate.

As has been alluded to above, details on when the hospital buildings were actually demolished are not available.

Sources for this blog

‘History of Hasland …’ Derbyshire VCH/Merton (2022) – which is fully referenced.

Annsofie Witkin ‘Excavation and analysis of a skeleton from Hady Hill, Chesterfield, November 2000’, ARCUS/Chesterfield Museum (2000).

Monument record MDR5343 – St Leonard’s Hospital (site of), Chesterfield [0n-line].

Our Hasland book is now out-of-print, but you will find copies in Chesterfield Local Studies Library.

We edited this blog on 14 January 2024, to remove confusing references to possible burial of the priest in the 14th or 15th centuries – which were contained in the original Witkin (2000) report cited above.

ENDS

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Wingerworth book on its way

This book, the third produced by the Derbyshire Victoria County History Trust in a series of interim studies of Chesterfield and its adjoining communities, is by far the most detailed account of Wingerworth yet published. The author – David Edwards – has been a resident of the parish since the 1960s and has long taken a keen scholarly interest in its history.

The front cover of our Wingerwoth book features a plate of the long demolished Hall.

Until modern changes Wingerworth was a township and chapelry forming the southernmost part of the ancient parish of Chesterfield, extending from the River Rother in the east to the edge of East Moors at Stone Edge in the west, and from Birdholme Brook in the north to Tricket Brook in the south. It was a thinly populated area, in which most of the land belonged to either the Hunloke family of Wingerworth Hall or the succession of families which owned Stubbing Court in the west of the township.

Although mainly a farming community, Wingerworth also has a long history of small-scale ironsmelting, coalmining and stone quarrying. In 1920 the Hunloke estate was broken up by sale. The Hall (pictured on the book’s cover) was demolished a few years later and some new housing was built.

After the Second World War Wingerworth saw very extensive residential development, which transformed both the landscape and the community. In addition, in the 1950s one of Europe’s largest coke-making plants was built alongside the railway at the eastern edge of the parish, which closed at the turn of the century and the site cleared and remediated.

The book should appeal to both local residents and anyone with a serious interest in Derbyshire history. We have included a few extracts in this blog. The chapters follow standard VCH format – landownership, economic history, social history, religious history and local government – painting an authorative picture of Wingerworth through the ages.

Of just over 200 pages, in A4 hard-backed format, it is fully indexed, with copious references and over 40 illustrations and maps. It is expected to retail at £20. There will be a launch event – details to follow.

An extract from the book’s chapter on ‘Social history’, which includes a look at the history of education in the parish.
All our spin-off books are fully indexed as this short extract from the forthcoming Wingerworth book shows.
This is a extract from the index which specifically deals with Wingerworth subjects.

Of the other two ‘spin-off’ books we have published our book on Hasland is out of print, but Chesterfield Streets and Houses remains available. Please see our publications page for further details.

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Christmas and new year seasonal greetings

We can’t bring you snow in this year’s Christmas photograph, but we thought we would at least bring you a Christmas bus, even although it’s a little bit un-VCH!

Our 2023 Christmas offering is this photograph of a seasonally decorated Chesterfield bus taken sometime during the November 1981 to January 1982 period. (Collection P Cousins).

Our picture tells a story

The bus is pictured at the top of Ashgate Road, heading into the town. This Chesterfield Borough Council Transport Department Leyland Panther (fleet number 89), was first registered in early 1968.  Seating 49 passengers, like most ‘modern’ buses in the Chesterfield fleet, they featured dual doors – one for entry and a separate one for exit.

Behind the bus, to the left, is the Friends Meeting House. This replaced their Saltergate building which had opened in 1697. The latter was demolished in the early 1970s and is now covered by the Saltergate multi-storey car park – there’s a plaque marking its site – a sad loss.

Specially decorated Christmas buses used to be a feature of the Chesterfield concern and other operators across the country. They haven’t disappeared either. Chances are that if you live in the Chesterfield vicinity you may see Stagecoach’s Christmas bus.

Finally, a quick example of inflation. At the beginning of the 1980s, on the route pictured, a ride from Chesterfield town centre to Walton Top Road would cost 14 pence!

Chesterfield Transport

Chesterfield’s municipal transport undertaking grew out of the council’s purchase of a horse-drawn tram line in 1897. The line was first established in 1882 by a private company, but the company had to be reconstituted a few years afterwards. Electric trams were operated from December 1904, with an extension opened a month later. Motorbuses first ran in 1914, but the trams went in 1927 being replaced by electrically powered trolley buses, but they only lasted until March 1938.

In those days having a well run and equipped municipal transport undertaking, with its own distinctive livery and perhaps even a unique interior upholstery seat pattern, was seen as an important contributor to municipal pride.

The ability of a council to run services meant that it could pursue a deliberate policy of providing stimulus to industry, commerce and leisure, through its network of bus services – including special services to local industrial concerns coordinated with shift patterns. This was a policy adopted by many councils up and down the country regardless of their political control. But it did mean that rate-payers would have to directly subsidise any losses and local councils could be quite protective of their operating territory. For example, it could be difficult for private operators to drop off and pick-up passengers in town centres.

Like most other council owned bus operators, the Chesterfield undertaking saw changes in the 1980s. This was as a result of the relaxation (privatisation) in the bus transport industry. In 1986 an ‘arms length company’ from the council was formed, with an employee buy-out following in 1990. The new company, however, over-reached itself and met with lots of competition. It was taken over by Stagecoach plc in 1995, reportedly only days away from collapse.

So, one might say that at least one major player in Chesterfield’s public transport network went from private enterprise, through to municipal enterprise and back again into the private sector. This is echoed by the fate of the area’s other major operator – East Midland Motor Services, though its period of public ownership was latterly with the National Bus Company. It too is now owned by Stagecoach plc.

Our plans for 2024

We are excited about 2024, as this should see the publication of our next VCH spin-off series – on Wingerworth. We will be bringing you news about this in the coming months and preview some of its content. The book is primarily written by local historian David Edwards – a familiar figure in Wingerworth and district. More about this important new book in 2024.

Our best wishes

We hope that you have enjoyed our posts during 2023. We will be returning in the new year with some more.

Wherever you are this season we hope you have a lovely time and wish you all the best for 2024.

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Spital Mills History – part 3

This is the final part of our history of Spital Mills, Hasland. It covers the period after tobacco manufacturing ceased at the mill, bringing the story right up-to-date.

Today the old mill premises are mainly used as a storage facility. the original building is to the bottom of this photograph, taken in October 2023, looking down the mill yard from Spital Lane.
An advertisement in the Derbyshire Times 26 February 1937 for sale of liquidated stock at Spital Mills

After Mason’s tobacco manufacturing business closed in the early years of the 20th century, Spital Mills were taken over by A.D. Gray, who with a partner, established a cabinet making business there, trading as A.D. Gray & Lewis Ltd. In 1916 the company bought the freehold of the works.

Although the company was said in 1935 to be thriving, it went into voluntary liquidation early in 1937, when 40 bedroom suites were sold by auction. Later that year there was a two-day catalogue sale of the premises, the whole of the woodworking machinery, a gas engine, two electric motors, a large number of tools, 27,000 ft of oak and other plain timber and 40,000 ft of walnut, mahogany, oak, sycamore and other veneers.

Spital Mills were acquired in 1937 by the Woodseats Joinery Company, which in 1949 was purchased by Frederick Wale. He had, in 1912, served an apprenticeship at Gray & Lewis.

In the 1950s the business moved away from joinery to the manufacture and sale of tiled fireplaces and was renamed the Spital Tile Surround Company. The name was shortened to Spital Tile Co. Ltd when the business began to supply ceramic wall tiles.

Frederick Wale died in 1964, when the company passed to his son Ian. In his hands, the business diversified into the supply of plumbing and heating materials, ironmongery and tools to the trade, while still selling tiles.

The frontage to Spital Lane in October 2023. The large extension to the left dates from 1981 and was latterly used as a bathroom and kitchen showroom. It is currently used as the premises of a dance studio.

In 1981 the company built a 5,500 sq. ft showroom on Spital Lane, in front of the mill, to promote the retail sale of bathrooms, kitchens and other products. The sale of gas fires and fireplaces was resumed in the 1990s, when Ian Wale was joined as directors by his daughters Victoria and Elizabeth.

A 1981 advertisement for Spital Distributors. (Taken from a Derbyshire Times special supplement on Chesterfield).

The business closed in 2019. The former mill building was taken over by a storage company and the show room became a gym and dance centre. Both continue to this day.

Between 1954 and 1963 part of Spital Mills were occupied by the Midland Light Pattern Co., which moved to Chesterfield from Annesley Woodhouse (Notts.) in the former year, and from Spital Mills to a new factory at Calow in the latter year.

The mill erected by Holmes & Smith back in the 1840s, today survives substantially unaltered. The main building is of brick, of three-storeys beneath a hipped slate roof. An extension at first-floor level over part of the yard provided additional rooms, which in the 1930s were used as offices. There were other outbuildings adjoining and originally a boiler house with tall chimney and engine-house at one end of the mill, which had been demolished by 1937.

The mill stood within easy reach of the Midland Railway goods yard and later that of the Great Central Railway, but was never rail connected.

Our other parts of the story of Spital Mills can be found as below:

This text is a slightly edited version of that appearing in our ‘History of Hasland …’ book, which is now of print, but you can find copies in Chesterfield Local Studies Library. All sources are fully referenced in our book.

On 13 January 2024 we amended the original post to include a 1981 advertisement for Spital Distributors.

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Spital Mills History – part 2

This is part two of our history of ‘Spital Mills’ – more recently known as the premises of Spital Tile. This time we look at the mill as a centre of tobacco manufacturing.

Spital Mill as pictured in the c. 1899 ‘An illustrated guide to Chesterfield’. By this this it is occupied by Mason’s tobacco factory.

In the early 19th century George Mason, born at Cutthorpe (in Brampton) in about 1794, was a tobacco manufacturer in Chesterfield, with premises at 45–47 and 49–51 Low Pavement (either side of Wheeldon Lane). Here he had a works powered by a horse-gin, making cigars and twist tobacco. He was employing six men in 1851.

Mason died in 1854, leaving personal estate of £4,000, when the business, henceforth known as George Mason & Son, passed to his second son Edwin, born about 1829. He was living with his wife and family in Mason’s Yard, behind Low Pavement, in 1861, when he had 15 men, ten girls and two boys working for him.

A few years later, as the business grew rapidly, Mason moved to the former lace mill on Spital Lane – our Spital Mills and bought Spital House as a residence. By 1871 he had 116 employees at the tobacco works.

Edwin Mason died in 1887, leaving personal estate of £44,030. He was the sole owner of George Mason & Son, which was described as one of the largest tobacco manufacturers in England. He concentrated on business rather than engaging in public affairs, and was ‘retiring and unambitious’. In the 1880s the company was said to employ more young women than any other concern in the town.

One of a short series of half-page advertisements in the Derbyshire Courier – this one from the edition of 28 June 1887.

Edwin’s two sons, Oscar Edwin and Charles Leonard, succeeded to the business just as tastes were changing and the demand for twist tobacco was falling. They tried to move into cigarette making, advertising repeatedly over two years in 1892–4 for ‘up to 40 respectable young girls’ to learn the ‘clean and light work’ involved. They also, immediately after their father’s death, rather extravagantly took a half page advertisement in the Derbyshire Courier for several weeks to promote the company. Their final undoing was the creation of a tobacco combine by the larger British firms, in an attempt to meet American competition. Masons were not included and found their old markets closed to them.

Advertisement in the Derbyshire Times, 6 February 1892.

Another reason for the decline of what was clearly a very successful company in their father’s day appears to be loss of interest on the part of his sons. Oscar initially lived at Spital House but, after the estate was sold to the Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast Railway in the early 1890s, moved to Dunston Hall  (in Newbold), where in 1901 he was employing a governess and eight servants, several more than his father ever had.

Oscar remained at Dunston Hall until he died, aged only 45, in 1903, when he left a modest £1,283. An obituary made no reference to his business career, but described him as an enthusiastic sportsman.

Oscar died after returning home early from a race meeting at Doncaster; he and his family were then staying at Bridlington (Yorks.). Many years later it was said that he had  ‘always been largely interested in racing and sport’. His widow Mary Ann died at Frimley (Surrey) in 1936.

The business came to an end soon after Oscar died. In 1901 both he and his brother Charles, who was then living with his family, a governess and three servants in a house in The Crescent, Scarborough (Yorks.), gave their occupation as tobacco manufacturer, but Charles was a ‘late tobacco manufacturer’ in 1911, when the family were living in rooms in Cheltenham (Gloucs.) with no servants.

Charles later lived at various places on the South Coast and died at Portsmouth (Hants.) in 1935, leaving personal estate of just £20.24.

This brings to a close the tobacco manufacturing story of Spital Mills – but there is more to come in our next post.

The full entry for the tobacco factory from the c. 1899 book ‘An illustrated guide to Chesterfield’.

Part one of our history of Spital Mills can be found here.

The next and final part of our history can be found here.

This text is a slightly edited version of that appearing in our ‘History of Hasland …’ book, which is now of print, but you can find copies in Chesterfield Local Studies Library. All sources are fully referenced in our book.

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Spital Mills History – part 1

In this blog we start reviewing the history of ‘Spital Mills’ – more recently known as the premises of Spital Tile – which started out as a steam-powered lace mill, probably in the 1840s. Today it’s a dance studio with most of the former mill building used for storage.

Spital Mills in its later guise as a tobacco manufactory – which we’ll be exploring in our next part in this series of blogs.

A large, brick-built, steam-powered mill on the right bank of the Rother near the northern end of Spital Lane was probably erected by Thomas Holmes and Francis Algernon Sidney Smith, who in 1849 were the owners and occupiers, trading in partnership as Holmes & Smith, machine builders and lace manufacturers. Holmes appears previously to have been in partnership with Thomas Johnson, in a firm named Johnson & Holmes, which made gingham in a workshop in Castle Yard, behind the Castle Inn at 41 Low Pavement. He was living at Spital Lodge in 1841 and ten years later at The Terrace on Saltergate, when he gave his occupation as gingham manufacturer. Gingham is lightweight plain-woven cotton cloth. The firm of Holmes & Smith continued into the 1850s, but on 1 January 1858 the partnership was dissolved and the business taken over by John Drabble (1834–1908) and William Edwin Dutton (1821–63), a master draper with a shop on Lordsmill Street.

By 1862 the works had evidently been divided between two firms, Drabble & Dutton, lace manufacturers, and Drabble, Dutton & Parker, gingham makers. The third partner was Richard Parker, a draper on Low Pavement. In 1860 Dutton was the defendant in an action brought by Richard Holland, a mechanic from Preston (Lancs.), who unsuccessfully claimed that he was owed money for obtaining, building and installing improved gingham looms of his own invention at Spital. Both partnerships would have come to an end  with Dutton’s death in his early forties in June 1863.

In 1864 John Drabble applied for a patent for improvements in the manufacture of bobbin net, made on bobbin net or twist lace machines. The lace-making  side was given up when the rising price of raw material made the business unprofitable and the machinery was removed to the factory of Messrs Jacoby of Nottingham. A few years later gingham making also came to an end and Spital Mills (as the premises were always known, although there was only one mill building) became a tobacco manufacturing works.

In 1861, when he still had the lace-making business at Spital, Drabble was living in Nottingham. He later occupied the mill behind Lordsmill Street, on Hipper Street, which had once been a twist factory, and made gingham there, although in 1871–81 he described himself as a cotton doubler. He was then living at Herne House (in Calow).

Drabble was a member of Chesterfield corporation between 1871 and 1879, and mayor in 1877. In the 1891 census, by which date he had moved to Stanley Street in Spital, Drabble was enumerated as a commission agent and merchant, and ten years later as a timber merchant. He died at Spital in 1908, leaving personal estate of only £58.28.

We’ll be covering the later history these premises in future blogs, looking in particular at its short history as a tobacco manufactory under George Mason.

Part two of our history of Spital Mills can be found here.

The third and final part of our history of Spital Mills can be found here.

This text is a slightly edited version of that appearing in our ‘History of Hasland …’ book, which is now of print, but you can find copies in Chesterfield Local Studies Library. All sources are fully referenced in our book.

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Pop and see us at Ashover Artefact Day

We are having a stall at the Ashover Artefacts Day on Saturday 14 October 2023 – pop along and see us if you can.

They’ll be Ashover based organisations present, along with the Derbyshire Record Society. Details are in the poster above.

We hope to see you at Ashover Parish Hall from 10am to 3pm on the 14 October. Admission is free and refreshments will be available.

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Feet of Fines to be published

Our sister organisation – the Derbyshire Record Society (DRS) – is shortly to publish ‘Derbyshire Feet of Fines 1196-1325’. We preview this publication here.

This book completes the publication of the late Harold Garratt’s calendar of feet of fines recording the conveyance of estates in Derbyshire from their commencement in the reign of Richard I down to the end of Henry VIII’s reign. An earlier volume (XI, 1985) contained the fines for the county
executed between 1324 and 1547.

This second volume replaces and extends the unindexed calendar published in instalments in the Derbyshire Archaeological Journal between 1885 and 1895.

What are feet of fines?

Feet of fines are among the best known and most heavily used sources for medieval genealogy and the descent of landed estates. They provide a wealth of information, going back to a period from which few estate muniments survive. Above all, they are precisely dated from their commencement, which most private deeds are not before the end of the thirteenth century. With the appearance of this volume, Derbyshire finally joins the list of counties for which all the medieval fines are available in print in a reliable calendar in English, fully indexed by person, place and subject.

The book will immediately become (and remain) a standard work of reference for historians interested in medieval Derbyshire, and for genealogists tracing the origins of families in the county

Further information

The book will be published at the DRS AGM on 23 September 2023. Priced at £25 for members, it is available to non-members at £35 (plus postage). The DRS website will shortly have an on-line order form available, but you can also email their treasurer at treasurer@derbyshirerecordsociety.org.

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