Hurst House and the Chesterfield Schools Foundation





During 2017 the committee of the Chesterfield & District Civic Society became concerned that Hurst House, a large early Victorian property used since 1928 first as an annexe to Chesterfield grammar school and later as an adult education centre, had been standing empty for about three years. Hurst House is a listed building in a conservation area.

Our enquiries soon established that Hurst House belongs to the Chesterfield Schools Foundation, a charity established in 2002 to administer the endowment of the former Chesterfield grammar school and smaller sums from Chesterfield St Helena school. The sole trustee of this charity is Derbyshire County Council.

The objects of the charity, as set out in the scheme issued by the Charity Commission in 2002, are very similar to those of the Webster Whittington Charity, i.e. to provide financial assistance to young people aged between 11 and 25, especially when leaving school and entering further or higher education, and also to assist schools within a specified area. The six schools eligible for grants from the Chesterfield Schools Foundation are Brookfield, Hasland Hall, Outwood (in Newbold), Parkside (in Boythorpe), Whittington Green and St Mary’s.

Since 2002 the county council, as trustee of the Chesterfield Schools Foundation, appears to have made no grants to any of these schools, or to their pupils or former pupils. The county council has, however, as trustee, awarded a total of £187,300 from the Foundation’s funds to the county council as an education authority. The Foundation had cash resources of about £425,000 before these awards were made and an income (chiefly in rent from Hurst House) of about £26,000 a year. It currently has about £250,000 in cash and an income of about £1,300 a year.

In July 2017 the Civic Society, concerned both that Hurst House was standing empty and that the county council, as trustee, had awarded a substantial sum from the Foundation’s funds to the county council as an education authority, submitted a memorandum to the Charity Commission. This rehearsed the history of the Chesterfield Schools Foundation since 2002 and asked the Commission to investigate the county council’s conduct as sole trustee of the Foundation.

We consider that this is a matter of serious concern to anyone interested in the education and welfare of young people in Chesterfield, or in the built environment of the town, which is not improved by leaving a prominent listed building empty for several years. For this reason we are making available on the Civic Society website (1) the memorandum submitted to the Charity Commission, (2) subsequent correspondence with the Commission, and (3) relevant county council reports.

Download the documents here (single PDF file)

Visit to Wentworth Woodhouse

For many years the future of Wentworth Woodhouse has been uncertain. The recent acquisition by the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, and a substantial restoration grant from the Government has hopefully secured its future. 

On Tuesday 24th July members of the Society took advantage of the recent opening of the property to the public and visited for a conducted tour of the State Rooms. As befits the largest privately owned residence in the UK, they are magnificent. A selection of photographs from the day can be seen in the gallery below. Click on any photo to enlarge it.


Further details of Wentworth Woodhouse and visiting can be found here .

Notice of Civic Society Annual General Meeting

The 2018 Annual General Meeting
Will be held on Thursday 27th September at 7.30pm in the Studio at the St.Thomas Centre, Chatsworth Road.  All members and any prospective members are invited to attend.

There will also be a talk by Paul Staniforth,  the Chief Planning & Conservation Officer on current and planned developments in the Borough.


Tea and coffee will be served afterwards.
Members – free.  Visitors – £2.00



For location details and directions , please click on the picture .

Join the Civic Society Visit to Wentworth Woodhouse 24th July 2018

The Civic Society has arranged a visit to Wentworth Woodhouse, a stately home in South Yorkshire on Tuesday 24 July.  A 31 seater coach will leave the Chesterfield Panthers Rugby Club, (Dunston Road, Chesterfield S41 9BF) car-park at 12.30pm for Wentworth Woodhouse with our 1 hour guided tour of the formal rooms to start at 2pm.  There will be ample time afterwards to enjoy the delights of the on-site garden centre and coffee shop until we leave at 4.30pm.  The cost is £28.00 per head with a reduction to £20.00 for National Trust members, who must bring their cards.  This is payable by cash or cheque to 'Chesterfield Civic Society'.  Online banking payments can be made to 60-40-09 a/c 80134009 using your surname as the reference, with an email to me to confirm at

We have a few spare places if you would like to join us and cars can safely be left at the Rugby Club.

Frank Gorman

The Civic Society at the CADFHS Local History Fair

The Civic Society  had a stand at the fair at the fair on Saturday on what turned out to be a very well-attended day, despite the feared competition from the Royal wedding. Our Chairman had a useful introduction and discussion with the new Mayor of Chesterfield, and also managed to oversee the Victoria County History and Derbyshire Record Society tables. 

Here are a few photos of the day.


The Victoria Centre Knifesmithgate

Well known , both to Chesterfield residents and further afield as a characteristic image of Chesterfield , the Black and White frontage of Knifesmithgate is well worthy of preservation .

Currently however , the upper floors are empty , and their future unknown. The  issue is that the building belongs to a London property management company,  and nothing is known of their plans .

Chesterfield , and that Marketplace

It was good to just wander around Chesterfield the other Wednesday and see how popular the Wheel is mid-week  . Chesterfield is still a market town , and all the roads  seem to lead here eventually . If only on the way to the Library .

But , the heart of the town is  here , and still attracts after centuries . 


Chesterfield Market Place Wheel Busker

Unveiling of a new Blue Plaque at Ringwood Hall

Some fifty Civic Society members and guests joined the Mayor of Chesterfield, Coun. Maureen Davenport, and the Mayoress, Mrs Liz Archer, at the Ringwood Hall Hotel in Brimington on Wednesday 17 January for a ceremony to mark the unveiling of a plaque commemorating Charles Paxton Markham, who lived at Ringwood between 1908 and his death in 1926.

Among the guests were Mr Toby Markham, a descendant of C.P. Markham’s brother, Sir Arthur Markham Bt MP, and his wife, and Mrs Halcyon Palmer, a great niece of C.P. Markham’s sister Geraldine. The Leader of the Borough Council, Coun. Mrs Tricia Gilby, Coun. Terry Gilby and Coun. Barry Bingham were also present.

Ringwood Hall was built in 1829–30 by George Hodgkinson Barrow, the owner of Staveley Ironworks, and was later occupied by his son Richard Barrow. After C.P. Markham died, the House became a social club for Staveley staff. Having stood empty for some time, it has been restored in recent years as a luxury hotel.

After the Mayor unveiled the plaque, the owners of Ringwood Hall, Mr and Mrs Heyer, entertained the party to an excellent lunch. The event concluded with a short speech of thanks to the hotel by the Civic Society chairman, Philip Riden.

In the spring, the society hopes to install a plaque at 55 West Bars, the first large store built by Chesterfield and District Co-operative Society, which opened in 1903.