Our latest Blue Plaque – 87 New Square

Information on our latest ‘blue plaque’ to be unveiled at 87 New Square, at the beginning of February.

Pictured before its recent restoration is 87 New Square.

The latest in the Chesterfield and District Civic Society’s ‘blue plaques’ series has been kindly sponsored by Leverton UK Ltd. They are responsible for the restoration of the plaque’s destination – 87 New Square – and its conversion into flats. The new plaque replaces an earlier one which inaccurately described the property as the home of a former Archbishop of Canterbury – Thomas Secker.

Various historians, including the late John Bestall and latterly our former Chairman Philip Riden, have looked for a direct link between 87 New Square and former Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Secker (1693-1768), but have not found one. It is thought that Secker attended a free school in Chesterfield, staying with his half-sister and her husband, Elizabeth and Richard Milnes, but he could not have stayed at number 87 as the house was built some years after he departed the town.

Our former Chairman, Philip Riden outlined the property’s history in the Civic Society’s newsletter for June 2023;

‘Dr Richard Milnes appears to have built the present house sometime between 1765 and his death in 1795. After he died the house passed to a local solicitor, William Waller, whose descendants practised there till 1870.

‘It was acquired by Chesterfield Corporation in the 1920s, and the council later built what is now their public enquiry office behind and to one side of the original property.

‘The history of the site can be traced from a purchase by Henry Foljambe of Walton Hall from the Ashe family, probably in 1491. Henry left the property to his younger son, Roger Foljambe of Linacre Hall (in Brampton), and it was Roger’s grandson, Hercules Foljambe of Moor Hall (in Barlow), who sold this and a number of other houses in Chesterfield to Bess of Hardwick and her son William, later 1st Earl of Devonshire, in 1599.

‘The Cavendish family remained the freeholders until the 6th Duke of Devonshire sold the property to the younger William Waller in 1850.’

The history of the property seems to have been accurately described in an article run as a series by the Derbyshire Times as ‘Reminiscences of Old Chesterfield’. Some of the series are not very accurate but this one – carried in the edition of 10 December 1881 – appears to be.

The Civic Society have three other plaques in their series to erect elsewhere in the town and are actively pursuing others. Progress generally depends on external sponsorship.

Out with the old. This plaque, which contains incorrect information about Thomas Secker at 87 New Square, is shortly to be replaced thanks to the generosity of Leverton UK Ltd.

At present we understand that the plaque is due to be unveiled on 8 February by the Mayor of Chesterfield.

This post was amended on 25 January 2024 to include an indicative date of unveiling.

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