87 New Square

This new plaque was unveiled in February 2024. Sponsored by Leverton UK, who own and renovated the property. It replaces an inaccurate plaque installed some years ago.

For some years this Grade II listed building was the supposed boyhood home of Thomas Secker MD DCL , doctor and priest and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1758 to 1768 – but the building is of too late a date for this. It was probably built between 1777 and 1795.

Local historians the late John Bestall and also Philip Riden have both failed to find any direct association with this present building and Secker – it seems more likely that a predecessor building on this site may have been his childhood home.

87 New Square s newly restored and converted into apartments, pictured in February 2024.

Our committee member and local historian Janet Murphy has also researched the property. She writes the following account.

Number 87 New Square was probably built between 1777, when the Chesterfield Canal was opened, and 1795 when the owner, Richard Milnes, died. It is a brick building and, because of the problems of transportation, it is unlikely that bricks were used for buildings in Chesterfield before the opening of the canal in 1777. Milnes was one of the promoters of the canal. It was not until the advent of coal mining on a large scale and the development of associated brick works that bricks became commonly used in the town.

Mistakenly it has been referred to as the childhood home of Thomas Secker when he attended Chesterfield Grammar School, and who died in 1768. The father of Richard Milnes, another Richard, was married to Elizabeth, sister of Thomas Secker, and it was with them that Secker stayed. On his death in 1795 Richard left the bulk of his estate to his niece Elizabeth Waller, the daughter of Revd James Heywood, minister of Elder Yard Chapel and Elizabeth, Richard’s sister, and wife of William Waller.

Although William carried out alterations to the building and built additional rooms to serve as offices, he did not want to live there and passed the property to his brother Robert, leaving it to him on his death. Robert was clerk to the corporation from 1791-1818 when he was replaced by his son William until his death in 1857 when it ceased to be the town clerk’s office. It remained the solicitor’s office of the Waller family until the last one, another Robert, died in 1870 and then it was let to doctors until 1883 when it was described as having ‘15 rooms and two good kitchens. Stabling for three horses. Coach house, harness-room, wash-house, & garden, tennis ground, hot-house, and vinery’.

In 1884-5 it was the Chesterfield and District Liberal Club. By 1902 it had become the town’s telephone exchange until that moved into the newly extended Post Office in 1926. It was converted into the Borough Treasurer’s Department until the new town hall was completed in 1938. Part of the property, to the rear, made way for the new Rose Hill.

This was the former and inaccurate plaque, which was also in poor condition.

Follow this link for the entry at Historic England

Follow this link for the entry at British Listed Buildings

Page last updated 9 February 2024.