Chesterfield Museum & Art Gallery is situated in the centre of Chesterfield. It is a 5 minute walk from the station and a couple of minutes walk from various car parks. It is also next door to the Pomegranate Theatre and across the road from the famous Crooked Spire.
Admission is free and it is open 10-4pm mon to sat (closed wednesdays).
Upon entering you will find a 14th Century windlass which was used when building the Crooked Spire. It is like a huge hamster wheel that was used to transport construction materials to the top of large buildings.
You will then find a gift shop with various toys, books and historical trinkets.
They have permanant exhibitions such as The Story of Chesterfield and one about the life of George Stephenson.
They also have different sections that tie in to things that are going on in the area.
For instance, Chesterfield is historic market town and regularly have a Medieval Market day so the museum will have an exhibit that explains a little more about this.
They have many things to see such as old coins, pottery, and bass and silver trinkets, plus whatever they are showing at the time.
They currently have a 'Hidden Gems' display which is a changing display of items from the museum's store. They also have events throughout the year. They recently had a Tudor display and had a 'real life' Tudor come and tell tales of the olden days.
On 28 May, they will enjoy a visit from Aeschylus of Eleusis who will explain about life in Ancient Greece and on 28 July, medieval music will be performed by Hautbois (this ties in with a Medieval Market day in the town centre).
On 29 October Captain Jack Vincent will be discussing life as a Pirate! My son can't wait for this one!
There is also an art gallery upstairs which is a small room with around 20 - 30 paintings - very boring for me as I don't really like art but some people love it. This room mostly contains art from local artists, past and present.
The museum is quite small but very interesting and is well worth a look. Even little ones will enjoy it, I take my 4 year old and he doesn't get bored like you might expect he would visiting a place such as this.
If you are in the area you should check it out; it is easy to find as the town is well signposted and it is only two roads away from the train station and close to many car parking facilities.
Overall: a great, cheap day out for all the family!
Chesterfield is a very historic Town located in North East Derbyshire. Having lived in Sheffield for most of my life I did venture outside its boundaries to live in a Cottage on the outskirts of Chesterfield for a couple of years and I still have a strong affection for the Town.
Walking around Chesterfield as I often still do it is difficult to miss the medieval looking buildings in the Town centre with their black and white timber frames. Even to those just quickly passing through the Town it is obvious that this place has a long and rich history. I have always had a bit of a fascination with the history of places and so it was not long before I discovered the Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery, having initially been directed there by the friendly staff at the tourist information office located at Rykneld Square.
The Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery is located in the Stephenson Memorial Hall on St Mary's Gate. It opened in 1994 and it is quite easy to find since it well sign-posted from within the Town centre.
This Museum is free to visit and is the perfect place to visit if you want to learn a little bit about the history of the Town. The location of this Museum in Stephenson's Memorial Hall is an excellent choice of venue and very appropriate since this beautiful building has a rich history of its own. It was originally the Mechanic's Institute and was built in 1879. It takes its name from one of Chesterfield's most famous residents, the Railway Pioneer George Stephenson and father of the even more famous Robert Stephenson.
The Museum houses an extensive collection of artefacts that tell the history of Chesterfield through the ages. The history of the Town begins with the Roman occupation and there are many displays that depict the history of the Romans told through drawings, sketches and notes.
There are many display cabinets that contain Roman Pottery, tools and other implements and there are even some Roman Coins on display that have been dug up locally.
Moving on from the Roman Exhibition there are artefacts from the middle ages and then we come to a large display from the Victorian era. This includes costumes and other clothing showing how a typical local family would have dressed in the latter part of the nineteenth century. There is even an area here where Kids can dress up in replica Victorian Costumes.
There is a large section of the Museum that is dedicated to the local Industries that shaped this area. These displays include machinery and scientific equipment. Not surprisingly the story of George Stephenson is also told here.
This Museum is the home of many permanent collections but it also receives other items on loan from other Museums from time to time so it is possibly worth checking if there are any temporary displays on show prior to your visit.
One of the permanent displays that is found here is called "The Story of Chesterfield" and as its name suggests this exhibition tells the story of the history of the Town. This is done on a fairly personal level with lots of information regarding how the people would have lived through the ages and gone about their everyday lives.
One thing that you cannot fail to miss when you visit this Museum is a 20 foot high Windlass that was used in the construction of Chesterfield's most famous landmark, its Church, known affectionately as the Crooked Spire. This huge apparatus was used for lifting the huge stones into place and dates from the 14th century.
Attached to the Museum is an Art Gallery that contains many Paintings from local Artists. This is a part of the building that I have visited many years ago but I do tend to give it is a miss as I have a greater personal interest in the articles on display in the Museum. If you are a lover of Art however then this place is obviously well worth a visit. There are usually works of Art on display from Chesterfield's most famous Artist, Joseph Syddall (1864-1942).
The majority of the building is fully accessible by wheelchair users and there are toilets with disabled facilities.
The Museum is open five days a week from 10am until 4pm. It is closed on Sundays and Wednesdays but does open on Bank Holidays. Entrance to both the Museum and the Art Gallery is free.
It can be found at the address below:
Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery
St Mary's Gate
Telephone: 01246 345727
For a town with as much history as Chesterfield it is weird to think that it never used to have a museum at all. For years we had to rely on transient exhibitions in a room in the upstairs ofthe Tourist Information Centre. Thankfully, in 1994, a Museum and Art Gallery was opened (by Henry Sandon of Antiques Roadshow fame), and now we have a chance to show visitors a little of what has made our little town what it is today.
~~~WHERE IS IT?
Chesterfield Museum can (not surprisingly) be found in the centre of the North Derbyshire town of Chesterfield! More precisely it is housed in the beautiful and historic Stephenson Memorial Hall on St. Mary's Gate ~ in the shadow of perhaps our most well known tourist attraction; the Crooked Spire. It is also next door to our theatre (The Pomegranate) and within walking distance of the Tourist Information Centre (on Rykneld Square) and the about a ten minute walk (uphill) from the Railway Station. It is also within easy reach of the surface and multi-storey car parks, although it doesn't have parking facilities of its own.
~~~WHEN IS IT OPEN AND WHAT DOES IT COST?
Wonderfully enough the museum is free to enter, although there will sometimes be additional charges if there is a special activity. It opens from 10am until 4pm every day except Sunday and Wednesday. It is open on Bank Holidays too.
Before you even get onto the history of the town there is a lot of history in the building that houses it. The Stephenson Memorial Hall was built back in 1879. It began life as a mechanics institute and was named after one of the town's most famous residents ~ railway pioneer and eminent Victorian, George Stephenson (who is buried in a local church near to my house).
As well as the exhibitions and events the museum also has study facilities. It also has wheelchair access to all public area, disabled toilets, sign language interpretation (on request) and touch exhibits and handling sessions if required. There is also a small shop and a loan service. Groups need to be pre-booked in advance by telephoning and if you would like a guided tour, this can be arranged.
If you are a stranger to the area I would recommend phoning ahead of your trip to make sure there will be a guided tour because it is well worth having one. You can also phone to get them to send you a brochure with directions and info ~ another useful thing to do before making the trip! School parties can also ask for information leaflets.
~~~WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
The museum tells the story of Chesterfield from its Roman origins through to the present. This is achieved through permanent displays and changeable exhibitions and special events, often to tie in with events in the town (for example there is an exhibition of medieval music to coincide with the Medieval Market at the end of July ~ I have seen the performers, called Hautbois, before and they are very good).
We have coins, clothes, medals, machinery, scientific discoveries and all manner of things to come and look at. My favourite section is simply called "The Story of Chesterfield". This is a small walkround exhibition telling the tale of the town. It is very interesting and helps people find out why the town built up where it did, why the Romans settled and built a fort here and why the twon became a Market Town and Industrial centre.
The children's events are particularly interesting ~ my favourite was the "dress as a Roman soldier" event! I am also looking forward to the exhibition on the history of Chesterfield's shops that starts in October ~ which girl wouldn't want to know about shopping?
Exhibits wise, the most important one we have is a 14th Century windlass ~ this was used by builders who constructed the Crooked Spire. This can be found in the entrance to the galleries and is over 20 feet high. It is a very impressive sight and I find it fascinating to go and see something so old in such good condition. I also like to wonder if they knew when they were building the church, that their creation would become so famous.
My favourite set of exhibits covers the Roman and Medieval periods and features some of the finds uncovered in true Time Team fashion when the town was being excavated during building work. This includes artifacts from the old Roman Fort and the heart of the Medieval town. I love to look at these finds and imagine what life was like way back then!
The largest permanent collections are to do with the Industrial history of my town. There are some fine examples of local pottery (Bramptonware) and a collection from a famous local business (Robinson & Sons Ltd) that made some of the first disposable nappies! The George Stephenson collection is also well worth a look. And has some nice portraits of the family and material about Stephenson's life and work. I always feel proud to be associated with such a prominent historical figure.
The Art Gallery has work on display from local artists past and present. I must admit I prefer to visit the museum section, but am pleased that we have a place where art can be displayed and enjoyed by the local community and showcase our talent and history to visitors. I would recommend allowing a good few hours to appreciate the museum and give it the attention it deserves. I would also recommend that you telephone or email them to find out if there is anything special happening on the day you intend going. This could affect how long you will spend there ~ it gets quite busy on some event days, but is relatively peaceful otherwise.
I am pleased that Chesterfield has a museum of its own. It is a great place for children, families and adults alike. It is a lovely place for visitors to the town to find out more about the place they have come to. For residents of the town it is a valuable educational resource and a place I wish more people would visit ~ so many people who live in a place know very little about the history of it. I really recommend Chesterfield Museum & Art Gallery I hope that it will encourage people to find out more about my town.
(Tel): 01246 345727