Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Crooked Spire in Chesterfield Derbyshire

Chesterfield in Derbyshire, England, with its crooked spire, is Derbyshire's second largest town. It is surrounded by some of the loveliest and unspoilt countryside in the county. It is built over a Roman site which is also on top of an Iron Age fort. The Romans probably settled here because the area is so rich in natural minerals like coal, lead and tin.

Chesterfield is synonymous with the crooked spire on top of the church of Our Lady and All Saints. It gives Chesterfield its identity. Built, along with much of the rest of the church in the 14th century, it was straight for several centuries before it began to twist, probably as a result of unseasoned timber being used for its construction. It now leans nearly 9ft to the south and is still moving.

In Domesday, the town was known as Cestrefeld meaning open field, and its early prosperity was largely a result of its role as a market town, which served the whole of the north east of Derbyshire. The market still remains an important part of the towns economy. Every monday, friday and saturday, more than 250 stalls crowd into the town centre, enabling the visitor to purchase almost anything.

The 19th century saw Chesterfield developing rapidly into an industrial centre, especially with the coming of the railway. It was George Stevenson who supervised the construction of the Midland Line through the town, as he had done earlier with other Derbyshire towns. Today Chesterfield can boast excellent communications from all directions by both road and rail. It is close to the M1 motorway, the Midland Railway station is only a short distance from the town centre and there is a comprehensive bus service.

In the middle of the market is the Victorian market hall which is open throughout the week providing shopping facilities and function rooms. Nearby is a part of the town known as the Shambles which originally dates back to the 12th century. The shamble's narrow streets are both quaint and home to good shops, tea rooms and an interesting timber framed pub called the Royal Oak. A sign ouside, records the fact that a pub has been sited here since 1772 and before that a rest house for ' the knights templar, a band of crusaders'.

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