This project started in September 2013 and is researching the history of the Workers’ Educational Association centre of Hurst House in Chesterfield.
As part of the WEA Adult Education programme, we are conducting archive and map research, using the Historic Environment Records to locate information about the local region, and will be undertaking geophysical survey and test pit excavations in the grounds of Hurst House to try and reveal the history of the building and the local area that surrounds it.
The building itself is located above a Roman road, close to an area known as St. Helens (which may have links to an early Holy Well), the Roman fort of Cestrefeld and the Medieval Crooked Spire church. Our project aims to investigate the history and archaeology of the site and its immediate locale.
PROJECT UPDATE (February 2014)
Our archival research continues and we have found some very useful maps of the region. Early maps note the site of a Medieval holy well (St. Helen’s) directly opposite Abercrombie Street in the grounds of what is now the Chesterfield College building on Sheffield Road.
We have also used the Historic Environment Records (HERs) to plot known Roman sites, roads and find spots in the town and have created a digital map of this.
The fort and road layout fits quite nicely into the modern road / street plan, and Hurst House sits just to the west of the possible line of Ryknield Street:
A modern aerial view of the fort plan shows that Ryknield Street ran up Derby Road before continuing up St. Mary’s Gate and then entering the fort onto Church Way. It would then have left the fort and continued up Holywell Street and then Sheffield Road:
Later this month we will be conducting geophysics (Resistivity) in the grounds of Hurst House, and will use this to dig a couple of test pits in March.