The History of Hurst House

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.


Roman Chesterfield

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:

Fort & roads


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:

Cestrefeld fort


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.


6 thoughts on “The History of Hurst House

  1. The Old Cestrefeldian Society is for the alumni of Chesterfield School which occupied Hurst House as the Sixth form premises for many years until 1967. If you think that some of our older members may be able to contribute anecdotal evidence relevant to your research, I would be happy to put you in touch with the officers of the Society and the website manager to circulate the appropriate appeal.

    Frank Gorman
    Past President
    Old Cestrefeldian Society

    • Many thanks Frank, this does indeed sound most interesting! We will be planning the early part of the project over the summer months and will be in touch soon.

  2. I have come across your Hurst House project and also a history of Hurst House by Nick Robinson.

    The history is mistaken in its assumption that the Adult Education Centre dates from September, 1964. I was appointed WEA Tutor/Organiser for North East
    Derbyshire and Warden of Hurst House in September 1963. The Adult Education Centre will, in fact, be 50 years old at the start of your project.

    The Centre was set up through the cooperation of the WEA, Sheffield University Extra-Mural Department and Chesterfield LEA. A committee representing all three bodies and Derbyshire County Council oversaw its development.

    Initially the Sixth Form remained in the building and classes were confined to evening usage. The LEA appointed a Secretary/Deputy Warden and the Centre moved to full-time usage when the new Sixth Form accommodation was ready.

    I remained as Warden until September 1968 when I took up a post in the Extra-Mural Department of the University College of Wales Bangor. My successor as Warden was a member of Sheffield University Extra-Mural Department.

    • Many thanks for this information Penri, it will be really useful to the project. How great that our new project will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the building as an Adult Education Centre!

      Our project aims to find more about the building through time, but also what was there before, all the way back (hopefully) into the Roman period.

      Do keep in touch and please feel free to let us know any other information you might have.

      Many thanks again.

  3. Hello
    My name is Mark Patterson and I am writing a book about Roman Derbyshire, to be published by Five Leaves Publications and Derbyshire County Council. I am currently writing a chapter on Chesterfield and came across your website. I am seeking permission to reproduce the digital maps of the fort’s location on this website. Would there be a cost for this if you agreed? Who should be credited for the images? Thanks.

    • Hi Mark, Yes i have a copy of your Roman Nottinghamshire book. I have emailed you on this, let me know if you don’t receive it. Thanks, Matt

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