The Wilmot Family
The Wilmot family arrived in Chaddesden in the early years of the 17th century, succeeding the Newton family as squires of the village. They married into other local landed families acquiring more wealth and prestige. Edward Wilmot, who had served as physician-in-ordinary to both King George II and King George III, was created a baronet on 15 February 1759.
Most famous was the 5th baronet, Sir Henry Wilmot, who was awarded a Victoria Cross for his actions in India during the Siege of Lucknow on 11 March 1858. In later years he was the Member of Parliament for South Derbyshire. He died in 1901 and is buried in St Mary’s churchyard. His sister Constance was the last of the family to live in the hall until her death in 1916. The title passed to Sir Henry's nephew Ralph who had agreed the sale of the Chaddesden estate, including the hall, before his death in 1918.
The first hall in Chaddesden was built around 1636 by Robert Wilmot. It was replaced by a much larger hall, completed in 1728, for his great-grandson, also Robert Wilmot. The building is believed to have been the work of architect, Francis Smith of Warwick, who was then building the new All Saints' Church in Derby.
The second Chaddesden Hall was a three-storey building with a timber-framed basement cellar. It was built of brick and grey millstone grit from Horsley Castle quarry. During the 18th century, the building was extended on the northern side with the addition of a two-storey pavilion. At some time a pavilion, but only single-storey was added on the south side, giving the building an asymmetrical appearance. Alterations made around 1800 gave the building its most distinctive features, an entrance porch on the ground floor, a large three-part window on the storey above complemented by an arched window on the top floor.
The entrance hall had oak panelling and the floor was made of stone slabs. The dining room had an oak ceiling and oak wall panelling. On the north side were the kitchens, where water was pumped into the sinks. The wine cellar was at the bottom of a flight of stone steps. There were rooms for washing and ironing and space was provided in the walled garden for the drying of laundry. The hall contained a sitting room, billiard room, gun room, and had a very wide staircase leading to a picture gallery at the top. There were panelled bedrooms, dressing rooms and a nursery.
Following the sale of the Chaddesden estate in 1918, the hall had several owners, none of whom lived there, letting the building to multiple tenants. It was demolished for architectural salvage in 1926. The site of the hall lies to the west of the library and is marked by a slightly raised ground surface and two lines of yew trees which formerly converged on the east face of the hall.
When the Wilmots first moved to Chaddesden, much of what is now Chaddesden Park was ordinary agricultural land. Ridge-and-furrow can still be seen on the eastern side of the park near Parkside Road showing where the land was once under arable cultivation.
A road to Spondon once ran alongside the north wall of the churchyard. Once the Wilmot family had succeeded in enlarging the park by buying the land in the vicinity of the hall they closed this old road. Although the road was more than 20 feet wide, all that remains to mark its course is a narrow footpath running alongside the north wall of the churchyard, and a sunken hollow-way adjacent to the allotment hedge near Parkside Road.
Ultimately Chaddesden Park had an area of 129 acres. It extended along the north side of Nottingham Road from what is now Chaddesden Park Road in the west to Sunny Grove and Parkside Road in the east. The garden boundary of Arridge Road and the playing field boundary of St Alban's School follow its northern boundary. When the Chaddesden estate was sold, the land to the west of Chaddesden Lane was sold to land speculators, property developers and house builders leaving the smaller park of 75 acres as outlined in red on the map below.
The area of parkland was further reduced by house building on Nottingham Road, Chaddesden Lane and Sunny Grove on the fringe of the park. Only the land nearest the Chaddesden Brook, which was prone to flooding, remained undeveloped.
King George's Field
The King George's Fields are public open spaces dedicated to the memory of King George V who died on 20 January 1936. There are 471 King George Fields in the UK, Chaddesden Park being one of eight in Derbyshire. It is still possible to make out the name on the gateposts at the entrance opposite Richmond Road. The stone panel on the left hand post depicts a lion with
underneath. The right hand post has a unicorn with
King George's Field
In 1936 Chaddesden Parish Council leased the remaining parkland from Quinton Estates of Birmingham. When the Parish Council was abolished in 1968, the lease was transferred to Derby County Borough for 99 years at £250 per annum. Later, Derby City Council acquired the freehold for £11,000.
When the council acquired the park, the brook was a major problem as it flooded the park regularly. The brook was deepened and straightened in the 1970s with the removal of many mature trees to improve the flow and new bridges were built. A children's play area, paddling pool, slide castle, sports pavilion, cafe, toilets and bowling greens were built.
On 21 September 1931 the Derby Evening Telegraph reported on the decision to have a branch of the county library in Chaddesden, once arrangements for suitable premises were made. By 26 April 1934 the Telegraph reported that there was a branch library with 500 readers which had been formed two years earlier, but no details of the location are given and it had an honorary librarian.
As late as 26 July 1950 the problems of finding a suitable building were still under discussion. The possibility of having a prefabricated hut was considered so Chaddesden was fortunate to get the library it did.
Chaddesden library was officially opened on Saturday 11 September 1954. It was the 42nd branch library in Derbyshire and the first to be built post war.
Alderman F.A. Grant, chairman of Derbyshire Education Committee invited Mr F.H. Crossley, County Architect, to hand the library key to Mr Edgar Osborne to open the new building. Mr Osborne had retired in May 1954 after completing thirty years service as the first Derbyshire County Librarian.
The premises were then dedicated by the Reverend G. Rivers, Vicar of Chaddesden. Others attending the ceremony were Alderman Mrs G Buxton, Vice-Chairman of the County Council and Mrs Olive Eden J.P. Chairman of Chaddesden Parish Council and a member of the County Education Committee. The occasion was a personal triumph for Mrs Eden, who had campaigned for several years for a library for the parish. Alderman C.F. White, the Chairman of the County Council was unable to attend because of ill-health.
“George Tomlinson”, a biography by Frederick Blackburn, was the first book issued from the new library. It was stamped and handed to Mrs Olive Eden, by branch librarian Miss Joy Brooks at the opening ceremony. Mr Osborne was also handed a book, a volume of Steinbeck, but his was a keepsake. In his speech Mr Osborne said the library was the first specially built library since the Staveley branch library was built 20 years previously.
He added that he thought the library, which cost nearly £5,000, would be the first of a series of branch libraries of light construction, cheap and quick to erect. Alderman Mrs G Buxton thanked Mr Osborne for his excellent speech. Following the ceremony guests were invited to tea at the Morley Road School.
The new library contained about 7,000 volumes with 5,000 being for adult reading and the remainder for the children’s library. The library was open to the public from Monday 13 September 1954 and its hours were 10am to 7pm each weekday and on Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. Librarian Miss Brooks, previously at the Bakewell branch, had two assistants.
In September 2004, the library celebrated its 50th anniversary with a variety of different events and showed the progress made over the years. As part of the celebrations, local historian Tony Bowler, gave a lecture to an audience of 57 on Thursday 9 September 2004. The presentation was repeated on Thursday 23 June 2005 to 44 people.
With such large audiences Tony broached the subject of starting up a Chaddesden history group with librarian Mary Adelman. A meeting was arranged at the library and took place on Thursday 6 April 2006 at 10:30am. Over 40 people attended of whom 24 joined the new Chaddesden Historical Group straight away.
When the old library became due for major repairs, a new library was built on a different site in the park and the old library closed on 16 February 2013. The building was demolished that summer. Its site is now a car park alongside the Age Concern building.
Chaddesden Library 1954 - 2013
Crocuses at the Nottingham Road entrance to the park photographed on 28 February 2021.
Below: a photograph taken at the same location in the 1930s. The Nottingham Tudor style houses in this area are the work of Stapleford builder, Harry Wormald Moult. The numerous poles are "traction poles" that carried the overhead line for the trolleybuses to Spondon.
Conifers grow best in sandy soil and are rarely seen in Chaddesden's heavy clay. Here is a group of pine trees in Mosey Yard Plantation close to Chaddesden Brook. Mosey Yard Plantation was planted toward the end of the 19th century so it is likely that some of the trees are 130-140 years old.
The remains of an old hedge next to the footpath between the two bridges in the park. There used to be fish ponds in the level ground between the hedge and the brook.
Although the area has not been cultivated for over 200 years, it is still possible to make out the ridge and furrow
of the medieval open field, Spondon Field, between the brook and Parkside Road.
Thanks to the following members of the Chaddesden Historical Group for their contributions to this page: Peter Barnes, Audrey Bennett, Tony Bowler and Peter Cholerton. Most of the photographs are from the Chaddesden Historical Group collection.
Further Information and Useful Links
The Chaddesden Park section of our Oral History page contains two interviews with older residents who describe how the park used to be.
The dramatic events of 12 December 1940 when two bombs fell in Chaddesden.
Derby Parks page for Chaddesden Park -
Wikipedia page for King George's Fields - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_George's_Fields
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