A Brief History of Hospital Services in Chesterfield – 1197 – 1920


First hospital founded 700 years ago for the treatment of lepers. Money allocation came from dues from markets and fairs in the Borough.

1197 – John Earl of Montaigne (afterwards King John) paid £6 yearly. The mastership was the Lords of the Manor of Chesterfield.

1774  – Almshouses were frequently called ‘hospitals’ and there are records of payments made by the Corporation of Chesterfield to the Churchyard Hospital and Taylors Hospital (Saltergate)

1800 – A Dispensary was established for the benefit of poor people who were not receiving parish relief and could not afford to pay for the medicines. The physicians attended and prescribed free and medicines cost £50/£60 p.a., with an average number of patients 220.

1854 – Present hospital established and named as above. The dispensary was incorporated. Its promoters wanted the tenancy of a building on the south side of the Bowling Green which had been used for a Poor House and had been left unused when the modem one was erected on Newbold Road. Negotiations fell through and a humble dwelling in St. Mary’s Gate opposite the Church was rented from Richard Dixon for £15 p.a. The fixtures also were taken over for the sum of £8.17.6 The rooms were quaintly named ‘Parlour’, ‘Front room’ ‘Sitting room’, two lodging rooms, two attics, all with bad ventilation, so all rooms had alterations to ensure proper ventilation.

Patients contributed to their maintenance . Six months after opening the modest total from this source was £2.4s.0d.

1855  A Hospital Sunday was established when collections might be taken in places of worship on behalf of the hospital.

1855 – Board meeting – the payment of 10s. for pill boxes to John B.Robinson, Brampton.

1856 – First annual report:-

Income –

£714.18.4 donations and subscription
£10.13.2 proceeds of a ball
£11.5.0. Parish Church collection
£6.10.5 Elder Yard Collection
£1.10.0. Primitive Methodist collection
£3.12.0. Patients collection

Expenditure –

£360.6.8. includes;
Flour and bread £9.3.1
Meat £15.4.10.
Coal and wood £5.3.4.

Number of patients -10

Limited capacity of building and bad ventilation was regretted.

Three sites were available for a new hospital.
(1) West end of Saltergate
(2) Newbold Back lane
(3) Junction of Holywell Street and Durrant Road.

No. 3 site was chosen and land purchased from the Duke of Devonshire for £100. On the site was Durrant Hall the residence of Mr. Gilbert Crompton and before that Mr. George Taylor who left money in his will to build the Saltergate Alms Houses. Durrant Hall was demolished with the exception of the kitchens which were utilised in the present building. Architects were invited to submit plans and those sent in by Messrs Davies and Tew were adapted (designers of Market Hall). Mr. George Heath’s tender of £1,500 was accepted, £500 for equipment. The public had already raised £1,500 towards the cost.

1859 – Foundation stone laid by The Right Hon. Spencer Compton Cavendish, Marquis of Hartington (after 8th Duke of Devonshire) on 28th September. Stone subsequently removed when wings were added and replaced intact at the north east corner. Ceremony preceded by public breakfast, stone laid with full Masonic honours. Beneath the stone is a hermetically sealed bottle containing copies of two local newspapers and a printed programme of the ceremony.

1860 – June – opened for admission of cases. During first eleven months in-patients numbered 38, and outpatients 560. The total cost of the building and equipment finally £2,461.

Description of building: Facing Holywell Street, building of nine bays, three stories at the front and four at the back. Pedimented section at either end and in the middle. The middle section has circular date stone.

1864 – Funds were needed as its fame grew and a bazaar and ball organised by Ladies raised funds.

1868 – An appeal was made to collieries, manufacturers and railways for support and the men consented to a deduction from their wages of sums varying from one farthing to a penny a week. Mr. Charles Markham suggested a scheme to divide the area served by the hospital into four districts, each district to elect a working man to sit on the Board of Management. As the Parliamentary constituencies were increased to six – Chesterfield, Eckington, Staveley, Sheepbridge, Grassmoor, Pilsley with Tibshelf this became six representatives. Meetings were held in the Market Hall.

1872 – New wing – Devonshire Ward – 20 beds. Mr. Feam, Architect and Hospital Secretary, also New Dispensary for outpatients.

1881 – Carriage Porch over principal entrance to protect patients on arrival.

1890 – New Ward on north side – Portland Ward.

1900 – Ad. Edward Eastwood provided, at his own cost, the medical accommodation by purchasing from the School Board the Durrant Road School and the Board’s offices adjoining. Premises adapted to meet their new purpose and were connected by a covered way,. Two wards – Eastwood and Manvers (after Earl Manvers) who opened them in 1902.

1903 – Mrs. Eastwood gave £1,000 . On tablet in Eastwood Ward.

1904 – Ad. Edward Eastwood gave a piece of land adjoining the hospital on which to erect a Nurses Home, setting free top floor of original building. Mr. W. Cecil Jackson, architect for extensions following advice of Mr. Caunt of Derbyshire Royal Infirmary.

1908 – Barnes ward opened. Mr. G. A. Eastwood made gifts including Radium and pianos in Medical, Markham and Barnes Ward.

War 3 doctors and 5 nurses joined H.M. forces

1914 – 20 beds opened to the Government for wounded soldiers. 20 Belgian soldiers in October.

1914 – 40 beds for War office increased to 130.

1916 – Pressure from wounded soldiers after the Somme battle. Mr. Charles Markham erected and equipped a ward of 20 beds. Basil Ward (in memory of his brother, the late Sir Arthur Basil Markham) Cost £1,731.

1918 – King conferred on it the title “Royal”

1919 – Ad. G. A. Eastwood (son of Ad. Edward Eastwood) provided a suitable site – Holywell House and grounds, two and a quarter acres adjoining hospital. Holywell House accommodation for nurses. Maternity Home erected on grounds by Corporation.

1920/22 – Tender of Maule and Co., Nottingham erected Out patients department, cost £35,250. Achitect Mr. W. Cecil Jackson. Laundry north side of Holywell House.

This is where the research ends. Obviously there is much more since 1920 but we thought that you would find this interesting, I am sure that many of us have had a spell in this building. Athough we have now moved our hospital to Calow it is nice to know that we still have the old one to look at.