HISTORY OF CHESTERFIELD
History of the town:
The story of Chesterfield has been over 2,000 years in the making. From its roots as a Roman fort close to the very edge of the Roman Empire, its excellent transport links helped it become a prosperous market town in the Middle Ages, serving north eastern Derbyshire and beyond.
According to the History of Chesterfield by the Rev George Hall, the term Lutadarum was used by the Romans as a name for the encampment as far back as the second century AD. After being stationed in the area for a period of nearly 600 years, history suggests that they voluntarily withdrew. The area was then invaded and held by the Saxons in 448, who used the name Cestrefeld or Cestrefelt, from which Chesterfield has derived. The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon words caester (a Roman fort) and feld (grazing land) reflecting its ancient usage.
The Saxons seemed to have considered it a place of strength from which to originate their forays of war. However, rather than being the bustling market town it is today, in the year 1080 it was nothing more than a hamlet coming under the ownership of the Manor of Newbold. It was not until after the Norman Conquest that Chesterfield began to grow in size and importance being under the Manor of Chesterfield and for a short period, the Crown. It received its charter as a town from King John, along with their Letters Patent as a free Borough and in 1292, granted a Guild of Merchants from Edward 1st in 1292. Therefore during the 12th century Chesterfield grew from a village into a town and it is recorded that by 1165 Chesterfield had a market. The town grew through the wool and leather trade, however where larger towns and cities were enhanced by the industrial revolution, Chesterfield slowly grew and it wasn’t until the early 1900’s that it became an industrial hub of engineering and metalwork.
Chesterfield is steeped in the history of the land, being the site of a Roman and Saxon habitation, historic battles, a Knights Templar way station, historic buildings and churches and is a renowned market once described by Daniel Defoe as ‘a handsome, populous town, well built and well inhabited’, and it remains a sought after place to reside to this day.
Freemasonry in Chesterfield:
Freemasonry has been practised in Chesterfield since 1762, though with some quite long gaps in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The first known record of a Chesterfield Lodge is of Lodge No.106 (it didn’t have name) constituted at the Three Cranes Inn on 27th December 1762. The Three Cranes was on Low Pavement, near where McDonalds sits today. The Lodge appears to have had a very short life, though the names of nine of its members are known.
The second Lodge in Chesterfield was called the Scarsdale Lodge, and was initially numbered 519. It took its title from the Hundred of Scarsdale – the old parliamentary constituency containing Chesterfield and much of Northeast Derbyshire. Its warrant was dated 5th March 1793 and the first meeting was held on 23rd May 1793.
The Lodge has been said to have emanated from Sheffield, but this is only a technicality, as the founders had been made Masons in Sheffield. They were all prominent citizens of Chesterfield or the surrounding district.
The Lodge originally met at The Angel Inn a place where general and commercial assemblies were held, especially at the start of the Chesterfield Races. This situated at the top of the Market Place on a site in and around the old Post Office. On 6th July 1808 the Lodge resolved to move to the Falcon at the top of South Street; the building is still there and is occupied by the Barnsley Building Society. Then, on 30th June 1817, it moved back to The Angel.
The records of the old Scarsdale Lodge are still in existence, though not as complete as one could wish, and the more important items of its property are still in use. From the records, we learn that membership was never high, usually about 12 to 15, but rising almost to 30 by 1822, then falling rapidly through the 1820’s.
The last meeting of the Lodge was on 2nd February 1830 at the Angel. Members then walked in procession to the site of the new church at Brampton Moor, (St Thomas’s) where the Duke of Devonshire laid the foundation stone. The members then returned to the Angel, where the Lodge was closed – for good. Grand Lodge erased it in 1838.
During the Napoleonic Wars, French Officers who were prisoners of war were billeted in Chesterfield. They formed two Lodges during the years 1809 – 12: Loge de l’Espérance and Loge de St Jerôme et l’Espérance.
Scarsdale members made 8 visits to Loge de St Jerome et l’Espérance, while the Scarsdale minutes record that on 5th March 1810, “Hy. Vinclair and R. de la Croix, two foreigners, visited this night.” Both were prominent French Masons. The French prisoners had little money and were not allowed to go more than a mile from Chesterfield, but they found a sympathiser in Sir Windsor Hunloke, Master of Scarsdale in 1800 and a Roman Catholic, who is said to have moved the milestone further along Derby Road so that the Frenchmen could visit him at Wingerworth Hall!
After the old Scarsdale Lodge ceased to meet, Freemasonry in Chesterfield was in abeyance and remained so until a new Lodge, also called Scarsdale, was consecrated at the Star Inn at the bottom of Glumangate on 10th September 1856. A banquet was afterwards held at the Municipal Hall, later to become the Court House, on New Beetwell Street. It was extensively reported in both the Derbyshire Times and the Derbyshire Courier, the two accounts being almost identical. They can be consulted (on microfilm) in the Public Library. In 1861, the Lodge moved to The Angel next door, and continued to meet there for the next 16 years.
In 1878 the North East Derbyshire Club was formed and built what is today the Masonic Hall in Chesterfield. Many founders of that Club were members of Scarsdale Lodge and so secured a lease of the upper floor as a Temple. Thereafter in the late 19th and early 20th centuries Freemasonry in Chesterfield expanded considerably. In 1890 Hardwick Lodge was formed; in 1904 Cavendish Lodge was formed; and in 1918 Cestrefeld Lodge was formed, the latter being chartered in 1919. In 1926 these Lodges purchased the Club premises and the whole building became the Masonic Hall.
Cestrefeld Lodge 3889
Between the end of the First World War and after the Second World War there was an upsurge in interest in Freemasonry. Cestrefeld, the new Lodge was a long time coming, but eventually in 1918 Cestrefeld Lodge was formed taking the name as the area was known to the ancient Saxons. Cestrefeld went from strength to strength, continuing to be the most active of lodges in the Provence, having installed its 100th master in November 2017.
It thrives on its reputation of being friendly and socially active, deeply supportive of the three tenets of freemasonry; brotherly love, relief and truth and is known for always extending a warm welcome to any visiting brother or potential candidate.