My Favourite Things: Chatsworth is a magnificent private palace on our doorstep says Chesterfield civic society chief

Chesterfield champion Philip Riden is keen to involve himself in the town’s future as well as its past.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 4:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 4:22 pm
Philip Riden describes Bakewell's Rutland Arms Hotel as "an historic oasis of calm and charm in a busy town..

Philip is a specialist on the history of Derbyshire, and in particular Chesterfield where his family has lived since 1909.

For five years he has been chairman of Chesterfield and District Civic Society which ‘campaigns to make Chesterfield a better place to live’.

He has written some 60 academic books, articles and pamphlets, mainly on industrial history and local history, especially Derbyshire.

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WD Models on Chatsworth Road, Chesterfield is well stocked and offers friendly advice to customers.

His most recent work about Chesterfield includes a 500-page history of the Grammar School where he was a former pupil, and Chesterfield Streets and Houses, a detailed survey of every building in the town centre. His next book, due out later this year, will be an equally detailed history of Hasland, Grassmoor and Birdholme.

Philip has lived in Chesterfield since he was four years old, later leaving to study modern history at Oxford where he got a first-class honours degree. He worked as a university teacher of history, mainly at Cardiff and Nottingham, and returned to live in Chesterfield in 2000.

Here Philip shares his favourite places in Derbyshire to spend his leisure time….

Favourite place

Philip Riden describes Chatsworth as "a most magnificent private palace on our doorstep."

Chatsworth, because it is one of Europe’s most magnificent private palaces on our doorstep and there is always something new to seethere. This is obviously not the most original choice but there is always a tendency to take for granted what is familiar and it is worth stressing how important the house, gardens, park and surrounding landscape are on an international scale. Their gold and silver card friend schemes are an excellent way to enjoy Chatsworth throughout the year in return for a single, quite reasonable, payment.

Favourite landmark

Parish church of St Mary and All Saints, Chesterfield, because it has been a prominent landmark at the heart of the town for probably a thousand years a symbol of continuity and community. Apart from the world famous spire, St Mary and All Saints is the largest church in the diocese of Derby and was probably among the first to be founded anywhere in north-east Derbyshire. It is also a living monument to the High Church tradition which has dominated Anglicanism in Chesterfield since the mid 19th century.

Favourite restaurant

St Mary and All Saints Church is a living monument to the High Church tradition, says Philip Riden who is chairman of Chesterfield and District Civic Society.

St Moritz, Buxton, always offering excellent Italian food in an attractive if incongruous Alpine setting, staff always friendly and efficient. We are often in Buxton since my wife, Elizabeth Forrest, is a professional calligrapher and lettering artist who exhibits at the Dome with Peak District Artisans.

Favourite pub

The Rutland Arms in Bakewell. An historic oasis of calm and charm in a busy town, ideal for a coffee, a drink or a meal. Much the same could be said of the Old Hall in Buxton, which is another familiar haunt of ours.

Favourite shop

St Moritz restaurant in Buxton has "excellent food and friendly, efficient staff."

Perhaps not the best question to put to a man, but avoiding the obvious options of B&Q or Wickes, I would plump for WD Models, Chatsworth Road. An exceptionally well-stocked shop of its type for a town the size of Chesterfield, which deserves all possible support from hobbyists. You can’t get friendly advice online.

Philip Riden.