Mention Chesterfield churches and everyone immediately thinks of “St Mary and All Saints’ Church “:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/east_midlands/derbyshire/chesterfied_mary/index.html with the crooked spire. Very few people have come across Holy Trinity Church whose claim to fame is that Victorian railway engineer George Stephenson is buried in the chancel.
Holy Trinity is a large church on the edge of the town centre and surrounded by a large graveyard. It was build in 1837 on land given by the Duke of Devonshire when the population of Chesterfield had grown too large for the parish church of St Mary and All Saints’.
It is typical early C19th Gothic style church made of well dressed blocks of gritstone with a square tower at the west end topped by tall pinnacles.
Don’t be fooled by the tall pillar memorial in the graveyard to the memory of Harriet Stevenson and her husband George. They are no relation and nothing is known about them. So many visitors automatically assume this is THE George Stephenson, that a small plaque has been placed by the memorial stating that George Stephenson is buried in the church.
Entry is through the south door which leads into a large lounge area at the back of the church with a kitchen. Inside, it feels a large church with a big square nave with an open beamed ceiling and stained wood pews. It was originally designed for a gallery around three sides, but this was removed in the late C19th along with the box pews.
Tall lancet windows filled with diamonds of pastel shades of Victorian glass throw colour shadows on the walls, giving a colour cast to the photographs.
Hanging on the walls are banners which used in the Annual Christian Witness Procession on Spring Bank Holiday Monday. On the north wall is a display about George Stephenson with small models of Locomotion and Rocket.
The chancel is small compared to the rest of the church and reached through a pointed arch. On the left hand side is the pulpit. On the right is the organ with the stone font. This is octagonal with quatrefoils on each face.
The altar has carvings of flowers and foliage. Behind, on the east wall is a carved wood reredos with a cross and the symbols of the four evangelists.
George Stephenson is buried in a vault behind the altar and his grave is marked by a simple slab of Derbyshire stone with his initials and the date of death.
Immediately behind the altar is a large memorial stone provided by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. George Stephenson was their first president and they must have felt he deserved something a bit more elaborate. George’s wife Elizabeth who worshipped in the church, has a memorial stone on the wall.
The beautiful east window was installed in memory of George Stephenson by his son Robert. In the centre is the Last Supper. Above and below are intertwined monograms of GS.
The church is kept locked, although is open for Heritage Open Doors. I’d contacted the vicar through the church website who arranged for the churchwarden to open up for me. It is definitely worth a visit and not just for the George Stephenson connection!
The church is on Newbald Road and there is some parking available inside the grounds. The post code is S41 7PG and the grid reference is SK 382716.
There are more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/east_midlands/derbyshire/chesterfield_holytrinity/index.html