The Village of Chaddesden, Derbyshire

Today the village of Chaddesden is a large suburb of the city of Derby, but expansion probably began only in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a result of industrial development. Before this the village was a small agricultural settlement.

Chaddesden is mentioned in the Domesday Book, as land under ownership of Henry de Ferrers in the Appletree Hundred (Morgan, P. (ed.) 1978. Domesday Book. Part 27, Derbyshire. Phillimore, Chicester):

In Cedesdene four and half carucates (a carucate was about 120 acres) and two parts of one bovate (a bovate was about 1/8 of a curate) of land taxable. Land for as many ploughs. 11 freemen, 10 villagers and 5 small holders now have 6 ploughs. Meadow, 28 acres; woodland pasture, half a league long and 5 furlongs wide; under wood as much. Value before 1066 £4; now £3.

The adjacent village of Spondon, with which the history of Chaddesden is intimately linked, was of a similar size, but had a church. Henry de Ferrers was certainly the most powerful man in Derbyshire after the conquest, holding 114 manors, and he established himself at Duffield, building a castle there. The de Ferrers lost rights to land in Chaddesden in the early 13th century, after rebelling against the King, and the lands passed into the hands of the King’s son, Edmund Crouchback, the Earl of Lancaster (Fearnehough 1991).

The people of Chaddesden would have buried their dead at the chapel in Spondon until the mid 14th century. There is no mention of a church at Chaddesden in the Domesday Book, or in taxation rolls of the late 13th century, but there was probably a chapel established in the early 14th century as rights for burial were granted in Chaddesden in 1347. As Cholerton (1997) suggests, this was timely as the Black Death reached Derbyshire in 1349; as much as a third of the English population succumbed during the following 10 years and it’s probable that the people of Chaddesden did not escape. A chantry was established in the late 1350s, with formal foundation in 1362, followed by extension in the late 14th century, effectively creating the church that was dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin in the 16th century. The church became independent of its mother church at Spondon in 1851 and soon after was extensively restored. A comprehensive history of the Church of St. Mary, Chaddesden is found in Cholerton 1997.

In the early 16th century the Wilmot family bought lands in Spondon and Chaddesden, establishing Chaddesden Hall. This family remained a significant one in Chaddesden life until 1916, after which the Hall was essentially empty; it was demolished in 1927 (Fearnehough 1991). In 1638, Robert Wilmot made allowance in his will for six almshouses to be built close to the church; they were demolished in 1963. Another Robert Wilmot gave land for the building of a schoolhouse in 1736/37.

In 1783, 59 people were employed at home in the knitting of stockings (frame-workers), but in 1833 the village population was just 98 families, mostly working in agriculture and with no more than 30 families involved in frame-knitting (see Fearnehough 1991). A map, probably dating from around 1825, shows the layout of the village and the families that occupied some of the houses (Cholerton 1985).

The development of the railways between 1840 and 1870, and the importance of Derby in this industry, affected livelihoods in Chaddesden, but did not have much impact on the total population of the village (see census summary). By 1891 many of Chaddesden’s men were employed by the Midland Railway, including a number of Cokaynes, but agriculture remained an important activity also. The home-based frame-knitting industry had declined substantially by 1871 and only a few of Chaddesden’s residents were listed as frame-workers in the census. Industrialised textile production had taken over and the neighbouring village of Spondon flourished as a centre of textile production.

A new school was built in 1872 and in 1890, when records began, had 146 children on the roll (Fearnehough 1991 provides more insight into Chaddesden’s schools). The Wilmot estate was substantially sold in 1916/18 allowing a boom in new residential and industrial development.

There is a short profile of the village in the Derbyshire Advertiser of 26th February 1965, with some interesting photographs, including one featuring contemporary Cokaynes. In 1965, the population of the village was estimated as 17,000, having trebled over the previous 40 years.