RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
TitleChesterfield Elder Yard Independent Chapel
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Archive CreatorChesterfield Elder Yard Independent Chapel
Administrative HistoryUpon the ejection of the vicar and curate from the parish church under the act of Uniformity of 1662, a congregation of their followers was formed which held together until the toleration act of 1689 and permitted the dissenters to erect their own place of worship.

Elder Yard chapel was built in 1694 by Cornelius Clark, son of Ralf Clark, Chesterfield's first mayor under the charter of Elizabeth. He bought the Norton Hall estate in May 1668 and was High Sheriff for the county of Derby in 1670. He purchased from John Smith, a hatter in 1692 a parcel of land near to a place called Ellar Yard and caused the chapel to be built. Ford's history states that the total cost of the land and the erection of the building was £229. 10s.0d. On completion the building was certified at the Quarter Sessions at Derby on 17 April 1694 as a Dissenting place of worship under the Act of 1689. It was used for some years jointly by both presbyterians and congregationalists each having their own minister and holding services in turn. The formal agreement between them came to an end in 1721, when a chapel built at Bolsover for the presbyterians was handed over to the congregationalists and Elder Yard was left in the hands of the presbyterians. Both congregations continued to worship together under presbyterian ministers until 1773 when a presbyterian minister Thomas Astley was invited to the pulpit who held Arian or unitarian views. The congregationalists then separated and formed what has now become the Chesterfield congregational church, Soresby Street. From that date until the present time the pulpit teaching of Elder Yard chapel has remained unitarian but the church is entirely free from any compulsory creedal obligations and both minister and members are free to worship God in accordance with conscience. During the long ministry of the Rev. Robert Wallace a number of improvements were carried out at the chapel. The first considerable alteration in the internal arrangement of the chapel came in 1818 when the pulpit was moved from the centre of the north wall to somewhere at the east end of the chapel, either in the centre oir at the side. In 1821 an addition was built to the chapel at the eastern end; a gallery was erected for an organ and a choir of singers. In 1828 a small close of land situated at Hady and belonging to the chapel was exchanged for a piece of land east of the chapel with a frontage to the street and in the possession of the Duke of Devonshire. The acquisition of this piece of land more than doubled the area belonging to the chapel. The trustees then built schoolrooms on it commencing in 1831 and consisted of rooms on either side of the entrance, one being used for the boys' school and the other for the girls'. In 1900 the schoolrooms were extended by adding three classrooms. In 1908 the chapel outer vestry was built.
Custodial HistoryIn 2005, the collection was transferred from Chesterfield library where it had previously been listed in detail. The former reference numbers have been retained in the description at the end and are referenced as ELD and then a number. An additional accession was received in October 2014 (see D6414/UL).
Organisation Sub-TypeIndependent Christian Churches

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Related Names
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Chesterfield; Elder Yard Chapel; 1694; Independent Christian congregation
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