Ask most people what they know about Chesterfield, and you will likely be regaled with an account of the ‘Crooked Spire’ – the twisted and warped spire of the parish church, which looms over eastern edge of the town centre. Chesterfield’s fame, it seems, is owed entirely to its incompetent church-builders. Had those artisans constructed the spire with properly dried-out wood, the resulting edifice would have pointed straight into the air; but the little Derbyshire town would have been robbed of what little notoriety it now possesses.
In point of fact, Chesterfield has a handful of ancient buildings, some of which have interesting historical associations. Chief amongst those is Revolution House, situated in the suburb of Old Whittington Moor. At that little cottage, in 1688, a few English aristocrats hatched the plan to invite a Dutch prince, William of Orange, to invade England, and depose the reigning monarch James II.
Next door to Revolution House is the Cock and Magpie. I visited that establishment on a cold, overcast, weekday in October. To my surprise, I found that the place was packed to the rafters. At every table, in every snug corner, and throughout the conservatory, silver-haired diners were tucking in to their lunch. As you may have gathered, the reason for the pub’s popularity was its ‘senior menu’, which offered pensioners a two or three course meal at a discount price
My companion and I did manage to find a table, opposite the bar. The smartly dressed staff were very polite and attentive, and our food was quickly served to our table, despite the ubiquity of other diners. I washed down my roast turkey sandwich and chips with a pint of Jennings Sneck Lifter – though I do not recall the nuances of its flavour, as my mind was elsewhere, distracted by the Toby Jugs, brasses, and other pseudo-antique paraphernalia with which the pub was decorated.