One of the most popular green areas in Derby’s suburbs is probably the sprawling grandeur of Chaddesden Park.
Aside from this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been home for several years now to the annual Chaddesden Big One, which sees people get together for fun and activities.
They enjoy a fun fair, stalls, a dog show, wrestling entertainment and dance performances.
It is also a venue for cricket, paddling pool fun, bowls and a library – a true community park for the people which came into being between the world wars more than 80 years ago.
Chaddesden Park was originally part of the Chaddesden Hall estate, which dated back to the 16th century when the Wilmot family, wealthy Derby drapers, bought a freehold estate and built a house there next to the parish church of St Mary the Virgin.
The original house was replaced around 1726 with a new brick hall, probably designed by Richard Jackson who also designed Derby Guildhall.
The hall was rebuilt again around 1785. Chaddesden Hall sat elegantly in generous grounds and was a long, mainly flat-roofed, oblong-shaped building, made from a greyish stone.
Several successive generations of the Wilmot family resided at the hall until eventually the direct lineage petered out.
Sir Henry Wilmot, the family’s last male heir, died in 1901 after spending several years as an MP and notching up a heroic army career.
Sir Henry born in 1831 was the most notable member of the Wilmot family.
He received the Victoria Cross for gallantry after a battle in Lucknow, India, in 1858.
He was born in Chaddesden, son of Sir Henry Wilmot, fourth Baronet, and his wife was Maria Mundy, who was daughter of Edmund Mundy of Shipley Hall and educated at Rugby School.
After retiring from the Army, Sir Henry was appointed as a deputy lieutenant of Derbyshire in 1868 and, in 1881, he was granted the honorary rank of colonel of the Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers.
He was also MP for South Derbyshire from 1869 to 1885 and had been an alderman and chairman of Derbyshire County Council
He married Charlotte Pare and succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his father in 1872, but had no heirs.
Sir Henry died in Bournemouth in 1901 from pneumonia and is buried in St Mary’s graveyard in Chaddesden.
His sister, Constance Wilmot, stayed at Chaddesden Hall until her death in 1916 and then the hall stood empty for several years.
For a while, it was used to house a group of workers who had moved to the area to help build the British Celanese factory at Spondon, but in the 1920s it fell empty again and it was sold in 1923.
The rural district council demolished the hall in 1926 and part of the parkland, including the former walled garden, was developed as housing.
In 1936, Quinton Estates, of Birmingham, became owners of the land after the Wilmots leased the remainder of the park to Chaddesden Parish Council.
It is believed that the public park was opened at this time, with a paddling pool being created on the site of the former hall’s fish ponds.
A library was built on part of the site in 1954 and other parts were designated for housing developments.
A meeting place for the Chaddesden Old People’s Welfare Committee was also constructed in the former grounds.
Derby County Borough Council extended its boundaries in 1968, taking in Chaddesden and thereby inheriting the lease on Chaddesden Park.
However, in 1982, a freehold of 60 acres was purchased, securing the park’s future.
The landscape of the Chaddesden Lane area has certainly changed dramatically since the late 1800s and early 1900s, when it had a very open and rural aspect to it.
Although the Wilmots owned and rented properties in the area, the hall had only a handful of neighbouring buildings.
Today, the park is surrounded by houses comprising of the Trenton Green estate, Main Drive, Morley Road, Sunny Grove, Parkside Road and Nottingham Road.
But it has remained a green oasis in this Derby suburb and enjoyed by thousands of people every year.
See our amazing photographs below.