A revolutionary village

Revolution House, Old Whittington, nr Chesterfield
Revolution House, Old Whittington, nr Chesterfield
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Our A to Z of Sheffield and surrounding areas stops next at the village of Old Whittington, near Chesterfield, famous for its role in a revolutionary plot.

Revolution House, a pretty thatched cottage that is now a museum, was part of a plot to overthrow a king.

A Ceremony of Church Clipping at St. Bartholomew's Church, Old Whittington, nr Chesterfield - 24th August 1969'Picture shows the congregation with hands linked around the Church.

A Ceremony of Church Clipping at St. Bartholomew's Church, Old Whittington, nr Chesterfield - 24th August 1969'Picture shows the congregation with hands linked around the Church.

In 1688, three noblemen, the Earl of Devonshire, the Earl of Danby and John D’Arcy met at Whittington in the guise of a hunting party, to plan their part in the overthrow of James II.

The ‘Glorious Revolution’, in which they took leading roles, led to William and Mary taking the throne and paved the way for constitutional monarchy – rule only with Parliament’s consent.

A storm made them seek shelter in the Cock and Pynot alehouse, now called Revolution House.

In 2006, the present Duke and Duchess of Devonshire visited the house.

In 1988, on the 300th anniversary of the Glorious Revolution, Prince Charles joined in with the celebrations.

Old Whittington was also the home of Victorian artist Joseph Syddall, who exhibited three paintings at the prestigious Royal Academy in London and became accepted as a member.

The son of a master carpenter and joiner who was born in Church Street, he also provided some illustrations for Thomas Hardy’s book, Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

Some of his pictures are on display at Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery and he designed the war memorial that stands near Revolution House.

He began work as a solicitor’s office but was helped out by Mary Swanwick, who offered to fund a place for him at art school.

The Swanwicks, who lived in Whittington House, were a prominent family in the area.

Mary’s father Frederick Swanwick was a railway pioneer famous for being the chief engineer to George Stephenson, who once lived nearby in Tapton House.

One of his jobs was to persuade landowners to allow the railways to cross their land. He also superintended the building of Sheffield and Rotherham Railway and had much of the responsibility for the North Midland Railway.

One of Frederick’s family descendants was the scientist Maurice Wilkins, who won the Nobel Prize in 1962 along with Francis Crick and James Watson, famous for their vital breakthrough in discovering the structure of DNA, the building block of life itself.