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Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The Revolution House at Old Whittington
The Revolution House at Old Whittington, three miles north of Chesterfield on the B6052, takes it’s name from the `Glorious Revolution’ of 1688/89 which totally altered the course of our island history and laid the firm democratic foundations for the future of England and it’s people.
`Pynot is an old dialectic colloquialism for `Magpie'
The national importance of the 16th century former `Cock & Pynot Inn’ (Pynot is an old dialectic colloquialism for a `Magpie’) is signified both by it’s Museum status, (owned & managed by Chesterield Borough Council), and it’s designation by English Heritage as a Grade 1 listed building of `national historic importance’.
The Revolution House was central to a `bloodless revolution’ which changed the order of succession and saw the Catholic King James 2nd deposed in favour of the Protestant King William of Orange, (who was married to James’ daughter, Mary) by virue of the fact that it was used as a `plotting parlour’ by the conspirators who met there in the spring of 1688.
History (and the placque on the wall!) records that in the spring of 1688 three noblemen on horseback met on Whittington Moor `to discuss about the revolution then in agitation’, but a heavy shower of rain forced them to take shelter at the village inn, so they rode up the hill to the Cock & Pynot, then a wayside alehouse on the old Chesterfield to Sheffield road.
Here William Cavendish the 4th Earl of Devonshire, later to become the first Duke, held conspiratorial talks with Lord Delamere, John D’Arcy, and the Earl of Danby, who had previously been minister to Charles 2nd .
They planned to take the north, and then march south against the king, and they put their plans in a letter, written in cipher, which Devonshire signed and sent to the Hague, inviting William of Orange to assume the Crown of England.
The rest, as they say, is history!
The Revolution House stands today fronting the old road, which was by-passed by a new stretch of road built in the late 1950’s - thus setting it back from the main throughfare by a wide grassy verge which extends beyond the Swanwick Memorial Hall opposite.
Behind it, and on the corner of Church Street North stands it’s late-Georgian successor, the Cock & Magpie, erected around 1790 and taking over trade from the former alehouse which was then converted into a thatched cottage.
Two years previously in 1788, one of the largest gatherings the village has ever seen met at the Revolution House to celebrate the Centenary of the Glorious Revolution, and the Duke of Devonshire led a triumphant procession to a civic reception in Chesterfield, accompanied by the Duchess, the Mayor of Chesterfield, and Dr. Samuel Pegge, the famous antiquarian and Rector of Old Whittington.
Contemporary reports state that `the throng numbered thousands of diverse persons’ and a procession of dignatories in horse and carriage led the way, followed by footmen and attendants, and then marching bands and local people on foot, which stretched the whole three miles from the town back to the village! A large fair was held on Whittington Moor (which became an annual event), and Chesterfield Racecourse enjoyed bumper crowds.
A much lower key event was repeated on the 200th anniversary in 1888, and one of those in attendance was local Royal Academy artist Joseph Syddall, a native of Old Whittington who lived nearby, and who later designed the famous unique war memorial which stands beside the old inn. Syddalls work is permanently on display at the Chesterfield Museum & Art Gallery.
In 1988 on the 300th anniversary of the Glorious Revolution, the current heir to the throne, Prince Charles was in attendance and to celebrate the occasion a special limited edition of 300 pewter plates were commissioned by the parish council to be minted and sold to the local population as mementos - these have now become much sought after collectors items!
The Revolution House was rented privately to a succession of local tenants throughout the Victorian era, one of them being an ancestor, Annie Booth, who left before the turn of the century. The Redfern family occupied it for some time, but it was in a perilous state until finally the last tenant left around 1937, and the building was acquired by the local authority and completely restored a year later. The former inn and ex-cottage has in recent years been expertly renovated and is now open to the public as a museum; wheelchair access is provided to the ground floor, which has an excellent display of contemporary 17th century furniture, whilst the upper room hosts a changing programme of exhibitions with local themes at various times throughout the year.
Opening times are from Easter (Good Friday) until the end of September, and visitors to this historic place which played a role in changing the face of English history can also enjoy a film which tells the story of the `Glorious Revolution’. It is well worth a visit!