About The Friends Charity
Patron: His Grace The Duke of Devonshire
The Friends of Chesterfield Parish Church was formed in 1942 by the Venerable T. Dilworth-Harrison (Archdeacon and Vicar of Chesterfield) after he had been the incumbent for eight years. The initial aims were “to bind together all those who love the Parish Church of Chesterfield with its crooked spire, and to bring others to appreciate and enjoy it also”. It was hoped to arrange meetings and activities to achieve this and to help maintain and enrich both the fabric and furnishings of the church.
Over two hundred people supported the organization at its inception; the original minimum subscription was half-a-crown (12.5p). In its early years, The Friends assisted with the purchase of furnishings for the church, and many of these items are still in evidence today. These include all the chairs at the East End (which when purchased were £ 1.80 each), the memorial brass to Archbishop Clayton (a former Archdeacon & Vicar), numerous altar frontals and curtains, priests’ vestments, and material for kneelers in the Lesser Lady Chapel and Holy Cross Chapel.
Contributions from The Friends enabled the rood screen to be re-decorated, the priests’ vestry to be renovated, and repairs made to some of the figures on the Foljambe tombs. In the early 1970s, The Friends made a large donation towards the cleaning of the exterior of the church. The Friends was also responsible for launching the general appeal fund for a memorial to its founder, Talbot Dilworth-Harrison.
In 1996, The Friends was encouraged to become a registered charity, and its constitution was re-written to meet the criteria set out by the Charity Commissioners. An Extraordinary General Meeting was held in March 1997, in which the new constitution was adopted, and the Charity Commissioners granted The Friends charitable status in July 1997. His Grace the Duke of Devonshire agreed to become the charity’s Patron and the Bishop of Derby its President. The Vicar of Chesterfield is the Vice President. The Friends now has the object of promoting “with the approval of the Vicar and the PCC., the restoration, maintenance, repair and improvement of the fabric, ornaments, vestments, furniture and furnishings of Chesterfield Parish Church."
Assistance from The Friends has meant that much has been achieved within the ‘Crooked Spire’ without call being made on the general funds of the church, which are obviously required for necessary expenses in other directions.. With the help provided by The Friends over many years the building is a more colourful and attractive place.