The Town Archives

The central activity of the Dronfield Heritage Trust is the creating a digital online resource – this forms the basis for all the activities and exhibition programmes. It also forms a central part of the Trust’s longer term vision to become the information point for the North-East Derbyshire district.

Digitising the Old Dronfield Society Town archives

The Old Dronfield Society – now a partner of the Dronfield Heritage Trust hold an archive of over 6000 images of documents relating to Dronfield and District. A team of dedicated volunteers are working with MediaFiler to scan, add information and upload the images to a centralised online archive. To find out about training and join our team contact Sam Reavey. We welcome enquiries from individuals and groups who have photographs, archives and records they would like digitising as part of our central archive.

Do you have any images of Dronfield you can share with us? Please visit our archive page.


Our heritage quilts were designed and made to highlight the three main periods of Dronfield and District’s history – the Medieval, 17th/18th centuries and the results of the lead trade and the industrial developments of the Victorian period and they are often on display

Local primary schools took up the challenge of the 17th/18th centuries and produced fantastic designs based on their research.

Out of these fantastic and dedicated teams, our own quilting group was established. They aspire to become a centre of excellence for artistic quilting, inspired by themes and encouraging self-expression of the individuals within the group.

The group is led by Susanne Haywood and Chris White, and they hold monthly workshops to develop skills on the first Thursday of every month. They are working towards an exhibition, and so are working hard to create the best pieces they can – perhaps you can help with this!

If you want to get involved, please contact Sam Reavey on 07814140034 or email for more details, and to be added to the mailing list to keep abreast of any changes which may occur.

Medieval Framework Model

In partnership with Eckington School

‘The quality of the earliest surviving timberwork inside Hall Barn and its location on the edge of a steep slope with commanding views over the river valley, suggest that the building represents the remains of an important house. Details of its carpentry single Hall Barn out as an outstanding example of late Medieval craftsmanship.’ Stanley Jones, Historic Buildings Specialist

Dronfield Heritage Trust was delighted to work with Eckington School on a project which created a 1/8th scale model of the hall barn Medieval framework. This has been created with the participation of students from the school, volunteering under skilled and professional guidance. The model takes pride of place in the the gallery room in the Barn and will be available to form a part of a travelling exhibition and for festivals/events. The project started in 2015 and it was unveiled in May 2017.

Check our Facebook page to see photos of the model.

Artist in Residence

Our current Artist in Residence is John Sutcliffe.  John works with the Trust providing guidance on arts strategy, project applications and exhibition and interpretation. He created our first contemporary art installation ‘Elementa’ in November 2016 which transformed the gallery space. As part of this exhibition a light projection show took place using digital mapping technologies creating a spectacular result. The show can be viewed on our YouTube channel.

Poor Old Horse

In partnership with Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School.

The Dronfield Heritage Trust were delighted to work in partnership with First Art on an Arts Council funded project based around the North-East Derbyshire tradition Poor Old Horse.

The origins of Poor Old Horse are unknown – it was performed in the North East Derbyshire/South Yorkshire area up until the 1970s. Usually performed around Christmas and New Year, it consisted of a procession fronted by a model horse (and usually a real skull!) and a song. The processional group would travel around houses in the area, asking for charitable donations and performing the song for members of the household.

Students from Henry Fanshawe worked with artist and writers, Rob Thomson and Eion Bentick and carried out research with elderly residents at Stonelow Court. They then took part in several workshops which will developing their skills in character and story development, script development, acting technique and production.

The project culminated in three performances at the First Art See Off The Summer Festivals The final performance took place at the  Dronfield Hall Barn Winter Festival in December 2016.


Our project offered a unique opportunity to be involved at the innovative stage of a gardens/landscaping project. Courses lead by local garden designer Alex Styan trained volunteers to produce designs for the gardens and implement these plans.

As part of the developments at Dronfield Hall Barn we continue to fundraising to develop the grounds into heritage gardens and grounds perfect for our weddings. The heritage gardens are inspired by the barn’s Medieval and Tudor past and sit with sensory plants as well as a developing wildflower area. We welcome volunteers to help plant and maintain these special areas! Anyone with an interest is welcome to join us – from complete beginners to experts!

Dronfield Hall Barn Research Group

The Barn History Research Group continues its fascinating work to discover more about the history of Dronfield.

The group, which has about ten members, is led by John Harvey and was founded by John and the late Professor David Hey, a Trust patron.

“The group was formed with two main aims: to identify and provide material for public displays and to research in detail the history of Dronfield High Street starting with the 19th Century,” John explained.

So far, members have used evidence from census records between 1841 and 1911 to determine who lived in all the houses on the High Street and its Yards. This has been supported by data from the Ancestry website. One of the things discovered is that in the nineteenth century, wealthy and professional classes occupied houses such as the Hall, Cottage, Manor House, The Rookery and Vale House. At the same time, miners and metalworkers and their families lived in insanitary houses at locations including Machin’s Court, Ward’s Yard and Eldon Croft.

A secondary area of research for the group has included using the records of the Dronfield Local Board of Health Inspectors to provide a thorough account of sanitary conditions in the town centre in the second half of the nineteenth century. This was when residents depended on wells and pumps for their water and when there was no effective system of sanitation.

Once this work has been completed, it will provide a detailed record of who lived in each house on High Street and Church Street over a long period and an accurate picture of living conditions within the town.

Dronfield Hall Barn will be the place to visit to access this information which will be used in future exhibitions and publications.


Funded for four years by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Dronfield Heritage Project is providing unique opportunities for the whole community to participate in enjoyable activities which enable learning and discovery visit the activities page for further information.

Whatever your interest be it heritage, natural history or arts, contact us to get involved. We have wide support from individuals, community groups and schools throughout the town. There is a thriving and welcoming members’ group, and busy online social media communities.

Veolia, Viridor have also provided significant financial support, with generous donations from the Duke of Devonshire and individuals within the community helping to make our ambitious project a reality. We are still fundraising to achieve our goals and welcome your support.

Click here to see the build process from start to finish!

Together, we aim to leave a lasting legacy for Dronfield, celebrating our past and looking forward to our future. Our HLF funding finishes in 2018 and we will then have to be self-sustainable – you can help by becoming a member, attending our events or making a donation.


The handsome stone agricultural building set back from High Street dates to the early 18th century. Successful lead and millstone merchant John Rotherham extended the structure and clad its internal Medieval timber frame in sandstone, concealing a spectacular secret within.

Wooden beams and king post timbers inside dating from 1430 suggest the presence of a high status Medieval Hall on the site, possibly Dronfield’s first manor house and oldest domestic building. Evidence within the structure suggests the Hall may have had a Medieval dais canopy, positioned above the Lord of the Manor’s seat at the high table when entertaining guests of distinction.

The barn formed part of the Hall Farm complex of buildings owned by the Rotherham-Cecil estate, with cottages and workshops standing in front. Dividing walls and stalls were added internally to house livestock and agricultural material. A breeze block wall and concrete floor were constructed later by Jowett’s, who used the building for storage of building supplies.