Alfreton is a small market town in the Amber Valley district of Derbyshire. Originally a coal mining town, it is now a busy manufacturing and commercial centre. Although it mainly comprises row on row of red-brick terraces, there is a fine 13th-c church, a pleasant high street and several attractive old buildings, if you know where to look.
Kings Street, Alfreton © Travel About Britain
A Saxon called Alfred (or possibly Elfred) gave his name to the town. Tradition states it was King Alfred but there is no real evidence for this. The oldest rendering of the name is 'Aelfredingtune' which means 'Alfred's farmstead' in old English.
Alfreton House Tea Rooms © TAB
Alfreton House, believed to be the oldest remaining stone dwelling (circa 1650), is situated at the end of the High Street, behind a pleasant forecourt and green. Owned by Amber Valley Borough Council, it hosts a popular tea room with council offices above.
Another curious stone building on King Street is the House of Confinement. Built as a parish lockup during the 18th-c, it has several cells for the detention of drunks, petty criminals and those awaiting trial. Built of carved stone, it is unusually grand for such a small parish.
Alfreton became market town in 1252 AD, when Henry III bestowed its market charter. An outdoor market is no longer held here but a lively indoor market can be found on Institute Lane, with a traditional butchers, grocer and food stalls, plus clothing, haberdashery, plant sales, craft stalls etc. and a market cafe.
St Martin's, Alfreton © TAB
The old George Hotel, a Grade II Listed Georgian coaching inn on the junction of Chesterfield Road and King Street, has seen better days. The cast iron milestone on the corner indicates that it is about a three hour stagecoach ride from Nottingham (16 miles).
The oldest structure in the town is the parish church of St Martin's, with parts dating back to the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries.
Behind the church lies Alfreton Park, once part of the Palmer-Morewood estate. A pleasant open expanse of greenery with mature trees and peaceful walks.
Alfreton Hall © TAB
The grounds of Alfreton estate date back to the Norman period and became the seat of many local Lords and Nobles over the centuries.
Alfreton Hall (1730) with 19th-c additions is an imposing Georgian mansion near the church. It was built for the Morewood family, who were linked to the local coal industry. The beautifully restored Grade II listed building is currently owned by Genesis Social Enterprise and is available for hire for weddings, conferences and corporate functions.
The town's modern leisure centre with a championship size swimming-pool is also set in the grounds of the Palmer-Morewood estate.