Derby's Heritage Part 13 - Pickford's Friar Gate
w/e 30 January 2011
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
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Friar GateJoseph Pickford was born in Warwickshire in 1734 to a family of stonemasons and builders and when he became an architect, work commitments brought him to Derby in 1760 where he built several houses on Friar Gate, one of which became his family home and is now a Museum of Georgian Life and Historic Costume. A display in the museum entitled "Friar Gate in Pickford's Day" includes an old photograph (right) which shows a scene that a reincarnated Joseph Pickford would easily recognise. Apart from the obvious modern additions such as street furniture and speeding traffic, the scene is little changed today.

Illustrated SBench

But before we reach the museum there are several more buildings that merit our attention. In fact each and every building on this part of Friar Gate probably has a story to tell and several of them are illustrated on a ceramic and terrazzo bench. Unfortunately wear and tear and a copious amount of wanton vandalism have obliterated much of the detail on the seat.
Seat Top

The image above is a composite of three photos of the top of the bench and although the buildings can be identified from the sketches, it is exceedingly difficult to glean much information about them from this source.

Large's Hospital

One building shown on the bench that I almost walked past without a second glance until I saw two stone panels stands on the corner of Large's Street. The panels are both weather-beaten but with some difficulty I was able to discern most of the inscriptions. One says "In Memory of Edward Large of Derby Gent. who by his Will ordered John ....? (could be Curzon) of Kedleston, Robert ....? the younger of Osmaston and Robert Holden of Aston in the county of Derby, Esquires as trustees to erect this Ediface to Support of Five Poor Parsons or Vicars Widows for ever. 1716". The other reads "This edifice know as Large's Hospital was rebuilt AD 1880 by his Trustees viz, Sir Henry Wilmot of Chaddesden Hall, Bar V.C. Albert Frederick Hurt, of Alderwasley, Esq Francis Noel Mundy, of Markeaton Hall, Esq Godfrey Franceys Meynell of Meynell Langley Esq Henry Boden of The Friary, Derby. Esq Walter Evans of Darley Abbey, Esq and Edward Miller Mundy, of Shipley Hall, Esq." The building founded in 1709 was known as Large’s Hospital and is now Grade II listed.
Derby Gaol

On the opposite side of Friar Gate is another impressive building. In the previous part we saw the façade of the New County Gaol on Vernon Street but prior to that a gaol stood here on Friar Gate from 1756 to 1846. This was designed to hold criminals awaiting trail or punishment rather than for prolonged imprisonment. In fact records show that between 1756 and 1825 a total of 58 prisoners were executed by hanging on gallows outside the gaol on Friar Gate. Two brothers cheated the executioner by hanging themselves inside their cells. Two cells in the basement of the building, the Condemned and the Debtor's, still exist and are open to the public. With such a gruesome past the building is allegedly haunted and has contributed to Derby's reputation as the ghost capital of the country. Ghost Walks are now run from the gaol which also opens as a museum. For more information about the building's past, visit the history section of the Derby Gaol website.

PlaqueAnother gruesome sight opposite the gaol is an artwork that according to a nearby plaque in the wall (left) was "created by Timothy Clapcott and commissioned by Derby City Council, Sustrans and the Millennium Commission." Transformer KioskIt relates "to the historical events and the special character of Friar Gate and will enhance this section of the National Cycle Network."

Another feature of the street which could also be described as a work of art is the electrical transformer kiosk (right) that dates from about 1893. It was made by Walter MacFarlane and Company of the Saracen Foundry, Glasgow and was part of Derby's original electric scheme.
Pickford's House Museum

Not all the buildings on Friar Gate are as the seem for the frontage of number 46 disguises a 1970s office block that houses the Derby Tax Office but at numbers 41 and 42 is the genuine article in the shape of Joseph Pickford's House. The house built 1769-70 with a builder's yard and stonemason's workshop behind became his workplace and family home where he lived with his wife Mary, sons Joseph and Thomas, their servants and their dog. The Pickford's association with the house ended in 1844 with the death of the only surviving family member, the youngest son Rev. Joseph Pickford but the name is preserved today as the Pickford's House Museum after the building was purchased by Derby City Council in 1982 and opened as a museum in 1988.
Dining Room

Inside the house the rooms have been restored on all four floors from the lower ground up. None of the original furnishings survive but many of the rooms have been decorated to resemble their appearance in Pickford's time. The dining room on the ground floor is in the style of about 1800 and the figure is dressed in a reproduction costume from the late 1780s.
Stair Well

As well as the dining room there is also a morning room and a drawing room on the ground floor whilst the first floor contains permanent displays in the form of a Georgian bedroom and a Georgian dressing room plus other rooms where temporary exhibitions can be displayed. There are more areas on the top floor for temporary exhibitions plus a Toy Theatre Gallery and the servants' bedroom. Even the landings between the floors allow room for information panels and small display cabinets with interesting and informative displays.

We completed our tour of the museum by going down to the lower ground floor where there are cellars, a kitchen (above), pantry, scullery and brewhouse. The kitchen wing was added to the house some time between 1812 and 1831 and it is unknown where the original kitchen was prior to this. There is far too much in the museum to cover here and these few images have hardly scratched the surface but even when you've exhausted the house itself, there's a Georgian garden and wildlife garden at the rear of the property to explore.
 Back to Part 12
 The Derby Heritage Walk Index
Continued in Part 14

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