How it started

The Ragged School Chapel opened in 1878, as a mission to the children of the poor.

At that time this part of Chesterfield was a rabbit warren of narrow alleyways running south from the market place right down to the river Hipper. These long yards were tightly packed with all kinds of industry interspersed with rows of terraced workers cottages. The building used for the Ragged School had once been a factory.

Four young men from the Sunday School Union rented the upper room and began children’s meetings on Sunday the 28th July. One hundred and nine children came that first morning. The four teachers enlisted more help. After two weeks an afternoon meeting was added. After three weeks, an evening service was held, attended by fifty adults.

On 5th of May 1879 the Ragged School became a member of the Chesterfield Sunday School Union. By 1885 there were 340 scholars and 27 teachers on the books. Mid week meetings and social events were soon added to the school’s calendar. Band of Hope, Sisterhood, Christian Endeavour, classes of various kinds, Christmas treats, summer trips and games, special mission weeks all gave interest, direction and purpose to the lives of those involved. When it became evident that many of the children were poorly fed and rarely had anything for breakfast the teachers organised a basic meal before Sunday school.