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Derbyshire and the Peak District is region that’s crammed with art and culture. From modern day artists to the past, Derby-born English landscape and portrait painter Joseph Wright (1734-1797) is considered one of the most important painters of the late 18th century. He defined the 18th century, the age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution and Derby Museums is home to the world’s largest collection of Wright’s work. Derby Museums is a charitable trust responsible for the history of the City. The Trust manages three sites: Derby’s Museum and Art Gallery, Pickford’s House and The Silk Mill, and they are all absolutely free to visit.
Buxton is home to the beautiful Matcham-designed Buxton Opera House. It hosts the annual Buxton International Festival, which is recognised nationally and internationally as one of the UK’s leading arts festivals. Art lovers looking for hidden gems away from galleries and museums should head to Chesterfield which is home to a Dame Barbara Hepworth sculpture – ‘Curved Reclining Form’ (Rosewall). More than 60 works of art have sprung up around Chesterfield Borough in the past few years. The Chesterfield Art Trail features work from more than three dozen artists.
For something a little more contemporary, head to West Studios in Chesterfield. It works closely with the local creative community to support local creative businesses, makers, independent artists and students of Chesterfield College in the creative and digital areas. As well as a gallery shop, featuring the work of local artists, there are regular exhibitions which showcase the work of local talented artists. Chesterfield is also home to the Pomegranate Theatre. A Victorian building with a 546-seat auditorium, it was first opened as the Stephenson Memorial Hall as a tribute to George Stephenson, an English civil and mechanical engineer who built the first public inter-city railway line in the world. George Stephenson died in Chesterfield in 1848, where he is buried, and the Hall was opened in 1879 in his memory. As well as a stage, inside, the Pomegranate Theatre you’ll find a cinema screen for a full range of shows, music acts, films and displays.
Water Street, Buxton SK17 6XN
Buxton Opera House is situated in The Square in the beautiful spa town of Buxton, the 902-seat opera house was built in 1903 by the celebrated architect Frank Matcham. It is now one of the region’s leading receiving theatres, playing host to a year-round packed programme of drama, comedy, music, family events and opera. Visit website
The Strand, Derby DE1 1BS
With longstanding and temporary exhibits, Derby Museum and Art Gallery boasts paintings and artefacts that are of both local and international significance. Visit the exquisite collection of Joseph Wright paintings, or march through the Soldier’s Story exhibition to see the range of weaponry and objects, both military and personal. Grab your paddle and take to the boat for a trip through the artefacts from thousands of years of history. You’re always guaranteed to find something exciting at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery. Visit website
Doe Lea, Chesterfield S44 5QJ
Discover the stately ruins of Hardwick Old Hall, one of the homes of Bess of Hardwick, one of the richest and most remarkable women of Elizabethan England. Climb up four floors and take in the surviving decorative plasterwork. There’s a spectacular plaster frieze of hunting scenes in the Great Hall – try to spot the giants and the mermaids! Enjoy wonderful views over the Derbyshire countryside. Visit website
Derby Road, Ripley DE5 8NX
Denby Pottery Village is the home of iconic Denby Pottery and offers a great day out, offering something for all the family. Take a tour and go behind the scenes of the historic working factory and meet the skilled crafts people who produce it. You can also try your hand at painting your own piece of Denby Pottery. As part of the Tour or Craftroom Experience, browse in the Museum which tells Denby’s fascinating 200 year history of craftsmanship and innovation. There is the opportunity to purchase world famous Denby Pottery at discounted prices, a Gift Emporium, Laithwaites Wine and Dartington Crystal shops. Visit website
Renishaw Park, Chesterfield S21 3WB
A visit to Renishaw Hall & Gardens is a fantastic day out. You can be in the heart of a country estate just 10 miles from Sheffield’s city centre. The Estate has been owned by the Sitwell Family for over 400 years. Tour the house to see some of the spectacular collection of art and historical artefacts that has been put together by generations of Sitwells. It is quite literally a treasure trove, of inestimable value to students and art lovers alike. The gardens offer a great place to experience the outdoors with plenty to see and enjoy for all ages. With open spaces and woodland for exploring with a family, sculpture, children’s maze and the national collection of Yuccas. Visit website
Derbyshire and the Peak District attractions
Derbyshire and the Peak District restaurants and cafes
Derbyshire and the Peak District shopping
Derbyshire and the Peak District nightlife venues
Image credits: ©Alastair Wallace/Shutterstock.com; Andy Kelly/Sean Stratton/Unsplash; Derby Museums Trust; Mohamed El-Fatih/Buxton Festival