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Monument record MDR11501 - Beaconsfield Club (site of), Full Street, Derby

Type and Period (3)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

The house was built in 1720 by John Heath for the Alderman Samuel Heathcote (1653-1723). It stood next to Exeter House. The wrought iron fan-light was by Robert Bakewell of Derby (now in the Industrial Museum). Dr Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin, moved to the house in 1782. He was a successful physician noted for his radical views on almost everything but especially on biology, and in 1783 he founded the Philosophical Society of Derby. It was in Derby that Erasmus Darwin wrote his major works, and he lived at the house until 1802. On 14 January 1802, when the Derby house was put up for sale, The Derby Mercury described it as: 'A large excellent dwelling with a Brewhouse and all other convenient offices, a five-stalled stable, lounge, pleasure and kitchen gardens, the house pleasantly set at the lower end of Full Street, Derby.' The house was acquired by Messrs Bellairs and used as a bank until 1814. It passed to the attorney John Curzon of Breedon on the Hill, and it stayed with the Curzon family until it became the Beaconsfield Club. The house was demolished in 1933 to make way for the Magistrates Courts. (1) The physician Dr Erasmus Darwin lived in the townhouse on Full Street during the late 18th century. To the rear of his house was a garden which went right up to the banks of the River Derwent, whilst on the opposite bank of the river was his orchard which could be reached by a rope ferry that he constructed. One of his notebooks containing a comprehensive list of all the trees and plants at Derby has been preserved at Cambridge University. This records the location of each specimen as well as indications of other features in the garden, including a shed, fountain, fishpond and stone table. Within the garden, Darwin also sank an artesian well which provided a water supply for the house. This was done by clearing and re-using an old well which was about four yards deep and contained some 'vey bad water'. The old well was cut into the marle and 'walled round with bricks and water-clay'. Darwin then bored a hole of about two inches in diameter to a depth of some fifteen yards which brought up a mixture of sand and marle. Subsequently the spring 'gradually arose' and he drove a wooden pipe into the hole and placed a lead pipe through it from which the water arose about two feet about the surface. During the 1780s, Darwin constructed a large hothouse in the garden that was some 82 feet long and 9 feet wide. It had an internal heating system with chimneys and flues. (3, 4)

Sources/Archives (4)

  • --- Article in serial: Darwin, E. 2009. 'An account of an artificial spring of water' read November 4, 1784, to the President and Fellows of the Royal Society', Derbyshire Miscellany. Volume 18, pp 108-109.
  • <1> *Internet Web Site: Picture the Past. DRBY002049.
  • <2> Unpublished document: John Samuels Archaeological Consultants (JSAC). 2003. An Archaeological Desk Based Assessment of Land at Full Street Police Station, Derby. SMR Doc. No. 1067.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Elliott, P. 2010. Enlightenment, Modernity and Science. pp 48-76.



Grid reference Centred SK 35368 36417 (83m by 36m)

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Record last edited

Jul 15 2019 9:47AM

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