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Derby's first recorded settlers were the Romans, when the army set up a fort around AD50 at Struttís Park, to protect the river crossing on the western side of the Derwent. They remained there for at least 30 years before establishing a fortified settlement, across the river at Little Chester, which they called Derventio.

The fort not only protected the river crossing, but also stood at the junction of Roman roads. The most important was Ryknield Street, which connected Gloucester and the West Country with Yorkshire and the North East. 

Information Board at Chester Green


Little visually remains at Little Chester today or Chester Green as it is now called. The remains include two Roman wells, one on Marcus Street and the other in the garden of the vicarage of St Paulís Church. However, a series of excavations in the last fifty years have established both its importance and prosperity, including the discovery of an underfloor heating system (hypocaust) on Parkerís Piece and an abundance of coins and pottery.

Although the fort remained garrisoned until the mid fourth century, by then the Roman Empire was starting to crumble. The final break came in AD410, when Rome decided that its most northerly province could not be defended. This ended a period of considerable importance in British history. 


For anyone interested in the local history of Derby and the Roman Empire, a visit to the Heritage Centre at Chester Green is essential. The Centre, which opened in September 2001, originated from discussions between the vicar of St Paulís and members of the Little Chester History Group. With the approval of the various Church Authorities the Centre was created, aided in part by an ĎAwards For All Grantí, using space in the south aisle of the church.

Located in St Paul's Church at Chester Green, Mansfield Road, Derby, the normal opening times are Sunday afternoons between 2pm and 4.30 pm from Easter to the end of October. Admission is free, but donations towards running costs will be welcomed. Also, why not combine the visit with a guided walk around the Local Heritage Trail?

Group visits, including schools, outside normal opening times can be arranged for a small fee. For more information you may find it helpful to visit the centre's website before making contact on telephone number 01332 363354. Click here to go to the Little Chester Heritage Centre Website.
Volunteers from the Little Chester Local History Group staff the centre. To find our more about the History Group, please click 'Visit our Local History Group website'


Marcus Street - the site of one of two Roman Wells  found at Chester Green.

Cricket Pavilion - a Roman hypocaust was found near the  pavilion.



A special new sub-section has been added to website, based on the Discover Derby Supplement, published by the Derby Evening Telegraph during March 2005. The most recent additions are:

 Click below for details.

Discover Derby


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For anyone interested in the local history of Derby and the Roman Empire, a visit to the Heritage Centre at Chester Green is essential. Information and displays also cover other important periods of history up to the present day.

The centre is located at St Paul's Church, Chester Green, Mansfield Road, Derby.  Admission is free, but donations towards running costs are welcome. For group bookings, ring  01332 363354 for details.

The 2011 opening is delayed to the 1 May, because of renovations to St Paul's Church. Normally open Sunday afternoons from Easter to October.



A new book entitled A City Within A City by Joan D'Arcy, detailing the history of Little Chester from AD80 to AD2000 is available from the Heritage Centre or by contacting the author on 01332 363354. The book is soft back, A4 size, with 215 pages and over 250 maps and illustrations, some in colour. Retail price £15.99.




A feature of a walk round Chester Green is the helpful interpretation boards, which have been installed detailing the history of the area.



Two new boards have been added during 2006, alongside the river close to Handysides Bridge and opposite to St Mary's Bridge Chapel



The displays at the centre are not confined just to early history, but also show aspects of local life at different times including peace, war, industrial growth and leisure.

Models and exhibits show aspects of the rich heritage of the area, from pre-Roman to recent times. 

Model iron-age village

Roman occupation

Anglo-Saxon burials

Road/rail development

Industrial heritage

Life in peace and war

Well dressings

And much more


Collect an heritage trail leaflet from Little Chester Heritage Centre or from the Tourist Information Centre, Market Place, Derby, and enjoy a walk round this unique area.




The church houses the heritage centre. It was built in 1850 and stands at the southern end of Chester Green.

All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.