Talkin bout a Revolution – The Cock and Magpie

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There’s nothing like a good old traditional pub. Nestled in the charming village of Whittington, the Cock & Magpie is without a doubt one of the best public houses in our area. For me, it’s one of my very favourite places to visit. Not just for the great food, which really is superb. And, not just for the exceptional range of cask beers, with four real ales on offer when I visited. No, for me walking into the Cock & Magpie is like stepping back in time. In the best possible way. The wooden ceiling beams and the haberdashery style grand bar, are from an age when pubs had true character. Imagine the thousands of people that have visited before you. The tall tales, the laughter, love and good times, that this historic building has seen.

As you look around the pub, you see a number of photos, capturing the history of the pub and Whittington. There’s also a fascinating heritage display case sat across from the front bar. The Cock and Magpie takes it’s name from the pretty thatched cottage, that can be found just a few feet away from the pub. This beautiful building is one of Chesterfield‘s hidden gems. Even, the most clued up of locals might not be aware of it’s dark secret.
The cottage was once an alehouse called the Cock and Pynot (Pynot’ being a regional dialect term for a magpie). It was also part of a plot to overthrow a King. So, grab a pint and let us let us regale you with stories old…

REVOLUTION HOUSE 

By all accounts, 1688 wasn’t a very good year. Rumour and unrest was muttered in not so hushed tones up and down the county. James II sat uneasily on the throne of England but many wanted him gone. A spokesperson for Chesterfield Borough Council, which now runs Revolution House in Whittington, explained the events which unfolded in the humble cottage: “In 1688, three local noblemen – the Earl of Devonshire, the Earl of Danby and Mr John D’Arcy – met at Whittington disguised as a hunting party, to begin planning their part in the overthrow of James II. A rainstorm sent them seeking shelter at the Cock and Pynot alehouse.

Between them, they raised support in the North and Midlands, and planned to offer the Crown to James’ daughter Mary and her Dutch husband William. William and Mary landed at Torbay in November 1688. The country rose in support and James fled to France. The Revolution was over, but the alehouse still stands, with its thatched roof and flower border, and its intriguing name – Revolution House”.

PHOTO BY CHESTERFIELD MUSEUM

MYTHS & FOLKLORE

When we visited the Revolution House on one of it’s open days, the lovely Chesterfield Council guide, gave us a little tour and dispelled a few of the myths that had spread about the place. Firstly, it has nothing to do with Guy Fawkes. That was a different conspiracy and different King (King James I – We’re dealing with the sequel here – James II). There is also, quite disappointingly, no secret tunnels underneath the Revolution House leading to the Crooked Spire. However, recently in 2023 a series of unusual markings were found on a fireplace at Revolution House. These have since been officially confirmed as apotropaic protection marks designed to ward off witches. The markings depict a double ‘V’ which is a reference to the Virgin Mary Protector of Life and Family. Markings like this were usually placed near openings or windows with the intention of keeping witches and evil spirits out.

The Revolution House is a free public museum. You can only visit it on special open days, which are run by Chesterfield Council throughout the year. At the recent Whittington Gala, the cottage was open, along with a demonstration by a local beer keeper. Check out their website: www.visitchesterfield.info

For more details about the Cock & Magpie, check their Facebook page. It really is a great place to visit to grab a few drinks and a bite to eat. If the weather is kind, you can sit outside, with views of the back of the Revolution House. Just, no plotting to overthrow the current King please.

CASK BEER AT THE COCK & MAGPIE