Alfreton House

House of Confinement

Alfreton History

The place-name Alfreton is Saxon in origin and has been interpreted as both “Alfred's” and “Alfhere's” Tun (Farmstead). The former interpretation led some writers to associate the town with Alfred the Great, but this has no basis in fact.

By 600AD a family group of Angles had settled close to today's war memorial. The site was well chosen, with a sunny aspect on the south-facing side of the hill, ample fresh water, woods for fuel and game,and surrounded by land suitable for agriculture.

The first written evidence of the town was when Wulfric Spott bequeathed “Aelfredingtune” in 1002AD to the abbey he founded at Burton-on-Trent. By 1086 the name had become Elstretune, rather confusing as this bears no resemblance to Alfreton. By this time it had become a Manor under Earl Morcar.

Henry III granted a charter to hold a market and a fair at Alfreton on 16th July 1252, establishing the settlement as a local trading centre, and providing valuable revenue to the lords of the manor. In 1629 the manor of Alfreton was sold by Robert Sutton to Anthony Morewood. The last Morewood was George, who died in 1792 leaving the manor to his wife's nephew William Palmer, who assumed the name Palmer-Morewood. Mr. R.C.A. Palmer-Morewood, last lord of the manor, died in 1957.


Alfreton House is one of the town's oldest buildings, which was built during the Commonwealth Period (1649-6O). It is located at the end of the High Street on the corner of Rodgers Lane and is currently owned by Alfreton Town Council, housing several offices and a tea room. What ever the time of year the house in enhanced by beautifully planted borders and containers making it a lovely place to sit on a sunny day.


Between 1802 and 1821 the population of Alfreton had increased from 2301 to 4689: no doubt there was an urgent need for a lock-up for keeping wrongdoers overnight before their removal to Derby Jail. The Poor Rate Assessment Map of 1821 shows the site as vacant ground, but in the account book of John Kemp, Overseer of the Poor, we find “Aug.25 1826 – To cleaning House of Confinement 6d”. From this we can assume that it was built between 1823 and 1826.

It is a small, strongly constructed building with a stone slab roof and two windowless cells behind a jailer's room which has the only fireplace.In 1844 a new much larger jail was built on the Abraham Lincoln Library site and the House of Confinement fell into disuse until 1910 when the overseers of Alfreton made a public appeal for funds in order to repair and maintain it.

The last reported time it was used as a lock-up was when a soldier overstayed his leave and was arrested. As the normal police cells were full he was kept overnight in the House of Confinement from where he was taken away to be returned to the front line. 

The Town Council now have ownership of the House of Confinement and have once more repaired it and improved the surrounding area. How it got its grand title we shall probably never know, but it remains an important part of our town's heritage.