Sheffield, City of Heritage and Culture

Wincobank Hill viewSheffield is known as the city of steel but when people visit Sheffield they find there is a lotDSCF3153 more than that.

Sheffield still makes a lot of steel. There have been metalworkers in the area since pre-Roman times. On either side within Sheffield stand Iron age Forts. Carl Wark and Wincobank. WIncobank is described as probably the most significant iron age fort in the UK.

DSCF3858There is literally heritage round every corner. So many buildings not only significant to DSCF5110Sheffield but to the world. Yet Sheffield has taken a long time to realise that people might be interested in the place where Mary Queen of Scots was incarcerated for 13 years of her life. The place that spawned 2 bishop brothers, and the founders of Newfoundland. Where the King of Wessex and Mercia signed a treaty with the King of Northumbria. There are Saxon crosses, medieval churches, fine Georgian Buildings, grand Victorian Buildings and classic Art Deco. From Ring and Cup markings of the ancient Britons to the Edwardian magnificence of Sheffield University’s Western Bank all within the city’s boundaries

???????????????There are 180 woods in Sheffield, 80 of which are classed as heritage woodlands. There are DSCF6061 (2)4 scheduled ancient monuments, 15 local nature reserves, and 6 sites of scientific interest within Sheffield and part of the Peaks National Park lies within Sheffield’s boundary. Sheffield has 80 public parks and 650 other green and open spaces. It is not difficult to find a park wherever you are in Sheffield.

DSCF5931 Sheffield is not a museum. Many old buildings survived the onward march of technology by being readapted or even a complete change of use. The oldPortland Works sign works make great accommodation for students or offices,  whereas other works  continue in the way they always have done  as multi-use workshops though there may be bands rehearsal rooms,  recording studios and artists workshops amongst the cutler, and the electroplater.

The reputation the Made in Sheffield label throughout the world, has meant that Sheffield has more artists and craft workers proportionally than anywhere ????????????????else in the UK. Sheffield has more theatres, more amateur acting groups, more musicians and more recording studios than anywhere outside London but given the size of Sheffield it means also a larger number of the population are involved in creative arts than anywhere else in the UK. There are always a wide range of art exhibitions opening, Plenty of live music and some high class concerts and plays. Theatres range from the tiny Victorian Lantern Theatre to the more Brutalist style of the Crucible but all share the same high quality of performances.

DSCF6628The visitor can immerse themselves in Sheffield’s history. They can book in at a historic hotel, have a meal in an old steel works, go back to Georgian times at Abbeydale hamlet, climb the heights of Wincobank Hill or walk through ancient woods. They can stand in the DSCF6763banqueting Tower of Manor Lodge and imagine the presence of Mary Queen of Scots, sit in Carbrook Hall  and imagine you are Colonel Bright and the Parliamentary forces discussing strategy. Or walk through the little tudor/Jacobean farmhouse called Bishops House and imagine the families that lived there for nearly 500 years.  Visit the many galleries and workshops in renovated works. Walk the grand General Cemetery and hear stories of  the residents.Tamper Sellers wheel Join one of the many activities in the ancient Cathedral or sit back and enjoy a concert at the magnificent City Hall, or enjoy the Victorian DSCF7243opulence of the Lyceum Theatre. The list is almost endless. Museums such as the tiny one at Handsworth Vicarage to the Grand Weston Park, from ancient Shepherd’s Wheel to Kelham Island and the amazing National Emergency Services Museum. All  unique to Sheffield.

Sheffield is a city of diverse cultures which means there is a wide diversity of restaurants and food shops. One of the places for a wide DSCF4780Eggs Bendict Tamperrange of food is London Road which has a high number of Chinese restaurants but has also been joined by other countries cuisine. There is also  high cuisine in a variety of restaurants in historic buildings using local farm produce from within Sheffield’s boundaries.  Sheffield is  world famous for its independent breweries such as  Kelham Island Brewery and the Fat Cat pub.

DSCF6352DSCF7029It is impossible to be in Sheffield and not see its history.. To find out more visit Timewalk’s website, or Facebook Page.   ???????????????                             http://timewalk.btck.co.uk/ https://www.facebook.com/TimeWalkProject

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Meersbrook House/Hall

Meersbrook ParkDown at the bottom on the righthand side near a gateway in Meersbrook Park stands Meersbrook House. Once it stood in a much larger estate created from farm lands. The Grooms House is hidden in behind a Victorian House in Meersbrook Park Road. Its Fishponds now drained. Its rockery and fine shrubbery gone. Only the restored walled garden is an indication of the House’s more prestigious past.

The name Meersbrook refers to the brook that once was the far end of the estate. This land was in border country. The Meersbrook the county line between Derbyshire and Yorkshire and in former times the border between much more ancient borders.  The land belonged to the Gothams in medieval times but the male line died out and Thomas Parker married Elisabeth Gotham in the 14thc and so the Parkers took ownership of Lees Hall and its estates. The lands that later formed the estates was farm land from 3 major Landowners, the Parkers on the Right (land that went right down to the Sheaf. The Blythes who lived in Bishops House, and the Foljambes on the left of the Blythes.

The House is built on the Parkers Land as far as can be ascertained. The oldest part of the House would appear to have been a farm house of reasonable size. There is a suggestion that there were also barns and other farm buildings nearby. When was it built is a difficult question as the only evidence is notes by William Fairbank of alterations he made to the existing House in 1759 when Benjamin Roebuck bought the land. As yet no documents can be found to say who he bought the land and house from. The Parkers male line had died out and Lees Hall had gone through the female line to Barker in the 17thc and in 1672 the Barkers moved out of Lees Hall to live in the Oaks at Norton.  After that the ownership or tenancy of the land is unclear both for Lees Hall and for the line of fields that now house Meersbrook House. From a Tax assessment return written by William Blythe it would appear that he was paying tax on much of the land that had been the Parkers but there is no mention of the Meersbrook Pastures in the list. Perhaps it was around that time that Meersbrook Farm was formed and it was this land plus the Blythe land that Benjamin Roebuck bought. It is known that he sold a smithy belonging to the Blythes at Four Lanes End.  It seems likely that he also took over Bishops House and its land so to create a larger estate. Meersbrook still continued as a farm in part, although Benjamin added pleasure gardens and a plantation.

Benjamin Roebuck was one of 5 brothers who founded the Carron Iron Foundry in Ayrshire. He was a pupil of DSCF0044Samuel Blythe of Bishops House. Samuel Blythe Junior went to Birmingham and helped found the Unitarian Church there which Benjamin’s brother John went to. John Roebuck was part of the Soho group in Birmingham and originally financed James  Watt’s development of the steam engine. Benjamin himself was a supplier of steel to the scythe smithies then a Banker. Unfortunately the bank collapsed and Roebuck found himself having to sell the estate. Around  1778 he sold to Samuel Shore. Around about 1819 a new extension was built. The part that has the DSCF0042arched entry was built and designed by another William Fairbank and bears a strong resemblance to an extension he built at Tapton Hall for another branch of the Shore Family (sadly demolished) Samuel died in 1828 at the age of 90 and the house was left in the charge of his three daughters. The Shores who were also involved in banking after several rescues eventually lost their Norton Estates except Meersbrook which belonged to the Shore Sisters. When the Sisters dies it was rented out for a time to a lawyer.

The Shores had to sell the Meersbrook Estate and the public wanted a new Public Park. Meersbrook Park was sometimes used for public events such as the Norton Show, Whit sings and even the odd football match. The Shores had however joined with a development agency and were selling parts of the estate. There was plans to change the whole Park into housing with just a small garden round the House and Bishops House demolished. Opinions were mixed but many thought that Meersbrook Park was necessary as the present Weston Park was too small to play Football in. Others felt it was an un-necessary expense. By the time the Council did agree to buy it, it was a much reduced estate and new access roads made it even smaller.

The main thing that swung the vote in favour of buying Meersbrook estate was that Ruskin , who had opened up a museum in Walkley, was looking for a larger place to display his collection. Not only was there the magnificent Meersbrook House and the pleasure gardens there was also the Tudor  Bishops House. Ruskin had hinted that if a suitable place was not found he would send the collection to Birmingham. Adaptations were made to Meersbrook House and Bishops House was restored.  A new wrought iron fence enclosed the New Public Park.  The walled garden became a plant nursery and training area for Sheffield Parks, a bandstand was built and a memorial drinking fountain installed . The Park and the new Ruskin Museum were popular.Bishops House

However some time before the 2nd World War Councillors decided that the Ruskin collection would be better in a more Central location and started making plans to move it. It is not known why they decided this. It was not however till 1954 the collection was moved. Sheffield Parks moved into the building . What had been bought as a public building has had very limited access since that date.

Now the Council want to move the Parks out of the House and possibly sell off the building. It is something which the Meersbrook Community view with consternation particularly as other facilities in the Park are poor and would like the House once more to return to the community and become part of the life of the park once more

Ref. YWD 1117 Sheffield Archives Copy plan referred to in Conveyance to the Sheffield Corporation dated 25th Oct  (1886)

 

1583 deed of Exchange  by the mutual grants of Godfrey Foljambe of Morehall, County Derby esquire and John Parker of Norton Lees co. Derby  Esquire.  Descriptive catalogue of the charters, rolls, deeds, pedigree, pamphlets, etc.. forming Jackson Collection.  A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Charters & Instruments relating to Lands Near Sheffield in the Counties of Nottingham and Lincoln compiled by T. Walter  Hall (1935)

 

Sheffield Archives Ref. NSC/62 Newton Shawe Collection,  Survey for assessment to the army and navy: Property of Captain William Blyth in Norton Lees 1656

http://meersbrookpark.org.uk/

http://www.bishopshouse.org.uk/