Ecclesall Woods are one of my favourite jogging routes. One day I decided to take a different path through the woods, that I thought may be a little quieter. To my surprise, I came across a Colliers Pond and headstone. I did not have any prior knowledge about the woods so when I got home, I did a little research.
Ecclesall woods are thousands of years old, dated by Human traces in the form of Neolithic rock art. During the 14th century, the woods were a deer park owned by Sir Ralph de Ecclesall.
From 1600 until the early 1800s, the woods were used to source charcoal to supply Sheffield’s growing industries. Charcoal was used for smelting iron and coal was for smelting lead.
The headstone reads “In memory of George Yardley, Wood Collier. He was burnt to death in his Cabbin on this place Octr. 11th 1786. William Brookes, Salesman; David Glossop, Gamekeeper; Thos. Smith, Besom maker; Sampn. Brookshaw, Innkeeper.” According to Historic England, the monument is unusual in that it records not only the occupation of the deceased, but those of the subscribers to his memorial.
The point on the map shows the approximate location of the pond and monument.
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This location has been on my to visit list for a while, but I never knew much history about it until I started doing research for this post. It is another one of the forgotten historically important places of Sheffield, that the council choose not to acknowledge.
There isn’t much left of the camp, as you can see from the pictures below, it is very overgrown and only foundations remain. The former camp is located in some public woodland off Redmires Road in Lodge Moor. The woodland gets a lot of foot traffic from walkers, runners and cyclists. If you did not know what these ruins were beforehand, there is no way of knowing as there is absolutely no interpretation or memorials on the site.
According to the book, Sheffield’s Great War and Beyond: 1916-1918 by Peter Warr, Redmires was initially used to accommodate the Sheffield City Battalion (Sheffield PALS), I believe from December 1914 until May of 1915. After this it was used for the the Royal Engineers until 1918. In 1918, it was opened as a prisoner of war camp, housing German prisoners until 1919. Peter also notes that the camp was used in 1920 by parties of school children, this would make sense as on some old maps the area near the camp is labelled “Redmires Special School”.
Sometime between 1918 and 1919, Hitlers chosen successor, Karl Dönitz was held at Redmires. When Dönitz was released from the camp and returned to Germany, he was made commander of the German U-boats, before becoming head of the German Navy. Eventually succeeding Hitler to become president of the German Reich.
The camp was also used in the Second World War, firstly for Italian prisoners, who were put to work on local farms and then after D-Day, it was used to house Germans. It is said that the camp housed between 10,000 to 12,000 inmates at its peak.
In 2019, archaeology students from the University of Sheffield excavated the site. Their report can be found here.
The former Lodge Moor hospital next to the camp, now apartments was once used as a fever isolation hospital. From what I have read online, during the First World War, there was an air landing strip next to the camp that was used to defend Sheffield against Zeppelin raids. However it was only used until 1916. In his book, Redmires – Tales From the Ridge, Keith Baker notes that the airfield was ceased due to protests that it would disturb patients at the hospital.
During the Victorian times, there was also a racecourse near to the site. However it was not in operation long, possibly due to it’s remote location from the city centre.
If you have anymore information, or anything I have written is incorrect, please leave me a note in the comments as some of the information that I have read has been contradictory.
If you intend to visit, there is parking on the road or there is a car park next to the recreation ground just past the Sportsman pub. Just be careful If you are walking, running, cycling or riding a horse, it seems to be a place frequented by quad bikers and off road motorcyclists.
Thank you for reading. Watch my video below for a more in depth look.
As I write this post it is the 4th of July so happy Independence Day.
I think the only positive outcome of the COVID-19 lockdown, for me anyway is that I have discovered many places in my local area that I never knew existed. As my educational background is in American studies, I was super excited when I discovered Boston Castle and the connection that it has with America.
The castle is not a castle as such, it was built as a hunting lodge for Thomas Howard, the 3rd Earl of Effingham in the late eighteenth century.
The castle got its name from the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when colonists protested against the British crown for unfair taxation, throwing cases of tea into the sea.
Thomas served in the Coldstream Guards (the oldest continuously serving regiment in the British Army) and supported protests by the colonists in the USA. When Thomas’s regiment was ordered to America on active service, he resigned rather than support something that he did not believe in.
The castle today is managed by Rotherham Council, according to boards at the castle, they are looking for volunteers. I will link the website for the castle below should anyone be interested in helping out. I don’t want to put anyone off, but whilst I was doing my MA, I offered to volunteer with Rotherham Council heritage services as they were advertising for help and It was a requirement for my degree. They completely messed me about and I also found them to be incredibly unprofessional. However, considering that Rotherham council are one of the worst local authorities in the country, I should not have been so surprised.
The council also run tours of the castle (subject to change due to COVID).
There has been an ugly extension built on the side of the castle, I assume this was due to tight budgets not allowing something more in keeping with the original architecture.
There is a lovely view from the castle towards Sheffield and the grounds of Boston Park are nice to take a walk around.
Errwood Hall is located in the Goyt Valley near Buxton. From what I have read, the hall was built in around 1845, for a wealthy merchant from Manchester called Samuel Grimshawe.
The Grimshawes loved to travel and would bring back exotic plants which they would plant in the gardens of their home. As you walk up to where the hall once stood, you can imagine what these gardens used to be like even though they are now overgrown.
The last surviving family member, Mary Grimshawe-Gosselin died in 1930. The contents of the house were auctioned by auctioneers Turner and Son. The hall itself was purchased by the Stockport Water Corporation in connection with the construction of the nearby Fernilee Reservoir. Sadly the hall was demolished in 1934.
Below are a few images that I took whilst visiting, it was in the middle of the day so the light and shadows were a little harsh. The hall is a popular lunch stop for hikers, I have been on a weekend and there were lots of people sat around the ruins, so I went back on a week day to get some photos with no people in.
I remember as a child going on a walk around the Wilson Family estate at Broomhead near to our home in Sheffield. I recall very clearly seeing a stone outline visible though the grass where Broomhead Hall once stood. I also remember seeing what was left of the lavish gardens that once surrounded the house. I Recall feeling a sense of sadness that such a beautiful house had been demolished and an important part of local history removed.
There is not much information on Broomhead, what I managed to find, I got from Sheffield library, most of which has been written by local historians rather than academics. Not to say that it is not correct, but information about Broomhead does not seem to appear in any academic literature on the Lost Heritage of Britain, which there is a lot of.
Broomhead Hall was built in 1831, after the previous house had been destroyed by fire. The Broomhead estate was (and still is) the home of the Wilson family, however, the main hall was demolished in 1980. Prior to the hall being demolished, it was used to house farm workers and to store potatoes. It had then been an office for an insurance company as well as being requisitioned by the army during World War II as many other grand houses were. The rumour locally was that the entire house was shipped over to America. However, from my research I could only locate a staircase, a carved oak sideboard dated 1601, and a long oak table dated 1588, all Wilson family heirlooms, that were shipped to America. Some other items from the house are now on display at Bishops’ House in Norton Lees in Sheffield. As for the fate of the stone, that still remains a mystery, but local forums say that it was used locally.
Broomhead was not alone in it’s fate, over 1200 country houses have been demolished in England since the year 1900 and in the period between the two world wars, over five percent of country houses were demolished.  Looking back on this now, this is hard to believe. Imagine demolishing Chatswoth, it would be unthinkable. Prior to the 1960s, attitudes were different towards country houses and the aristocracy in general. The public felt little or no empathy for the struggles of the landed elite and the sales and demolishment of country houses was not of great public concern. I think now we generally feel very different towards country houses, regardless to attitudes towards the aristocracy, I think most can appreciate that country houses are an important part of the history and heritage of our nation.