Sheffield General Cemetery

October 31st 2020.

https://www.gencem.org/

Halloween is one of my favourite times of year. However, Halloween 2020 was a little different. I did not decorate this year as I did not want to encourage trick or treaters. I still wanted to do something for Halloween so I decided to take a walk to Sheffield General Cemetery. A little odd? Maybe, but the cemetery is actually a Grade II listed park, Conservation Area, Local Nature Reserve and Area of Natural History Interest..

The cemetery opened 1836 and was the principal burial ground in Victorian Sheffield containing the graves of 87,000 people. It was one of the earliest commercial cemeteries in Britain. Today, it contains the largest collection of listed buildings and monuments in Sheffield, ten in total including Grade II listed catacombs, an Anglican Chapel, with the Gatehouse, Non-conformist Chapel and the Egyptian Gateway, each listed at Grade II*.

The Cemetery was closed for burial in the late 1970s. Sheffield City Council removed many of the gravestones in the Anglican area to create more green space near to the city centre. The remains of those buried were not disturbed.

Cemetery residents include:

  • George Bassett (1818–1886). Founder of The Bassett Company—the company that invented Liquorice Allsorts. Mayor of Sheffield (1876).
  • George Bennett (1774–1841). Founder of the Sheffield Sunday School movement. The memorial to him (c.1850) is Grade II listed.
  • John, Thomas, and Skelton Cole. Founders of Sheffield’s Cole Brothers department store in 1847—now part of the John Lewis Partnership.
  • Francis Dickinson (1830–1898). One of the soldiers who fought in the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean war.
  • William Dronfield (1824–1891). Founder of the United Kingdom Alliance of Organised Trades, which inspired the creation of the Trades Union Congress.
  • Mark Firth (25 April 1819–28 November 1880). Steel manufacturer, Master Cutler (1867), Mayor of Sheffield (1874), and founder of Firth College in 1870 (later University of Sheffield). The monument to Mark Firth is Grade II listed, the railings that surround it were made at Firth’s Norfolk Works.
  • William Flockton, architect.
  • John Gunson (1809–1886). Chief engineer of the Sheffield Water Company at the time of the collapse of Dale Dyke Dam on 11 March 1864, which resulted in the Great Sheffield Flood. Samuel Harrison, who documented the flood, and 77 of the flood’s victims are also buried in the cemetery.
  • Samuel Holberry (1816–1842). A leading figure in the Chartist movement.
  • Isaac Ironside (1808–1870). Chartist and local politician.
  • James Montgomery (1771–1854). Poet/Publisher. The grave and Grade II listed monument to James Montgomery, were moved to the grounds of Sheffield Cathedral in 1971.
  • James Nicholson (died 1909). Prominent Sheffield industrialist. The memorial that he commissioned for himself and his family c.1872 is Grade II listed.
  • William Parker, merchant. The monument to William Parker, erected in 1837 by the merchants and manufacturers of Sheffield, is Grade II listed.
  • William Prest (died 1885). Cricketer and footballer born in York, who lived most of his life in Sheffield. Co-founder of Sheffield Football club.

(source Wikipedia)

Penmon Priory, Anglesey.

I visited Penmon Priory during the August 2020 bank holiday weekend. I knew it would be busy, but it was packed, with the car parks completely full. Parking was £3, even if you did not go down to Penmon Point. I only went to look at the historical ruins, yet I was charged £3 to park only to find the church and Dovecot closed. I understand that whoever runs the car parking at Penmon wants to make as much money as possible. However, they could at least ensure that places are open if they insist on charging.

I have made a video below of my visit for a look inside the ruins that were open.

Penmon Priory is thought to have been established by St. Seiriol, as early as the 6th century.
St Seiriol’s Well

The Holy Well is fed from a spring behind the church. The well is located in its own walled garden and is a very tranquil place. The waters were believed to have healing powers and would be visited by the sick in the hope to be cured by the waters.

The dates as to when the well was used seem unclear. However, the brick structure that surrounds the well dates from about 1710.

St. Seiriol church

The 12th century stone church and tower date from around 1140 and is a fine example of Romanesque architecture.

Flagstaff Quarry

You can see the derelict Flagstaff Quarry buildings from the road. However, getting to them is quite a trek. They are on private land and can only be viewed from the fence along the beach.

From the limited amount of information available online. It appears that there was a small quarry and pier at this location prior to 1874. However, in 1888, William Baird & Co commenced operations at the quarry, which supplied fluxing stone to their steelworks in Glasgow.

Thanks for reading.

Monk Bretton Priory

August 2020

Monk Bretton has been closed since March due to COVID. Although it is a free site, sadly in the past, the ruin has been damaged by vandals and so the site can not remain open at all times. Despite the site being free entry, the gates get locked every day at 3pm and re-open at 10am.

It is unfortunate that Monk Bretton does not get the same protection as other English Heritage sites. Roche Abbey is similar in size and yet that is a staffed site. During my visit I witnessed an incredibly ignorant individual who was climbing up the ruin (I have made a video with a little more information and a picture of said individual below). As Monk Bretton is un-staffed, English Heritage rely on people using common sense and being respectful, clearly they cannot rely on this. I do think they need more signs that say ‘DO NOT CLIMB ON THE RUIN’. If this fails, I personally think that the gates should remain locked and only opened maybe once a month when it can be staffed.

From what I can gather, the volunteers of this site take care of it, rather than English Heritage that doesn’t seem to care much. The gatekeepers are volunteers, which makes it more upsetting when you see litter, graffiti and idiots climbing the ruins.

Monk Bretton was founded in about 1154, by a local landowner called Adam Fitzswaine. The priory served as a daughter house to the rich Cluniac priory at Pontefract. After 50 years of disagreements, Monk Bretton seceded from Cluniac Order in 1281 and became a Benedictine house.

The priory was quite substantial as it owned properties across South Yorkshire, with rights over five parish churches. It is also said that Monk Bretton worked coal and ironstone in the Barnsley area. After Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, Monk Bretton was closed and materials from the priory were used elsewhere.

The priory passed into the ownership of the Blithman family and then in 1589 the estate was bought by William Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury. He converted the west range of the cloister into a country house for his son Henry.

Today, the site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and now in the care of English Heritage/ volunteers.

Thanks for reading.

South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, Doncaster.

https://www.southyorkshireaircraftmuseum.org.uk/

Amongst many other sectors, the heritage sector, especially small independent museums have suffered greatly due to COVID, so it is nice to be able to try and support as many as possible now they are re-opening.

The South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum is quite hidden away at the back of the popular Lakeside area of Doncaster. The buildings once formed part of RAF Doncaster, which the museum took over when they were vacated by Yorkshire Water.

There is loads to see and some great displays. They don’t just have aircraft, they also have lots of other history on the military.

It is definitely worth a visit. Parking is free, there is plenty of space for social distancing and they have put one way systems in place.

Below are a few pictures from my visit. Thanks for reading.

Hawker BAE
Westland Seaking HAS.6 XV677
A few aircraft on display outside.
Hangar displays
Hangar displays
Wartime Store

As of 2020, admissions were:

Adult £6.50

Children (5-16) £3

Senior Citizen £5.50

Family £15

Catcliffe Glass Kiln, Rotherham, England.

The Grade I Listed Catcliffe Glass Cone in Rotherham was built in about 1740 and is the oldest remaining structure of its kind in Western Europe. It is one of 4 similar structures that remain in the UK.

Sorry for the dull picture, the weather was terrible when I visited.

The cone formed part of Catcliffe glass works, which was established by William Fenney in the eighteenth century. The works passed into the possession of Henry Blunn (date unknown) before being closed sometime between 1884 and 1887.

It is said that prisoners of war were housed here during the First World War and during the 1926 industrial disputes, the cone was used as a canteen for feeding children.

Glass making is an ancient craft and can be dated back to ancient Egypt. The industry increased in Western Europe around the 16th century when Industrialisation was on the increase.

At the beginning of the 19th century, there were dozens of glass cones in the industrial areas of England. The unusual cone shaped buildings were developed due to shortages of timber fuels and so glass factories had to use coal to power their furnaces. The buildings would have a furnace in the centre and an underground flue. Fumes would be expelled through the apex of the tapering shell. The structure and the underground flue system was to increase the draft.

Glass cones fell into disuse when the Pilkingtons factory in St Helens, with it’s modern production techniques concentrated the industry, becoming the centre of the glass industry in Britain.

Other glass kilns in the UK are: Alloa in Scotland, Leamington and Stourbridge.

Thanks for reading. Have a look at my video below for a look inside.

Sources:

New Scientist, 4 Jul 1974.

http://www.rotherham.gov.uk/graphics/Visiting/Family%2BAttractions/EDSCatcliffeGlassCone.htm

Conservation and Restoration of Glass, Sandra Davison, R.G. Newton

Seldom Seen Engine House in Sheffield, England.

Hidden away in the Moss Valley lies the remains of Seldom Seen Engine House. The engine house was once part of Plumbley Colliery. According to the publication North Derbyshire Collieries, Plumbley Colliery was sunk in about 1860 and closed in 1901.

There are two theories about how the engine house got it’s name. One is that the engine house was so hidden away it was ‘seldom seen’. The other theory is that the engine house was haunted and the ghost was seldom seen. I think the first is the more logical explanation as Plumbley Colliery was also known as the Seldom Seen Colliery. However, I prefer the latter.

Today the engine house is a Scheduled Ancient Monument as it is an unusually large and rare example of an engine house. There isn’t much left of the interior, it looks like the council have just used the inside to dump old signs, which is a shame. Some interpretation would be nice, it’s another one of Sheffield’s forgotten places sadly.

On the 16th of March in 1895, Percey Riley, 9, Esther Ann Riley, 11, and Rebecca Godson, 9, were playing on a cooling pond belonging to the colliery that had frozen over. The ice broke and the children fell into the freezing water.  A 24-year-old engine man Alfred Williamson heard the children screaming and jumped into the pond to rescue them. Alfred and the children sadly drowned as they were unable to swim.  Alfred’s headstone, which is also engraved with the names of the children resides in Eckington Churchyard.

At the time of the children’s death, their families could not afford headstones. In 2020, a local fundraising campaign by Natural Eckington raised enough money to place a headstone for each child in Eckington churchyard, there was also a service to remember the children and Alfred.

There doesn’t appear to be much more information about the colliery online, if you have any more info, please leave a note in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

Grade I listed St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Eckington
War memorial

Sources and further reading:

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1017746

https://www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk/news/people/forgotten-children-who-died-eckington-colliery-accident-be-remembered-125-years-later-1887992

Tea Party at Boston Castle, Rotherham, England.

Visit date – 3rd July 2020.

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.

Thanks for reading.

http://bostoncastle-rotherham.co.uk/index.html

Tupholme Abbey, Lincolnshire, England.

Tupholme Abbey was a Premonstratensian monastery, founded between 1155-65.  It was relatively small, of up to 12 canons and had limited endowments in the county of Lincolnshire. Along with other Lincolnshire monastic sites, Tupholme was involved in the wool export trade.

From the time of St Augustine’s mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597, to the reign of Henry VIII, monasticism formed an important facet of both religious and secular life in the British Isles. Settlements of religious communities, including monasteries, were built to house communities of monks, canons (priests), and sometimes lay-brothers, living a common life of religious observance under some form of systematic discipline. It is estimated from documentary evidence that over 700 monasteries were founded in England.

The abbey was dissolved in 1536, after Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. The property was granted to Sir Thomas Heneage of Hainton. Thereafter the site was occupied by a country house, demolished around the beginning of the 18th century and replaced in the 19th century by cottages and a farmhouse, which were also dismantled in 1986.

What remains today is a mixture of the abbey and the post-medieval buildings.

Barlings Abbey, Lincolnshire

Barlings Abbey in Lincolnshire is the remains of a Premonstratensian Abbey. It was founded in around 1154 by a local landowner named Ralph de Haya, with the first canons coming from Newsham Abbey near Grimsby.

After the Lincolnshire Rising of 1536, the abbot and 6 of the canons were executed. The Lincolnshire Rising was a protest against Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the monasteries.  At the time, Barlings was classed as one of the greater abbeys as it had an income of over £200 and was one of the wealthiest houses in Lincolnshire.

The abbey was suppressed in 1537, lead was stripped from the roof and the Abbots books and other possessions were removed and sold.  The abbey fell into ruin with much of the stonework being used to build local farm houses.

Today, not much remains, below are a few images from my recent visit.

RAF Norton Aerodrome

This site is very overgrown, there is a lot of rubbish; an old van, broken caravan and litter. It looks like people have used it as a dumping ground. There are some buildings left but they are pretty trashed and are covered in graffiti. I do not know what the future of the site is. Earlier this year the Sheffield Star published as story which stated that the buildings are to be demolished. However, the future of the site is currently unknown.

It would be nice if the council converted into a park as the site is huge and there are some lovely wildflowers. However, it is prime real estate and I would have thought that Sheffield Council will put houses on it, or sell it for housing eventually. It is in a Green Belt area so maybe that will have some say on what the site will be used for in the future.

There is not a great deal of information online about the site. I assume that the local archive will have more, but with COVID, it is currently closed. The air base began as the No 16 Balloon Training Centre in 1939, and was the home of three squadrons of barrage balloons to fend off attacks.

In 1943, the balloons were transferred to London and Norton was used as a station in the in the Royal Auxiliary Air force Signals Group, concerned mainly with radar & radio equipment, becoming the n°3 Ground Radio Servicing Squadron. This continued until 1965, when under an RAF reorganisation the Squadron was moved to Rutland. RAF Norton officially closed in January 1965.

In the 1970s, the site was owned by the NHS. There were plans to build a third big hospital for Sheffield on the site. However, for whatever reason, this did not happen. I remember learning to drive here as a teenager, I think it was £5 and parents used to take their kids there to practice along the runways. That was in the early 2000s. I believe this ceased as the council felt there were too many health and safety issues. However, as you can see from the pictures, the site is very easily accessible and there were a lot of people milling around, some people on quad bikes, motorbikes, etc. I think it is more of a health and safety hazard now than when it was used as learner driver training.

Thanks for reading.