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.
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.
Skegness is the first of many British seaside towns that I intend to visit over the next year or so. I have not taken a holiday in my home country for many years. Even though there are some beautiful coastal areas, I usually like to travel overseas to spend my vacation time. However, as we can not travel at the moment, I decided to rediscover my own country and the many incredible and interesting places that it has to offer.
I decided on British seaside towns as they remind me of my childhood, but they are also something that is distinctly British. Most of us Brits have had fish and chips and ice cream during a day out at the coast. For me, the seaside represents nostalgia, family, being young and carefree. If you have seaside memories, please leave them in the comments as I would love to hear them. Anyway, a little bit about Skegness.
The name Skegness comes from the old Norse words ‘skegg’ meaning beard and ‘nes’ meaning a headland or promontory. The area is one of the places where the Vikings landed in the 9th century. The town developed as a harbour, trading in timber and other merchandise.
By the 1850s the village still had less than 400 inhabitants. Most residents worked as fishermen or farm labourers as the surrounding Lincolnshire land was some of the richest grazing lands in the country (and still is).
In the 19th century, the local gentry used to take their families to Skegness to indulge in the fashionable practice of sea-bathing during the summer months, but it was not until the railway reached Skegness in 1873, that working-class leisure trippers started to visit the town in large numbers.
Most of the land around Skegness belonged to the Earl of Scarbrough. He envisaged that the seaside would become a popular leisure pursuit and so he employed an architect to plan a model Victorian ‘watering place’ as they were known back then. A park, pier, shopping street, church, gardens and tree-lined streets promenades were all built in the late 1870s.
In 1881, a new pier was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh. At the time, it was the fourth-longest in Britain. In 1919, the pier was damaged by the schooner Europa. It was repaired and survived until 1978 when another storm damaged a large part of it. The 1000 seat theatre survived but was burnt down in a fire in 1985. The modern pier was built in the 1990s, the deck was refurbished in the early 2000s, and further improvements were made in 2016–17.
In the 1920s and ’30s, Skegness was popular with caravan camps, but after the war, they expanded on a huge scale to make making the East Coast of England the most popular caravan coast in the country. In 1929, Billy Butlins opened a large amusement park by the pier and in 1935–6, he opened the Butlins Holiday Camp, boasting that it was the “largest hotel in the world”, containing around 20,000 beds.
Through the Edwardian years, Skegness continued to grow, attracting more and more visitors. In 1938, Parliament passed the Holidays with Pay Act. However, the implementation was delayed until the late 1940s due to the war. During the war years, Skegness suffered heavy bombing, it was also used to house the armed forces. In the late 1940s, the wartime damage was repaired and extra housing was constructed for the newly returned servicemen, and an industrial estate was built to attract year-round jobs.
In the 1950s, car ownership increased, which meant that visitors flocked to the coast under their own power instead of on the train. An improved road system was built to facilitate the increasing volume of motor vehicles.
There doesn’t seem to be much info regarding the 1960s onward, I presume it continued to develop as a seaside town. I do know that caravan ownership increased significantly in the area, If you visit today, you cannot miss the thousands of static caravans that are scattered across the landscape. I remember visiting Skegness in the 1980s as a child, usually for day trips as it was only a 2 or so hour drive from our home.
When I visited, in June of 2020, the UK was just emerging from the lockdown and many of the businesses were still closed. There were a few tourists about, nothing like the normal numbers that you would usually see in June. Hopefully, small seaside towns like Skegness can recover from the issued caused by Coronavirus, I believe many businesses are able to re-open with safety measures in place from the 4th of July 2020.
Thanks for reading. Please share your memories of Skegness in the comments.
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.
As the lock down has now eased slightly, it is nice to be able to get out a little more. Many places are still closed, but there are a few places that are un-manned that you are free to walk around, maintaining social distancing of course. My trip out took me to Barnsley Main Colliery. In 1862, the colliery was producing 180,000 tons of coal. The pit closed in 1991, the site was cleared apart from the headgear and buildings, which were to be preserved as a memory of the history and heritage of the areas mining past. As well as a way to remember men that tragically lost their lives in the Oaks Colliery disaster.
The Oaks Colliery at Hoyle Mill suffered a series of explosions in December of 1866, where 361 people, including rescue workers were killed. However, researchers today suggest that number is closer to 380. It is still to this day the worst mining disaster in England.
The colliery is cared for by the Barnsley Main Heritage group. https://barnsleymainheritagegroup.com/ There is a small car park but it is not always open if there are no volunteers on site. I recommend parking at the nearby Abbey Lane car park and walking to the colliery from there.
I have visited the Owens Valley on Vacation a number of times. My first visit was back in 2012. However, it was not until 2017, that I finally visited Manzanar, after driving past it numerous times.
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, the U.S. government began making plans for the incarceration of Japanese-Americans. On the 19th of February, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the evacuation of all persons deemed a threat to national security from the West Coast to relocation centers. The order resulted in over 100,000 Japanese-Americans being removed from their homes and placed in internment camps.
The camps were located in isolated areas where the weather could be burning hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. People had to leave behind their businesses and possessions, taking only what they could carry.
After my visit to Manzanar, I seemed to come across lots of information relating to the persecution of Japanese Americans during World War II. I think after visiting Manzanar and the emotional effect that it had on me, things just caught my eye more. For example, I was watching a documentary on art in San Francisco, and I learnt about the photographs that Dorothea Lange captured of Japanese-Americans, in the early 1940s. Then whilst doing some research for a paper that I was writing for my MA on the California Water Wars, I came across a fascinating book by Karen Piper called Left in the Dust: How Race and Politics Created a Human and Environmental Tragedy in L.A. In short, the book tells the story about how the people and environment of the Owens Valley have suffered since the Los Angeles Aqueduct was built to divert the course of the Owens River in 1913. The fugitive dust from the drying of the Owens Lake caused toxic dust storms in the valley where Manzanar is located, meaning Manzanar detainees were subject to this dust. The dust has been known to cause disease and death among the people that inhaled it. Not only were these poor people forcefully removed from their homes, but they were also subject to toxic dust, from which they could not escape (n.b. at the time Manzanar was in operation, no-one knew the dust was toxic).
By November of 1945, Manzanar was deserted, the war had ended and the Japanese-Americans returned home. However, some people had no home to go back to. It took another 44 years for the US government to apologise to those interned at Manzanar. Camp survivors were given $20,000 by president Ronald Reagan.
Prior to the drying of the Owens Lake, the area where Manzanar is located was full of beautiful fruit orchards. The Owens River provided ample irrigation for the growing of produce and the area was named after the Spanish word for apple, ‘manzana’.
After the war ended, Manzanar was razed. However, many of the buildings were sold to local residents of the Owens Valley. When Manzanar was preparing to be opened to the public, the NPS attempted to relocate the original buildings. However, they did not have much luck. They did manage to reclaim a building that was at Bishop airport, but many of the buildings that are there today are replicas.
I had planned on visiting Brodsworth Hall this weekend, but with the recent floods and some roads still being closed off, I decided to leave that trip for another time. It was a beautiful November morning and I didn’t feel like driving anywhere, so I picked up my camera and had a walk around Sheffield. This is something I have been meaning to do for a while but I have never got around to doing it. I suppose you take things from granted when they are on your doorstep and as I was walking around, I definitely felt a sense of regret that I had not done this years ago as there are many places that are long gone. I think I will do some more posts on Sheffield at a later date as there are many other places that I want to photograph. But for now, below are a few pictures that I took on Sunday, along with a bit of history about the content of the pictures. I welcome people to correct any errors I may have made, or add any information they may wish in the comments.
Bishops’ House is a Grade II Listed farmhouse located in Meersbrook Park. It is open to the public on weekends only from 10am until 4pm. The house was built in around 1500 and was the home of the Blyth family until 1753.
There isn’t a great deal of information on the internet about Meersbrook Hall and unfortunately I don’t have the time to do more detailed research as my Masters dissertation is looming. TheFriends of Meersbrook Hallhave a great website though, with lots of information and history about the hall. The date of construction seems to be unknown but the website states that, “the earliest documentary evidence of a building at Meersbrook Hall are the notes of William Fairbank, of alterations he made to an existing building in 1759″. A plan of the estate in 1770 shows a single building on the site and in 1819, an extension was added. Meersbrook Hall housed the Ruskin Collection from 1890 to 1953.
Pinder Brothers have been in operation since 1877, and the company has been run by seven successive generations of the Pinder family for over 140 years. They moved to the above location at Sheaf Plate Works on the corner of Arundel Street and Matilda Street in 1939. There is a more detailed history on their website. I think it’s wonderful that they are still a thriving business and I love that the building probably looks much the same as it did in 1939. The building is also home to other craftsmen and women, who rent out spaces for their trades. There is an article that the Star newspaper did back in 2017, which you can read by clicking here.
Sadly, this building looks like it’s derelict. I can’t find a lot of information on Biggins Bros. but the sign on the building states they were established in 1856 and were Electro Platers. From what I can gather, they went out of business in the year 2000.
Butcher Works is a former cutlery works located on Arundel Street. The works were originally founded by William and Samuel Butcher, who began manufacturing steel in 1819. Today, the buildings are Grade II listed for their architectural and historical significance within the city of Sheffield. The buildings were refurbished as flats and workshops partly due to a £1.2 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. There is a nice cafe located in the works called Fusion Organic Cafe.
I wish Heeley still had a station as it’s just down the road from my house, I believe that this building is now a scrap yard. The station originally opened in 1870, serving the Midland Railway’s line between Chesterfield and Sheffield. It closed on the 10th of June in 1968.
This Grade II Listed Police Box is located outside the Town Hall and was installed in 1928, as part of 120 police boxes in Sheffield. It is the only one that remains in Sheffield. More information can be found by clicking here.
I think this is one of those buildings, like Park Hill Flats that you either love or hate. This may not be the most attractive of buildings, but personally i’m glad it’s still here as much of the old Sheffield is disappearing. In the 1980s and 90s, the Roxy was the biggest club in Sheffield. I remember as a kid seeing the glowing red sign on the side of the building. I’ve not been able to find a lot of history on the building itself, but at one time it was owned by a guy called Barry Noble, who advertised the club with the catchphrase “is that alright fyuzs”. Noble owned other amusement arcades and nightclubs, including the Astoria in Nottingham. He allegedly died in 1985, but there seems to be some ambiguity surrounding his death. The Roxy attracted performers such as Kyle Minogue, Jason Donovan and New Order, who played there in 1987. It was also the location of the TV show, Hitman and Her from 1988 until 1992. The Roxy remained a club until 1998-1999 (I can’t find the exact date). Later in it’s life, the building was home to St. Thomas’ Anglican Church before it became the Carling Academy in 2008, and then the O2 Academy when Telefónica Europe became the new sponsor of all Academy venues.
James Montgomery was born in Scotland in 1771, but moved to Sheffield in 1792. He made his name as a poet and achieved some fame with The Wanderer of Switzerland, which he wrote in 1806. He died aged 82 in 1854. I have to admit, I had never heard of him until I took this photograph. If you want more information on James, you can find it by clicking here.
I always associate Paradise Square with solicitors offices (most of the buildings are office spaces today), but at one time it a place where people came to hear preachers speak or for public meetings. The Sheffield Society for Constitutional Information formed here in 1791 and it was said to be the only square where all major political meetings of all types were held. More information can be found by clicking here and here.
The West Bar Station was built in 1900, and was home to the police, fire and ambulance services. Today, the building is home to theNational Emergency Services Museum. I will do a separate post on this museum sometime in the future.
I’ve seen this building many times as you can’t miss the striking signs located on the side, but I have never looked into what it was. From what I have found, Woollen & Co Ltd was established by sign-writer, James Woollen and lithographic printer, Frederick Ibbotson in 1883. The company moved from this location in 2005, and ceased trading in 2008. I have found a Sheffield company that are trading under the name Woollen Group (website here). Their website states they are formerly Woollen Signs Ltd, but were only established in 2007 so i’m unsure as to if they are the same company. Personally, I think it would be great for this building to be refurbished, keeping the wonderful signage on the front in respect of the past.
Alfred Beckett & Sons Ltd were established in 1839, and were a saw file and tool manufacturers located at Brooklyn Works on Green Lane. In 1967, Alfred Beckett & Sons was purchased by Tempered Spring Company Ltd. Tempered Spring was founded in 1895, as a subsidiary of Laycocks. It seems that they dissolved in 2015.
Wharncliffe Works was built in c1861 for Steel & Garland, manufacturers of stoves, grates and fenders. If you want to read more, click here.
George Barnsley & Sons were founded in 1836. They moved to Cornish Works (pictured above) in 1849. Their main focus was the manufacture of files and cutting tools for leather workers and associated industries. Today, they are still in operation, however, they have moved from Cornish Works to Mowbray Street and are a subsidiary of Mowbray Manufacturing Co Ltd. When I walked past Cornish Works it looks like the building is currently being refurbished. I hope they keep the old signage. There are some amazing pictures on the websiteBehind Closed Doorsof the inside the building.
All that remains of Don Brewery is this sign. A H Smith & Co. Ltd were founded in 1828. They were acquired by Tennant Brothers Ltd of Exchange Brewery in 1915. A H Smith closed in 1917 and their buildings were sadly demolished in 1994. Tennant Brothers Ltd were Acquired by Whitbread & Co. Ltd in 1961. However, they closed the brewery in 1993. The Exchange Brewery buildings remain, but have been mostly converted to offices.
W.W. Laycock & Sons Ltd. were silversmiths and suppliers to the metal finishing trade. From what I can gather,they are still operational, but I don’t think they are still in Sheffield. The building above on Suffolk Road is now the premises of Student Roost. There are some great images of what the building looked like before it was refurbished here.
Thomas Boulsover (1705 – 1788) was a Sheffield Cutler who famously stumbled upon a process that became known as Old Sheffield Plate in 1743. He served an apprentice as a cutler until 1726, and in around 1740, set up his own workshop on the corner of Tudor Street and Surrey Street. There is another memorial to Thomas at Whiteley Woods on the hillside between Wire Mill Dam.
Thanks for reading. Please add any more information, or correct any errors that I may have made in the comments :).
Conisbrough Castle is located just outside Rotherham in South Yorkshire and is managed by English Heritage. The original Castle was built by William De Warenne, the 1st Earl of Surrey who was the son-in-law of William the 1st (William the Conqueror) sometime in the 11th century . The castle passed to Isabel De Warenne in 1147, and the keep was built by her husband, Hamelin Plantagenet in the late 1170s or 1180s. The castle inspired Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Ivanhoe, published in 1819.
I did not visit, but the nearby Anglican Church of St Peter has stood in Conisborough since the 8th century, and is the oldest standing building in South Yorkshire.
Personally, I always prefer English Heritage places over National Trust, I think it’s because I find ruins more fascinating. I really enjoyed Conisbrough Castle. However, there are a few things to bear in mind if you plan on visiting. Firstly, the parking. I usually look in advance before I travel on what the situation is with parking, but this time I did not. When I arrived at the castle the signposts send you into a privately run car park. I parked up and got my little pot of car park change from my glove box that I keep for such situations. I went to find the machine, but there was not one in sight. The car park requires you to either download an app, or to call and pay by card. Bear in mind that parking is 50p an hour. I thought this seemed like a lot of faff for 50p. I tried scanning the QR code, like the sign said, but nothing happened, so I drove out of the car park and parked on a nearby street. I don’t usually like parking in residential areas as I’ve had bad experiences with people who don’t like you parking in front of their houses, even though you can park where you like as long as there are no parking restrictions, or you aren’t blocking anyone ones access, etc. But, often people get real funny about parking. Anyway, there is plenty of free on street parking, that isn’t outside anyone’s house, if you don’t mind a short walk to the castle. If the car park was English Heritage, I would have paid the money, but as it was a private company, I did not bother. I think this is a bad call from English Heritage. If people don’t have a mobile with them, I know my parents don’t always take their mobile phone out with them, how are you meant to pay? Or if you don’t take your bank card out with you, you can’t pay as there is no machine.
The other thing to consider at Conisbrough is that there are narrow stone stairs in the castle with no lift. If you are disabled or have push chairs, you might not be able to access the castle, but I would double check with English Heritage before you go.
The last time I visited Sutton Scarsdale was approximately a year ago. The first thing that I noticed on my return, was that nothing had changed in terms of the conservation work that is going on. Understandably you can’t go inside the ruin due to health and safety but it feels like English Heritage have forgotten about this place.
The hall was a Baroque style mansion built for the 4th Earl of Scarsdale in the 1720s. In 1919, a descendant of the famous Sir Richard Arkwright (I intend to do some articles on Sir Richard in the future) purchased the hall, subsequently selling it to a company of asset strippers. Unfortunately this was common practice in the 20th century. I’ve visited many shells and grounds of beautiful halls that were torn down and either shipped overseas, or simply just demolished. Errwood Hall in the upper Goyt Valley, Darley Hall in Derbyshire and Broomhead Hall in Sheffield are just a few.
Changes in social conditions in the 20th century brought about the destruction of many large halls. The upkeep of the buildings was incredibly costly as well as income tax and death duties contributing to loss of wealth. The website Lost Heritage documents 1,998 houses that have been demolished in England.
Some of the interiors from Sutton Scarsdale are on display at the Museum of Art in Philadelphia. Along with some at the Huntington Library in California after being used as a set for a film, Kitty, in 1934.
The site is managed by English Heritage and is accessed down a small road. The EH website states that opening times are Summer Daily 10am – 6pm, Winter Daily 10am – 4pm. Entry is free and there is a small car park.
Bolsover Castle was built to lavishly entertain guests and is often called the playboy Mansion of the 17th century.
Bolsover Castle can be traced back to the 12th century, but that it not what stands today. The image above is of Bolsover Little Castle, which was built by Sir William Cavendish in the 17th century as a retreat for entertaining guests. One of which was Charles I. To the right of the image is a statue of Venus in the Fountain garden.
Sir William Cavendish loved horses. The building in front is the stables and indoor Riding School, which William Cavendish built to house the many exotic horses that he imported from overseas.
A study by the University of Sheffield suggests the Star Chamber was used as an auditorium for aristocratic plays and country house masques.
The image above was painted in 1619, and is a depiction of Christ’s ascension into heaven surrounded by angels.
Unfortunately, only the Little Castle and the Stables remain intact today. William Cavendish also built the Terrace Range which overlooks Vale of Scarsdale. It was left to go to ruin by William’s son, Henry.
Tips for visitors.
Bolsover Castle is managed by English
Heritage. The cost of entry for an adult
as of 2019 is £11.80 and a child is £7.10.
If they have a special event on, there is an additional charge even if
you are an English Heritage member. On
busy days the small carpark gets full, there is additional parking opposite the
main car park and there is another carpark if you pass the castle to your
right, but the entrance is quite concealed and I didn’t notice it until I had
parked up and was walking back to the castle.
There is street parking but like anywhere, this is not ideal. I parked on the street and someone parked
about an inch from my bumper. Luckily I
had left enough room in front of me to get out.
In the summer the castle opens from 10am until 6pm, in winter, hours are