Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone, I’m really looking forward to this coming year despite the economic cutbacks which are affecting archaeology projects across the country (both in the amount of money available for grants and the lack of building work meaning less PPG16’s are being carried out). Hopefully the Priories Historical Society will be attending more archaeology days and heritage events this year so if you see us come over and have a chat.

I’m hoping to get a proper website up and running in 2011 too if we can get a grant or funding.  This will help us post more than just news stories and little bits and bobs. I’ve been amazed at the amount of people visiting the blog this month and am happy to note we’ve now had more than a thousand visitors.

If you see any news story you think should be on the blog or if you have any articles you’d like to publish in our magazine please e-mail us at

Happy New Year
Dave Cook

A Family War of the Follies Leaves a Little Reminder of Rivals

DON'T you just love a story of family rivalry – that is, so long as it doesn't concern your own kith and kin? 
Strolling through the hundreds of graceful acres of some of Britain's large country estates, the visitor will appreciate the planning and hard work that went into creating the sumptuous gardens and views of mansion and monuments, but we don't necessarily understand how these vast properties came about.

Take Wentworth Castle. Five minutes from junction 37 of the M1, this is the only grade one listed landscape in South Yorkshire, and it encompasses a fascinating collection of 26 listed buildings and monuments. Among them are the Rotunda, Queen Anne's Obelisk, the Duke of Argyll's Column and the majestic Stainborough Castle, a large romantic folly built by Sir Thomas Wentworth the Earl of Strafford in 1730.

Designed as an "eyecatcher", this mock castle, believed to be the second oldest Gothic garden folly in the country, is a wonderful architectural flourish with four towers named Harriet, Anne, Lucy and William after the Earl's children. The interior of each was painted a different colour.

Patrick Eyres, a landscape historian and one of the trustees of Wentworth Castle Heritage Trust, clearly enjoys telling the story of the castle and the property on which it stands.

"In 1695, when Sir Thomas's father died, he expected to inherit the estate at Wentworth Woodhouse which had been in the family for generations, six miles as the crow flies from where Wentworth Castle now stands.

"But for some reason the inheritance was passed down the female line to a cousin called Thomas Watson, who added Wentworth to his name. He was a member of the gentry, whereas Sir Thomas was an aristocrat, a renowned and respected diplomat. Finding himself disinherited, Sir Thomas bought the 500-acre Stainborough Hall Estate nearby and set about building a castle and a series of follies around his land, including the mock castle. It had a bailey wall and four turrets, a gatehouse keep with four towers and a first floor banqueting room. It was properly plastered inside, and was used regularly to entertain. The name of the estate was changed to Wentworth Castle, probably to annoy the cousin down the road.

"A lovely letter exists, written by Sir Thomas, detailing how he entertained in the folly, and even enjoyed a 'breakfast' there with Thomas Watson Wentworth, although the two men were poles apart in many ways including politically."

The disinherited Sir Thomas went about adding to his acreage by secretly buying up land from local farmers and referring to his rival in documents by the codename "the vermin". The Earl of Strafford's son continued the rivalry, and the owners vied with each other to create eye-catching follies on their land.

The pinnacle of this "folly war" really was Stainborough Castle, says Patrick Eyres. "I think we can safely say that Sir Thomas Wentworth and his family's efforts outranked, outswanked and outshone those of the cousin at Wentworth Woodhouse – although over time the family at Wentworth Woodhouse rose to become more senior within the aristocracy. The castle folly at Wentworth Castle was placed deliberately so as to be seen from the highest point of the Wentworth Woodhouse Estate. Unlike most follies, though, it was useful for entertaining and for the children to play in."

Today, Wentworth Woodhouse is still in private ownership, whereas Wentworth Castle is now the Northern College, an adult education centre. The gardens and parkland are open to the public and are looked after by the trust. In the 1960s two of the castle folly's towers collapsed after the structure was destabilised by the opening up of new coal seams beneath it. The castle fell into disrepair and became overgrown, although some thought this added to its romance.

In recent years, Stainborough Castle has been expensively restored after a campaign to raise £20m to refurbish the mansion, gardens, parkland and follies, and it can be used for picnics or to hold events, seating hundreds of visitors for theatrical and musical performances.

The folly was featured in the BBC's Restoration series and will be seen again next year in another BBC series about Britain's "hidden" houses, which will examine the famous Wentworth family rivalry.

Wentworth Castle Gardens, Low Lane, Stainborough, South Yorkshire S75 3EN. 01226 776040 or


South Riding BBC Series 2011

I wouldn’t normally put fiction in the blog but I thought I’d make an exception in this case as its apt for the current economic climate and South Riding must be below the East Riding (South Yorkshire) right? This is the 3rd remake of the book the first being a film made in 1937 and the second being a thirteen part YTV production on ITV from 1974, this version won four awards.

Re-issued to coincide with Andrew Davies's new BBC television adaptation, Winifred Holtby's 1935 novel South Riding rings with timely parallels. Set in the early 1930s, it concerns the dilemmas facing a fictional northern council. Presented with new austerity measures, the local dignitaries must decide whether to slash spending on welfare, or adopt a bold programme of public works to stimulate economic recovery. It's Holtby's genius that a novel about local government should make such an extraordinary and absorbing read.

Ever a champion of the forward-looking "spinster", Holtby creates as her engaging heroine Sarah Burton, who is every much a woman of her times. Having lost her fiancé in the trenches, this 39-year-old teacher decides to return from London and apply for the headship of a local girls' grammar school. Her appointment divides the council and local opinion, though sufficient prove willing to back the local "lass" who wants to put something back into the community.

Chief among Sarah's detractors is Robert Carne, a gentleman farmer and horse-breeder, who by rights should be the book's romantic hero - if only Holtby believed in such figures. There are, however, no happy endings in store for the flame-haired headmistress and the "big heavy handsome unhappy-looking man". Success and satisfaction are destined to arrive in different guises - as was true for so many of Holtby's generation, whose hopes of marriage and family were dashed by war.

Rich in humour and worldly insight, Holtby's novel was largely inspired by the working life of her own mother, Alice Holtby, the first woman alderman to serve on the East Riding County Council. In an introduction addressed to her mother, Holtby pays tribute to a system of local government that she saw as "the essence of first line defence thrown up by the community against our common enemies - poverty, sickness, ignorance, isolation, mental derangement and social maladjustment."

Holtby, a close friend and one time flatmate of the writer and pacifist Vera Brittain, died aged 37, just months before the publication of what was to become her best known novel. This panoramic story of local politics stands as testament not only to Holtby's strong belief in public service, but her affection for the people and "rain-rinsed green" landscapes of her native Yorkshire.



South Riding is a new three-part adaptation of the novel by Winifred Holtby, by Andrew Davies, for BBC One. This 20th-century classic is a rich and panoramic portrait of a Yorkshire community in the Thirties that carries surprising and refreshing echoes of our own time.

In the long aftermath of the First World War, Sarah Burton (Anna Maxwell Martin), comes home from London to Yorkshire. Having lost her chance of marriage and motherhood with her fiancé's death in the trenches, Sarah has become a very modern career woman, one of the "surplus two million" identified by the Daily Mail in 1920 as women who were unlikely to marry since their generation of men had been wiped out by war.

Now in her thirties, Sarah has come home to take up the position of headmistress at a struggling Yorkshire high school for girls. She is the very image of a modern woman, much more recognisable to her sisters in 2010 than she would have been to her contemporaries in 1935, full of ambition, passion and fire to take her life into her own hands and live it to the very limit of her strength.

But love has not finished with Sarah Burton – before the end of the story she must choose between the career she has fought for and the man least likely to have won her heart.

As Britain emerges from the Great Depression, Robert Carne (David Morrissey) finds he is an unlikely victim of a financial disaster. His family has farmed the South Riding for hundreds of years and he ought to be able to ride out the agricultural depression, cushioned by generations of family wealth.

But Carne is a man haunted by love, and he has spent most of the farm's income over the past 20 years trying to wipe out the guilt he still feels for the woman he believes he destroyed.

Past and present collide when Sarah Burton returns to the South Riding and clashes with the handsome haunted gentleman farmer. Their story is only one strand of a rich skein which tells the story of a small town community instantly recognisable to any age and in any part of the country.

Full of humour, pathos and tragedy, South Riding also tells the story of Lydia Holly (Charlie Clark), a 14-year-old girl with a difficult home life whose education is in jeopardy when her mother dies and she slips through society's safety net.

Shaun Dooley is Lydia's feckless father, Mr Holly; Miss Sigglesthwaite (Brid Brennan) is the incompetent science mistress of the high school who struggles to instil order over her pupils; Midge Carne (Katherine McGolpin), is the delicate and troubled daughter of Robert and his ill-starred first wife; Councillor Huggins (John Henshaw), by turns noble and ludicrous, is a methodist preacher much troubled by lustful thoughts who becomes embroiled in a game of political corruption way beyond his understanding; Alderman Mrs Beddows (Penelope Wilton), is the county's first woman Alderman whose sensible and competent demeanour belies a girlish heart that has inconveniently fallen in love with an unsuitable man; and Joe Astell (Douglas Henshall), is the Riding's only socialist councillor and rival to Carne for Sarah's affections.

South Riding is a rich, compassionate and humane story of politics in small places and, in the end, the indestructibility of the human spirit.

Made by BBC Drama Production North for BBC One, South Riding is currently filming in Leeds for transmission later this year and is written by Andrew Davies.


Should Sheffield have a monument to Blitz victims?

A NEW memorial to the victims of the Sheffield Blitz could be created under plans proposed by a city councillor.

Coun Pat Midgley, Labour member for Manor Castle, said: "This city endured two nights of intense bombing from air raids between December 12 and 15, 1940, killing and injuring over 2,000 local people and making 40,000 Sheffielders homeless."

She is proposing that fellow members of the authority "recognise the current memorial to the Sheffield blitz at Devonshire Green" but "resolve to consider creating a more visible and prominent memorial to commemorate not only those who lost their lives but also Sheffield's defiance in the face of such devastation."

Councillors will vote on whether to approve her motion at their full meeting at the Town Hall on Wednesday.


In my own opinion it should, I used to work on “The Moor” and always thought it had just been redeveloped rather than obliterated by German bombs.

Book Looks Back to the Golden Age of Canals

The black and white image says everything about the decline and fall of two important forms of transport. In the foreground, a safety fence that protected the Great Northern Railway line near Awsworth stands broken and neglected. A bar is missing, a concrete post crumbles dangerously. Below runs the Nottingham Canal which is in an equally sorry state. Patches of reed grow in the shallows and the once crisp and neatly cut bank has begun to invade the waters.On one side lies the decaying remains of a butty barge, once used to carry coal from the shallow mines of Awsworth, Shilo and Bennerley. The year of the photograph is 1975, long after the canal and the railway line were abandoned, no longer seen as viable commercial enterprises.

The photograph is one of more than 100 included in a new Notts County Council publication in the popular Turning Back The Pages series, which is this time looking at the history of Nottinghamshire canals. Compiled by Ray and Joanne Bickel, it begins with the Nottingham Canal which, for a few brief years in the early 1800s, was something of a gold mine for its owners. In 1839, the receipts tallied £12,895. Today that would be worth around £1m. The canal was built in the late 18th Century by William Jessop for a group of prominent Nottingham businessmen to link the city, and its commercial wharves on the River Trent, with Langley Mill to serve collieries and quarries along the route. It was a major undertaking, covering more than 14 miles with 19 locks and 34 bridges, at a cost of around £80,000 (£7.2m). It was opened in 1796 and business boomed. Producers along the route were able to get material out much faster than before. The age of the canal was a major step forward in England's industrial revolution. But it was short-lived. As the canal business reached its peak in 1839, along came the railways and within five years, receipts had plummeted. The canal was bought by the Ambergate and Manchester Railway and struggled along for the next few decades, but by the turn of the 20th century, trade was negligible. The canal became neglected, traffic ceased and in 1937 it was finally abandoned.

The book remembers notable incidents from the canal's past, especially the tragic accident in 1818 when a boatman dropped a hot clinker onto a leaking store of gunpowder. The ensuing explosion killed eight men and two boys. According to the authors, it was said that a boatman was flung 100 yards across the canal by the blast. And a rare photograph from 1860 shows a sail barge moored in the shadow of Nottingham Castle. The wharves disappeared from the city landscape in 1884 when they were filled in during the construction of Castle Boulevard. Today, only a short section of the Nottingham Canal survives intact, from Meadow Lane Lock to Lenton, where it joins the Beeston Cut. Narrowboats still cruise through, but mainly for pleasure, and the view across what were once open fields, has changed beyond all recognition.

The fascinating book also looks at the history of other important waterways including the Beeston Cut, the Grantham Canal and the Chesterfield Canal. At a launch ceremony held at the County Archives in Castle Meadow Road, County Councillor John Cottee, cabinet member for culture and community, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for people to learn about canals and how important they were to British history. "They revolutionised the transportation of goods long before we had cars and lorries."


Turning Back The Pages on Nottinghamshire Canals, Compiled by Ray and Joanne Bickel, Notts County Council publication ISBN: 978-0-902751-66-8 Paperback 56 pages Price £3.95 (plus £3.00 p&p) at:

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Worksop Creative Village

An imaginative £1m plan to turn historic old buildings into a Creative Village has been unveiled. The old fire station, carriage house, workshop, garage, print works and electricity works between the Canal and the River Ryton will be restored and converted into offices and studios for creative industries like graphics design, architects, craft workshops, animation and video production studios, photography and fashion design. New buildings will provide additional studios as well as toilet facilities.

The development of Worksop Creative Village will create 18 new work units and 15 new jobs.

Economic Development Manager, Robert Wilkinson, says “As an absolute minimum we’ll get much improved workspace and remove an eyesore from the town centre. In addition, positive regeneration initiatives like this improve the attractiveness of adjacent sites for private sector developers.

“These plans are part of a three-pronged approach to regenerating a dilapidated area in Worksop’s town centre. If the scheme is too big it could easily collapse if one of the individual elements making it up fails due to funding or other problems. These might include restrictions imposed by working with listed buildings.

“Extensive work on regenerating conservation areas has taught us to break the larger project into discrete elements, which can stand by themselves. In this case, the Canalside site is one of three elements of a bigger conservation area. The other two are the Canch including the library area and the Worksop Priory area.

“The Canch is already undergoing considerable regeneration covering the adiZone, fountains, footbridges and pathway infrastructure improvements. The Worksop Priory area is subject to heritage restoration around the Gatehouse and the Community Hall, as well as Bassetlaw District Council improving the Priorswell Road car park.

“The Worksop Creative Village project ‘bites off’ the middle section of the Canalside site, initially in two phases. The Canch project links to the site via a footbridge.

“Our research shows that locating creative industries close together makes for easy interaction between people working in different creative disciplines. It’s worked extremely well elsewhere, resulting in vibrant work zones where people thoroughly enjoy developing exciting ideas into commercial propositions.”

Portfolio holder for Community Prosperity and Deputy Leader of the Council, Keith Isard, added, “There’s a wealth of creative talent in Bassetlaw and our investigations show that there’s a good deal of interest in the idea of Bassetlaw having it’s own creative village. Studios or craft workshops within 15 miles of Worksop are fully occupied and there is sufficient demand for dedicated creative workspaces at this site rather than office space.

“Of the respondents surveyed 90% of felt that a Creative Village would be a benefit to them and 73% of businesses consulted expressed the need for this type of facility.

“There’s additional demand from 45-50 businesses for creative industries workspace. In line with managed workspace and clusters, the respondents indicated they’re willing to travel up to 30 minutes to a suitable facility. The Worksop site is a 35-minute train journey to Sheffield, which may provide additional demand”

Now that Cabinet approval has been given to proceeding with the project, the tender for the construction and refurbishment work will go out at the end of November. Once the tender has been awarded work is due to begin in the middle of May 2011 with completion due at the end of February 2012.

The existing tenants are on short-term lets and have been made aware of the potential for redeveloping the site. They will be given six months notice to leave and helped to find suitable alternative premises.   

Thanks to Roger Bunting for reminding me about this.

University of Sheffield 2011 Field Schools

Manor Lodge Project 2011
Between 13 June and 15 July 2011 The Department of Archaeology will be offering fieldwork training at the Scheduled Ancient Monument at Manor Lodge, Sheffield. The focus will be on the location of the medieval and sixteenth-century hunting lodge of Sheffield. The hunting lodge sat amidst medieval parkland, and was only subsumed within the urban sprawl from the 1930s. One of the most well-known events in the history of Sheffield Manor Lodge was the period in the late sixteenth century when Mary Queen of Scots spent part of her captivity there. She was in the custody of George Talbot, sixth Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife, known popularly as Bess of Hardwick. Our excavations seek to illuminate this period of Sheffield´s history, when the Manor Lodge was at the centre of events of national and international significance. Once the property passed into the hands of the Dukes of Norfolk the lodge fell into a ruinous state, and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries a pottery kiln was constructed at the site, coal mining occurred and workers´ cottages were built amidst the ruins. All traces of this industrial activity were stripped away in the early twentieth century, and one of our aims is to throw light on this aspect of the site´s history.

 Thornton Abbey Field School - 19 June to 16 July 2011During the 2011 season we will be concentrating our efforts just to the north of the church and the graveyard, in an area that has seen no previous survey or excavation work. Documentary research suggests that this area contained the mill as well as the ‘great barn’ of the monastery, and these are known to have continued in use well into the post-medieval period. On the ground the water channels, or ‘leat’, for the mill are clearly visible as well as the medieval bridge that crossed it (see right).

Students attending the field school will play a central role in continuing the geophysical and topographical survey of this area, as well as taking part in the excavation of the possible barn and mill areas. Whilst all work is supervised by experienced staff from the University of Sheffield, volunteers get to take part in all the key activities.

The field school fee is £180 p/w. This includes supervision, course materials, all meals, accommodation and weekly pick up & drop off at the local train station (Thornton Abbey).

If you live within the County Council districts of North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire or West Lindsey you can attend the excavation for free so long as you provide your own food and make your own way to site.

Accommodation is in the form of camping close to the site, and we have a limited number of tents that may be borrowed if requested in advance.


Bracebridge Pumping Station

Plan to Cut Open Times at Newstead Abbey

NEWSTEAD Abbey, the ancestral home of Lord Byron, faces reduced opening times as part of cost-cutting drive.

Nottingham City Council is set to change the way it runs the historic site in a bid to make savings and balance the budget - and while the gardens will continue to stay open throughout the year, access to the house will be mainly by appointment for pre-booked groups, conferences, weddings, catering and as an event venue.

The proposals would mean that house tours for the general public will only be available on Sundays (between April and October), on Bank Holidays, for Christmas events and for heritage open weekends.

If given the go-ahead, the plans would mean that house tours for the general public will be available on Sundays (April to October) and Bank Holidays and for Christmas, festive events and heritage open weekends. It is proposed that school groups would continue to access Newstead Abbey as before by pre-booking.

Council bosses say that it costs the authority up to £600,000 a year to run Newstead - but these proposals could halve this.

Earlier this month, the Government announced a 16.5 per cent cut in the council’s budget - which equates to a £60 million reduction in grants for the next financial year.

The new operating model will only be implemented after the 90-day consultation period has concluded.

A spokesman from the council said: “The City Council remains open to discussions on how best to continue to manage the house and site in the longer term and is willing to talk to other partners or operators about the site and how best to preserve and conserve this important part of Nottinghamshire heritage.

“In the meantime, it is proposing to change to the new operating model to reduce its costs and ensure access is maintained to this important heritage site.

“The new arrangements would lead to changes in staffing and operations and consultation is currently underway with affected staff and the trade unions.

“Every effort is being made to re-deploy staff where possible and minimise job losses as result of the changes needing to be made.”


Portable Antiquities Scheme Day at Clifton Park Museum

On Wednesday 16th February there will be a chance to take your finds along to Clifton Park Museum, Rotherham to be identified and catalogued by the local  PAS officer.   The  event runs between 14.00-16.00 

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Archaeologists to probe Sherwood Forest's 'Thing'

A team of experts hope to shed new light on one of Nottinghamshire's most mysterious ancient monuments.

A 'Thing', or open-air meeting place where Vikings gathered to discuss the law, was discovered in the Birklands, Sherwood Forest, five years ago.  In January 2011 experts plan to survey the hill and see if they can detect signs of buried archaeology and the extent of the site.   The site was found by three local historians after a treasure hunt.   It started after husband and wife team Lynda Mallett and Stuart Reddish, along with their friend John Wood, came into possession of a 200 year old document.    It described a walk around part of Sherwood Forest which marked an ancient boundary.  They searched for the boundary on the landscape and found a place called Hanger Hill on which stood three stones.

The historians, from Rainworth, researched further and found that the same place was called Thynghowe on a 1609 map.   This was significant.   "A 'thyng' is the name of a Viking assembly site while a 'howe' is possibly a Bronze Age burial ground," said Lynda.

Lynda and Stuart then formed The Friends of Thynghowe and invited members from the three local historical societies to join them.   Over the last five years they have researched the site, establishing its importance.   References to Nottinghamshire's Thynghowe have been found in an ancient Forest Book dating back to the 1200s.

The site is also thought to be a bronze age burial mound.  
It is thought that Thynghowe may have marked the boundary between the Anglo Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Northumberland.   However, it may date back much further, as 'howe' is a term often used to indicate a prehistoric burial place.   "It's a very exciting find," said Stuart. "We're talking about 4,000 years of history in the heart of Sherwood Forest."   This and other Viking meeting place locations were chosen for their acoustics.

Stuart said a voice spoken at the meeting place in the Birklands can be heard from hundreds of yards away.   Research has found that the site was used for centuries.   "We've got documentary evidence that people met there right up to the 1800s. Local people were still meeting up there and raising each others spirits 200 years ago," said Stuart.   The site has now been recognised as a national rarity by English Heritage and added to their National Monument Record.

Funded by local donations The Friends of Thynghowe have been working hard to increase public awareness of the site's history.   "We've put a marked trail in, we've produced leaflets and booklets," said Lynda. "We've done a lot of work to promote this."  

Every April they also host an annual walk around Thynghowe, explaining all the history of the site. In 2011 it will be held on 16 April.  
And they are now putting in an application for Heritage Lottery funding to develop 'trail tales' for school children.   "So they can start to connect these exciting stories with the real history of Sherwood Forest," said Lynda.   "This is our real cultural heritage," added Stuart. "We love Robin Hood, we love the Major Oak but this is real history. This represents families that have lived in the area and it belongs to the people of the area."

A topographical survey using total station and GPS will take place from 17 to 22 January 2011.  
Archaeologists from University College London will also be present using magnetometry to reveal the extent of the site and what may be beneath the ground.   Friends of Thynghowe and interested members of the public are invited to come along and help on Thursday, 20 and Saturday, 22, 9.30am - 12.30pm and / or 1.30pm - 4.30pm. Booking is essential.

If you are interested in attending on either or both of these dates please contact Alex Price, the Local Improvement Schemes Project Officer on 07753625571.


Saturday, 25 December 2010

Happy Christmas to All our Readers :)

Felicitations of the season to you all!

Nice to have a white Christmas and a bit of lovely sun here, hope you get all the presents you wished for :)

Happy Christmas one and all.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Goodbye Castle Market!

A BID to have Sheffield's Castle Market listed has been turned down by English Heritage – which said the building was "not notable", did not use high quality materials and was not of artistic interest.
Sheffield Council had objected strongly to the application, fearing a decision to preserve the post-war building would prevent redevelopment of the area, planned for when the market is moved to a new building on The Moor.

The site is earmarked for a new open space, where sections of Sheffield's old castle hidden beneath the market will be exposed.
There will also be offices, apartments and part of the planned pedestrian Steel Route, which aims to link Victoria Quays and the Wicker with the rest of the city centre.

Victoria Ellis, Heritage Protection Co-ordinator for English Heritage, said: "Externally the building's appearance is not notable, nor is its construction technologically innovative.

"The materials used in the main are concrete with terrazzo tiling, some now rendered and painted, and metal-framed windows. There is a lack of use of high-quality materials, in contrast to the nearby Castle House – listed Grade II – the contemporary former Co-operative department store.

"Castle Market is an intelligent design for a difficult site, done by a notable architect Andrew Derbyshire, though early in his career.
It is one part of the wider post-war regeneration of Sheffield, aimed to put the city at the forefront of modern urban planning.

"However, the building does not display the quality of design or materials, the technological interest in its construction or the artistic interest which is found in the best market halls of this era and consequently does not meet the criteria for listing."

The decision was welcomed by Sheffield Council.

Leader Coun Paul Scriven said: "I'm delighted the Liberal Democrats have been successful in persuading English Heritage not to list Castle Markets. If listed the building would have been a dead weight around the neck of Sheffield's local taxpayers for generations to come.
"Now we can get on with delivering the new market at the bottom of the Moor knowing that there won't be a spanner thrown in the works.
"I only wish that local Labour politicians had taken the same approach in previous years with other similar buildings when they ran the council, such as Park Hill.

"Past experience has shown that London-based experts listing local large unpopular 1950s and '60s buildings only leads to local taxpayers having to fork out for something that they don't want."

Sheffield Council previously failed in its appeal against the decision to list Castle House Co-op department store.

An appeal can be made to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport over the English Heritage decision on Castle House.

The identity of who made the application to have Castle Market listed has not been revealed.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Castle Market Sheffield NOT Listed

It's just been announced that English Heritage's bid to get Castle Market in Sheffield listed has failed.  I have to say on a personal level I'm glad Castle Market hasn't been listed, I've spent many hours man and boy shopping in there but I'll be glad when they pull it down and show the city's hidden jewel- Sheffield Castle.

I'll publish the news from one of the local papers as soon as I can find one.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Friends of Firbeck Hall - Newsletter #9 out now

Just received my Friends of Firbeck Hall Newsletter today, it's great to hear that contact with the buildings new owner, Mr Cooper, is going well.

Hopefully the hall will be restored back to its once great beauty again in the near future.

Friends of Firbeck Hall website

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Women of Steel Share Stories for Oral History Project

Sheffield´s Women of Steel have shared their stories with students from the University of Sheffield to keep alive their memories of working in the city´s steelworks during World War II.

The recordings were part of a wider campaign, led by the Sheffield Star in partnership with Sheffield City Council, for recognition for these women whose efforts in the workshops of the steel industry sustained Britain during the war.

Three women from the campaign met with five students from the University´s School of English this week (13 December 2010) to record their memories to produce permanent digital artifacts. They discussed their role in the factories, what they enjoyed about their work and personal memories of family life and relationships during this time.

The recordings were taken as part of the student´s Collaborative Learning and Teaching module in the School of English which sees students taking their own responsibility for a project. The project is linked to the Storying Sheffield module which sees students working with members of the local community to collect, record and produce stories about their lives in Sheffield through creative representations.

The recordings will be showcased at an event in February which is part of the Off the Shelf History Weekend. The interviews will also be made available to the public on the Storying Sheffield website and will feed into the Council´s current plans to produce a permanent memorial in the city centre to commemorate the women´s efforts during the war.

Holly Willis, a third-year student from the School of English, said: "It´s been so interesting to meet with people who lived through the war. Their experiences are so far removed from anything we have been through and I think it is really important to keep these memories alive and give these women an opportunity to pass their stories on to our generation. I´ve heard some really interesting stories today, and I think the ladies we´ve spoken to have also enjoyed hearing about how our generation view their efforts during the war."
Notes for Editors: The oral histories will be posted on the Storying Sheffield website in the new year.

Off the Shelf Festival - Highlighting History will take place 3 - 6 February 2011.

Author events with historians and local history talks and walks have proved to be one of the most popular elements of the Off the Shelf festival and in 2011, for the first time ever, a mini festival is being organised on this subject. The four day event will include popular tv historians Michael Wood and Amanda Vickery, a talk on Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey, illustrated talks by local historians, history walks, workshops, open days at Sheffield Manor Lodge and Bishops House and more. For details pick up a leaflet from 7 January 2011, visit the website below or telephone 0114 273 4400.


History of Miracles Goes Online

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have launched a new online catalogue examining the history of miracles through the ages. The database includes over 600 miracles spanning three continents and 800 years of history, and allows for exploration of links between records, such as locations, gender and the outcomes of the miracles. The information has already revealed that miracles became more diverse over the years and that the lower classes appeared to be more favourably treated by the saints. You can view the catalogue on the University of Sheffield website.


Thursday, 16 December 2010

Newark Torc Goes on Exhibition at British Museum

The British Museum has exhibited the Newark Torc alongside the museum's own Sedgeford Torc, both of which date back to the pre-Roman Iron Age. Composed of twisted gold wire strands attached to hollow terminals, both torcs are adorned with 'La Tene' decorations, Past Horizons reported.

Visitors can see the two relics at the museum's Britain and Europe (800BCE -43CE) gallery in an exhibition which clearly depicts the complex craftsmanship behind their construction.

The broken Sedgeford Torc was found near the village of Sedgeford in Norfolk is displayed in separate components.

The larger part of the torc has been slightly unwound which makes it easier to see the technique employed in braiding the gold wires.

The dislocated terminal, which was found separately during fieldwork by the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project in 2004, shows the way that the wires were joined together.

The Newark Torc is a complete torc found by a metal detector on the outskirts of Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, England in February 2005 and declared Treasure in May of that year.

The torc is made of electrum, an alloy of gold, silver and copper, weighs 700 grams and is 20 centimeters in diameter. It was purchased in 2006 for Newark's Millgate Museum, with significant grant aid from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

The body of the torc is composed of rolled gold alloy wires, plaited into eight thin ropes, which were then twisted together. The ring-shaped terminals bear floral designs.

The Newark Torc is closely similar to the Sedgeford torc and some experts suggest that they might have been made by the same craftsman.

A Grim Almanac Of South Yorkshire (New Edition now available)

Fascinating stories of the grim and grisly: Almanac of the area’s dark past includes slaughter, murders, accidents -and boring executioners...IT is a dark diary probing into the most macabre moments of South Yorkshire’s 19th and early 20th century history. There is the murder of three children by their Rotherham mother who left a suicide note for her husband saying simply: ‘I am gone mad.’ There is the day in 1832 when troops fired on a Sheffield crowd waiting for election results to be announced and the 1841 Rotherham boat disaster which left more than 50 children drowned on a sunny gala day. These are just some of the ghastly incidents recorded in a new book on our region’s most dreadful days. For every date of the year there is a different crime, disaster or tragedy.

It is called A Grim Almanac Of South Yorkshire, and it more than lives up to its name. “It’s not necessarily easy reading,” admits author Kevin Turton, who grew up in Kimberworth Park, Rotherham. “But it’s fascinating stuff. “No-one likes the thought of crimes being committed or disasters happening but there’s still a deep interest in it somehow - there’s still a need to know about it. “But it’s more than just a book about crime - it’s a social history too. It’s not about kings or queens; it’s about real South Yorkshire people and how they lived. “It’s about poverty and struggling against the odds, and, in that way, it’s not just grim, it’s also quite sad.”

Perhaps the saddest tale of all is that of the Rotherham boat disaster. It was a July day which started with huge excitement over the launch of a new 70-ton ship from the town’s Masbrough Boatyard on Forge Lane. But it ended with untold agony for countless families. Hundreds of children were taken to the gala ceremony with many, as was tradition, allowed to board the vessel - the John and William - as it was rolled into the canal. But the boat was too large for the angle of the roll and it capsized as it hit the water. Those on board were thrown into the canal and were trapped beneath the rolling boat. Despite the rescuers’ best efforts more than 50 youngsters - half of them from Rotherham’s only public school - perished. “It’s a very moving story,” says Kevin, who has released 15 books, many of them about similar foul historical events. “It’s strange because it seems largely forgotten in Rotherham - certainly I wasn’t aware of it before I started my research - but it is incredibly significant. These were children from some of the town’s wealthiest families. It scarred the place for some time.”

In a similar vein the book recalls the 1908 incident in which 16 children, aged between four and six years old, were crushed to death as they tried to get into a cinematograph show at Barnsley’s Public Hall. “It is hard work to research incidents like that,” admits Kevin, 59. “But, perhaps because of how long ago it was you can detach yourself from it - you have to.”
Alongside such disasters - which also includes the Sheffield Flood of 1864 and the Silkstone Colliery disaster of 1880 - sit crimes which are equally as morbid. And equally as fascinating.
Perhaps more than most is the tale of Charles Peace, a charming Sheffield dandy, womaniser and one-time circus lion tamer, who led a double life as a killer and crook during the 1870s. Peace was executed when he was 47 years old but by that time he was already one of the most infamous men of his generation - adored by many for carrying out a life of crime while lodging respectably with a policeman, despised by others for the murder of two men including Arthur Dyson of Banner Cross. He committed countless robberies across the country including in Hull, Nottingham, Birmingham and London. And, although many times did he tell the few women who knew his secret that he intended to give up crime and live respectably, his addiction to life on the edge always got the better of him. He committed one crime too many and was caught in Blackheath, London, in 1879. He was executed on the scaffold. “In many ways he was a British Billy The Kid figure,” says Kevin. “For a while he really was that notorious. “There were several cheap court papers around at the time, almost comic-book in their writing and the way they would exaggerate and even romanticise criminals, and Peace was one of those stories which they picked up on. I suppose in that period of poverty there was something very appealing about a former steel worker becoming rich on the profits of robbing from the rich.”

The part-time college course advisor, who now lives in Northamptonshire, adds the idea for the book came while he was researching for a previous tome - Foul Deeds And Suspicious Deaths In Rotherham. “There seemed so many odds and ends I stumbled on while I was working on it - like the story of Peace - that I thought they had a place in a second book.” He spent six painstaking months in the libraries and archives of Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley putting together a nasty deed or disaster for every day of the year - sometimes a murder, sometimes a riot, sometimes a witchcraft trial, and on one occasion a public talk. That was September 6, 1879, when a crowd of more than 600 people turned up at a Sheffield lecture hall to hear William Marwood, the country’s foremost public executioner, speak. When, however, he refused to talk about his job, preferring instead to lecture on The Bible and the forthcoming election, a near riot broke out. He was repeatedly heckled, while many audience members walked out threatening violence if their money was not returned.

And perhaps, therein, lies the biggest clue to why A Grim Almanac Of South Yorkshire, now in its second edition after a first version was published in 2004, is expected to prove so popular. “I suppose those people went to the talk because there was that same fascination with the dark side of things,” says Kevin. “Perhaps there is still that fascination there now.”

- A Grim Almanac Of South Yorkshire, published by The History Press, is available now, price £14.99.

ISBN 0752456784 (2010)/ ISBN 0750938188 (2004)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Sheffield's Blitz Children Relive Dark Days for Exhibition

MEMORIES came flooding back for some of those who lived through the Blitz when they helped relaunch an exhibition at South Yorkshire's Aeroventure Museum.
Some of the survivors of the Sheffield Blitz of December 1940 travelled to Lakeside in Doncaster to see for themselves a depiction of what they witnessed in the darkest days of the Second World War.

Five Sheffield pensioners accepted an invitation from the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum on Airborne Road, which has marked the 70th anniversary of the devastation with a reconstituted exhibition showing what the city centre was like on the night the Luftwaffe dropped their bombs across a wide area.

The museum purchased a Blitz diorama which used to be housed at the old John Banner building in Attercliffe in the 1990s and it has now been relocated to a more prominent position and with better lighting, recreating the searchlights during the blackout.

Chairman Frank Donnelly said: "Last September The Star published a request from the museum for the memories of people who were children aged six to 16 at the time of the Blitz. We received 15 terrific letters from a variety of boys and girls, each with their own experience to tell.

"Many recall the sheer terror of their feelings in air raid shelters, quite a few recall the excitement of those times, evacuation, and pride in their relatives doing everyday things like being firemen, air raid wardens, and serving in the Armed Forces. All these letters will become a permanent part of the display for posterity."

Museum spokesman Ian Kingsnorth said: "Everyone who turned up for the event had a very good time and it was moving to hear their recollections.

One chap had been evacuated to Melton Mowbray at the start of the war but drifted back to Sheffield because there had been no bombing just weeks before the Blitz. They were getting quite emotional talking about what they saw. I think it also helped people take stock of the fact that they had been spared."

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Exhibition: Nine Men’s Morris - a Creswell Crags Medieval Mystery, Creswell Crags 11 December 2010 - 27 March 2011

When archaeologists working through the Victorian spoil heaps at Creswell Crags in 2006 uncovered a stone with a familiar carved geometric pattern, it opened yet another aspect of the ever-developing story of the important prehistoric caves.

What the experts from Sheffield University had unearthed was in fact a medieval incarnation of the strategy board game Nine Men’s Morris, which had been popular since Roman times.

Its discovery provided a glimpse into medieval activity at the Crags, which is the most important cluster of caves inhabited during the last Ice Age and the scene of paleolithic finds ranging from stone tools to cave paintings. But it also opened up a medieval mystery; how did the game get there and who had made it?

Now a new exhibition in the Special Exhibitions Gallery at the Ice Age site explores who might have owned and played this long forgotten strategy game.

Other medieval finds, including coins and bottles, were discovered alongside the stone carved game suggesting the site may have been used as an illegal drinking and gambling den by the monks linked to nearby Welbeck Abbey.

As well as pondering the behaviour of their medieval forebearers, visitors have the chance to have a go on an interactive version of Nine Men’s Morris and, of course, see the real medieval board itself. 


Christies Old Master sales from Portland Collection

At Christie’s, £4.4 million of Old Masters were sold from the Portland collection – the name given to the treasures inherited by the late Anne Cavendish Bentinck, the last Duke of Portland’s daughter and one of Britain’s wealthiest women, who died unmarried nearly two years ago. One of the stars of the collection was a highly-charged, nocturnal nativity scene, The Adoration of the Shepherds by the northern Caravaggist, Gerrit van Honthorst, which sold for a record £1.1 million.
Christie’s had earlier taken £8.6 million for items of jewellery from the Portland collection, which will all, no doubt, go towards running the estates of Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire, the family seat. 


Monday, 13 December 2010

Community Archaeology - Bestwood Park - Tuesday 14th December!!!

An opportunity to help excavate the Japanese Gardens at Bestwood Lodge is starting  tomorrow.  
Location: Bestwood Lodge Hotel, Bestwood Lodge Drive, Arnold, Notts, NG5 8NE 
Time: 10am

Blitz 70th: Silent tribute to remember Sheffield victims

A SNOWY Sheffield cemetery fell silent in tribute to hundreds who lost their lives when the city was devastated by German bombers 70 years ago.
Wreaths were laid and a minute's silence observed at City Road Cemetery to mark the anniversary of the Sheffield Blitz.

The ceremony took place yesterday at the mass grave for victims of the World War II bombings.

Several local community groups took part alongside police officers, MP Paul Blomfield, Manor and Castle Development Trust, Park Community Action, Skye Edge Group, Manor Top PA and one of The Star's Women of Steel, Dorothy Slingsby.

Children from Wybourn Primary School joined in and laid their own floral tribute.

A total of 668 Sheffield civilians and 25 servicemen died, 1,586 were injured, and 40,000 made homeless during two nights of bombing in 1940.

Yesterday's event was organised to remember effect war has on the ordinary people and pay tribute to their sacrifices.

Tickhill Medieval Glass Windows now on Internet

THE stained glass windows at St Mary's Church in Tickhill can now be viewed on a website that has been established by Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevia of Great Britain.
St Mary's is one of hundreds of churches around the country to feature on the site dedicated to the recording of medieval stained glass. It explain's the project's activities and presents a digital picture archive, which includes 23 images of the Tickhill windows.
Log on to

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Worksop Manor Lodge - Planning Permission Sought

It was listed in this weeks Worksop Guardian that the owner of Worksop Manor Lodge, Mr Cooksey, has sought planning permission from the council for turning the derelict Grade I listed building into a dwelling

Applications this year have been:
02/10/00356/L   24/09  Cover the roof with Cumbrian Green Slate – this was refused
02/10/00417       15/11 Construct 3.5 bay garage – Consultation Period
02/10/00414/L   15/11 Conversion to 3 bedroom residential dwelling – Consultation Period
02/10/00413       16/11 Same details as 02/10/00414/L – Consultation Period

...More news as we get it...

Friday, 10 December 2010

Osberton Hall up for Sale

Next week's Country Life will herald the sale of one of Nottinghamshire's most important houses, Grade II*-listed Osberton Hall at Osberton, near Worksop, following the death of its sporting owner, Tony Budge, in February this year. Knight Frank (020-7629 8171) and Shield Estates (0114-257 1000) quote a guide price of £3.35 million for the imposing brick and stone house, with its fine Dower House, magnificent stable courtyard and 47 acres of grounds, which were the heart of the Foljambe family's surrounding Osberton estate before being sold to Mr Budge in 1987.

The dynamic Foljambe family were major landowners in the region as far back as 1272, when Sir Thomas Foljambe was bailiff of the High Peak in Derbyshire. From the 18th century onwards, the family intermarried with the Thornhaughs, original owners of Osberton, the Saviles of Rufford, and other noble houses. The architectural lineage of Osberton Hall is no less illustrious.

In 1792, plans to build a new mansion at Osberton on the site of an earlier 18th-century house were commissioned from William Porden, a pupil of James Wyatt, who was appointed surveyor of the Grosvenor estate in Mayfair, and designed the stables, riding school and tennis court at the Royal Pavilion at Brighton for the Prince of Wales in 1804-08. Porden's scheme for a new seven-bay house was never implemented, but, in 1806, the architect and Classical scholar William Wilkins, pioneer of the Greek Revival in Britain, remodelled the Hall for F. F. Foljambe along the lines of Porden's original design.

In 1848, Ambrose Poynter, who carried out major alterations at Upton Pynes, Devon (Property Market, November 17), added a top floor to the service wing. By the 1870s, Francis John Savile Foljambe-described in L. Jack's The Great Houses of Nottinghamshire and the County Families (1881) as ‘an ardent sportsman, tall, broad-shouldered and clean of limb'-owned some 10,000 acres of land in Nottinghamshire, 5,368 acres in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and houses in both counties, including Monks' Tower near Lincoln.

Between 1872 and 1880, he engaged the eminent architect John Macvicar Anderson, a close friend of Richard Norman Shaw, to substantially remodel and extend the hall. The portico was replaced by a porte-cochère in Roche Abbey stone, the terrace was extended, and the approaches to the house were altered and improved to take advantage of the ‘fine sylvan scenery'. A new wing was added on the north-west front, comprising a dining room, a spacious library and other apartments; at the same time, the old library was converted to a billiard room.

The former drawing room was replaced by ‘a magnificent saloon or central hall, the most sumptuous apartment in the whole house'. A massive oak staircase led to the gallery where the family portraits were hung, and the ground floor still houses some of the Foljambe family's extraordinary collection of stuffed British birds.

Osberton's 1967 listing describes the Hall's magnificent interior as being ‘exceptionally well-preserved'. In addition to its reception rooms, the main house has seven principal bedroom suites, and 12 secondary bedrooms. Other principal buildings, including the four-bedroom Dower House, the Victorian stone stable block designed by William Lindley, and the former service wing converted in the 1970s by G. M. T. Foljambe into an indoor-pool complex, squash court and gymnasium, are listed Grade II.

The Foljambe men were fanatical country sportsmen. Successive estate owners were masters of the Grove Hunt, which was founded by George Savile Foljambe in 1827 and amalgamated with a neighbouring pack to form the Grove and Rufford in 1952. They were also model landowners who took a keen interest in the estate farms. The Osberton Jersey herd, started by F. J. S. Foljambe in 1869 to provide milk and butter for his household and employees, is one of the oldest in the country, although the milking element was largely dispersed when the hall was sold in 1987.

Osberton's sporting tradition was carried on by the estate's new owner, who in his heyday was the second-biggest British racehorse owner behind the late Robert Sangster, with a string of successful flat and jumping horses trained by Richard Hannon and Jimmy Fitzgerald. Sadly, Mr Budge's aviation, engineering and mining company fell victim to the recession of the early 1990s, signalling the end of his formal connection with racing, but not his family's affection for a remarkable house, which continues to reflect the commitment of successive generations to a way of life that survives against the odds in the English countryside.

From Osberton,Hall,

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Fourth Annual Interdisciplinary Workshop at the University of Nottingham

The fourth annual Interdisciplinary Workshop at the University of Nottingham on Sunday 12th December. The event opens at 10.00 and covers several topics including:

‘Disabilities of Mind: Text and Narrative’ by Sally Crawford /Paul Crawford (School of Nursing, University of Nottingham) Christina Lee Wendy Turner (Augusta State University) Mental Health in Later Medieval England ‘Three Ventricles in Medieval Brain Mapping and Three Categories of Mental Disability in medieval law: a connection?’ Anne Bailey (Oxford University): 'Madness and Miracles: Hagiographical perceptions of mental illness in twelfth-century England'Legal impediments Chair: Irina Metzler: (Swansea University) ‘Speechless: Hearing and speech impairment as a medieval legal problem’ Ivette Nuckel (University of Bremen): ‘Risk and Danger in Late Medieval Underground Mining

Theresa Tyers & Rachel Middlemass (University of Nottingham): ‘Disabling Masculinity: manhood and infertility in the High Middle Ages’

On Monday 13th December:
The Impaired Body in the Scandinavian North Chair: Judith Jesch Malte Ringer (University of Nottingham): '”Seals’ fins and dogs’ heads”: infants with disabilities in the Nordic law codes' Amy Mulligan (University of Bergen): ‘The Boundaries of the Human: monstrous births, class-based deformity and anxious determination of bodily normativity in Old Norse-Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon literature and law’ Anne Irene Riisøy (Oslo University): ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes: body evaluation the Viking Way’

Leprosy Chair: Christina Lee Damien Jeanne (CRAHAM, University of Caen): ‘Leprosy, lepers and leper-houses in between human law and God’s law – 12th – 13th centuries’ Spencer Smith (Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales): ‘Under the skin of a Landscape: Medieval Leper Houses in North Wales’ Simon Roffey (University of Winchester): ’A tenth-century Leper Hospital? Excavations at St Mary Magdalen, Winchester’

Anglo-Saxon Minds and Bodies Chair: Sally Crawford Fay Skevington (King’s College, London): ‘The Unwhole are not like the Whole: the Semantics of Anglo-Saxon Disability’ Sarah Gilbert (Cambridge University), ‘A preliminary investigation of the treatment of people with mental illness or impairment in Anglo-Saxon England’

Contact: for further information or see

Monday, 6 December 2010

Family History Scrapbooking Session at Worksop Library

There is a free family history scrapbooking session this Saturday (11th December) at Worksop Library between 10.00 and 12.00.  The session is open to anyone including children.  The event involves creating a family history scrapbook to take home and keep in the family for future generations, or give to a relative as a Christmas present! Bring family photos and dig into the library's collections of images, newspaper cuttings and other documents of Worksop past to bring your story to life. please note booking is advised.

Historic Somersall Gatehouse Up For Auction

HISTORIC cottage which was used by coachmen employed by the owners of a country estate is to go under the hammer at a sale in Sheffield this week.
The Lodge, is a two-bedroom Grade II listed cottage dating back to the 1700s and was previously one of two gatehouses for Somersall Hall, near Chesterfield.

According to auctioneers, it still retains some of the original features which would have been used by the estate's staff, although it has been partly modernised.

The present Somersall Hall was built in 1763 on the site of an earlier 17th century house owned by Godfrey Clarke and his son Gilbert who served as High Sheriff of Derbyshire in 1652 and 1676 respectively.  Estate agents said the property, which has a minimum guide price of £130,000, "requires updating but offers much potential".

Lucy Crapper, of Sheffield-based Blundells said: "The cottage retains immense charm and character and now requires a scheme of cosmetic improvement and refurbishment.

"The existing gatehouse, which was extended in the 1950s and again in the 80s, now offers very spacious accommodation and offers a unique opportunity to purchase a period building."

Ms Crapper said the property is within easy of Chesterfield town centre and a short distance from Chatsworth House.

The cottage will be auctioned at Sheffield Park Hotel, Chesterfield Road South, at 2pm on Wednesday along with a number of other lots.

More information is available from Blundells on 0114 223 0777 or at the  website.