EXTRACTS TAKEN FROM “A Guide to Bradfield Parish” Produced by Bradfield Parish Council (produced prior to 2002)
The Civil Parish of Bradfield is very large, being something over 36,000 acres in extent, and having a population of 17100 at the 2011 Census. This population is concentrated mainly in the village centres of High and Low Bradfield, Dungworth, Loxley, Wharncliffe Side, Oughtibridge, Stannington, Worrall and Midhopestones, with half a dozen smaller hamlets, Ughill, Storrs, Holdworth, Hollow Meadows, Brightholmlee and Upper Midhope.
FARMING AND INDUSTRY IN THE PARISH
Four thousand years ago the first farmers settled in the Parish of Bradfield. Evidence of this is the stone circle, situated northwest on Broomhead Moors, believed to have been used as a calendar. The Stone Circle is shown on Ordnance Survey maps of the parish, but it remained a location on the map until early 1976 when a moorland fire destroyed the heavy overgrowth, and revealed the stones on the ground forming the Stone Circle.
When the Romans arrived 2000 years ago land was cultivated with oxen and wooden ploughs. The Romans created roads that enabled salt to be carried from Cheshire to preserve food through the winter. These routes of which the Racker Way is one, can still be seen today on the ridges of the hills going through villages and hamlets such as Stannington, Dungworth and High Bradfield. With the Romans came the horse. This replaced the oxen and more work was accomplished.
A thousand years ago the Norman conquest influenced the farming community with the introduction of taxes. Here farmers had to make a profit for these taxes to be paid. Iron tools replaced wooden tools to give a higher standard of cultivation.
About 200 years ago saw the introduction of the enclosure act. This changed the look of the countryside. In the Bradfield Parish the abundant stone in the soil gave the area a lot of small Fields. The influence of the industrial revolution had a large effect on the people, who moved from the countryside to Sheffield to gain a higher standard of living.
Fifty years ago farmers were still using the horse. A typical day was milking by hand and delivering the milk in churns to the surrounding districts of the City by horse and cart. Forty years ago tractors were used for the first time, and within 10 years the farm horse vanished from the country side. Thirty years ago with the use of the milking machine, more fertilizer and hydraulics, farmers were able to dramatically increase food production. Today there is a new role for the modern farmer. He is now required to balance crop production with an urgent need to preserve the countryside and stop it losing its character.
Water, wood, coal, clay and gritstone were the elements of industrial growth for Sheffield. Those valleys which bound the parish, the Rivelin, Don and Ewden and our own Loxley bear witness to the energy and inventiveness of the people. Of particular interest is the Loxley Valley Walk created by the Sheffield City Countryside Management Project. The remains of five water driven mills are to be seen and perhaps the most notable is that of the Little Matlock Wheel – 18 feet diameter and 12 feet long. It is the largest in the area. Water is still a key resource for the City and, although, in the Loxley Valley ganister is no longer worked for crucible pots, a modern refractories industry remains to serve the hi-tech steel industry of today. At Wharncliffe Side there is a large, modern paper mill. In each of the larger communities in the parish there are small industrial enterprises.
BRADFIELD PAST AND PRESENT
Bradfield really consists of two villages; High Bradfield and Low Bradfield. Both are dominated by St. Nicholas Parish Church, which dates from 1487, and can be seen from many parts of the Parish, standing 860ft above sea level. Inside are many interesting features such as the Saxon Cross, found at Low Bradfield in 1870 and subsequently placed in the church in 1886. The Norman Font is said to have been given by the Cistercian monks of Roche Abbey.
At the gate of the church stands the Watch House, a multiangular building. It was built in 1745 to prevent Body Snatching. As it is the only surviving Watch House in Yorkshire, it is of historical interest.
Beyond the church yard, behind the church is Bailey Hill. No one seems to know its true origin or purpose. It may have been a look-out post or a Chieftains home, but one thing is certain, it was used by Saxons and Normans.
Almost opposite “The Horns” stands the Old Work House built in 1769 to house the poor and homeless of the Parish.
At the top of Woodfall Lane is the former Church Hall. It was once the Church of England Day school, erected in 1841. It is now a private dwelling.
A steep 1/2 mile descent lakes us down Wood fall Lane to Low Bradfield. At the bottom of the hill lies the village shop and Post Office, which has belonged to the Elliott family since 1935. It is open long hours during the summer to cater for the influx of visitors. Opposite the shop is the “Cross Inn”, converted to a private house some years ago. Next to it a cluster of pretty cottages.
At the other side of a rough lane is the Village Hall. Situated in the corner of the lbbotson’s Memorial Field, it is the centre of most village activities, ranging from the Historical Society to many a Wedding Reception! The lbbotson Memorial Field is also, the centre of village life. During the summer months there are cricket matches, bowls competitions and tennis tournaments, all to be seen on a pleasant summer stroll round the Field.
The large house overlooking the field, and indeed the whole village, is Burnside the home of the lbbotson family from 1865 to 1966. lbbotsons have lived in Bradfield for at least four hundred years, probably even longer than that.
Many pretty cottages stand in the centre of the village and the former smithy is now a garage and workshop.
Over the hump-backed bridge is a pleasant and popular picnic spot by the side of the stream. Beyond that, is the old mill dam. Situated in front of you at the road junction is the Village School, sadly no longer in use.
Turning left into Mill Lee Head you will find the former Sunday School, now converted for use by the Parish Council. Opposite this is the Methodist Chapel constructed in 1899. Next to the chapel stands the Water Filter Station. This was built in 1913 to purify water from Strines, Dale Dike and Agden reservoirs, situated further up the dale.
The origin of the Feoffees date back into the fifteenth century to the time of King Edward IV, when 12 acres of land at Thornhouse were left to the Trustees of the Chapelry of Bradfield, for repair of the Church and relief of the poor of Bradfield. Since then other land and property was left to the Feoffees. The word Feoffee first appears in 1552 and is quite simply a group of persons of known integrity, entrusted with looking after public land and property. The books and documents for the Feoffees were kept in a large wooden chest made in 1615 and this same chest is still in St. Nicholas Church at Bradfield. The present Feoffees charity was set up at the beginning of this century. It has three parts, namely:
1. The Bradfield Feoffees Estates Charity
It is responsible for all the buildings in the triangle of land in High Bradfield bounded by Brown House Lane, Jane Street and Towngate plus the Watch House by the Church. This is all that is left of the Feoffees lands. By the early 1990’s this property had been modernised to a standard more in keeping with the 21st century. The Feoffees Estates Charity has formed a Housing Association to renovate and manage the property.
2. The Bradfield Feoffees Poors’ Trust
Its income is derived out of the income of the Estates Trust and usually dispenses it to Senior Citizens Groups within Bradfield Parish.
3. The Bradfield Feoffees Educational Foundation
This body meets to consider giving financial assistance to pupils of school age who reside in the Parish of Bradfield or Stocksbridge.
The Sheffield Flood
On the night of the 11th. March 1864, between 11.30 pm and midnight, the Dale Dyke dam embankment burst. The resultant breach released 76 acres of water (or about 691,000.000 gallons). This mass of energy went surging down the Loxley Valley towards Malin Bridge and Hillsborough and beyond through Owlerton, Neepsend, Kelham Island, the Wicker and cellars near Masbro’ Bridge at Rotherham were flooded. Damage was estimated at the then figure of £500,000. More than 240 people died. A Memorial Plaque to remember the event and those who lost their lives, was dedicated in Bradfield Parish Church on 12th. March 1989.
A PARISH MISCELLANY
It is impossible in a few short pages to encompass the whole history and character of our Parish. This guide is merely a taster for the curious visitor. To tempt you further, dear reader, we present, a short miscellany of features and facts drawn from many sources across the parish.
Cultural and Sporting Life It is not surprising to find in a community which is so widespread and still essentially rural in character, that the cultural life of the parish is so diverse. Making music is in the tradition of village life. There are fine bands at Oughtibridge, Stannington and in 1989 Loxley Methodist Silver Band celebrated its lOOth Anniversary.
The churches and chapels in most communities have enthusiastic choirs, whilst, the international reputation of the Worrall Male Voice Choir is guaranteed to fill a hall, and represents serious competition to the choirs in neighbouring Bolsterstone and Grenoside. Traditional village galas and fairs are held during summer at Oughtibridge. Worrall, Wharncliffe Side, Dungworth, Bradfield and Midhopestones. Craft Fairs often reveal the skills and talents of parish people. The fair held each year on Easter Monday at St. Nicholas, High Bradfield, brings together many of the artists in the parish. At Bradfield School the PTA have established a fair which in recent years has helped provide a Mini-bus and many other key items of equipment for the school’s drama, sports and curriculum endeavours. Sporting opportunities are legion, fishing, shooting, walking, climbing, sailing, golf, tennis, football, riding as well as cricket and bowls. There are opportunities for bird watching or simply relaxing by a moorland stream to escape from the work-a-day world.
Holdworth is a hamlet about halfway between Loxley and Bradfield. It is one of the few local places to be mentioned in the Domesday Book. The main drawback to Upper Holdworth in days past used to be the lack of water to the farmsteads in Summer. The springs soon dried up which caused people to spend many hours water carting when there was so much other pressing work to be done. However now that the water main has been put down the top road (Worrall Moor) those days are thankfully over. There are around a dozen farmsteads in Holdwarth, the land is mixed but good mostly, the rest are private houses and cottages. There is one Public House – Nags Head in lower Holdworth, and now a Garden Centre which attracts large numbers of people in Spring and Summer. We also have the Carmelite Convent on the Top Road. In days gone by the bell used to tell the men in the fields the time of day every quarter hour.
Kirkedge Murder In March 1782 Francis Fearn planned to entice a Sheffield Clockmaker Nathan Andrews to High Bradfield an the pretext of starting a club to purchase clocks. It subsequently transpired that Fearn attacked and murdered Andrews on the road at Kirk Edge. Following his trial and execution in York four months later, his body was returned in chains and hung from a Gibbet on Loxley Common, Fearn’s last bones were said to have fallen on Christmas day 1797.
Storrs is about one mile from Dungworth and most property dates from the 17th to 19th Centuries. In bygone years, the Chapel Anniversary Sermons were held in the farm yard of Storrs Grange Farm. Nearby is Storrs Mill which during its life has been a corn mill, a grinding mill and a paper mill.
Glen Howe Park, Wharncliffe Side Entrance by Green Lane Wharncliffe Side. In extent some 19 acres given to the people in l9l7 by Joseph Dixon and John Mills. Glen House Tower dates from 1881. Spanning Tinker Brook is New Mills Bridge, which was erected by Benjamin Milns in 1734, getting its name from the Corn mill which stood at its northern end, when this Pack Horse bridge was at its original location in the Ewden Valley. It was taken down stone by stone 1925-26, when the reservoir was being built, and re-erected through the generosity of Mr. Joseph Dixon. The Cecil Brearly Memorial Seat commemorates the work of Mr. Brearly who was Keeper of Glen Howe 1930-1974.
Load Brook Load or Lode is a lane or road across a moor or hog. The hamlet of Load Brook developed from farms, when in the 19th Century Mr. William Trickett owner of Load Brook farm, started the brickworks on his land. Ganister or Pot Clay is an important refractory material and was used in the developing iron and steel manufacturing industry in the Don Valley.
Moscar Largely a modern hamlet starting from 1821 and the mid. 19th Century land clearances. The land hereabouts was the subject of a 150 year long boundary dispute between Hathersage and Bradfield Parish (Hawksworth division). It was settled in 1724.
Cruck Barns In the parish may be found a few remaining barns which were constructed by the Cruck system. Naturally bending oaks, at the least 18ft high, were used to make the arched timbers called Crucks. These were set on the flagged door and supported the roof. No nails were used, only oak pegs.
Mortimer Road Made in the 1770’s to link the Peak District with the woollen manufacturing districts to the north. It was the idea of Hans Winthrop Mortimer, Lord of the Manor of Bamford, who hoped to reap profits from tolls he could impose on the road which began at Penistone Bridge to Midhope, Bar Dike, Strines over Bamford Moors to Grindleford Bridge. Beside the wall at the top of Strines Hill is a special ‘Take off ‘stone – here horses hired for the extra pull up the hill could be ‘taken ‘ at the marker. However, it was not to be and Mortimer did not comply with the conditions of the authorising act of 1770 and be died in poor circumstances in 1807.
Brightholmlee Consists of 19 homesteads including the hamlet proper. The area includes many buildings with architectural interest. Field and place names reflect the natural flora, Hagg Wood, Thorn House, Ashen Cliffe etc. Quarrying and mining (coal at Spout House and in Hagg Wood lead). The spoil heaps remain and are an important archaeological site.
Brightholmlee Methodist Chapel Deed of sale for the 440 sq yards of land known as The Great Horse Close from Mr. John Helliwell to Mr. Thomas Holy (a personal friend of John Wesley) and others was signed 2nd January 1810 and measures 2’x2.5‘ .The price for the land was £6 13s 4d. In 1937 Mr. Platts, a builder, gave by deed of gift. a further 246 sq yards of Freehold land at the rear of the Chapel for future development. With the exception of Carver Street Chapel in Sheffield, Brightholmlee is the oldest in the Sheffield district in continuous use.
NETHER-MIDHOPE The Mediaeval Foundation The earliest known records of Midhope reach back to the reigns of King Henry III and Richard I, for there was a charter of agreement dated 1227, between John de Midhope and Hylienus Waldershelf, Midhope mill was then in existence. From John de Midhope the manor descended to Elias, son of Robert Blake, who died in 1337 and then the estate moved to Thomas de Barnby. According to tradition, the first chapel at Midhope formed part of the manorial hall. It is said that this chapel stood on the South side and that around1300 the Barnby’s turned it into a granary. At this point, they built, the basic structure of the present chapel. This fabric is of great age; and at the restoration effected in 1705 by Godfrey Bosville, he not only rescued it from absolute ruin, but happily conserved much of its ancient character. The loveliest and most valuable part of the furnishing of Midhope Church is the pulpit. This is a charming piece of craftsmanship dating from the English Renaissance period, 1590- 1640.
Midhope School The first day school was erected at Mid hope in 1732 and was in use until 1826. The second day school, which was known as “Subscription” school was to be a great boon to the children of the township. This “Free School” was for instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic of eight poor children, whose parents “shall be or shall have been inhabitants of the township of Midhope, and not dissenting from the Communion of the Established Church.” It now serves as a City College Outdoor Centre and the Community Centre.
The St James’ and Potter’s Wells St James’ well stood within the precincts of the manorial homestead- This well may have been held in superstitious reverence long before Anglo-Saxon, Dane or Norman came on the scene The mediaeval Christians of Midhope made St James the Less, patron saint of their chapel, the tutelary saint for the well’s safekeeping.
Midhope Potteries came into being in 1720 and a William Gough built the thirteen houses (Pot House Fold) the ovens or kilns, plus the drying sheds etc. He also built the Potter’s Well. This well consists of two stone troughs side by side, one for drinking water, and the other for domestic use in the potteries. The ceremony of the Blessing the Wells takes place each September. Although Midhope stands amidst three reservoirs , the residents had no water piped into their homes until the mid “Nineteen-Thirties”.