Retro: City got the abbey habit

Mrs E. M. Hemmingway, pictured, pointing to the old "Monks Well" in a field near Beauchief Abbey, which has been smashed by vandals - 6th May 1966
Mrs E. M. Hemmingway, pictured, pointing to the old "Monks Well" in a field near Beauchief Abbey, which has been smashed by vandals - 6th May 1966
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One of the oldest buildings in Sheffield can be found in Beauchief, the first B in our A to Z of Sheffield and surrounding areas.

That’s Beauchief Abbey, which was founded around 1175 by Robert FitzRanulph for the Premonstratensian religious order, known as the White Canons because of the colour of their robes.

Beauchief Abbey - 1980

Beauchief Abbey - 1980

The order was started by St Norbert and the members were priests, not monks.

The abbey land originally stretched across 800 acres and the land around the abbey boasted several fish ponds fed by a small stream. Some of the ponds can still be seen.

After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, he sold Beauchief to Sir Nicholas Strelley for £223.

The estate passed through marriage to Edward Pegge, who in 1671 built his mansion Beauchief Hall from stones from the abbey, which was in ruins in those days. He also added the small church to the abbey tower.

Beauchief Gardens, Sheffield - 14th October 1974

Beauchief Gardens, Sheffield - 14th October 1974

The hall changed hands several times in later years and in 1958 was bought by De La Salle College for use as a school, which was leased for part of that time to a girls’ school.

After the school closed it was sold again and became used as offices.

De La Salle cricket club have a ground close to the beautiful setting of the hall.

The hall and surrounding land are now in a conservation area, in order to protect the history of the abbey.

Beauchief Hall, Sheffield - 30th November 1983

Beauchief Hall, Sheffield - 30th November 1983

The site is bordered by Ladies Spring woods and by Beauchief and Abbeydale golf courses.

A decade ago, campaigners had to fight to prevent parts of the old abbey complex being turned into modern housing.

Beauchief Abbey Barns Association was set up with the aim of restoring buildings associated with the abbey and opening them up for the community.

Chair of the group Prof Francis Evans said at the time that the whole area had belonged to Frank Crawshaw who in 1931 gave the abbey and its buildings as a gift to the people of Sheffield to be cared for by the council.

Another notable building in the area is the Beauchief hotel on Abbeydale Road South. It started life more than a century ago as a railway station hotel, serving a major rail link to London.

The hotel website says that it “has also served as a watering hole for steel merchants travelling to and from factories located in the industrial heart of the Steel City”.

Thirsty work, being a steel merchant.