Strong interest in tours of 358-year-old Sheffield heritage site

Tours of a 358-year-old heritage site rooted in Sheffield’s industrial past are still available - but going fast.

By David Walsh
Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 2:46 pm

Guided tours of the grounds, former stables and staff cottages of Whiteley Wood Hall promise to shine a light on a rich and unique history dating back to 1663.

Purchased by Sheffield Girl Guides in 1935, it has been a centre for outdoor activities ever since. The organisation is throwing its doors open to the public on Saturday September 11 for Heritage Open Days.

Committee member Ann Evans said: “We have over 60 guided tours booked - it will be hectic - but there are still some vacancies. And there are stirrings of interest from possible links to some of the families that have lived in the hall, which we didn't know about. So there will be mysteries solved on the day.”

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Committee chair and former Brownie leader Gillian Nottingham at Girlguiding Sheffield's Whiteley Woods Outdoor Activity Centre.

Alexander Ashton built Whiteley Wood Hall, off Common Lane, in 1663. A date stone can still be seen in the grounds.

Most famously, from 1757 it was home to cutler Thomas Boulsover, inventor of silver plating, known as ‘Sheffield Plate’.

This more affordable substitute for silver saw an explosion in its use on items from jewellery to buttons to snuff boxes.

It was also occupied from 1864 by Samuel Plimsoll, inventor of the Plimsoll Line, indicating maximum safe loading on ships, and from 1913 to 1925 William Clark, managing director of Vickers Ltd which made armour plate, ships, cars, tanks and torpedoes.

Gillian Nottingham in the courtyard. The buildings were originally the gardener’s cottage and the coachman’s cottage (later the chauffeur’s cottage), stables, storage for carriages, a tack room and a barn with mounting steps. There was also a hay loft.

The hall was eventually demolished in 1957. The remaining buildings are Girguiding Sheffield’s Outdoor Activity Centre.

The organisation was battling back after being ‘floored’ by Covid shutdowns when a roof survey found repairs of £300,000 were needed.

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A date stone from the original hall, with three ‘A’s of the couple who had the hall built, Alexander and Alice Ashton, and the date: 1663.
Committee member Ann Evans in a dormitory with old roof timbers exposed.
Ann Evans in the former orchard.
Entrance to the former orchard.
Former coachman's and gardener's cottage.
Ann Evans in a former stable with original cobbles.