The Friends of Sheffield Castle are a voluntary group who aim to protect and promote the archaeological site of Sheffield Castle for the benefit of the people of Sheffield and surrounding areas, and for future generations.

We will acquire and disseminate information about Sheffield Castle, at both local and national levels and work with local, regional and national organisations to protect and promote the remains as a source of enjoyment, education and inspiration for All.

Another perspective

It’s always healthy to present contrasting opinions….

The short-sightedness of people when it comes to our built environment never ceases to amaze me.  Take Sheffield’s Castle Market complex. Designed by the local authority architects, it answered a brief to fit a large new market onto a small site by going up – several floors of market stalls, with an open centre, streets in the sky, and office accommodation.  Opened in the early Sixties it thrived for two decades until the council started to cut back on funding and maintenance in the Eighties.  By the end of the twentieth century it was looking worn and neglected, and the council had already got it in the back of their mind that they wanted it down. People still refused to stop shopping here, there had after all been a market in this area for 700 years. In the end the council started to end leases, and built an awful new market building right across the city, then forced the remaining traders out of business.

The new hall is dreadful, glitzy bits of surface decoration on an otherwise empty void, with a few stalls clustered together in the centre looking lost.  And they couldn’t even fill those. Despite a campaign amongst people who know about such things, and the offer of help, advice and solutions to refurbish the original market buildings, the council – who made much of how neglected the site was (forgetting to add that this was their fault) voted to have it down.  They refuse to tell anyone how much the demolition would cost, but admitted the quotes were half a million more than they expected.  They had also done an additional half a million pounds worth of deliberate damage to the building to assess the condition of the structure – before they’d even voted on what to do with it! And it was a close run vote, just one councillor tipping the balance for bringing it down. So any idea of a thriving independent rent controlled shopping centre was out the window and the bulldozers moved in.

English Heritage?  Didn’t want to know, despite this being a totally unique example of a C20 market hall packed with loads of interesting, high quality fixtures and fitting.  Check out the hand made earthenware tiles on one facade.  The demolition contractors must be delighted with the acres of teak handrails which sell for a small fortune. What now for the site?  The council have plans for an urban park, access to some tatty remains of the former castle, and a Disney-esque recreation of the castle keep to ‘regenerate’ the area (come in Banksy).

There is a near complete Norman castle just a few miles up the country, which is mostly empty when I visit and has done nothing to regenerate the local area there. They applied for a grant for all this but were laughed out of the Heritage Lottery offices.  So there is no funding, the site will remain a wasteland, and we all know they’ll sell it off as soon as people have forgotten about it. While all this was going on some locals published a book celebrating Sheffield’s post-war modernist ambitions and surviving architecture of the 50s and 60s.  A time when councillors were willing to listen to people with vision and knowledge, and regeneration actually meant something.

Henry Rawlinson

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts!

What Savile did next…

Sir William Savile

Sir William Savile

On the 9th May 1643 Sir William Savile, a great-grandson of George the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, was appointed governor of Sheffield Castle. He did not remain long at Sheffield as he was required elsewhere for more urgent duties, and in June 1643 Thomas Beaumont Esq. of Whitley near Huddersfield , where the family had its seat since the reign of Henry III, was appointed deputy governor of the castle and town of Sheffield under Sir William Savile, who left his pregnant wife at the castle under Beaumont’s protection.

These more urgent duties took him to the Royalist Army, and in October the same year he was in command of a force of Royalist cavalry under Sir John Henderson which set out to relieve Bolingbroke Castle, which was besieged by a Parliamentarian force under the earl of Manchester

The Earl of Manchester was besieging Bolingbroke castle and at the same time the Royalists were besieging Hull.

On the morning of Wednesday 11 October 1643, Manchester drew up his whole army (minus enough men to continue the blockade of the castle) on Kirkby Hill, overlooking Bolingbroke. It must have made an impressive sight. Some time between Noon and 2pm he set the army in motion towards Horncastle, the cavalry and dragoons soon leaving the slow moving infantry and artillery behind. Meanwhile, Sir John Henderson was advancing from the other direction. In a classic “encounter” battle, the two sides blundered into each other at Winceby 3 miles up the road from Bolingbroke and just into the rolling wolds countryside. The ground was not ideal for a battle – the field falls away into sharp gullies on one side – but it would do.

At around 1200 men each the opposing forces were roughly equal in size. All were initially mounted, both forces consisting entirely of cavalry and dragoons – the Parliamentarian infantry was still struggling up from Bolingbroke by the time the action was decided and it appears that the Royalist infantry had been left to garrison Horncastle, as sources do not mention them.


Winceby was a small battle compared with Marston Moor (approximately 45,000 combatants) or Naseby (up to 25,000), and only lasted half an hour, but was very decisive. A feigned retreat by Cromwell lured the confident Royalists from a strong position down onto flat ground, ensuring the Parliamentarians would not have to charge up hill. Then the Parliamentarian “forlorn hope” (a troop of dragoons) began the action by firing at their opposite numbers on the Royalist side, who replied. Hoping to catch the enemy before they could reload, Cromwell led his cavalry in a charge, but the enemy managed to fire off a second volley at very close range that knocked down several men and horses, including Cromwell’s. It was here that the latter’s career as a soldier nearly ended before it had truly begun – unhorsed (and probably dazed) in front of his enemies he was in mortal danger. He received a glancing blow from the sword of Sir Ingram Hopton, commander of the

Royalist dragoons, but in the confusion of battle somehow managed to find a remount and carry on the fight.

Although personally unhorsed, Cromwell’s charge had shaken the dismounted Royalist dragoons and the right wing of their forces. However, the rest of the line held and under Sir William Savile sought to counter attack as Cromwell withdrew to reform. This was defeated by a perfectly timed flanking charge by Sir Thomas Fairfax, which smashed the Royalists aside.

As Fairfax charged, the Royalists were confused by the order from Sir William Savile “faces about” (to meet his attack). Some thought it was the order to retire and vital cohesion was lost just as Fairfax’s men crashed into them. The Royalists were utterly routed and fled the field….as Parliament’s True Relation says, ”they rann for it leaving all their dragooners which were now on foot behinde them”.

Worse, as the Royalists fled back towards Horncastle many became trapped against a parish boundary gate that only opened one way (against them)….as the press of men jammed it shut, the vengeful Parliamentarians closed in and a number were killed or captured (the location is still called “slash hollow” today). The pursuit lasted many miles, with the vanquished losing about 300 men (including many apparently drowned in a gravel pit), the rest gradually straggling into Newark and other Royalist garrisons (although if you believe the Parliamentarian propaganda, more prisoners were taken than there were men in the whole Royalist force!). 35 standards were taken. Sir Ingram Hopton had been killed and other officers captured.

The Parliament Scout claimed only 10 killed and a few wounded on their side in the fight, which is very low, even allowing for a rout where most of the casualties are inflicted on fleeing men. However, it appears more were killed or wounded by their own side in the vigorous pursuit through mistakes, because they forgot or muddled up the watch word of the day (“Truth and Peace” for Parliament, “Newcastle” for the Royalists), or because battle-mad troopers did not believe they were on the same side even if they remembered to call it out. Lord Manchester later said “I cannot hear that there was killed on our side above twenty and hurt about sixty”, which would seem reasonable estimate.

The relief attempt had been totally defeated. And just to rub salt into the wound, almost at the same instant the sound of booming cannon could be heard far in the distance. By a peculiar combination of atmospheric conditions, the troops were hearing the garrison of far away Hull firing their cannon in celebration – the Marquis of Newcastle had finally abandoned the siege and was retreating.

Savile next appears at York, where he was killed in fighting on the 244th of January, 1644. In accordance with his instructions in his will, he was buried at his estate at Thornhill on the 15th of February.

His widow, Anne, who left Sheffield Castle after the siege by Parliament with her child born during the siege, later married Sir Thomas Chicheley of Whimple in Cambrideshire. She died and was buried there around 1666.

Peter Bayliss

T. Walter Hall research

twalterhallT. Walter Hall was a Sheffield solicitor who, after his retirement, devoted much of his time to researching the Sheffield Manorial Records, which he translated from the Latin and published in three volumes. However, the records were incomplete, and he again devoted much time in trying to trace their disappearance. In Volume 1 he lays out the evidence he had found, and in the process gave a detailed description of events surrounding Sheffield and its castle in the Civil War. The following is taken from that description.

Peter Bayliss

In 1606 Alethea (daughter of the last Earl of Shrewsbury and inheritor of most of his estates) had married Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, a true lover of the arts and a patron of Rubens and Van Dyck; but who were residing at the castle immediately following the death of Earl Gilbert is not clear; it is probable that for a time at any rate the dowager countess made Sheffield her home, and as we have seen the manor courts were held in her name. The castle and the Manour, a summer mansion across the Park sometimes called the Lodge, were maintained in a condition adequate for the occasional visits of members of the family…

For some years prior to 1640 the Earl of Arundel held a high military command, and he had for many years held positions of great responsibility to the State. In 1640 the king decided to send him, then sixty years of age and in failing health, to the continent to raise arms and money in readiness for the struggle with Parliament which he foresaw   and did little or nothing to avert; and in 1640 the House of Lords granted Arundel permission to leave England.

The King had a double motive in sending the earl, as he was to escort Queen Henrietta Maria and Princess Mary to Holland; the y took with them the Crown Jewels on which money was to be raised through the banks of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. They sailed from Dover on the 23rd February 1641-2, and landed in Holland, where the Queen raised about £2,000,000 within 12 months. She sailed in an English ship with 11 Dutch transports laden with stores and ammunition for the King’s army, and after losing 2 transports in a storm, landed at Burlington on the Yorkshire coast. Meanwhile the Earl of Arundel and his countess moved south into France and Italy where he expended a large sum, said to be not less than £56,000 of his own money, in procuring arms and ammunition for the royal cause.

During the earl’s absence abroad prior to the outbreak of civil war Sheffield castle would be left in the charge of his chief officer and staff, but the leading families in Sheffield of that date, Brights, Spencers and Jessops, were not supporting the King, and neither the earl nor his staff at the castle could rely on them for help in case revolutionary fighting arose in Sheffield.

Lord Maltravers

Lord Maltravers

In June or July 1642, a month before war began, Lord Maltravers, the son and heir of the earl and an officer in the royalist army, visited Sheffield. He ordered ‘four wheel-pieces’ to be sent from the castle to Doncaster, as it had been decided that Sheffield castle could not be successfully held against an attack in strength, and strategically the position was not worth holding at any great sacrifice.

As soon as Lord Maltravers left and the guns had been sent to Doncaster, Kellam Howmer, the armourer at the castle did what he could to secure it for the King’s cause; but as soon as war began on the 22nd August 1642, the Sheffield townsmen seized the castle for the Parliament and placed it under the control of Mr. Christopher Alured. John Bright of Carbrook, after helping to secure the castle for his party, went to York to join Fairfax, where he soon rose to the rank of Colonel. In October the earl of Newcastle marched on York and Fairfax was thrown back on the manufacturing towns of the West Riding.

In 1643 the Royalists reached Rotherham and some of the Parliamentarians from Sheffield attempted to stop their progress at the bridge between Attercliffe and Sheffield, but being outnumbered they withdrew into Derbyshire, and the Earl of Newcastle took the castle without further resistance.

On the 9th may 1643 Sir William Savile, a great-grandson of George the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, was appointed governor of Sheffield Castle. He did not remain long at Sheffield as he was required elsewhere for more urgent duties, and in June 1643 Thomas Beaumont Esq. Of Whitley near Huddersfield , where the family had its seat sine the reign of Henry III, was appointed deputy governor of the castle and town of Sheffield under Sir William Savile, who left his wife at the castle under Beaumont’s protection.

In September 1643 the Earl of Manchester was ordered to co-operate with Fairfax in Yorkshire and the position of the Royalists in Sheffield Castle was threatened. In 1644 the Earl of Arundel, who was still abroad, was in great financial distress , partly through loss of income and partly through helping the King; his income which had been about £15,000 a year was reduced to £500.

Sir William Savile

Sir William Savile

Sir William Savile, for whom Beaumont acted as deputy, had died shortly before the 24th January 1643-4 and the Marquis of Newcastle had written to Major Beaumont under that date to say he intended to take over the government of Sheffield and that Beaumont would remain his deputy; after Marston Moor Newcastle left England, and without support from outside Beaumont could not hope to hold the castle against Parliamentary troops for any length of time, backed up as they were by the leading townsmen of Sheffield. Further, he had in his care in the castle Lady Savile and many other women and children who had taken shelter there when the storm broke. These were urgent considerations and the friendly approach of Major General Crawford decided Beaumont to deliver up Sheffield Castle on the best terms he could get, which were prepared after due deliberation on both sides and embodied in articles of agreement, signed on the 11th August 1644, on which day Major General Crawford took over the castle and put Colonel John Bright of Carbrook in charge as governor; but the latter was soon promoted to York as Military Governor, and Captain Edward Gill of Norton, who came of an old Sheffield family, was put in his place as governor of the castle, and his duties extended to the town and manor.

As a Royalist whose lands had been seized, the earl of Arundel, still abroad, submitted to spoliation and sale of his estates, and so forfeited the whole, except one fifth which was reserved by statute for the families of delinquents. This was the position in April 1646 when the House of Commons resolved that Sheffield castle was to be made untenable as a fortress. Shortly after this order was given, news reached Sheffield that the Earl of Arundel had died at Padua where he had his temporary home.

On the 13th July 1647 the House of Commons, not content with making Sheffield Castle untenable, resolved that it should be ‘leighted and demolished’. In March 1648-9 Major Andrew carter came from York to view the castle, which was then only partly demolished, in accordance with the first resolution of the House of Commons.

On the death of the earl, his son, Henry Frederick Lord Maltravers succeeded to the title, and under the settlement of 22nd May 1627, became lord of Hallamshire and lord of the Manor of Sheffield. On the 5th January 1649-50 he wrote to his estate agents in Sheffield, that as far as possible they were to make what was left of the castle into a ‘fitting habitation’ for him to come to; three weeks later Major Carter again visited Sheffield to see that the demolition work was being carried out to his satisfaction , and his report , after making suggestions for further destruction, concludes by saying ‘This, I conceive it, will make it as untenable as other ordinary gentlemen’s houses’.

Despite the instructions of the new Earl, it was found that the demolition of the castle had been so complete that reconstruction was impossible, and in the absence of the earl, the castle, then in ruins, was allowed to gradually disappear, the stones and timbers being carried away and used in the construction or repair of other buildings.

Countess Alethea continued to petition Parliament that she had been unfairly penalised by the seizing of her estates when she had never opposed Parliament until her death in Amsterdam on the 24th May 1654.

Laid Siege

Saturday 3rd October from 1pm to 3pm
Two performances: 1.15pm and 2.15pm

Castle RE 09A Short Play
A look at the inhabitants of Sheffield Castle, workers and the Old Queens Head Tavern during the siege in the 17th century

Introductory talk by Ron Clayton
on the troubles surrounding Sheffield Castle during the Civil War

To be held at
ETEN Cafe, 2 – 4 York Street (next to the Cathedral)

Donations only please in support of Friends of Sheffield Castle

Sheffield Castle surrender document

One of the few people mentioned by name in the surrender document of Sheffield Castle in August 1644 is in Article VII:

АRT. VII. That Kellam Homer, now living in the Castle, shall have liberty to remove his goods into the town, or elsewhere, without molestation.

Kellam Homer was the town armourer, and in “A Sheaf of Essays by a Sheffield Antiquary” by Charles Drury (1929), it says he was paid the sum of £10 in this capacity in 1637.

Drury also records that he was the owner or leaseholder of a grinding wheel in Colston Croft, an order being made that neither he nor any of his tenants there “shall grind and glace neither night nor day, but they shall draw the by-shuttle to let water pass unto the corn mylne, unless they keep their own wheel goinge with sufficient water for the said corn mylne” – default 10 shillings.” This grinding wheel was apparently situated on the goit near Millsands and received the water before it reached the town corn mill.

Supplied by Peter Bayliss

A walk with Ron

Friday 11 September 2015 from 10 – 12

Sunday 13 September 2015 from 10 – 12

two “Castle Walks” with Ron Clayton – 1000 hrs meet Castle House – 1200 hrs finish Old Queens’ Head. Donations to Friends of Sheffield Castle welcome on the day.

Battle of Sheffield Great Park (continued)

“Went the Day Well?” asks Ron Clayton

FoSC’s Marie Gilman reported back on a sunny, blustery and slightly inclement day on 1st August at Manor Lodge where she clutched tenaciously at our stand supports as valiantly as Sir Edmund Verney held his Sovereign’s standard at Edgehill Fight in 1642.  A busy day of movement and noise witnessed camp life, recruitment, training and push of pike, matchlock firepower and hand-to-hand, watched by a numerous crowd swarming over this historic site on which the eyes of the English Court were focused in the 16th Century if not later.

Who won?  The answer is lost in the fog of war, except that the certain victors – the people of Sheffield – have seen and will read of another acknowledgement of a Sheffield past that has more romance and more excitement than dreary urban concrete modernism or nostalgia and sentiment for a recent lost past.  For the people of Sheffield who visited the stalls of the Friends of Sheffield Castle and Friends of Sheffield Manor Lodge we have some exciting events in the pipeline for Autumn.

So as “The Sealed Knot” is for The King, then you can say that (for the present) they hold Sheffield for him – for John Bright’s Regiment of Foote has now decamped, leaving behind considerable booty at Carbrook Hall (of which more later)!

Ron Clayton

The Battle of Sheffield Great Park – Ron Clayton writes

An unforeseen work commitment means that I can’t be up at the Manor Lodge on 1st August for the Battle of Sheffield Great Park so, because I can’t tell you in person about the fascinating world of Civil War Artillery, with its sakers, demi-cannons, culverins, etc, I have provided here a few online thoughts for you to ponder:

The Queens Pocket Pistol has been featured on this website before and it’s worth a look back at this truly iconic piece of Sheffield’s history which (unlike the Town Guns of the 18th Century, now in Kelham Island Industrial Museum) was fired in anger by both Royalist and Parliamentarian. Some of the myths about the QPP are easily dismissed, one being that it was powerful enough to be fired from its now permanent home (Dover Castle) to project a missile onto the French shore.

In a local context, the story that it was sited on Wincobank Hill to batter a breach in the wall of Sheffield Castle is a myth. Nor was it sited on Spital Hill (hence the demolished locality of Cromwell View). In fact, the story that the QPP and its companion demi-cannon were individually sited in the vicinities of the “Big Gun” in the Wicker and the “Cannon” in Castle Street has slightly more credibility (more especially in the case of the former). But what is undeniably true is that the arrival of these two large siege/artillery pieces spelled the death knell for the Royalist occupation of Sheffield Castle in the August of 1644.

However, many mysteries remain. When you folk explore the Turret House at Manor Lodge you will note two cannonballs of vastly different sizes in the room occupied by Manor Lodge’s excellent Sheffield Castle Display Boards. The smaller one was found in a wall of the ruins and the other in a cellar: but why, and what were they doing here? We have no record of any fighting on the site.

The Civil War was in many ways a rather amateurish affair except for the experience brought to the conflict by those officers who had fought in the Thirty Years’ War, such as David Leslie or those who displayed a flair for the military art such as Cromwell himself (the nearest the eventual Lord Protector came to Sheffield being Doncaster). We know that cannonballs were in short supply and were cast at Wortley and Wadsley Forges – and stone ones have also been found in Sheffield – so such ammunition was precious as well as being heavy! Don’t try to lift the big one. It’s capable of breaking masonry, let alone your foot!

One wouldn’t discard such valuable assets, so did they just “fall off a cart” as things tend to do in Sheffield?

Either way, this “roundshot” has left a mark on Sheffield’s history and its Castle, as will be evident when the ruins emerge and we see the actual cannon-shot damage that was first noted in the 1920s.

Ron Clayton

The Battle of Sheffield Great Park

Saturday 1st August 2015 from 11am — 4pm

battle2015aAn English Civil War re-enactment with “The Sealed Knot Society”
at Sheffield Manor Lodge

Visit the camps of the Cavaliers and Parliamentarians, decide who you want to support (King or Parliament?) and then watch them fight an epic battle, which commences at 12.30.

Also come and visit the Friends of Sheffield Castle and Friends of Manor Lodge tables to see our display presentations, promotional goods and general information. We also look forward to welcoming new members and anyone who would like to assist our “friends” groups in any way.

Tickets from Green Estate (not the Friends):
in advance:    adult: £3    child: £1.50
on the day:    adult: £4    child: £2.00

book via email: info@greenestate.org or call 0114 276 2828 (Green Estate)

Enter through Sheffield Manor Lodge Discovery Centre, 197 Manor Lane, Sheffield S2 1UJ

(NB: this is a “Manor Lodge Green Estate” event with the Friends of Sheffield Castle and the Friends of Sheffield Manor Lodge in attendance):