This plaster overmantle is on the wall of the bedroom in Bishops House. The room was built around 1650 and in 1648, William Blythe paid three pounds for “boards and plaster” from the ruins of Sheffield Castle. It is possible that the panels in this room are the boards and the overmantle is the plaster.

The woman’s head is the same design as one on a wooden overmantle from Greenhill Hall, demolished in 1964. The winged heads are copied from a pattern book published around 1560. Can anyone connect the design with Sheffield Castle?

photos (c) Nick Robinson

Comments

Plasterwork in Bishops House — 5 Comments

  1. The plaster in the bedroom at Bishops’ House remains a puzzle. Are they Talbot dogs or not? Is this the “plaster” William Blythe bought on the demolition of the Castle, along with his “bords”, total cost £3 as the bill of sale still held? It is a fact that William Blythe and Edward Gill were the officers left in charge of the “sleighting” of Sheffield Castle after Col John Bright was recalled to York. Recent studies of Bishops House’ have revealed a lot more building work than previously thought took place there around 1650. Apart from a stone extension housing the plaster and bords there must have been some demolition as the cellar built then goes well under the area occupied by the 1550 extension, and the two storeys above must have been rebuilt afterwards to link old and new. Structural beams suggest a large part of the House was re-roofed at this time. The windows in the stone walls don’t all match, which seems strange. Which begs the question – where DID William Blythe get all his building material?

  2. Mr Brown
    Good to hear from you again. David Templeman, Friends Of Manor Lodge, has argued that they are not Talbot Dogs because of stylistic differences. As regards the ‘plaster and bords’-I lean to your deductions. Two suggestions- A fairly recent article in ‘History Today’ refers to a site in south Sheffield where it is considered that a fire place from the castle is in situ. Is this Bishops House? As regards the plaster-why not consider consulting David Bostwick – ex Sheffield City Museums and Tudor/Stuart Plasterwork expert?

    Best

    Ron

    • David is quite right to question the “Talbot dogs” as it is usual for them to be depicted with tongues hanging out, and the ones over the fireplace at Bishops’ House do not. However, this is not a heraldic presentation, it is a spray of flowers with two dogs’ heads (see picture) so it looks more like a plasterer’s whimsical design than the impressive coat of arms in the Manor Lodge Turret House. Perhaps the plasterer was not up on his heraldry, just having a play with the Talbot name and nobody put him right. The short answer is we can’t be definite. Museums have always leant toi the implication that the plasterwork is from the Castle due to the date of its arrival at Bishops’ House but whether that is with David Bostwick’s blessing I don’t know.

  3. I did talk to David Bostwick but he seemed to think they were a Parker coat of arms which I know is not so as Parker coat of arms is three leopard heads. Plus there is no obvious connection with the Parker family so why would such a coat of arms be in BH. I think at some time he was confused with Lees Hall which did belong to the Parker and the old Hawle at Lees (another name for BH) It is untrue that all Talbot dogs have mouth open and tongue out. If you look at plasterwork in other Talbot houses there is a wide variation. The nearest approximation I have found to this particular coat of arms is heraldic wolves but even those do not match up well with the BH plaster. So probably a flight of fancy with no particular significance or perhaps the plaster was damaged and certain things added. The fireplace has lost certain features over the years as looking at the photos from Picture Sheffield and the photos of the renovation in the 1970s clearly shows.

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