Houses of Interest: South Yorkshire
Due to the fact that the old County of Yorkshire is massive, and now exists as four administrative 'County Councils', coupled with the fact that the Yorkshire entry was becoming unwieldly, I have decided to split 'Houses of Interest: Yorkshire' into the four 'new' Counties.
Despite the modern appearance of the city, there are a handful of buildings that survive from the time of the wars.
Old Queen’s Head Pub on Pond Street is a fifteenth century timber framed building and the oldest surviving domestic building in Sheffield.
Broom Hall, Broom Hall Road, was home to the Parliamentarian Jessop family. The hall was modernised in the eighteenth century, and bears little resemblance to the house that stood there during the seventeenth century. It is now offices of an architect and a law firm.
Bishops’ House, located in what is now Meersbrook Park, was home to William Blythe, a Parliamentary Commander in the Civil War and one of the men who supervised the demolition of Sheffield Castle in 1648. The house is a museum to Tudor and Stuart life.
Carbrook Hall is allegedly Sheffield's most haunted building; Carbrook Hall was home to Colonel Sir John Bright and it is believed the building was used as a meeting place to plan and coordinate the Parliamentarian siege of Sheffield Castle. Now a branch of a multinational coffee shop chain.
Sheffield City Library has a good online guide to researching the Wars in Sheffield, including a downloadable pdf sources guide. You can find it here.
Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham was home to the Earl of Strafford. Strafford was executed as a traitor prior to the outbreak of hostilities. The house was largely rebuilt in the eighteenth century, a few remnants of Strafford's house still remain. Most notably the 'yellow bedroom' from whence he is reported to have departed for London, for his execution.
As Charles had reluctantly signed his death warrant he granted him the favour of being beheaded rather than being hung, drawn and quartered. His family were able to take his body and bury it. But where did they bury him?
The Old Holy Trinity Church in Wentworth has a memorial to Strafford. There is also a memorial to Sir John Morris in the church (Sir John was executed in 1649 for his part in commanding the garrison of Pontefract Castle); Sir John had asked to be buried near the grave of his former master Strafford (he had been Strafford's page).
Or is he buried in an unmarked grave at St John's church, Hooton Roberts? Strafford's widow, Elizabeth, had moved to the Dower House in the village (the building still exists but is now a pub called The Earl of Strafford). Elizabeth died aged 83 in 1688 and asked that she be buried at St John's in an unmarked grave. In 1895 workmen discovered three skeletons near the altar - two women (one showing signs of rickets, Strafford's favourite daughter died aged 16, coincidentally she had rickets) and the skeleton of a man showing signs of severed vertebrae. Curious and curiousier, said Alice.
Doncaster was fiercely loyal to the King; Charles visited the town on the 18th August 1645 where he was met by great numbers of Yorkshiremen who had rallied to his cause. His son, Charles II would award the town the title of 'Free Borough' in gratitude for Doncaster's allegiance during the Wars. But Doncaster's most important role during the period was in the murder of the Leveller, Colonel Thomas Rainsborough.
In October 1648 Fairfax despatched Rainsborough to Yorkshire to take command of the siege of Pontefract Castle. The officer whom he superseded, Sir Henry Cholmley, complained bitterly of his supersession, and refused obedience to Rainsborough. Rainsborough retired to Doncaster, leaving Cholmley to continue the siege, until Parliament resolved the dispute.
Many online references to Rainsborough's murder make reference to a plaque marking the event located near the House of Fraser on Baxter Gate. No such plaque exists, nor does it appear to have ever existed. The pub in which Rainsborough lodged was in the Market Place, believed to be on the site of what is now Primark.
Doncaster Museum is currently in the process of relocating to a new site, the Danum Gallery, Library and Museum on Waterdale. It is planned that Rainsborough's murder will be featured in the new gallery: the museum has in it's collection a helmet, some 17th Century pottery and a number of Inn Tokens.