|Bishops' House yesterday|
The City of Sheffield is home to half a million people but it is not an ancient historical English city like York or Chester or Lincoln or my true hometown - Hull. Essentially, Sheffield owed its growth to the industrial revolution. Before that it was little more than a large village with a medieval castle that was demolished and almost erased from memory during The English Civil War of the seventeenth century.
There are regions of England where you can still find many timber-framed houses and farm buildings that are redolent of distant times but in Sheffield with its focus on metal industries and functionalism, there are very few old timber-framed buildings to be seen. You could count them on the fingers of one hand.
|The dining room in Bishops' House yesterday|
The house saw many changes through the centuries. It was never a particularly grand house though the family that first owned it were reasonably well-off and developed a successful scythe-making business. No bishops ever lived in the house or indeed were born there. The name "Bishops' House" was a Victorian affectation. Lord knows how that bishop rumour arose.
In the early twentieth century, the building became a home for the families of two park workers but in the 1970's somebody had the vision to give the house a new lease of life as a museum operated by the city council. Nowadays its management is the responsibility of a team of local volunteers, including the young woman who led us round on our little tour.
It was a most pleasant and instructive way to pass a grey Saturday afternoon.