8 April 2018

Survivor

Bishops' House yesterday
Saturday was a dull, overcast day. Shirley had never been to The Bishops' House in Meersbrook Park so we decided to pay it a visit, aiming to  join the guided tour scheduled for 2pm.

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
One survivor is The Bishops' House. In its construction several, large oak beams were employed. Recent dentrochronological investigation has concluded that these beams were cut from the surrounding forest in 1553 so the first part of the house was built in 1554. It is estimated that one of the major beams upstairs weighs more than a ton. It is mind boggling to imagine how the builders got it into the position it has now occupied for almost five hundred years.
The first section of the house
was built during the reign of
Queen Mary I

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.
Bishops' House in the summer of 2010

27 comments:

  1. When I see a house that has stood for years, I see it as grand!
    The bench at the table has such a deep gloss, it speaks of so very many meals and so many people sharing their lives. It's quite romantic

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are many small indications in the beams, floorboards, panels and furniture of that house that people lived there for half a millennium. Tudor carpenters were often superstitious and left small symbols behind that were intended to ward off bad luck and evil spirits.

      Delete
    2. That was meant to say " A house that has stood for 500 years"

      Delete
    3. Ah! even more romantic!

      Delete
  2. Brought up in an area with a plethora of black and white and old buildings I suppose I have a tendency to take them for granted which is rather a shame. Mind you it doesn't stop me going round them time and again. The Bishops House looks and sounds very interesting I have to say.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I last went to Liverpool, I didn't see any black and white buildings. I saw red ones near Anfield and blue and white ones near Goodison Park but no black and white ones.

      Delete
    2. I wasn't just thinking of Liverpool YP but the surrounding area as well. However Liverpool has an absolutely fabulous black and white building called Speke Hall.

      Delete
    3. Speke Hall does sound like a fantastic place and I know there are many other wonderful old buildings down in Cheshire.

      Delete
  3. A house built in 1554? It must be wonderful to be surrounded by so many relics of the distant past! The only man made things you'd find in South Carolina that would be close to that old would be....arrowheads, maybe? But a house....that's awe inspiring!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember visiting a rice plantation house on the coast of Georgia. To me it was quite a modern place really but the American guide and visitors spoke in whispers as if they werein the presence of real history.

      Delete
  4. We live just up the road from Samlesbury hall. It is a wonderful old hall. Our daughter got married there a couple of years ago.
    These old places need preserving for future generations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! Samlesbury Hall looks incredible! I had never heard of it. I must have driven by it when I went to see Hull City at Blackburn in January.

      Delete
  5. Interesting historical background for an interesting structure. And thankfully there are volunteers to carry on looking after such places.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I salute such people. Without them Bishops' House would have probably been moth-balled.

      Delete
  6. How wonderful to see such an old home and still in good condition too. You do not often see places so old here in the states. In fact your post prompted me to google what the oldest structures are here in the states. Aside from some ancient Indian adobe brick pueblo structures there are homes from the 1600's but they are rare to see and certainly not in all areas. I have always thought it amazing how England is full of so many ancient historical sites. I love to see places that have existed for such a long time as you can almost feel the history of such places. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In England many people take such history for granted. I know that it is an aspect of our country that should make us so proud of where we live. Thanks for calling by again Bonnie.

      Delete
  7. There are many things people did without the aid of modern technology. Yes, and the wood is still in good condition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oak is an incredible substance.

      Delete
  8. wonderful places to see around every corner. You are so lucky.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But Australia partly makes up for this with its natural wonders.

      Delete
  9. Is it an optical illusion or does the "Bishops' House have a slight lean?

    A lovely old place worth exploring.

    (In refer to your response to Helsie...I'm one of those "natural wonders", Yorkie)!! *a smile and a wink*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Bishops' House does have a lean to it. There were no building inspectors in those days! Are you Queensland's Uluru?

      Delete
    2. Uluru calling a rock, Yorkie????

      Delete
  10. A great place to visit, and even though you say it has never been particularly grand, I bet it was much grander than many of the humble abodes the majority of people lived in at the time it was built.
    To have the age of a piece of wood determined down to the exact year is amazing.
    The house itself looks like something out of a fairytale book. It would very well fit in at Hogsmeade, the "magic" village J.K. Rowling created for her Harry Potter books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right, it is amazing that a wooden building can now be dated exactly. Until 2017, it was assumed that the house had been constructed in the very early years of the sixteenth century.

      Delete
  11. I love the photos -- looks like a fascinating place! It's amazing to us Americans that people could still be living in a 500-year-old house. (As was true up until the '70s, as you said.)

    ReplyDelete

Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.