Some of you out there seemed intrigued by Sheffield Manor and so here we go again...
In the past, ancient sites and ruins were not venerated by local people. There was no National Trust nor English Heritage running around protecting old castles, monasteries, abbeys or city walls.
When old stone structures fell into disuse, the ordinary populace saw these historical sites as fair game. Many viewed them like stone quarries - places you could go to collect building materials. It seems almost unbelievable now but that is how it was. It is why the huge medieval castle here in Sheffield disappeared almost entirely and it is why Victorians had the unenviable job of trying to rebuild Hadrian's Wall near England's border with Scotland.
I once observed the same phenomenon in Kos, Greece. There the ancient Greek medical school, the Asclepeion, was vandalised in the fourteenth century by medieval knights in order to construct a fortress at the entrance to Kos Town's harbour. Even today you can still see writing carved into some of the stones by ancient Greeks a thousand years before the fortress was built.
All of the above is mere preamble before going back to the subject of Sheffield Manor. As soon as this impressive stone settlement on a hill fell into disuse a hundred years after Mary Queen of Scots's sojourn, local homeowners, farmers and builders pillaged the site on a regular basis until a lot of the original stonework simply disappeared.
|The Turret House - shown from a different viewpoint yesterday - is the |
only complete building on the site of Sheffield Manor
If each lost stone had a DNA signature you could easily track them down and find them in a wide array of newer structures in the vicinity of the old manor complex. Once that complex was embedded in countryside with swathes of green forest and heathland where stags, wild boar and game birds flourished.
Now what remains of Sheffield Manor finds itself stranded in the heart of an urban landscape - not leafy suburbia where middle class committees and volunteers would no doubt cradle it - but in a part of the city where there is industry and street after grim street of low-cost social housing - where survival understandably matters more than heritage.
|20h century gates with Sheffield's coat of arms|
Human behaviour has changed little through the centuries....ReplyDelete
Under this comment Red refers to climate change. He is right to make the link.Delete
It's easy to criticize the old guys for what they did. We are still doing a number on many things and don't realize it...climate change!ReplyDelete
I like your thinking Red! If we want to talk about wanton destruction we don't need to look at old castles.Delete
The earliest of the "recyclers"...ReplyDelete
And your final comment is worth remembering. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs ...
I wasn't familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs but now that I have googled it I see what you mean.Delete
It is a shame that some of these ancient buildings have been damaged and destroyed. I wonder if some of the stones from famous castles are likely built into homes and other buildings in the area. Is Sheffield Manor protected in any way now or does the damage continue?ReplyDelete
No Bonnie - the site is now very much protected and cared for. There has been significant repair and some of the lost stones have been returned.Delete
When the dissolution of the monasteries and abbeys was ordered, the monks and nuns living there were driven out (and/or killed). To prevent anyone from returning to the places and using them again for worship, often the roofs were taken down immediately, speeding up the process of decay for the now exposed buildings. What was left was, as you have described, seen as fair game for anyone living close enough and having some means of transport - like a "free for all" B&Q.ReplyDelete
It is amazing that so much of the old buildings is still left in some places, such as Fountains Abbey. Many of its stones, window ledges etc. were used to build Fountains Hall, but I am sure there are other houses in the area with bits of the abbey incorporated in their structure.
Your allusion to a "free for all" B&Q is very apt.Delete
What would your answer be to The National Trust, who spend a fortune rehabilitating old houses so that the public can wander amongst its so called priceless history? Recycling stone from the old abbeys and medieval housing is fine, but luckily there is still some vernacular architecture that remains.ReplyDelete
I wouldn't know what to say to The National Trust. I would be tongue-tied. I am not a member, are you?Delete
It looks somehow incongruous to see that lone historical structure marooned amidst the gritty surroundings of the social housing estate. We only had a disused gravel pit and the Borstal next to the estate where I grew up.ReplyDelete
Borstal? I hope you didn't spend time in there at her majesty's pleasure JayCee.Delete
I certainly wouldn't blame anyone for building shelter for themselves out of whatever they could find. I doubt that people in the eighteenth century had much regard for the historical nature of what they may have plundered. I often wonder about this in Mexico- are those old-looking stone walls made of what we would now call priceless Mayan ruins? The Mayans are still very much alive and have been and have needed walls and houses throughout history.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the interesting information and perspective, Mr. P.!
I suspect that people around the world did this until we reached a time of veneration and cherishment. Now we just ruin the planet instead.Delete
The turret house looks smaller in that photo than it did in the one the day before. I can't really blame people for wanting to reuse the building stones, given how hard it must have been to quarry rock way back then. Anyway, thanks for the interesting history of an interesting site!ReplyDelete
It's funny how modern people value historic sites but folk of the past weren't so bothered.Delete
'Twas ever thus and one can see why if one puts ones self in the shoes of those who didn't think of conservation as a 'Good Thing'. When I came to Lewis the locals wanted to tear down all the old black houses to use the stones and because they were reminders of the 'bad old days'. I fought for them to be retained as being economically good for future tourism (which was very much unwanted back in the '70s) and the Islands' economy. So we don't have to go so far back to see the elimination of historic buildings.ReplyDelete
In Sheffield I have seen wonderful brutalist buildings eliminated in this millennium. Well done for fighting for the old black houses of Lewis.Delete
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