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Things to See Round Sheffield

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"A dirty picture set in a beautiful frame." This is the description that has been applied to Sheffield, that great steel city of Britain whose name is familiar to millions of people the world over for no other reason than that they have been faced with it day after day on their table or pocket cutlery. Many there may be, certainly among hurrying visitors who glance and pass on, who will agree that Sheffield itself is "a dirty picture," but none can question the "beautiful frame."

Yet the visitor to Sheffield will be ill-advised if he dashes away at once to see the frame and ignores the picture. There is much that is interesting and a great deal more that is wonderful in the city itself, in the beautiful suburbs and in the great industrial area in the East End, extending practically to the neighbouring town of Rotherham, where are situated those great steel furnaces, those giant rolling mills, those presses, forges, foundries and other wonderful plants which handle and manipulate the crude steel into finished form for the service of mankind through-out the world.

Sheffield, known as Escafeld in the days of William the Conqueror, has an historical association which is now, unfortunately, but vaguely marked. For thirteen years out of her eighteen years' imprisonment in England the ill-fated and unhappy Mary Queen of Scots was confined in Sheffield Castle, though at times she lived in the Manor House and in Queen Mary's Tower, the lodge built by the Earl of Shrewsbury, lord of the castle and the gaoler of the unfortunate queen. Sheffield Castle, which was built by Thomas Lord Furnival under a charter granted by Henry the Third, was destroyed by order of Parliament after the Civil War, and only remnants of it are to be seen to-day. Queen Mary's Tower, however, exists, and one is able to view there rooms which the queen occupied.

Before leaving Sheffield the visitor should inspect the Mappin Art Gallery and Weston Park Museum. High Hazels Museum, and Ruskin Museum, which contains specimens, copies and casts collected by Ruskin, the famous Cutlers' Hall, headquarters of the Ancient Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, and last but by no means least, Beauchief Abbey.

The first Cutlers' Hall was built by public subscription in 1638, and this was replaced by another hall on the same site in 1726. The present structure was begun in 1832, and has been enlarged and improved from time to time.

Beauchief Abbey, which is only a few miles from the very heart of the city, has an extremely interesting history. Robert Fitz-Ranulph, Lord of Alfreton, participated in the murder of Thomas a Becket, Primate of all England, in Canterbury Cathedral, and as expiation of his share of the crime he founded the abbey in 1183. It was dedicated to S. Thomas the Martyr and the Virgin Mary, and belonged to the Premonstratensian Branch of the Canons Regular of the famous Austin or Augustinian Order, who from their white dress were generally known as White Canons. The abbey was dissolved in 1536. The tower, which has lost about one-third of its original height, is of the fourteenth century. This is all that remains of the original building, for the small church adjoining, in which services are still held, was built about a century after the destruction of the monastery.

Not far from Beauchief Abbey is Norton, one of the delightful suburbs of Sheffield, popularly known as Chantreyland. In the churchyard there is buried Sir Francis Chantrey, R.A., the famous sculptor, who was born in the village in 1781.

Norton is just off the main road from Sheffield to Chesterfield, and the visitor at this point will do well to travel the few miles to the latter town and see the famous crooked spire, which is one of the wonders of Britain The spire has a peculiar corkscrew twist, and nothing like it is to be seen anywhere else in the world. The spire is perfectly strong and safe - it has been crooked for centuries - though from some angles it appears to have a very dangerous lean. There is no authentic historical record explaining this peculiarity, but of the many theories advanced the most feasible is that unseasoned wood used in constructing the tower warped under the heat of the sun. For seeing the other places of interest around Sheffield it will be found more convenient to make the city the centre for a radial tour rather than a circular one. The visitor should first travel through the East End. Route 630 will bring him to Don-caster, one of the rapidly growing districts in South Yorkshire. Doncaster, familiar to sportsmen as the venue of one of the classic races, the St. Leger, is the centre of a developing coalfield. Rich seams around this area are being tapped at great depths and worked by the most modern methods of coalmining engineering.

A few miles before reaching Doncaster the visitor passes Conisborough Castle, mentioned in "Ivanhoe," which is believed to have been a Saxon stronghold. Conisborough village is very ancient, and undoubtedly at one time was a place of considerable importance.

Route 61 brings one via Chapeltown to Barnsley, the centre of a great ring of mining villages. At one point on this road the traveller is not far from Wentworth Woodhouse, the beautiful residence of Earl Fitzwilliam. Wentworth has a very interesting and intimate association with one of the most fascinating periods of English history. The old mansion was the home of the Earl of Strafford (formerly Sir Thomas Wentworth), the famous minister of Charles the First who was found guilty of high treason and executed on Tower Hill in May 1641 The body of Strafford was brought in great secrecy to Wentworth for burial. Wentworth is one of the most noble houses in the land. It stands in a great park inhabited by herds of deer, and the gardens are of a wonderful beauty.

A few miles beyond BarnsJey is Penistone, an old-fashioned, partly rural, partly industrial town on the fringe of the Yorkshire moors. These great tracts of land, where the grouse breed and where sportsmen meet on "the Glorious Twelfth," lead up and up in vast stretches crossed here and there by low walls of dark, weather-beaten stone, to form huge watersheds chiefly for the service of Sheffield and Manchester.

The return journey from the moorlands should be by way of the pretty little village of Wortley, where is situated Wortley Hall, the seat of the Earl of Wharncliffe. These moorlands can also be reached from Sheffield by taking Route 616 past Wharncliffe Crags and via Stocks-bridge to Langsett, a useful point for an immediate exploration of the moors. The next tour that one should take from Sheffield is into Nottinghamshire, to what is known as The Dukeries, in Sherwood Forest. This wonderful stretch of wooded land, the former home of Robin Hood and his bold and merry outlaws, is easily reached from Sheffield by Route 57 to Worksop. The Dukeries is so called because the district once comprised the estates of five dukes. Here is clustered a group of stately homes - Welbeck Abbey, Clumber, Thoresby House and Rufford Abbey, the respective seats of the Duke of Portland, the Duke of Newcastle, Earl Manvers and Lord Savile.

Many of the deeds of the redoubtable Robin Hood have doubtless been born in the minds of the tale spinners of many generations, but a visit to Sherwood Forest brings a feeling thoroughly in keeping with the spirit of old England in the days of its picturesque outlaws.

Welbeck Abbey, founded in 1154, was tenanted, like the Abbey of Beauchief, by Premonstratensian Canons, and at the Dissolution it was granted to Richard Whalley, through whose heirs it reached Bess of Hardwick (a remarkable woman about whom we shall have more to say later) and her son, Sir Charles Cavendish, and then it passed on by marriage to William Bentinck, the second Duke of Portland. The Abbey has been enlarged from time to time, but so well has the work been done that the great house presents a wonderful picture of beauty and harmony. In it has been collected a marvellous array of valuable paintings and objets d'art. Features of Welbeck are the subterranean rooms and passages, which radiate in all directions. These underground wonders were planned and carried out by the fifth Duke of Portland, kinsman and immediate predecessor of the present holder of the title. This eccentric man, who was something of a recluse, was engaged for nearly twenty years in constructing this elaborate system of underground walks, drives and halls, and it is estimated that he spent between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 on this work.

Clumber House, which is fronted by a lake, was built in 1772. Some of the choicest bits of Sherwood comprise its park, and here is to be seen the famous Lime Tree Avenue, one of the several masterpieces of forestry which have done so much to add to the natural beauty of this great and famous Nottinghamshire woodland.

And now, finally, we come to the third group of recommended tours, and the one which will probably be found the most remarkable. The visitor will have seen something of the wonders of South Yorkshire industries, something of the solitude of bleak moorland, and something of the magnificent splendours of Sherwood Forest; it will now be his turn to see a mixture of all three combined with a fourth and fifth - rich pasturelands and the rugged scenery of mountains so high that often they remain snowcapped when the valleys over which they tower are bathed in sunshine and the trees and hedgerows have sprung into life again.

These curious contrasts are to be seen in Derbyshire, the county which fringes Sheffield so closely that the motorist is over the borderline before he realizes that he has left the confines of the city. There are several good roads into Derbyshire, but the tourist should first make a point of seeing Chats-worth, the residence of the Duke of Devonshire, which has been aptly termed the Palace of the Peak. Chatsworth is approached from the village of Baslow, some thirteen miles from Sheffield. Take Route 621 through Abbeydale, Totley and Owler Bar. At the entrance to Baslow village the motorist can turn into the drive leading to Chatsworth, or he can leave his car and walk through the park, in which case he will have a better chance of seeing the famous herds of deer, less timid than one might suppose.

Chatsworth House, which can be viewed by the public on certain days, is a magnificent building, and is the successor of one of the conceptions of that remarkable woman Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury, who became known as "Building Bess" of Hardwick. The story goes that she had been told she would not die so long as she was engaged in building houses. So on with this work she went year after year, and among the buildings she erected were the original Chatsworth House and Hardwick Hall. She lived to be nearly ninety years of age, and her death (according to legend) followed the stoppage of her building operations through a severe frost.

The present Chatsworth House was built by the first Duke of Devonshire between 1687 and 1706, A new wing was added in 1820 by the sixth duke, who also further beautified the house and grounds and added to its art treasures. It was about this time that the gardens were rearranged and the great conservatory built by Sir Joseph Paxton. The hillside above Chatsworth House is thickly wooded, and here there stands at a great height, visible for many miles, the Hunting Tower which was built by Bess of Hardwick. Chatsworth possesses remarkable artificial waterworks, notably the Great Cascade and the Emperor Fountain, which is said to be the finest fountain in the world. An enormous volume of water is thrown to a height of 267 feet. The house is filled with specimens of the finest art, particularly in the state apartments.

Before leaving Chatsworth the visitor should walk the short distance to the tiny village of Edensor, which forms part of the estate. In the churchyard here lies buried an historic figure, Lord Frederick Cavendish, a former Chief Secretary for Ireland, who, along with his companion, Mr. Burke, was stabbed to death in Phoenix Park, Dublin, by four assassins armed with long knives. This was in 1882, during the trouble which followed the formation of the Irish National Land League, and early in the following year Joe Brady and four other conspirators were convicted and hanged for the murder of Lord Frederick and his companion.

From Baslow it is only a journey of a few miles to Bakewell, where is Haddon Hall (pp. 702, 703, 823), the finest baronial mansion in England and a perfect specimen of the medieval home.

The tourist should travel from Bakewell along Froggatt Edge, giving a glorious valley view from a hillside road, to Fox House, and on to Hathersage and Castleton. Soon after leaving Fox House the traveller must be on the alert for the " Surprise," so named because of the amazingly beautiful view that confronts one with startling suddenness. After traversing a rather bleak moorland road, and turning sharply to the right around a rock-lined bend, the traveller finds himself facing a picture of amazing beauty and impressiveness, a vast wood-studded valley with the river Derwent running through it, and in the distance a range of hills. It is a scene which is not easily forgotten.

Down in the valley at the foot of the winding road nestles the village of Hathersage, in the churchyard of which is the grave of Robin Hood's famous lieutenant, Little John.

Castleton, which lies some miles farther on, is the ancient capital of the Peak, and is, of course, famous for the old Peveril Castle, immortalised by Scott in his novel "Peveril of the Peak." Castleton is also renowned for its caverns, which will well repay a visit, and for its rare Blue John stone, mined in the days of the Romans. From this quaint old village, with its many ancient customs, one can step into the hills through the Winnats Pass, which practically adjoins Mam Tor, the famous "shivering mountain." The return journey to Sheffield should be made by way of Bamford village, Ashopton, Moscar Top and Hollow Meadows. The traveller will then have seen a little of the beauties of this part of Derbyshire, sufficient to prove the justice of its claim to be called the "Switzerland of England." The visitor of rambling instincts will do well to tarry there. The walker who wishes to explore the Peak proper should start from Castleton or Edale; if he prefers the softer scenery, such as is provided by the dales and the pasturelands, Bakewell is the best starting point; while Hathersage and Bamford are the most convenient centres from which to explore those great expanses of moorland of which Derbyshire people are so justly proud.

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