Sheffield in Tudor and Stuart Times (1500–1700) — David Templeman — 25/11/13.

Another talk by David Templeman, a volun­teer Sheffield his­tor­ian and a Stumperlowe favour­ite, who peri­od­ic­ally visits us to keep us informed and enthused about the unfold­ing great unher­al­ded his­tory of Sheffield. This time he took us from 1296, when we were a small market town, and when our Tuesday market charter had just been gran­ted, along with an annual fair, and  which by the 1600s had 2000 inhab­it­ants, with only 100 being self-sufficient, and hardly any priv­ileged. The rest were ‘beg­ging poor’ or ‘chil­dren and ser­vants’.

The Church and Castle were the only stone build­ings, with the ordin­ary folk  living in wooden thatched ‘hovels’. Their leis­ure time included Archery using cross­bows (an essen­tial skill in times of war), cock fights, a free for all form of foot­ball, quoits, a form of ten pin bowls, cards, chess, and hunt­ing. The first men­tion of cut­lery was in 1297, but other work activ­it­ies included mining, farm­ing strips of land in the Park, work­ing for the Lord of the Manor, black­smiths to tend to the vast num­bers of horses and other vari­ous forms of smiths.

David showed us the earli­est known map of Sheffield dated 1650, with the streets and street names of today still relat­ing to their ori­ginal pur­pose and loc­a­tion. The town was not walled, only tolled, but covered a small area roughly bounded by the Don River, Sheaf River, West Bar, and The Moor. The sur­rounds included Orchards, fields, fish ponds, the great Park, and the Manor Lodge with an avenue of walnut trees down to the castle.

Sheffield was unique in san­it­a­tion, as the Barkers Pool fed by springs on West Bar, on 4 occa­sions each year was breached to allow all the rub­bish which had accu­mu­lated in the open streets to be washed away down­hill into the River Don. The people also used it to wash them­selves!

Life was hard! There was con­sid­er­able interest from the mem­bers when we were informed that wives could be sold for as little as 2 pints of beer as long as the same rules that per­tained to cattle auc­tions were upheld. Ducking stools were also fre­quently in oper­a­tion. Vagabonds from else­where, illegal up to 1550, were, in order of offences, firstly whipped, secondly had an ear cut off, then thirdly, hung. Stocks and pil­lor­ies were avail­able too.

A round up of some of the other remain­ing major struc­tures of the time included the Bishops House (1500s) in Meersbrook Park, Carbrook Hall (1600s), the Old Queens Head pub (1475) in the Bus Station, Ladys’ Bridge (1486), the Cathedral (1101) and the Shrewsbury Hospital (1616) off Norfolk St.

Poignantly, this very day, the exist­ing castle market built in 1927 was closed and opened in a new loc­a­tion on The Moor. Could this be the begin­ning of new excit­ing times as money is now avail­able for an Archaeological dig in 2014 on the old castle site.

Built ini­tially in 1270 and demol­ished around 1660 after a few punch ups in the Civil War, there are funds avail­able for the dig and depend­ing on what is found, there are plans for a pos­sible Heritage style layout!

Another enjoy­able Monday morn­ing with David inspir­ing us with his enthu­si­asm, to take pride in, and explore our great City and its his­tory.