UK Tour: Sheffield Manor Lodge

11/15/12: Sheffield Manor Lodge
(Located in Sheffield, South Yorkshire)

Instead of presenting this installment of the "History In Sheffield" series via a normal post that will get buried, I'ved decided to give this entry its own page. Afterall, something as important to Sheffield's medieval identity as the Manor Lodge deserves it, no?

When I first arrived in Sheffield, I bought myself a little guidebook of the town. One page had a small entry about a ruined tudor building and an accompanying blurb about Cardinal Wolsey. I knew I wanted to visit but didn't think about it any further until I had to apply for a work placement. Sure enough, I was granted my request and reported to the lodge. My assignment has since become much broader and really outgrew the requirements of my work placement. Rather than just providing research support, I will now be a tour guide for Saturday visitors and will recall the grand story of an important era of Sheffield's past. In a nutshell, I am uncovering the history of its builder, George Talbot, the 4th Earl of Shrewsbury. My original dissertation ideas have gone out the window and the life of the 4th Earl is now my primary study. That, however, is for another post. Let us look at the history of Sheffield Manor Lodge...

Here is a short video to get yourself acquainted.

Sheffield Manor Lodge was started in 1516 by George Talbot, the 4th Earl of Shrewsbury. As Lord of the Manor, he had dominion over all of Sheffield (among many other estates). With his growing family, the earl found that Sheffield castle was too small and not very luxurious. About a mile away, at the center of a massive deer park, the earl started building his new home on top of a small hunting lodge.
It was of typical tudor design: a large brick gatehouse with flanking octagonal towers, a long gallery, family quarters, a kitchen range and two separate courtyards. It was here that Shrewsbury kept Cardinal Wolsey under virtual house arrest for 18 days. The Cardinal was treated quite well and spent time with the earl in talks and on the hunt. Wolsey, however, is not the most important "guest" of the lodge. In the 1570s, Mary Queen of Scots was kept quite frequently at both the castle and the lodge. It is known that she had her own rooms but these are now gone. That she was kept in the Turret House is but a myth! Keeping custody of a queen proved to be too much for the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. It frayed his marriage to Bess of Hardwick (see my Hardwick Hall pages) and bankrupted him.
After the 6th earl, the Manor Lodge was used less and less and by the 1700s it was already in ruins and being dismantled. Still, these ruins were incorporated into later houses which sprung up to support nearby mines. Henry Howard, 15th Duke of Norfolk had the ruins restored at the turn of the 20th century. He swept away anything that wasn't 16th century or earlier and he had the turret house completely renovated.
The Manor Lodge today is a series of ruins, but the Turret House is still open and accessible.

The Manor Lodge as it looked circa 1580.
An overhead map of the ruins as they are now.

The outer wall of the Long Gallery still stands. The gatehouse turrets were to the left and right of the stairs.

Looking down the front facade of the lodge.

These rooms would have been underground when the lodge stood.

The two octagonal towers would have contained spiral staircases to access each floor.

The Long Gallery. The interior would have been richly decorated and displayed the finest paintings and armor. Oftentimes galleries were used for exercise when the weather was rough. Today, there are still plenty of galleries in existance. Haddon Hall, for example, is very similar to what this lodge would have looked like.

One of the bricked up gallery windows. The windows tended to be large to allow plenty of light into the hall.

A Tudor labyrinth. Compared to a maze which has only one proper path, a labyrinth has several and did not necessarily block the walker's view either. This labyrinth sits in one of the original two courtyards. The Long Gallery, Wolsey Tower and Garderobe are in the rear.

The Long Gallery terminated into two towers. On the left was the Wolsey Tower, named after its most famous occupant. It was multistoried and gave the Cardinal plenty of room and amenities during his stay. One of the fireplaces still remains. For a full description of Wolsey's stay at the lodge, go read George Cavendish's "The Life Of Wolsey". He describes his master's stay in great detail...from dialogue to meals to sickness. His commentary is used extensively to reconstruct what the lodge actually looked like.

Connected to Wolsey's Tower is the Garderobe Tower. This would have contained the bathrooms. A fireplace is visible as are the drains at the bottom. Being a gong-scourer was a thankless task as they went into the drains and manually swept out the waste!
View of the second courtyard with the kitchen range at the rear.

One of the medieval buildings. While it now contains an apothecary garden, it may have been part of the original kitchen range.

Possibly a later edition, the arched roof of the beer cellar is still visible above ground.

Steps to the cellars.

Original drains.

The original kitchen fireplaces still stand today. There are two on the opposite side as well.

This cellar is thought to be the private one of the 6th earl. His lodgings must have therefore been above them. This range of buildings extended from the middle of the lodge thus creating the two separate courtyards.

The Turret House was built in 1574 as a gatehouse and hunting tower. The entrance was to either side and brought visitors into a large courtyard and to the grand brick gatehouse beyond.

The Turret House consists of three stories and a roof walkway all accessed via a spiral staircase.

The house was refurbished in the 1890s. It surived being dismanteld in the 1700s because it was incorporated into a complex of farm buildings!

On the second floor are reproductions of needlework made by Mary during her imprisonment. The originals are now at Holyrood Palace (another UK Tour entry to explore!). The cat wears a crown and is said to represent Elizabeth while the mouse is, of course, Mary.
Mary was Queen of the Scots from 1542 until 1567 when she was deposed in favor of her infant son, the future James I. She fled to Elizabeth I, her cousin once removed, for help and safety. Because of Mary's family connections, she posed a threat to the English queen who had no idea what to do with her. Mary was thus kept under house arrest albeit in the most dignified way. Her appointed captor was George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. Thus, Mary spent a lot of her seventeen year captivity in Sheffield. Mary was executed today in 1587 because of her involvement in a catholic plot to assassinate Elizabeth. She now lies in Henry VII's Lady Chapel at Westminster.

The stained glass in the house is Victorian. Each panel depicts the arms of a respective family that ruled Sheffield: Lovetots, Furnivals, Nevilles, Talbots, and Norfolks. The one above is the arms of the Talbots aka the Earls of Shrewsbury. They number from one to eight (with one, four and six being the most famous). Following the extinction of the immediate Talbot male line, the Dukes of Norfolk became the Lords of the Manor through marriage.
The top room has exquisite plasterwork, all of which is still original Tudor! The room's purpose is unknown. It could perhaps have been used for small banquets similar to what Bess of Hardwick had at her later houses. With the family arms above the fireplace and the detailed ceiling, the room was too nice NOT to show off.

On display at the time was an exhibition on sugar-craft. The Tudors loved presentation and would have marchpane (marzipan) sculpted into various shapes and designs. The figures and St. Paul's Cathedral are all crafted out of sugar based on contemporary designs. In fact, these belong to Hampton Court and can be read about it Peter Brear's "All The King's Cooks".

The Talbot family used a dog in their designs. In fact, their coat of arms (the gold lion on red background) was supported by two dogs. Why? A talbot was a species of hunting dog (a white beagle if I had to compare it something). It is now extinct. If one looks closely at the tombs of the 4th and 6th earls at Sheffield Cathedral, one can see talbots supporting the effigy's head and/or feet.
If anyone is interested in visiting this place, I highly recommend it. The visitor center has some nice displays and its a great place to stop for tea and cake. Entry to the center and ruins are free. A tour of the Turret House is two pounds. Considering this is a volunteer operation, donations helps in the upkeep of the house.
It is open from 10-4 on Fridays only, but will expand to Saturdays after Easter. If you are in Sheffield, simply jump on the 120 bus and take it up to City Road/ Manor Laith. Its a five minute walk from there. Go back in time...literally in your own backyard!

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