Clifford House is a former mansion on Ecclesall Road South, once the home of Sir Charles Clifford, proprietor of the Sheffield Telegraph and Star, and these days owned by St Luke’s Hospice.
However, it is only in modern times that it has been called Clifford House.
When the house was built for Denys Hague in 1896 it was called Whirlow, named after the well-appointed district in which it stands.
The house was well-equipped with a large hall, drawing-room, dining and morning rooms, kitchen, butler’s pantry, nine bedrooms, bathroom, WC, and four cellars, all illuminated with electric light. Outside was a four-stall stable, harness room and four acres of grounds.
Denys Hague was a leading figure in the South Yorkshire coalfields and member of a well-known family. He was the second son of Charles Hague, of The Broom and Ferham House, in Rotherham, and a prominent coal-owner.
Celebrated in industrial circles, Denys was a director of the Hickleton Main Colliery Company and Manvers Main Colliery Ltd at the time of his death in 1929, and for a long time had been a director of the Midland Iron Company in Rotherham.
His brother, Ernest Hague, another coal-owner, had lived at Castle Dyke at Ringinglow, and died a few years before.
Denys was a keen fisherman, a member of the River Noe Fishing Club, and was a lover of art, with a fine collection hanging at Whirlow.
The value of the collection was only realised when 52 oil paintings – including works by Daubigny, Corot, Boudin, Le Sidaner, Lépine, Harpignies, Maris, Constable, Jacques, Ter Meulen, Collier, Monticelli, Landseer, Van Marcke and Cossaar – went on display at the Mappin Art Gallery in 1907, and at Liverpool’s Walker Gallery in 1913. Most of these works were auctioned at Christies in 1923.
Denys married Frances Davy, third daughter of David Davy, founder of Davy Bros, a famous Sheffield engineering company.
In 1907, the Hague’s decided to leave Sheffield and move to London. Frances Hague died in 1923 and Denys died at the Hotel Russell in Russell Square in 1929. (It is now known as the Kimpton Fitzroy London Hotel).
Whirlow was put up for sale, probably rented for a while, and eventually sold to Charles Clifford in 1915.
The vast grounds were regularly used for entertaining, his newspaper staff invited to summer garden parties, as were members of Clifford’s Conservative Association. He also built a full-size cricket pitch where matches were held between local clubs. As well as the house, Charles Clifford also owned a farm on Little Common Lane.
Charles Clifford died in 1936, his widow, Lady Alice Clifford staying on until her own death in 1941, at which time Whirlow was requisitioned by the Government for the remainder of the Second World War.
Afterwards, it was acquired by a private steel company which became part of British Steel Corporation (BSC) on nationalisation.
In 1968, BSC donated some of the land behind Clifford House (as it was now known) to St Luke’s Hospice which built a new facility on Little Common Lane and opened in October 1971.
In 2000, BSC sold the house and land to Hugh Facey, founder of Gripple, for £1.05million, who later built a new home next door, selling the mansion to St Luke’s in 2016, and reuniting the house and land for the first time in 48 years.
The house was altered and refurbished by D&P Construction of Wath-upon-Dearne to plans by the Hooley Tratt Partnership.
Clifford House is now used for patient drop-ins, activities, practical support and advice, relaxation and well-being, as well as available to hire for events and conferences.