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The mystery behind the Lord’s House

45-47 Fargate, Sheffield. The site of the Lord’s House. Image: DJP/2022

The year is 1815 and a big old town house on Fargate was demolished. It was replaced by a shop and in later years the site at its corner with Norfolk Row was occupied by Robert Hanbridge and Sons, hosier, hatters, and glovers, before becoming Hepworth tailors and finally a branch of Next.

The story of 45-47 Fargate has been covered here already, and the former Next building was recently demolished to reveal its underground secrets. But if we were able to dig even deeper there may be further treasures.

After Sheffield Castle was demolished in 1646, the Manor House remained, and the agent of the Duke of Norfolk, Lord of the Manor, resided here.

In 1706, however, the Manor House was dismantled, and a year later the Lord’s House was built in Fargate, of moderate size and pretensions, for the accommodation of the steward, and the occasional visits of the Lord of the Manor.

In the middle of the eighteenth century Henry Howard, then resident agent to the Duke of Norfolk lived here, and his son, Bernard Edward, who was born in the Lord’s House in 1765 eventually succeeded to the title on the death of his cousin, and became the 12th, Duke. But the Lord’s House was mostly occupied by his agents, the last one being Vincent Eyre.

In 1791, rioters had tried to burn it down in protest at the Enclosures Acts and were only prevented by the timely arrival of the military, which had been summoned from Nottingham the day before.

Towards the end of its life, the Lord’s House became a school where Samuel Scantlebury, the brewer, was a pupil.

View of the Lord’s House, Fargate, demolished 1815. Taken from a pen drawing in the possession of Mr R. Drury (1867). Sketch made 31st October, 1867. Image: Picture Sheffield
The Lord’s House was built in 1707 for the Duke of Norfolk on his occasional visits to Sheffield. It was mostly occupied by his agents, the principal one being Vincent Eyre. It was situated in Fargate, at the corner of Norfolk Row. The house was demolished in 1814. Image: Picture Sheffield

“At the end of Norfolk Row was the building called the old Lord’s House,” said George Leighton in 1876. “It formed the corner of Fargate and Norfolk Row and stood where there are the shops so long occupied by Mr Holden, watchmaker (now Mr Rennie’s, hosier), and the adjacent ones, as far as the Old Red House.

“There was a double flight of steps leading to a balcony on the level of the first floor. Mr Rimmer, the catholic priest, had a small room in the house, used as a chapel. The entrance was from Norfolk Row side, and there were two or three steps up to the chapel.

“About the time I am speaking of (1814-1815), the building was taken down, and the land was quite open from Fargate to the Assembly Rooms in Norfolk Street, and it continued open for years. Mr Rimmer got a chapel built upon the ground, right at the back (in 1816), and that continued to be the Roman Catholic place of worship until the present St Marie’s Church was built (1846-1850). We used to play on the ground, and ‘Old Rimmer’ did not like it, and drove us off. He was a nice old gentleman – a cheerful old chap. For a long time, the ground was unfenced, but ultimately a palisade was put up.”

The Lord’s House was sold in 1814 and dismantled in 1815, but the replacement chapel was short-lived. The palisade in the house’s former gardens was St. Marie’s Roman Catholic Church, better known today as the Cathedral Church of St Marie, Sheffield.

These days we have little visual evidence as to how the Lord’s House looked. However, within Sheffield Archives are two sketches, one of which is a pen drawing that was in the possession of Mr R. Drury in 1867.

Both are remarkably similar, but in Charles Hadfield’s ‘History of St Marie’s,’ published in 1899, he provides another sketch that was taken from a porcelain model, the property of Arnold J. Ward. This model purported to represent the old mansion in Fargate. Mrs Fisher (widow of Henry Fisher, surgeon, Eyre Street) who died in 1881, stated that her father had purchased the model at a sale.

The Lord’s House. From Charles Hadfield’s ‘History of St Marie’s’ 1889. Image: British Newspaper Archive

That the model was a correct representation of the Lord’s House was testified by several residents including Septimus Clayton, John Kirk, George Thompson, James Brown, and William Clayton, well within the recollection of these old men.

In 1931, the Sheffield Daily Telegraph queried the whereabouts of the porcelain model and discovered that it had been presented to the Duke of Norfolk by Arnold J. Ward in 1897 who received an acknowledgement.

The newspaper contacted the ducal seat at Arundel Castle in Sussex and received the following response.

“We have a model in porcelain which might be described as follows: Circular front with door in centre, two round turret towers on either side with battlements around the top of each and with a square tower in centre of model which resembles an ordinary church. There is no record stating that this is the model asked about.”

The description suggests a different property to all the sketches, but there was consensus at the time that the model was the Lord’s House.

And we should also remember George Leighton’s recollections that ‘the Lord’s House had a double flight of steps, leading to a balcony on the first floor.’ Again, this contradicts all the sketches.

Somebody has suggested to me that the sketches might show the rear of the property, and one does show a retaining wall to the left hand side that might have been alongside Norfolk Row.

For now, I have submitted a request to Arundel Castle to determine whether the porcelain model still exists, and whether they have any more information on the Lord’s House.

Catholic Chapel, Norfolk Row (Original St. Marie’s). Norfolk Row to left. Fargate in background. Image: Picture Sheffield

©2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.

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