Categories
Buildings

Banner Cross Hall: “And the work proceeded so rapidly that its pinnacles were seen rising above the woods around it in the summer of next year.”

Banner Cross Hall. 1966. Image: Picture Sheffield

There was once an old mansion called Bannerfield that stood on a hill. It belonged to a branch of the Bright family, from superior yeomanry, who replaced it about 1616 and referred to it as Banner Cross.

The Bright family became extinct on the death of John Bright of Chesterfield and Banner Cross in 1748.

In 1758, his granddaughter and heiress, Mary Dalton, conveyed the estate to her husband, Lord John Murray, of the well-known Scottish house of Athol. He was Colonel of 42nd or Highland Regiment of Foot (the celebrated ‘Black Watch’) and spent much of his time here.

Lady John Murray died in 1765. Her only daughter married William Foxlowe, a Lieutenant-General, who obtained the Royal licence to use the Murray name. He purchased the Athol interest in the hall and retired here with the intention “of spending within its tranquil shades the evening of an active and honourable life.”

Banner Cross was not in the best condition, unoccupied for some years, and was later described in a poem by Mrs Hofland (Barbara Wreaks, of Sheffield): –

“A gloomy mansion, where in empty state
And cob’web’d ruin hangs a goodly list
Of pictur’d lords, and many a beauteous dame
Of Athol’s princely race; for time has been
They grac’d these gloomy walls and e’en of late
Hath beauty’s queen here shown her peerless power,
And given her mandate from a Murray’s eye,
Bereft of these the mouldering mansion wears
In every view the signal of decay;
Slow whispering wind creeps through the chilling roof
The tatter’d hangings shake with every breeze;
Through the long passages, and cold dark hall,
(So fame reports) the flimsy spirits glide
In robes of white, or sweep the narrow stairs
In all the shapes of fear-form’d misery.”

Like most shut-up properties, it had fallen into decay, the grounds choked with weeds, the drives, and pathways grass-grown, the ornamental shrubs ragged and broken from the weight of uncleared snow in wintertime. Gates yawned on their rusty hinges, while rotting woodwork and empty window frames marred the handsome façade of the building itself.

According to Rev. William Bagshawe, who spent a night here in 1818, “A side of the house gave way. I was in much danger”.

An early print of Banner Cross Hall, Ecclesall Road South, which dates from 1821. The house was in countryside outside Sheffield. Image: Sheffield Star
Banner Cross Hall: a perspective view by Jeffry Wyatt, 1817, showing the old house retained on the left, and an unbuilt conservatory on the right. Image: Landed Families

General Murray had already decided to rebuild Banner Cross and in 1817 had appointed Jeffry Wyatt, the distinguished architect of parts of Windsor Castle and the north wing of Chatsworth House. Within three months plans had been chosen and work commenced. The plan was for a Tudor Gothic house composed around a central octagonal porch-tower, with reception rooms along the south front, overlooking views over the grounds.

“And the work proceeded so rapidly under the eye of its master,” says historian Joseph Hunter, “that its pinnacles were seen rising above the woods around it in the summer of next year.”

Banner Cross Hall: plan of the house as rebuilt by Jeffry Wyatt in 1817-21 (main block) and later (service wing). Image: Landed Families

The work, supervised by William Dent, was well underway when General Murray died in 1818. Ownership passed to Rev. William Bagshawe, a younger son of Colonel Samuel Bagshawe of Ford Hall, Chapel-en-le-Frith, and his wife, Anne, who was the general’s sister. The main block was finished by 1821, and the intention had been to incorporate the old house as a service wing. However, the decrepit building was demolished and replaced by 1823 when the family moved in. A plan for a Gothic Conservatory was dropped, to offset the cost of replacing the old house.

Strangely enough, the estate went again with another daughter, Mary, and to her husband, Henry Marwood Greaves, of Hesley Hall, who died at Banner Cross in 1859. His son, William Henry Greaves-Bagshawe assumed the name of Bagshawe in addition to that of Greaves in 1853 and chose to let the property.

Banner Cross Hall. 1987. Image: Picture Sheffield

The Bagshawe’s never lived at Banner Cross again, although it passed to Henry’s daughter, Frances Alice Devereux, who married Edward Carter (later Bagshawe).

Notable tenants at Banner Cross Hall were Samuel Butcher (of W and S Butcher, Philadelphia Works), Douglas Vickers, also George Wilson, chairman and managing director of Charles Cammell and Co.

Colonel Henry Kenyon Stephenson, (later Sir Henry),  also resided here. He was chairman and managing director of Stephenson, Blake & Co Ltd, later becoming chairman of the Sheffield Gas Company. He became treasurer of the University College of Sheffield, and later the first treasurer of its successor, the University of Sheffield. It was at Banner Cross Hall that Stephenson entertained Prime Minister, Lloyd George, in 1919.

This rather grainy photograph from 1919 shows Lloyd George outside the home of Henry Kenyon Stephenson, Master Cutler, where the Prime Minister had stayed overnight.

When Colonel Stephenson moved to Hassop Hall in 1921, the Bagshawes put the house and estate on the market. It failed to sell and three years later was tenanted by David Flather, of the firm of W.T. Flather, Standard Steel Works, Tinsley, who moved from Whiston Grange. During his tenure, another Prime Minister visited Banner Cross Hall, Stanley Baldwin in 1928. Flather remained until 1931 when he left for Hooton Levitt Hall, near Maltby.

A detailed sale notice from April 1921. The house failed to sell at auction. Image: British Newspaper Archive

Land immediately adjacent from Ecclesall Road South to Archer Lane was sold for development, and the property once again put on the market.

“The mansion is delightfully situated with a southern aspect, overlooking a dell with woodland and parkland. Included in the sale are the parks and meadows, with ornamental water, cricket ground, and pleasant walks. The total area is over seventy-eight acres.”

Banner Cross Hall. 1987. Image: Picture Sheffield

In 1932, the house and just over an acre of land was bought by Charles Boot to replace offices for Henry Boot and Son at Moore Street.

“Certain structural alterations to adapt it for office purposes have been started and would be completed within a month,” said Charles Boot. “The front of the Hall will be somewhat altered, but it is not my intention to do anything to destroy the amenities of the district.”

As might have been expected, the interiors were much altered. The Dining Room became the Board Room and was decorated with 17th century carved wood from demolished Hayes Place (Kent) and a fireplace and panelling from RMS Mauretania, scrapped in 1935.

Most of the grounds were lost to development, and the history of Banner Cross Hall and the names of the distinguished families who occupied it are maintained in the naming of roads in the vicinity, including Tullibardine, Murray, Glenalmond, Gisborne, Blair Athol, and Ford roads.

Aerial view of Banner Cross Hall. The house originally stood in countryside but its former lands were sold off for housing. Image: Google

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

Categories
Buildings Companies

Banner Cross Hall: “It is leaky and draughty and would cost millions to upgrade.”

There will be angry cries. There will be tears. People will call out to protect the trees.

Banner Cross Hall once stood in rural idyll. Then Sheffield grew and surrounded it. In the 1930s, the fate of the old mansion was precarious. It was on the market and people feared that it would be demolished, and the beautiful trees would be lost. Many already had, but for 90 years since, it has been the company headquarters of Henry Boot and some of the surrounding habitat survived.

However, faced with enormous costs to modernise it, and make it environmentally friendly, Henry Boot is reconsidering its future at the Grade II listed mansion.

If it chooses to vacate, the likelihood is that Banner Cross Hall will be converted into luxury apartments with possible development in its grounds.

If this happens, prepare for objections, just like there were almost a century ago.

© 2022 David Poole. All Rights Reserved

Categories
Buildings

Clifford House

Photograph by St Luke’s Clifford House

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.

Photograph by Welcome to Yorkshire

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).

Photograph by Picture Sheffield

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.

Photograph by St Luke’s Clifford House
Categories
Sculpture

Pan: Spirit of the Wood

Photograph by Sheffielder

Within the Rose garden at the Botanical Gardens, in Sheffield, is a sculpture called Pan: Spirit of the Wood. This was a gift to the city by Sir Charles Clifford, proprietor of the Sheffield Telegraph and Star, on his death in 1936.

However, the city’s inhabitants had to wait a long time to see the sculpture, only made available after the death of his widow, Lady Alice Clifford, in 1941.

He had expressed a wish that the sculpture would be placed in Endcliffe Wood or Whiteley Wood, but it wasn’t until 1952 that Spirit of the Wood was finally placed in the newly designed and restored Rose Garden at the Botanical Gardens.

Although his will referred to Peter Pan, it was almost certainly a statue of Pan: Greek god of pastures, flocks and woods, seated on a tree stump. Around the statue are brass birds, rabbits, mice, frogs and squirrels, while elves are imaginary woodland spirits. Cast in bronze, about 2 metres high, the sculptor has remained unknown.

The condition of the sculpture deteriorated over the years and it wasn’t until 2003 that restoration was undertaken at a cost of £40,000.

Spirit of the Wood was sent away to Chris Boulton, a restorer, who found that it had been made in sections and bolted together. Grit was blasted away, the patina removed, and rough cement detached from the stone base.

It was discovered that the cast was of poor quality, with the likelihood that the sculpture had been made of scrap-metal.

Once completed, Pan: Spirit of the Wood was reinstalled in the centre of the Rose Garden and nowadays forms part of the Riddle Trail.

The only clue to its creator can be found on an inscription – “H.W. Cashmore – Westminster” – a company of metal workers that had a foundry in Balham.

It had been set up by George Henry William Cashmore and Malcolm Hankey and became part of the Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts, established in 1894 by Walter Gilbert as a company of modern artists associated with the Arts and Crafts movement.

The guild worked in all sorts of materials including metal, wood, plaster, bronze, tapestry and glass. As a result of their most famous commission, the iron and bronze gates at Buckingham Palace, they were issued with a Royal Warrant appointing them metal workers to King Edward VII, an honour repeated two years later under George V.

By 1908, the guild was using H.W. Cashmore at 96 Victoria Street, Westminster, as a showroom and studio.

The partnership between Henry William Cashmore (he’d now dropped the initial G from his name), and Malcolm Hankey was dissolved in 1911 and became known as H.W. Cashmore and Company.

The showrooms flourished and attracted the attention of Country Life magazine in March 1914, which did a feature on the company.  Later the same year, The Gardeners’ Chronicle provided perhaps the best insight into the workings of H.W. Cashmore.

“Mr Cashmore has been careful to surround himself with workers who are not only skilled in their several branches, but are also imbued with the true craftsman’s instinct, and are therefore capable of applying themselves zealously to the realisation of high ideals. The effect is seen in the many examples of beautifully wrought and finely-finished metal work and carried out by the firm’s staff in a manner worthy of the invariably artistic designs to which they work.

“These productions take the form of garden statuary and elegantly modelled figures, ornamental bronze work, wrought iron gates, grilles and railings. The appreciation of their work now reaches to the most distant parts of the world. Examples of their skill and taste have gone as far afield as India, China, Japan and South America, as well as to the United States and Canada.

“Much of their work is used in the new commercial buildings of the world, on the other hand, a great deal of their skill seems to be utilised by clients who inhabit some of the most beautiful of the old English country homes – as found at Eltham Hall and Rushton Hall.”

Photograph by Sheffielder

Although records suggest that Spirit of the Wood was created in the 1930s, the likelihood is that it originates to about 1915 when Sir Charles Clifford bought Whirlow from Denys Hague, a coal-owner. Britain was at war, with metal commanding premium prices, and the inclusion of scrap-metal in its creation was understandable.

The sculpture probably stood in his garden at Whirlow, as did a pair of wrought iron gates, most likely by H.W. Cashmore as well, also bequeathed to the city, with Sir Clifford hoping that they would stand at the entrance to the bird sanctuary in Ecclesall Wood. As it happens, the gates are still hanging outside Clifford House on Ecclesall Road South (as Whirlow became known).

It seems we shall never know the designer of Spirit of the Wood, the obvious answer being that it was probably designed by one of Cashmore’s employees. Sir Charles doubtless ordered the statue from a catalogue, or even after visiting the Westminster showroom.  

Categories
People

Sir Charles Clifford

Colonel Charles Clifford by George Frederick Bird. Photograph by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

I need to write about Sir Charles Clifford, KBE, CMG, LLD, JP (1860-1936), because it appears very little has been written about him, and yet, apart from a dental hospital taking his name, he did a lot for Sheffield.

The name and life of Sir Charles Clifford were closely identified with the Sheffield Telegraph. He combined his powers of leadership and administration with an acute journalistic instinct. The journalists knew him as ‘The Colonel,’ one of the biggest figures in North country newspaper life, and one who did much to maintain the highest traditions of the press.

Charles was the fourth son of Frederick Clifford, Q.C., one of the original partners in the firm of Sir W.C. Leng and Company, publishers of the Sheffield Telegraph, and for many years a writer for The Times.

Born in London in 1860, Charles was educated privately and came to Sheffield in 1878, beginning an association with the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, originally destined for the commercial side, but in later years playing an important part in moulding its editorial policy.

In 1888, he established the Sheffield Evening Telegraph, and later negotiated the purchase of the rival Evening Star, later incorporated into the Evening Telegraph, and what we now know as the Sheffield Star.

Charles had taken a leading part in the management of the newspaper some years before the death of its original partners, becoming a partner himself in 1900, and in 1903, when the firm became a private limited company, becoming a director, and subsequently its chairman.

He became president of the Newspaper Society of Great Britain in 1905 and chairman of the Press Association in 1908, a position his father had held thirty years before.

But there were other strands to Charles’ busy life.

In the political sphere he was founder of the Conservative and Unionist organisation in Sheffield. The Brightside Divisional Conservative Association had given him early opportunities to demonstrate his fighting spirit and he became chairman in 1906, the association later presenting him with the chairman’s chair on which was inscribed his motto ‘Nec sine labore Fructus – ‘No fruit without labour.’

Presentation of the Chairman’s Chair in 1912. The British Newspaper Archive

In 1928, Charles played an important part, along with Captain A.E. Irwin, of the London Central Office of the Conservative Party, in reorganising the party in Sheffield. Afterwards he was elected chairman of the new Central Committee, and continued until his retirement in 1933, becoming vice-president of the federation.

Despite his political allegiance, Charles never held municipal or Parliamentary honours, though as a young man, he made two unsuccessful attempts to enter the City Council, and in 1913 was invited to become Lord Mayor, an honour which he refused.

Photograph by Picture Sheffield

His third great public service was in connection with national defence. At the age of 21, Charles had obtained a commission in the 4th West Riding Artillery Volunteers. His promotion was rapid, becoming a lieutenant in 1882, Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel in 1902, and Lieutenant-Colonel in 1909, a year after the Territorial Scheme had been introduced and the volunteers had become the 3rd West Riding Brigade Royal Field Artillery.

He received the Volunteer Officers’ Decoration in 1902, and in 1911 the Coronation medal was awarded to him.

As officer in charge of the Brigade, he was not only responsible for the many improvements at the Edmund Road Drill Hall, but he, along with Lieut-Col H.K. Stephenson, acquired the old Redmires Racecourse as a training ground.

Photograph of Edmund Road Drill Hall by Picture Sheffield

In 1913, Charles’ time as Commanding Officer expired, but it was extended for another year, and when he was at the point of definite retirement, war broke out.

His request to be allowed to remain was granted, and almost as soon as the Territorials were mobilised, he crossed to France in command of the Brigade.

On four occasions he was mentioned in dispatches, but in 1916 the Brigade was broken up and he returned to England to train another company which he took out to France and commanded during the Passchendaele operations. During 1917 he frequently acted as Brigadier-General in the field.

For the service he rendered in France and Flanders, he became a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in the New Year’s Honours List of 1918, and in 1920 he received the Territorial Decoration.

 Four years later, the officers of the 71st West Riding Field Brigade Royal Artillery, as the Territorial artillery had become, decided to honour him.

In December 1924, Charles was entertained to dinner at the Norfolk Barracks and was presented with a portrait, dressed in the uniform he wore when he took the Brigade to France. The portrait was later hung in the barracks and a replica presented to Charles for his own collection. From 1920, until the time of his death, he was Honorary Colonel.

Away from day-to-day life all forms of sport appealed to him, and he was particularly fond of shooting and was to be regularly seen on the moors on ‘The Twelfth.’ Cricket also excited him, as did bowls, and he was elected president of the Sheffield and District Amateur Bowling Association in 1908.

Shooting on the moors in 1929. The British Newspaper Archive

For several years, he was president of the Sheffield Philharmonic Society and an enthusiastic stamp collector.

Charles was also a keen supporter of movements to foster friendships between Britain, America and Italy.

In 1922, he was elected a member of the Sheffield Town Trust, was involved with the Sheffield Club, the Junior Carlton and the Junior Constitutional, but his greatest honour was confirmed on him in 1925 when he received a knighthood.

Charles’ interest in Sheffield University extended over many years during which time he was a member of the University Council, and in 1934 an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred on him.

Charles Clifford Dental Hospital

Shortly afterwards, he presented the University with the house known as Broom Bank, on Glossop Road, as a dental hospital, and provided £77,000 for ‘general purposes of the University.’ However, he died in 1936, before plans had been finalised. The story of the Charles Clifford Dental Hospital wasn’t as straightforward as he might have hoped and is subject to a separate post.

Charles married Alice Emma Davy, and lived at Clifford House, on Ecclesall Road South. He was survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

Photograph by Picture Sheffield