Chantrey Land

by Harold Armitage
My own recollections of Lees hall are associated entirely with the dwelling there of the Butchers, Samuel and Henry, bachelor brothers. Samuel, unable to walk, was driven there occasionally, but Henry was robust virile man, with ruddy ace and black hair, who stalked vigorously about the fields and woods, not ill-natured with peaceable people, but ready with a few short and sharp expletives for those he found relieving his fields of turnips, his hedges of their stakes or otherwise encroaching on his rights, Farming near a large industrial centre is not an experience that tends to philosophic calm. About the house, however, in those days it was a rare event to see anyone. Always it seemed there like a country Sunday afternoon. Invariably was the door open and a carefully polished old chair stood in view, but nobody ever seemed to come through the door, nobody ever seemed t sit in the chair.

Surely never was a home of such quiet as Lees Hall in the seventies and eighties. There was ever about the place an atmosphere of dignity and decorum, a silence broken only from time to time by the barking of a great black dog that challenged passage along the path between the house and the stackyard. When I try to recall the place I remember its austere and solemn front and air of aloofness, of its gables and heir ball finials, its pond where the ducks loved to swim and to "swattle" in the mud, its old cart shed, that had, and still has, an ancient carved stone bearing the word "Pax" and the date 1723 built into its front, it green croft and the lime tree near the stile under whose branches t was such a delight to lie through a long sultry summer afternoon listening to the comfortable murmur of the bees amongst the sweetly scented blossoms Away to the east were delightful views of Hang Bank Wood the " Cuckoo " where the old box mangle did some of Heeley's mangling, Buck Wood, Newfield Green Hurlfield Hill, Myrtle Springs Gleadless a lovely world for a boy to wander in, and old woods now there no longer, with delightful brooks, a picture at every turfs arid about Whitsuntide with the young yellow leaves and the tender greens above and the bluebells below a beauty that might well move an artist or a poet to tears. To allow the memory to range amongst these scenes is to recall many other features that are there no more and some that still remain. Away at Newfield Green is "Old Collis"' cottage, Addlington's farm and the old home of the Misses Browned, from which they used to issue sedately with "Owd Thompson " their ruddy white-haired coachman Luke Brownell, of Newfield Green, scythesmith has the distinction that he paid the largest apprenticeship premium ever received by the Cutlers' Company of Sheffield The premium was for his son Peter, who in 1807 was Master Cutler.

It used to be possible to see an occasional cock pheasant in Hang Bank Wood, and I remember an odd larch tree there that used to come into leaf before the other trees- a harbinger of spring. This curious name Hang Bank occurs in a slightly modified form in Harrison's survey of Sheffield made in I 637, for Harrison mentions a pasture that " abutteth upon Newfield greene North and a Common called Hanbanke South." A picturesque feature of the Brownell's house is the ivy-covered dove-cot, and I once had a talk with a man at Ridgeway who told me that when he was a boy he and his father planted the ivy round the building, and he was proud of its luxuriant growth. Away behind is Buck Wood that has hidden tragedies, and was not to be traversed at night for fear of the ghost of a man who had hanged himself there.

Lees Hall to-day, occupied by Mr. W. Clarke, has so far come into touch with the world that it is connected with the throng of Sheffield by a telephone, but this hint of modernity cannot hide the essential antiquity of the delightful building, a fragment probably of a much larger hall. Indeed some have arrived at the conclusion that the pond occupies the depression made for the cellar of a more ancient and widespread building. Internally, rooms panelled with oak and an old oaken staircase are amongst the interesting features of a hall that has many elements to excite our curiosity and to attach our affections.

It used to be possible to see an occasional cock pheasant in Hang Bank Wood, and I remember an odd larch tree there that used to come into leaf before the other trees- a harbinger of spring. This curious name Hang Bank occurs in a slightly modified form in Harrison's survey of Sheffield made in I 637, for Harrison mentions a pasture that " abutteth upon Newfield greene North and a Common called Hanbanke South." A picturesque feature of the Brownell's house is the ivy-covered dove-cot, and I once had a talk with a man at Ridgeway who told me that when he was a boy he and his father planted the ivy round the building, and he was proud of its luxuriant growth. Away behind is Buck Wood that has hidden tragedies, and was not to be traversed at night for fear of the ghost of a man who had hanged himself there.

Lees Hall to-day, occupied by Mr. W. Clarke, has so far come into touch with the world that it is connected with the throng of Sheffield by a telephone, but this hint of modernity cannot hide the essential antiquity of the delightful building, a fragment probably of a much larger hall. Indeed some have arrived at the conclusion that the pond occupies the depression made for the cellar of a more ancient and widespread building. Internally, rooms panelled with oak and an old oaken staircase are amongst the interesting features of a hall that has many elements to excite our curiosity and to attach our affections.

It is possible to compile a list of people who have lived at Lees Hall by extracting all the references to the place amongst the baptisms, weddings and deaths at Norton church, where there was a Lees Hall pew. It does not follow that this yields a complete list, but it furnishes many names, and confirms some of the statements made already concerning the Parkers and the Barkers. Lysons says that Francis Gregg of the Ilkeston family once lived at Lees Hall, but Gregg does not seem to have left any records amongst the baptisms, marriages or deaths.

The poll book for the election of 1734 gives John Challiner of Lees Hall, but he may have been the owner without being the occupier. In 1626 Humphrey Cardinall, gentleman, was at Lees Hall, and in 1659 " Sellbee Massonn," attorney-at-law, whose wife was Margaret Barker. A year later the occupiers were Francis Barker and Mistress Ann, his wife, and they were still there in 1671 but by 1673 John Cave, gentleman, was installed there. His wife was the daughter of Francis Barker, and when her husband, John Cave died she married John Bright of Dronfield. In that way we have the Brights, a great local family, at Lees Hall for a time. Then in 1689 William Wastnidge is there, and still there in 1691 but two years later Edward Greenwood, gentleman, occupies the Hall. Edward Greenwood married Beathea, daughter of Andrew Morewood of the Hallowes. He was buried at Wentworth in 1733 and later in the same year their son, Morewood Greenwood, was buried too. Beathea's mother was Mary Spencer, daughter of William Spencer of Attercliffe Hall and lord of the manor of Darnall. Benjamin Eyre comes next in the Norton Registers.

Widow Brearley was at Lees Hall in 1703 but it is necessary to be cautious in assuming that all who are given in the Registers as being of Lees Hall were the occupiers of the Hall itself, for labourers and domestic servants, or even people living in neighbouring cottages, are sometimes given as coming from a hall Thus in the Norton Register there is a scythe finisher of Norton Hall and another workman of the Oakes. Ralph Clay was at Lees Hall in 1707 and he was still there in 1719 when he went to Hemsworth. At this time what we know as Fawcett's farm was called sometimes Lees Hall farm and sometimes Cock Shout House _Cockshutts as we write the name now. Thomas Pashley was there in Mr. Clay's time. Following Ralph Clay came John Lowe, but at the same time a George Bramall, gentleman, has incidental mantion Lowe, however. was there in 1721 and still there in 1742 Clay and Lowe seem to have exchanged farms - Lees Hall and Hemsworth. Gamaliel Edgbarrow was at Cockshutts, and then Robert Merill, followed by Nancy, his widow.

Thomas Ellin was at Lees Hall in 1747 and in 1767, and he was followed by James and then by John who was there in 1771. During this reign of the Ellins there are mentioned also Thomas Bagshaw, John Marshall, Arthur Spyth, John Hollinworth and Mary Webster, but these probably are subsidiary characters. An entry in a memorandum book kept by Thomas Ellin gives " May the 15 1762 Thomas Rodger has don 18 days worke of mosing at Newfield Green." In his glossary of local words Mr. Addy says this was putting moss under or between slates, and he adds that th Baslow parish register records the burial, July 21 1708 of Edmund Little wood of Totley moser, killed by falling from Bubnell Hall In his book on the evolution of the house Mr. Addy gives another example, from an old bill for the building of a house in Sheffield:

"Payd in parse of a recconing for mossing of and slating my howse xxs."

Architects tell me that in old houses the stone slate found often to have been laid upon hay or straw, as well as upon moss. The Ellins came from the neighbourhood of Pontefract, and were engaged here supplying stone for slates and other building stone with the Duke of Devonshire as a buyer. An entry in Ellin's memorandum book runs: " John Holingworth indebted to Thomas Ellin for a BarJan of slate whish he had on m ,< ~ "

Thomas married a daughter of the house of Brownell of Newfield Green, and we need not be very imaginative to picture the lovers signalling to one another across the valley of the Meersbrook, for the houses are in sight of each other. Their sons were John and James, and some of their descendants are in the Sheffield cutlery trade to this day. Thomas was Master Cutler, and presided the first feast in the new hall, and Ellin Street in Sheffield was cut through land belonging to the family. After the Ellins came John Butterill, in possession in 1774 and 1777.

Robert Booker is next, bringing us down to 1808. A Mr. Senior kept Lees Hal until Robert Booker came of age, and Robert and John Booker went to school at Norton, where Robert quarrelled with young gingham, the son of a Quaker. A friend of gingham implored him not to fight with Booker, who he said got too much beef to allow of any hope of his being conquered by Bingham but young broad-brim was undismayed. His blood was up; a whole shambles of beef could not cow him. He said sententiously "A bellyful is a bellyful, and I will fight him." So the fight was arranged, a desperate `'turn up," and Round lugs and ogles flew the frequent fist. The sequel was unexpected, for in spite of all his beef young Booker went down before the blows of Quaker gingham.

Related to the Bookers, who had many connections in this district were their successors, the Butchers. A Directory gives Mrs. Benjamin Butcher at Lees Hall in 1864 and Samuel and Henry many of us remember. One day at Lees Hall the death of Mrs. Butcher was expected hourly. Her sons were there, and the doctor was in attendance. Presently she awoke out of a sleep and said she was hungry. Her dainty fancy was a glass of beer and some bread and cheese. The doctor declared such a diet most unsuitable, but as the end was so near she might be humoured. They would see she would not touch the food when it was brought. At the sight of the beer and cheese, however, Mrs. Butcher sat up and proceeded to eat a hearty meal, and so far from being dead in a few hours, she lived for four more years. Upon the side of the Hall where the old enclosed garden lies, the Harehills rise, and here is a way to Norton that leads to Norton Backmoor. Then beyond the Harehills is Cockshutts farm, associated for more than one generation with the Fawcetts, and there will be many people still alive


  part of the nickrobinson.info site