Hillsborough House

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Hillsborough House, now Hillsborough library. The single storied junior library is on the left hand side.

Hillsborough House, later called Hillsborough Hall, is a large, stone-built mansion constructed in the Adam style in the latter part of the 18th century. It stands 2½ miles NW of the centre of Sheffield at grid reference SK331901 in the suburb of Hillsborough within Hillsborough Park, a council-owned public recreational area. For 124 years the house was a private dwelling, but since 1906 it has housed the Hillsborough branch library. It is a Grade Two listed building as are the coach house and stables which stand 20 metres north west of the main house.

Private dwelling[edit]

Hillsborough House was built in 1779 as a dwelling for Thomas Steade (1728-1793) and his wife Meliscent, who had been living 250 yards to the east in Burrowlee House. The Steades were a family of local of landowners whose history went back to at least the 14th century. When built, the house stood in rural countryside well outside the Sheffield boundary. Steade named his new residence in honour of Wills Hill who at the time was known as the Earl of Hillsborough, an eminent politician of the period and a patron of the Steades.[1][2]

Stead acquired more land and the grounds eventually had an area of 103 acres (0.42 km2). The grounds were much more extensive than the present Hillsborough Park, stretching north to the current junction of Leppings Lane and Penistone Road, and included the site on which Hillsborough Stadium now stands. It extended further south encompassing the site now occupied by the Hillsborough arena. The grounds had areas given over to agriculture but there was also extensive parkland featuring a lake, two lodges, and a tree-lined avenue. There was also a walled garden, which still exists today, that provided fresh produce for the house’s kitchens.[3]

Broughton Steade inherited the house upon his father's death in 1793 but sold it in 1801 to John Rimington Wilson of the Broomhead Hall family. In 1838 it was sold again to John Rodgers, the owner of a well-known local cutlery firm. Rodgers renamed his residence Hillsborough Hall as he thought this better reflected the property's significance. Between 1852 and 1860 the Hall was occupied by the family of Edward Bury (1794-1858), the pioneer locomotive builder and part founder of the Sheffield steel firm of Bedford, Burys & Co. A plaque by the front door of the present-day building commemorates the Bury family's residency. In 1860 Ernest Benzon, a German-born financial advisor, bought the Hall.

Five years later, Benzon sold the house to James Willis Dixon, son of the founder of the well-known Sheffield silver-and-metal-smiths firm, James Dixon & Sons. Dixon made considerable alterations and redecorated the property. Archives record that at that time there were six servants' bedrooms with a nursery on the second floor and five family bedrooms on the first floor. When Dixon died in 1876, his extensive library of over 1,000 books was sold. Dixon's art collection, which included works by Rembrandt, Rubens, and Watteau, was also auctioned. [4]

The death of J.W. Dixon junior in 1890 caused the hall and its grounds to be divided into 14 lots and auctioned off. Sheffield Corporation (now Sheffield City Council) bought Lot 1, which included the hall and the surrounding 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land. A northern section of the estate on the far side of the River Don was sold to Sheffield Wednesday Football Club which needed a new home ground as the lease on their Olive Grove ground had expired. Lands on the western side of the estate were sold to build Hillsborough Trinity Methodist Church and to accommodate new housing as the city of Sheffield expanded. The streets that these new houses were built on were named Dixon, Wynyard, Willis, Lennox, and Shepperson, all names connected to the Dixon family.

The coach house and stables still in a run down state in early 2013.

Coach house and stables[edit]

These are also listed buildings which were constructed at the same time as the main house. After the Dixons sold the house in 1890, they were used for storage by the local council for many years. Recently they have fallen into a state of disrepair and have been unused and boarded up for many years. In 2012 Sheffield City Council put the coach house and stable block up for sale with a view to them being restored and renovated by the private sector and turned into a café and restaurant facility (and possible wedding venue).[5][6]

Hillsborough Library[edit]

In 1906 the house opened as Hillsborough library, although there were suggestions that it could be an art gallery and museum. The surrounding 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land purchased by the council became Hillsborough Park. Hillsborough’s first librarian was Henry A. Valantine; his salary amounted to £111. In 1929 a single storey extension was added to accommodate a new junior library. In the 1940s and 1950s a maternity and child-welfare clinic was located on the first floor. In 1978 the building was found to have dry and wet rot and was closed for repairs. The rooms on the library’s upper floors are used by local councillors and Members of Parliament for surgeries. Former politician Roy Hattersley, who was brought up in Hillsborough, had this to say in his autobiography A Yorkshire Boyhood: “The library remained our constant joy. It was part of our lives, a home from home housed in what had once been a mansion owned by a local worthy”.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Complete Hillsborough by her people", Mick Drewry, ISBN 1-901587-47-9 Pages 80 -82 Gives historical information.
  2. ^ "A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain", John Burke, page 150, Gives details of Steade family.
  3. ^ Hillsborough walled garden website. Gives details of garden and some history.
  4. ^ "Old Ordnance Survey Maps (Hillsborough 1902)" Notes by Sylvia Pybus Gives historical information.
  5. ^ Sheffield City Council website. Details possible sale of stables.
  6. ^ British Listed Buildings. Gives details of coach house and stables.
  7. ^ "A Yorkshire Boyhood", Roy Hattersley, ISBN 0-330-31394-0 Gives this quote.

Coordinates: 53°24′25″N 1°30′09″W / 53.4069°N 1.5025°W / 53.4069; -1.5025