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Sheffield Folklore And Legends.


Guest Damien Lance Barker

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Guest Damien Lance Barker

Hello Sheffielders.

My name is Damien Barker, I'm hoping to persuade readers to stretch their minds for a moment, and perhaps help me help Sheffield.

I'm researching information on South Yorkshire folklore; specifically around Sheffield. I'm speaking of course of the oral history that has been passed from person to person over the generations.

So far, my research has taken me down a couple of roads to acquiring this knowledge, which without your help could be lost in the passage of time. Everyone has a story to tell, and one of the oldest traditions in the world is indeed storytelling. It is my hope to preserve what is being lost whenever a generation dies.

What I would like to know from all who read this, are stories you have remembered, perhaps from your youth; in regards to local legends from around the Sheffield. I'm interested in anything remotely arcane, either in the public conciousness, or that of the older generations memories..An example would be Mary Queen of Scots ghost being seen in the Outhouse of Sheffield Castle, as she was held prisoner there in the 1500's before she was executed.

I'm on a mission to collect as much as possible. I don't want to ask you all as much as; writing in prose an entire story on this forum, but potential leads would be fantastic. Perhaps you know of an area that has a famous giant, said to have sat on a rock? A couple of examples of the kind of legends: Ghosts that hang around in old pubs also interest me, and also people who have experienced strange events themselves, that have only been explained by the supernatural.

Some story examples are:

The Devil climbing the crooked spire of Chesterfield.

The Barghest of the Yorkshire Moors.

The Derby Ram.

The Bakewell Witches

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

The Boggards of Boggard Lane - in our beloved Sheffield.

Obviously, most of these are not from Sheffield, which is my point. I believe the missing stories need to be collected before it is too late. The stories I have listed as examples are also of a specific kind, though I am completely open to peoples stories of the wars, past murders, strange encounters. My only request is that these stories are, or were, considered folklore. In other words, passed from one person to another "You know about the ghost pilot in Encliff Park?" - Yes, that does apparently exist.

I want to thank you all for reading as this research is not possible without 'folk'. I sincerely hope you hear from one of you and pick your brains - and if it means buying someone a pint at some point so be it!

And also: Once the information has been collect and finalised, I will happily direct you all its way; if you are interested in what I am doing. Everyone who contributes will be graciously credited.

Kind Regards,

Damien Lance Barker -

Descendant of the Barkers and Saynors of Sheffield.

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The Devil climbing the crooked spire of Chesterfield.

Isn't the folklore connected with Chesterfield's crooked spire something to do with the spire being cursed to remain bent and twisted until the day a virgin damsel marries there and then it will straighten? :unsure:

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Guest Damien Lance Barker

Isn't the folklore connected with Chesterfield's crooked spire something to do with the spire being cursed to remain bent and twisted until the day a virgin damsel marries there and then it will straighten? :unsure:

I dunno - you tell me! :)

Just kidding. You're completely right. An unspoken of act - a virgin bride being wed caused the spire itself to observe. He twisted the spire to get a better view.

It will only return to normal when the act reoccurs... So people of Chesterfield, if you are reading, you are very naughty girls!

Here is what I found online:

"Inevitably there are plenty of local legends associated with the twisted spire, offering alternative reasons for the twist. The shortest, most insulting, and funniest is that one day a virgin bride got married in the church, and the spire, determined to witness such an unheard of event, twisted round to get a better look. The tale continues that if ever another virgin bride ties the knot in the church the spire will untwist.

The devil gets a few mentions too: he perched on the spire and twisted his tail around it to hold on, the twist of his tail transmitting to the structure; he was sitting on the spire when some incense made him sneeze and twist in doing so; or he was being shod nearby in Bolsover when the blacksmith drove a nail through his foot and the devil’s subsequent leap just failed to clear the spire, his tail clipping it out of true."

If you have heard something different though I would love to hear it!

Thanks for the post Dave. Much appreciated.

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... So people of Chesterfield, if you are reading, you are very naughty girls!

Now I work in the Chesterfield area and have taught many a Chesterfield lass.

Most of them are NOT naughty girls and common sense tells you this is just local lore.

Amazingly Derbyshire people love putting themselves down rather than letting outsiders do it for them.

They told me about (allegedly) there have been no virgin marriages in Chesterfield church in its long history

Also there own rhyme about themselves, -

"Derbyshire born and Derbyshire bred, strong in the arm and thick in the head"

is less than complimentary

(However, the local Radio station, Peak FM, have recently revised this to "Derbyshire born and Derbyshire bred, strong in the arm and good in bed", which, if this is true could explain a lack of virgin brides lol )

The REAL reason for the twist in the spire is also varied, -

poor workmanship, inferior materials, unseasoned timbers, lack of skilled workers and prolonged building time due to the black death been some genuine reasons.

Every so often the church has an open day where you can have a guided tour up the spire. I have been up there and the internal timber structure looks a mess.

Further to this, at certain times the spire appears to be bent and twisted more than others for some reason (humidity and temperature of the timbers). Measurements show that the spire is not static anyway and is slowly moving further out of true which may ultimately lead to its collapse one day.

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Does this count ?

The original Red Lion at Gleadless (Before it's rebuild on almost the same site) used to straddle the old border between Derbyshire and Yorkshire. In fact the Shire Brook, which forms the old border, runs through the cellar.

The landlord's son (who is an archeologist and has excavated the site of the original building) told me that the pub is shown on an early 19th century map but (I think I remember him saying) he had found evidence of it being much earlier.

He also told me that according to local legend, the pub was governed by both Derbyshire and Yorkshire licensing authorities so one side of the pub had to stop serving before the other. People would move into the Derbyshire side for a bit of extra drinking time.

True ? Who knows ?

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Does this count ?

The original Red Lion at Gleadless (Before it's rebuild on almost the same site) used to straddle the old border between Derbyshire and Yorkshire. In fact the Shire Brook, which forms the old border, runs through the cellar.

The landlord's son (who is an archeologist and has excavated the site of the original building) told me that the pub is shown on an early 19th century map but (I think I remember him saying) he had found evidence of it being much earlier.

He also told me that according to local legend, the pub was governed by both Derbyshire and Yorkshire licensing authorities so one side of the pub had to stop serving before the other. People would move into the Derbyshire side for a bit of extra drinking time.

True ? Who knows ?

True that shire brook runs under it but I am not sure that this is the exact location of the county boundary as it passes through Gleadless townend, - although as its name implies it was the boundary further out.

We have discussed this anomaly at townend before in a topic on half day closing as half the shops had Sheffield half day closing and the rest had Derbyshire.

As most older Sheffielders know, Sheffield pubs used to close at 10:30 while Debyshire (and it seems the rest of Britain) would remain open until 11:00. I would think that the Red Lions hours would be set by the area that issued their licence to sell alcoholic drinks. Even if they straddle a border it is unlikely they would need 2 licences and to split the pub.

Apparently the old Red Lion had its own sports field, on the site behind it currently occupied by shops and the petrol station.

Cricket was played on this field and as cricket is a county sport did they bat for Yorkshire or Derbyshire?

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True that shire brook runs under it but I am not sure that this is the exact location of the county boundary as it passes through Gleadless townend, - although as its name implies it was the boundary further out.

We have discussed this anomaly at townend before in a topic on half day closing as half the shops had Sheffield half day closing and the rest had Derbyshire.

As most older Sheffielders know, Sheffield pubs used to close at 10:30 while Debyshire (and it seems the rest of Britain) would remain open until 11:00. I would think that the Red Lions hours would be set by the area that issued their licence to sell alcoholic drinks. Even if they straddle a border it is unlikely they would need 2 licences and to split the pub.

Apparently the old Red Lion had its own sports field, on the site behind it currently occupied by shops and the petrol station.

Cricket was played on this field and as cricket is a county sport did they bat for Yorkshire or Derbyshire?

Well - as the landlord's son said - that's just the story the locals tell.

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Sheffield Storybag

Fri 04 February 2011 @ 7.30pm - 8.45pm

Venue - The Greystones Pub, Greystones Road, S11

Local storyteller Raymond Greenoaken tells strange and sinister tales, unlikely legends and half-forgotten ballads weaving words, music and song into an evening of enchantment. Here be dragons, shapeshifters, highwaymen and the Devil himself, stepping out from the pages of Sheffield's history and folklore.

£4 on the door.

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Who's that bloke who takes the "Ghost Tour" around town on Halloween ?

He knows all about the local legends and ghost stories.

I'll find him I'm sure give me a while.

Edit:

That was quicker than I envisaged.

Steel City Ghost Tours

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WHARNCIFFE may prove fruitfull.

We have the Dragon of Wantley (Wortley) ballad. Its origins were evaluated by David Hey.

Two villages were alledged to have been cleared by the Wortley-Wharncliffe family to make way for a deer chase. (a mini "Forest" for lesser nobles)

Nothing documented as far as I know.

We do know the Normans rode roughshod over the natives?

Associated curses, (perhaps a delicate subject and approach with caution).

Hermit of Softly Crags

Ghosts of the Stocksbridge by-pass. (it cut through the area) as seen in the "Stranger than fiction" series mentioned elswhere on the site. I had two friends nearly scared to death)

Buried treasure

John Nevinson (Swift Nic) highway man, the one who its said, really did ride to York. (see "Bird in Hand" post)

Crusader links with Bolsterstone

Grenoside Crucible steel stolen secret, - the stranger given shelter routine

Visit of Buffalo Bill to Glen Howe Park to shoot his initials in a tree.

Souix Indian buried in Wardsend Cematery - legend persists despite evidence to contrary (Paul Eagle Star sent back to the Rosbud some years ago)

Battle at Bar Dyke Bradfield - pre-historic battle involving a boars head (I think)

The executioner who took Charles head off was from Attercliffe.

Ghosts of Loxley Common

These are just off the top of my head, (from memory, which is not always good) Please dont quote me.

Isnt this just how legends start?

Should keep you busy

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dunsbyowl1867

The executioner who took Charles head off was from Attercliffe.

These are just off the top of my head, (from memory, which is not always good) Please dont quote me.

Isnt this just how legends start?

Should keep you busy

William Walker - Darnall

http://www.sheffieldhistory.co.uk/forums/index.php?showtopic=5093&st=0&p=76089&hl=executioner&fromsearch=1&#entry76089

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dunsbyowl1867

WHARNCIFFE may prove fruitfull.

Visit of Buffalo Bill to Glen Howe Park to shoot his initials in a tree.

Souix Indian buried in Wardsend Cematery - legend persists despite evidence to contrary (Paul Eagle Star sent back to the Rosbud some years ago)

These are just off the top of my head, (from memory, which is not always good) Please dont quote me.

Isnt this just how legends start?

Should keep you busy

Injuns

http://www.sheffieldhistory.co.uk/forums/index.php?showtopic=1252&st=0&p=6693&hl=buffalo&fromsearch=1&#entry6693

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dunsbyowl1867

WHARNCIFFE may prove fruitfull.

We have the Dragon of Wantley (Wortley) ballad. Its origins were evaluated by David Hey.

These are just off the top of my head, (from memory, which is not always good) Please dont quote me.

Isnt this just how legends start?

Should keep you busy

Dragon

http://www.sheffieldhistory.co.uk/forums/index.php?showtopic=7206&st=0&p=48311&hl=wantley&fromsearch=1&#entry48311

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Guest Damien Lance Barker

Do you already have the Bellhagg Inn "Hodgson's Folly" story ?

There are a couple of versions I believe.

I'm afraid I don't. It already sounds good though!

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Guest Damien Lance Barker

Sheffield Storybag

Fri 04 February 2011 @ 7.30pm - 8.45pm

Venue - The Greystones Pub, Greystones Road, S11

Local storyteller Raymond Greenoaken tells strange and sinister tales, unlikely legends and half-forgotten ballads weaving words, music and song into an evening of enchantment. Here be dragons, shapeshifters, highwaymen and the Devil himself, stepping out from the pages of Sheffield's history and folklore.

£4 on the door.

I didn't know Ray was doing that...

He's on the committee with me at Flying Donkeys in Derby. I shall have to pay him a surprise visit.

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Guest Damien Lance Barker

Who's that bloke who takes the "Ghost Tour" around town on Halloween ?

He knows all about the local legends and ghost stories.

I'll find him I'm sure give me a while.

Edit:

That was quicker than I envisaged.

Steel City Ghost Tours

That is a gem and a half. Come to think of it, there is a guy who does it here in Derby too. Thanks again!

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Guest Damien Lance Barker

You've given me many ideas - all of you. I haven't had time to thank you all individually; thank you nonetheless!

I've got loads to be working on. Can't wait to get in contact with people, and follow the leads you have all posted for me. You've already been a MASSIVE help,

When I get home later, I'll look in depth at everything you've all sent me and try to catch up!

Remember, if you've heard something about Sheffield, and you don't know whether or not it is true, don't worry. It counts as folklore! :)

I seriously can't kiss your backsides enough. Cheers everyone - and sorry if I haven't had time to respond to you all.

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Inspired by the story of Chesterfield's crooked church spire how about this one.

On top of Sheffield Town Hall stands the statue of the mythological god of blacksmiths and metal workers, VULCAN

The ancient mythology surrounding Vulcan is detailed here

VULCAN

However, there is another piece of mythology / folklore, not mentioned in the official version, as to what Vulcan did and why he is stood on top of the town hall.

The story has been told to me by elderly relatives (now deceased) and even an old teacher at Junior School.

Note that Vulcan on the town hall is holding something in his hand and is in quite an athletic pose.

He is supposed to be holding a pair of tongs / pincers of the type used for handling hot metal, for example from a furnace or smithy's hearth.

His athletic pose, emphasised more by his classical nudity, is as though he is in an Olympic throwing event.

The story is that to give Sheffield day and night every morning Vulcan removes a large ball of incandescent metal (Well Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire!! B) )from the great furnace in the east (Tinsley steel works?) using his tongs, climbs to a high point in the City (the top of the Town Hall) and throws it high into the sky towards the west. The glowing ball becomes the Sun and lights up the City as it passes high above. As the ball starts to fall back in the evening Vulcan catches it with his tongs and at sunset quenches it in the western sea (the Atlantic?) to bring the night's darkness to the City so that he can rest. Next morning he is up again collecting another spherical ingot from the eastern furnace.

My current avitar (left of my posts) is designed to show this, but using the moon rather than the sun just to get the picture contrasts right.

Anyone else ever come across this local version of a piece of classical mythology?

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