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Sheffield Folklore And Legends.

Guest Damien Lance Barker

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This is more or less how I heard the story of the Bell Hag Inn when I first moved to this end of town.

Here's the story in an extract from "Sheffield Pub Walks."

The Bell Hag

The pub itself dates from 1832 when a certain Dr. Hodgson wished to make a donation to the church at Stannington. Hodgson was a man of dubious moral character, being known throughout Sheffield as a heavy gambler and frequenter of ale houses. Therefore the vicar, having scruples, declined the doctor's offer. Offended by this and in a fit of pique, Hodgson built the Bell Hagg in a prominent position on the opposite side of the valley to the church. The result was that every time the vicar looked through the windows of his vicarage he could not avoid seeing the offending building.

Although it appears normal from its frontage on the A57, it is built on a very steep slope with the result that its rear is more than 80 feet high, a feature which transforms it into a conspicuous landmark when viewed from Stannington and the north. Originally it was named "Hodgson's Choice" but, two years after its construction it became known as "Hodgson's Folly".

During the later years of the nineteenth century the cellars, because they were escape proof, were used to house prisoners and convicts overnight while on their way from the Sheffield Assizes to Strangeways Prison in Manchester.

I was there a few days ago and took these photos.

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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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There is the story of the executioner of King Charles I fleeing to Sheffield after the restoration of the monarchy....

This and several other folk tales appear in J. Edward Vickers book.

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On 1/9/2011 at 9:07 AM, vox said:

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

There are a couple of versions I believe.

Five years late, but have you heard the one about 'Naked Norris' ?  He was supposed to have been seen wandering Burngreave cemetery, pre-war I think, and dozens turned out to get a glimpse of him each evening after closing time. Not sure if he was supposed to be supernatural or just a disturbed human. 

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