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Bishops House


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Sheffield History

BISHOPS HOUSE

Bishops' House is a half-timbered house in the Norton Lees district of the City of Sheffield, England. It was built c. 1500 and is located at 53°21′5″N, 1°28′13″W, on the southern tip of Meersbrook Park. It is one of the three surviving timber-framed houses in the city (the others being the Old Queen's Head and Broom Hall).

It is known as Bishops' House because it was said to have been built for two brothers. John and Geoffrey Blythe, both of whom became Bishops. There is, however, no evidence that they ever lived in this house—the first known resident being William Blythe, a farmer and scythe manufacturer, who was living here in 1627.

It is a Grade II* listed building[2] and has been open as a museum since 1976. It is managed by the Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust, and contains exhibitions on life in the 16th and 17th centuries with two rooms decorated in Jacobean Style.

LINKS

Bishops House Website - http://www.sheffieldgalleries.org.uk/cores...tml/bishops.asp

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  • 4 years later...

I think we should upgrade this Entry as evidence acquired since means that this description is not entirely accurate.

1. This Museum is no longer managed by Museums Sheffield but is now back under Sheffield Council management in patnership with Friends of Bishops House who open it at weekends, run events and take bookings from everyone except school parties, and Museums Sheffield who are at present still running the education service there.

Historically the information should read. At present we have no firm date for the building of Bishops House as there is no available documents or archeaological evidence to date it. From the style of the building it could be between 1460 and 1560. The Land on which the House stands belonged to the Blythe family from 1377 when they acquired it by Charter from William Chaworth.

Although there is no direct evidence for the 2 Bishops living in the present House there is strong evidence that it camel to Bishop Geoffrey Blythe's possession as inheritance after the death of his brother Richard, but, by 1541 was then in Richard's son William's possession.

William's younger son took over after his father's death and this is the first clear mention of a Blythe of Lees as a title.

John died in 1562 and there is clear linkage in his will and following wills from John to William in 1627. So William is clearly not the earliest known inhabitant.

The house continued in Blythe ownership till sometime after the death of Samuel Blythe in 1737 when it was sold by Samuel Blythe Jnr and his brother Benjamin (as Benjamin had moved to Derby and Samuel Jnr to Birmingham). The date of the sale and who bought it is unclear but possibly Benjamin Roebuck bought it at the same time he bought Meersbrook Farm and land at Four Lanes End in 1759.

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Guest Martin-Bacon

I'm not sure about the lack of archeaological evidence to date Bishops' House. I think Ruth Morgan, the present Hon. Secretary of the Hunter Archaeological Society carried out a dendrochonological test on core samples from the structure, so I have heard. If so, then we have a maximum age for the timber used in construction. I don't have a date though.

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I have read Ruth Morgan's article. Her findings were based on floorboards and inconclusive. The wood had been stripped of the outer layer to avoid insect attack so rings were missing and it is uncertain just how many rings were missing.

There is a strong possibility that the floorboards were brought from Sheffield castle and therefore not a good source for dating. There is evidence of recycled wood and stone in the House.

Also her research was based on a previous article which listed 3 stages and dates for them.

Documentary evidence does not support this previous article. This is probably because other wills of the Blythes of Lees were not looked at before 1631. However through land agreements and legal documents there is a clear line back to John of Blythe of Lees in 1562. The will inventories show the progression and changes in the House and do not match with the suggested 3 stages.

The only way clear evidence could be found for the house would be to take from the frame of the House but there was not a good enough sample to look at the rings. Perhaps sometime we will be able to take a core sample from the frame but till then we have no definite date for the age of the house.

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Debate, discussion between knowledgeable people (with dates and evidence for consideration and technical stuff too) and no fisticuffs - I like it.

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I'm quite sure Ruth Morgan would agree with me on this. There is no conclusive evidence to date Bishops House.

Bishops House is continually put as 1500 but we can find absolutely no evidence to support this date.

It seems to be purely someone went for the middle date and since then everyone has taken it as true. Occasionally someone will put around 1500 but is 50 years either way really around 1500?

Based on the statement that it was built in 1500 then comes the statement that the Blythes Bishops could not have grown up there or even lived there. Bishop Geoffrey Blythe lived from 1469-1532 and John somewhere around 1459-1499 so neither are ruled out.

Someday hopefully we will know for sure when it was built and so who built it and who lived in it, but at the moment we just don't know.

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Hi Fellow SHs

I have found this small item about The Bishops House in the Town Council Minutes 1888,

TOWN COUNCIL MINUTES .

The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England), Monday, August 06, 1888;

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You are wonderful. This is exactly the kind of information we are looking for at present.

We have seen the sketch of the great parlour in the 1885 Sheffield and Rotherham paper and that would imply that rooms were still pannelled and with carved oak fireplaces when the Corporation took over.

So now we are looking for details as to what the Corporation/Parks did to the House and when. One fireplace went to a Dr. Morton of Nether Edge and was sold with all his possesions in 1929. However the fireplace in the parlour does not seem to be that one.

It seems to have an heraldic shield on it. Earlier accounts talk of seeing the Blythe's coat of arms in Bishops House. If this fireplace is a different one and did carry the coat of arms this would prove that the house still in the Armiger's hands (head of the family) and as such was not built for a more lowly branch.

It certainly seems from the parlour sketch to have been very richly decorated and is not the sort of room you expect for a house of low status.

Of course the drawing is tiny and done by an amateur so not enough evidence on its own but the Parks or the Council or the auctioneers may have a description or a photograph.

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Hi i have found a little bit moor for 1889.

The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England), Saturday, August 10, 1889;

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If you ever find any accounts of the interior of Bishops House prior to 1886 please tell me. I have accounts from The Mirror and the Northern Star but they don't mention inside.

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  • 8 years later...

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