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Sheffield History

Tunnels under Sheffield

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For years and years and years people have talked about tunnels under Sheffield but do they really exist ?

The one from Sheffield Castle to the Old Queens Head in Pond Street is the most famous of course, many people claim to have seen it but no proof exists and indeed the council denies this outright, saying that if you think about it it would have been an impossible task to work through solid rock, down a hill and under a river in those days.

When you look at the modern machinery and the channel tunnel you can see their point.

Others speak of seeing the tunnels at Hartshead - and indeed there are pictures on picturesheffield.com of this, but what are they ? what were they ?

There are more stories than you would believe discussing the evidence and location of tunnels in Sheffield but the question is..

How many of these really DO exist ?

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There was/is indeed a tunnel that ran from the Queen's Head pub to the Castle.........more info to follow......there is a story about Queen Mary /Mary Queen of Scots linked to this tunnel......Leave it with me

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Following the farcical conference of Westminster during which the Casket Letters were produced in evidence against Mary, she was taken further south from Bolton Castle to Tutbury in Derbyshire in January of 1569. Her new jailor was George Talbot Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife, Bess of Hardwick. The Shrewsburys were immensely rich and possessed a range of properties across central England. By March however, Shrewsbury reported that Mary was severely ill with "grief of the spleen", symptoms which her doctor attributed to "windy matters ascending to the head". This is how Mary came to be moved to the more comfortable prison of Wingfield Manor, now an imposing ruin outside the village of South Wingfield in Derbyshire, where she was lodged in the north-east tower with views across the valley. However, by April of that same year, her whole face had swollen up and she sat weeping silently and uncontrollably at supper, perhaps as a result of hearing the terrible fates some of her supporters and friends has suffered in Scotland. While Wingfield was being cleaned, Mary would be moved to Chatsworth, another property belonging to Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury himself fell very ill during the summer, displaying similar symptoms to those of Mary, namely "hot choleric vapours" rising to his head.

Despite her illness, Mary's time at Wingfield was not completely miserable. Shrewsbury, like many other English statesmen until the 1580's, was conscious of the fact that Mary could potentially replace Elizabeth as queen of England, should she die prematurely. He would therefore have much to gain from showing kindness and leniency to the Scottish queen. On the other hand, it was necessary to reassure Elizabeth that he was not allowing Mary too much freedom. Mary kept herself occupied with embroidery, card games, conversations with Bess of Hardwicke, music and occasional visits from the local nobility. One of Mary's highlights was to be allowed to take the waters at nearby Buxton, a cause of much anxiety for Elizabeth who feared that she would endear herself to the local people. Other than Chatsworth and Tutbury, Mary would also be moved to Sheffield Castle and Sheffield Manor, as each property was periodically being cleaned. She enjoyed occasional rides and hawking with Shrewsbury, and even had up to ten horses, three grooms and a farrier at one point. She obtained a greyhound, several small dogs, caged birds from France, turtle doves and barbary fowls. She was also allowed to practice archery and lute-playing, and she even introduced a billiard table for the benefit of her household.

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Perhaps the famous and well known of all Sheffield ghosts has to be the apparition of Mary Queen of Scots that haunts Manor Castle. Now the ghost of Mary Queen of Scots has appeared all over the country, but seems to be a regular inhabitant of the old Turret House of Manor Castle.

Way back in the 15th century the castle was the property of the Earl of Shrewsbury and on the orders of Queen Elizabeth, the young Scottish Queen was imprisoned there and so the Turret House became Mary's prison for fourteen long years.

The strange happenings were first recorded by the caretakers of the building during the 1930's and tales of a beautiful lady, dressed in black, gliding across the floor and through walls were also circulating. Although the people who lived in the house at the time refused to discuss the ghost, it was reported to have been seen by many people.

People who stayed at the house often left in the middle of the night and refused to go back again even in daylight. The dog that lived there would bark and whimper frantically if left outside on its own and cower in a corner if let inside.

Perhaps the strangest of all the occurrences that happened at the Castle was the story of an old extremely heavy incense burner kept on the top floor in the shape of an imp used to keep evil spirits away. One night everyone in the house was awakened by loud banging coming from upstairs. Upon checking the entire house it was found nothing was amiss. A while later the noises started again. Again nothing was found to be amiss, but to be sure they marked a chalk circle around the burner and again retired to bed. After a very sleepless night they awoke the next morning and went to check the burner, which although far too heavy to move by even four grown men was completely outside the circle.

Maybe the ghost of Mary Queen of Scots will haunt the Turret House for as long as it still stands or even when the Turrent House is long gone. Maybe it's just the over active imagination of the people who have lived or stayed there that conjured up the spirit of a long dead Scottish Queen.

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Just about all castles and fortified houses had a Postern Gate for emergencies. This secret exit would allow messengers etc to leave the castle when under siege. The entrance would have been camouflaged in some way and would sometimes involve a tunnel. This is possibly where the Sheffield tunnel stories originated.

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I found the following in a scrapbook in the Local Studies Library by a man called Henry Tatton. Henry was born in 1861 and for 50 years kept an ironmongers stall in the Market Hall. He died in 1946, but at the age of 59, in 1920, he decided to learn to draw, and kept these scrapbooks of his drawings of Sheffield. He also scattered them with things he came across he thought were interesting. The following he got from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, but didn't note the date. If you want to look it up it's in volume 3 of his notes, page 229.

"Underground passages in Sheffield.

There are old coal mine workings in the vicinity of Rockingham Street. The Manor passage may have been used to bring drinking water to the Park from the Manor well or spring. Then there was the wooden pipes made from hollowed tree trunks used to convey water from Brookhill to the Hartshead. These carrier passages are being put forward as subterranean passages. Fragments of tunnels found under the Castle Hill, same size as the Manor Passage. There is another passage at the Manor, going West. A passage was found underneath the road, from the Cross Keys Handsworth, running in the direction of Handsworth Church. Also another passage from Handsworth Church to the Manor, by Handsworth Hall Farm. Then a passage was found in the City Road brickfield. It ran in the direction of the Manor. Lined with dressed stones and high enough to walk in. The passage under the tramway Club in High Court, High Street leads into another passing under Cockayne's Arcade. Another passage found under Rodgers Pond Hill Works. Also one running towards the New Post Office from River Lane. Under the Hall in the Ponds, the built up end of another passage which ran towards the Midland Station.

When Priory Road Sharrow was made, a tunnel was found leading from the Old Priory towards the city. In it was found a built up Chamber. It contained a table and 2 oak chairs, some tumblers and a bottle. In one corner remnants of clothing, a rusty armour and a sword 3 feet long. A passage ran from near the present Heeley Station to Newfield Hall and then towards Sheffield castle. In 1925 a Mrs. Jenkinson said an old man told her he had traversed it all the way and said it was about 6 ft. high. One end of it is near Meersbrook Park Rd in the old farmstead buildings. A passage near Glossop Rd led into old coal workings and to a shaft at the corner of Convent Walk."

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"Underground passages in Sheffield.

There are old coal mine workings in the vicinity of Rockingham Street. The Manor passage may have been used to bring drinking water to the Park from the Manor well or spring. Then there was the wooden pipes made from hollowed tree trunks used to convey water from Brookhill to the Hartshead. These carrier passages are being put forward as subterranean passages.

Maybe this is part of that Hartshead tunnel. Picture Sheffield pics:

picturesheffield s09545

picturesheffield s09546

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As Admin said, this one has and will run and run!

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you are right they will run and run....probably with water with all the flooding that has occured around sheffield :(:( :(

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They do exist. The hartshead tunnels absolutely certainly. If you look at the pictures available from when the hole in road was blocked: you can see they did not backfill, only brick up one end. When it was being constructed they came across the hartshead tunnels. They can be accessed from the bankers draft and the dove and rainbow and i believe were meant to run to the don. If you go to ladysbridge, and look on the wicker side, you can see a tunnel entrance (albeit small) that runs to the cellar of a demolished pub.

There is also a tunnel running from the police station to the former court house on waingate.

Mary queen of scots tunnel? No chance.

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Great picture DBS wish I had seen that. :) As for some of the other tunnels. The one from the Queens Head might exist but I have been in the cellar and banged on the wall no hidden spaces. As for the floor it has been re layed (a building that old wouldnt have a floor that flat) but couldnt hear any cavity echo when I banged on the floor either. :(

As for Handsworth, I lived on the former entrance to Handsworth Hall farm now Finchwell rd. Neighbours on the old houses on Hall road frequently had holes appear in their gardens and paths, cellars flooded for no apparent reason. A house on the opposite side to ours was putting in a gate post in the tarmac when his chisel disapeared down the hole never to be seen again. A tunnel is believed to come from the cross keys and follow the road down St Josephs and Hall rd to the Old Handsworth Hall farm where important people stayed then.

Mary Queen of Scots tunnels' have been said to be all over Britain, did she like tunnels then? :wacko:

Sue

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i forgot that there is also a network of telecom tunnels under the city centre. You can get in them from a manhole near the crucible and can regularly see BT pumping air down into them when their staff are working.

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They do exist. The hartshead tunnels absolutely certainly. If you look at the pictures available from when the hole in road was blocked: you can see they did not backfill, only brick up one end. When it was being constructed they came across the hartshead tunnels. They can be accessed from the bankers draft and the dove and rainbow and i believe were meant to run to the don. If you go to ladysbridge, and look on the wicker side, you can see a tunnel entrance (albeit small) that runs to the cellar of a demolished pub.

There is also a tunnel running from the police station to the former court house on waingate.

Mary queen of scots tunnel? No chance.

Whenever I see a picture like this it makes me so mad that the "Hole in the Road" is gone

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I wonder, hundreds of years into the future they could unearth the ole int road as a historical dig?? Can you imagine it? also seeing that graffitti when they do and trying to decipher it :rolleyes:

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In todays Star ... MYSTERIOUS tunnels have been found under the Fire and Police Museum at West Bar.

The tunnels do not appear on any public records kept by Sheffield Council

More here

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Here's another one!

Underground passage, Handsworth

In August 1931 the City Engineer drew attention to a tunnel which had been found during the course of widening Handsworth Road.

The tunnel or drift was entered from the south-east corner of a cellar under a cottage which stood on the north side of the road, and it ran under the roadway towards a cellar beneath the Cross Keys Inn on the south side of the road.

The latter cellar is at a higher level so the floor of the tunnel rose considerably. The tunnel was 3ft to 3ft 6in in width and about 7ft in height; it was cut out of the solid rock and tapered towards the top; there were no traces of walling.

The tunnel appeared to have been cut from each end and there was a bend in it, suggesting that the two drifts did not meet truly.

The end of the tunnel next to the Inn cellar was bricked up some years ago.

The floor of the cellar beneath the cottage was 14 to 15ft below the roadway; the cellar itself was 15ft by 8ft; the walls were of brick and there was a semi-circular brick arched ceiling giving a height of 7ft at the crown.

The cottage cellar was not an ancient structure and the tunnel was a comparatively modern piece of work and quite devoid of archaeological interest. It was probably made by a former owner or tenant of the inn to give access to an additional store.

(Hunter Archaeological Society Transactions Vol 4 p187-188)

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There's a tunnel from the filter house at Bradfield leading to Ugghill then on to Rivelin.

This was built in the late 1800s to accomodate Rivelin with water if need be. It's doubtful if it was ever used.

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And another from 1910

HI Dunsbyowl. As a child of about 6yrs 1930, l remember going to the TURRET HOUSE, a friend of the family was the keeper at that time and allowed us entry, l recall their was an access to the flat roof, lined which l now know to be lead ,and the lady saying she had some thing to show me, we all scrambled though the a small door on to the roof , and she pointed out a clog iron imprint in the lead saying that it was supposedly QUEEN MARY'S Then we all had tea and lovely scones which ltook more than my share and Mum chastising with a clip. l wonder if there is any record of this imprint that was supposed to be the Queen's Cheers skeets

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HI Dunsbyowl. As a child of about 6yrs 1930, l remember going to the TURRET HOUSE, a friend of the family was the keeper at that time and allowed us entry, l recall their was an access to the flat roof, lined which l now know to be lead ,and the lady saying she had some thing to show me, we all scrambled though the a small door on to the roof , and she pointed out a clog iron imprint in the lead saying that it was supposedly QUEEN MARY'S Then we all had tea and lovely scones which ltook more than my share and Mum chastising with a clip. l wonder if there is any record of this imprint that was supposed to be the Queen's Cheers skeets

Hi, just to say I have lived on the wybourn estate since 1976, and the Manor Turret House was 50 yrds from my bedroom window, castle wall being at the end of our back garden.

I can honestly say that I have never seen or heard any ghosts, but that dosnt stop the stories going round. Manor castle and the sourounding grounds which we called the red hills was my playground.

We have spent many a night telling ghostly stories and frightening ourselfs to death, but no ghosts. Lots of wierdos though, and drunks coming from the manor castle pub.

I have looked out onto this beautiful backdrop for years which is why when i got married I had my photos taken in the grounds.

Sheffield city council or should I say the manor welfare society are very obliging if you want to look around, but dont open the turret house untill official open days.

They have lots of open days and theme days with fates and such, usually a good day. Take a look next time and you will see why the castle was built there you can see all around sheffield from here.

Has for the print ***** not sure I have seen it but they dont allow on the roof of the turret anymore not even on open days, and whilst on the tour I dont remember them mentioning it, but thats not to say its not true.

There is also an official website from which you can see the photos of sheffield from the top of the roof and you can see my house too. The one with the washing on line is my sisters.

http ://www.bbc.co.uk/southyorkshire/i_love_sy/localhistory/restoration_2004/gallery.shtml

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This an extract is from a lecture on The Customs of Hallamshire given to the Hunter Archaeological Society in 1913 by S. O. Addy, (Here )and appeared in the Society's Transactions Vol1 page 17. It is reproduced by the kind permission of the Society. Published between 1914-1918.

I have spoken of the scientific aspect of our studies, but let us not forget that they have also an emotional side. Have we nothing in the antiquities of Hallamshire that can touch the heart, or rouse the imagination?

We have much that can do both, and, as an example, I will refer you to a discovery which was made in May, 1896. When Messrs. Cockayne were enlarging their premises, they found a subterranean passage, or souterrain, under the Hartshead. Some of you will remember this, as I do. It was cut through the rock; it was high enough for a man to walk in; and it was not a sewer.

I said a few words about this souterrain in a recent book, but I had mislaid the newspaper cutting which gave the only account that has been published. I therefore wrote from memory, and could only say that the passage

"pointed towards the east end of the church."

But I found the newspaper cutting a day or two ago; it was an extract from the Sheffield Independent of 30th May, 1896, and the article was doubtless written by the late Mr. J. D. Leader. We are there told that the souterrain

"was explored from the point where it was broken into as far as the Parish Church. In the other direction its exploration is limited, owing to the fact that at a short distance from the opening a wall was found."

The opening could be seen as you stood in High Street and I wish to draw your attention particularly to the fact that the souterrain extended as far as the Parish Church. The writer of the article also says that

"the city authorities determined to have the passage thoroughly explored."

Whether this was done, and a record kept, I do not know, but no doubt our Vice-President, Mr. Wike, could tell us. If such a society as ours had existed, a full account, with plans and illustrations, might have been published, and it would have been a most valuable addition to what is known of our history.

Lewis, in his Topographical Dictionary, 1833, says that a subterranean passage ran from the altar of the ancient church at North Elmham, in Norfolk, to the bishop's manor house, the ruins of which are about a hundred yards to the north of the church.

Some of you perhaps may think this a trifling matter, and yet for the archaeologist it is a thing of great importance. In the first place, it is conclusive evidence of the substantial truth of those numerous traditions, found in every part of England, about souterrains leading from a church to a castle, or to some place or other. Let me refer to one or two of these traditions in our own neighbourhood.

There is a tradition about an underground passage from Dronfield Church.

There is a tradition that such a passage runs between Holmesfield Castle and Holmesfield Hall. Halfway down the passage, they say, is an iron box containing treasure, and on its lid a cock sits, which begins to crow if anybody goes near the box.

There is a similar tale about an underground passage between Beauchief Abbey and Norton Church. There too, lies an iron box, which can only be fetched away by a white horse, who must have his feet shod the wrong way about, and must approach the box with his tail foremost.

You may laugh at these things if you will. You may say that the tale of the cock sitting on the lid of the iron box is all stuff and nonsense. And so it is. But it is a great mistake to regard these tales as utterly false and meaningless, though they are usually much exaggerated and perverted. If you read the Icelandic sagas, you will find that there were underground means of escape from houses, and there are scores of underground passages connected with churches in France.

Since churches were places of refuge in times of danger, we may take it that the Sheffield souterrain was used as a means of escape from the church. But churches, like pagan temples, were also used as treasuries, and there is nothing impossible in the tradition that boxes containing gold and jewels were deposited in these underground places, for churches generally had a good supply of both.

Think what a romance the incomparable Walter Scott could have made of materials like these!

Nothing is more pleasing, wholesome, and engaging than the pursuit of archaeology. Its varieties are infinite. It takes us out to the woods and fields, to the breezy moorland where lie so many puzzling remains of men of old, to early churches, and quaint houses. And there is always something new to read about, some document to be deciphered, some fresh problem to be solved. We, for example, who live in the Smoke Age, may wonder at the cutlery of the Stone Age, when knives were made of flint, and when flint axes, as recent experiments have proved, could fell a tree in less than twenty minutes.

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