Sheffield's Historical Buildings, Sheffield

Sheffield's Historical Buildings (Self Guided), Sheffield

Part of Sheffield’s great heritage is manifested in buildings. The presence of historical sites, some rather imposing like the Sheffield Town Hall and City Hall, presiding over the area, and the others like the Church of St Marie, somewhat hidden from view in a built-up neighbourhood, provides a colourful illustration of the city's glorious past.

Constructed over a time-span ranging from the 13th to the 20th century, the historical architecture of Sheffield varies in styles dictated by the eras in which it was created – from Tudor, at the turn of the 15th century, to the Edwardian, Classical and Gothic Revival styles in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The majority of Sheffield's older buildings appeared during the Industrial Revolution, when many medieval structures were demolished; others were lost during the Sheffield Blitz in 1940. Luckily, some of the oldest domestic buildings have survived, like the Old Queen's Head pub, opened in 1475.

Sheffield's architectural tapestry harmoniously unites religious sites like Victoria Hall with secular buildings like Lyceum Theatre, and educational institutions like Sir Frederick Mappin Building and Firth Court – parts of the University of Sheffield campus.

If you are interested in exploring more closely the historical buildings of Sheffield, we recommend that you take this self-guided walk.
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Sheffield's Historical Buildings Map

Guide Name: Sheffield's Historical Buildings
Guide Location: England » Sheffield (See other walking tours in Sheffield)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: nicole
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Old Town Hall
  • Old Queen's Head
  • Victoria Hall Methodist Church
  • Cathedral Church of St Marie
  • Lyceum Theatre
  • Sheffield Town Hall
  • Sheffield City Hall
  • St Matthew's Church
  • Sir Frederick Mappin Building
  • St George's Church
  • Jessop Hospital
  • Firth Court at University of Sheffield
Old Town Hall

1) Old Town Hall

Sheffield Old Town Hall in Waingate is a listed building that has been in place, opposite Castle Market, since the 1890s. The very first mention of a "Sheffield Towne Hall" dates back to 29 September 1637 and was found in William Harrison's Survey of the Manor of Sheffield. That early "Towne Hall" was replaced by a new building in 1700, designed by William Renny. It stood on a different location, next to the parish church, with little space for extension.

The third town hall, known as the "Old Town Hall", was designed by Charles Watson, in the Neoclassical style, and was built between 1807 and 1808. It was extended in 1833 and then again in 1866, during which time it had a new central clock tower added (over a new main entrance, that reoriented the building towards Waingate), which was designed by Flockton & Abbott. The prominent feature was built using the materials obtained from parts of the demolished predecessor building.

By the 1890s, the Town Hall had again proved too small for Sheffield's growing administration, and the current Town Hall was built further south. Following the extension between 1896 and 1897, it became the seat of the Crown Court and the High Court. The drinking fountain on the Castle Street side of the building was also added at that time.

In 1973, the Old Town Hall was listed as a heritage property. In the 1990s the courts moved to the new premises, and since then the vacated building has been considered for usage as serviced apartments, shops, cafes and hotel rooms.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Old Queen's Head

2) Old Queen's Head

The Old Queen's Head is a pub in Sheffield. It is a 15th-century timber framed building and the oldest surviving domestic building in Sheffield. It is now Grade II* listed.

The Old Queens Head was built c. 1475. However, the earliest known written record of the building is in a 1582 inventory of the estate of George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury that included the furnishings of this building, which was then called "The hawle at the Poandes" or "Hall i' th' Ponds".

As a part of the Earl's estate, the building may have been a banqueting hall for parties hunting wildfowl in the nearby ponds. These ponds, which formed in the area where the Porter Brook meets the River Sheaf, are now gone, but gave rise to the local names Pond Street, Pond Hill (formerly Pond Well Hill), and Ponds Forge.

By the beginning of the 19th century the building was being used as a house. In 1840 a pub called the Old Queen's Head was opened in the building next door. Sometime after 1862 the pub expanded into the former Hall i' th' Ponds. Late in the 19th century, alterations and additions were made to the rear of the building.

The Queen in the pub's current name is likely to refer to Mary, Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned in Sheffield from 1570 to 1584.

The building has been Grade II* listed since 1952. It was refurbished in 1993 when it was controlled by the Tom Cobleigh pub company. It is now controlled by Thwaites Brewery.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Victoria Hall Methodist Church

3) Victoria Hall Methodist Church

Victoria Hall is a Methodist church (the most important Methodist sanctuary in Sheffield) and a listed property. This large many-roomed edifice has two entrances: the main one, on Norfolk Street, and a separate administration entrance, on Chapel Walk.

The first Methodist place of worship on the present site of Victoria Hall was the Norfolk Street Wesleyan Chapel, completed in 1779. The chapel was demolished in 1906 to make way for a more distinguished and larger structure.

The Victoria Hall was opened on 24 September 1908, costing a staggering for its time £40,000+. Sheffield entrepreneur, Thomas Cole, donated land for an enlarged site for the new church. The new Hall featured blended Gothic and Arts and Crafts styles, with the large Baroque top on the tower. The carved decorations on the hall were complemented with portrayals of Wesley brothers (John and Charles Wesley, who founded the nucleus of the Sheffield Methodist Society in the 1740s) integrated into the design.

One of the Hall's first accomplishments was the setting up of the Sheffield Mission Labour Yard which tackled the high level of unemployment in the years preceding World War I. The Hall has always had strong connections with Trade unionism and routinely hosted various unions' meetings.

Following the outbreak of the First World War, the Hall opened its doors to care for the members of the armed forces, and in this capacity was visited by King George V and Queen Mary during their trip to Sheffield in 1919. During the Great Depression there were free breakfasts served and food parcels distributed for the needy here. Prior to the completion of the Sheffield City Hall in 1932, it was also a leading concert venue in the city. In the Second World War, the Victoria Hall survived the Sheffield Blitz air raids of December 1940. On 9 May 1941, part of Victoria Hall was converted into a rest hostel for the armed forces.

Today, as well as being a place of worship, the Hall is used by various voluntary organisations to provide meals for the homeless. It also continues as a popular venue for classical music concerts and has a function room available for hire by the general public.

Also within the Hall there is a so-called coffee morning held between 10:00am and noon, Monday to Saturday.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Cathedral Church of St Marie

4) Cathedral Church of St Marie

The Cathedral Church of St Marie in Sheffield is a fine example of an English Roman Catholic cathedral. Its presence, just off Fargate shopping street, albeit slightly hidden from view, can be easily detected by a tall spire.

St Marie's was completed in 1850, designed by a prominent local architect, Matthew Ellison Hadfield, and was modelled on a 14th-century church at Heckington, Lincolnshire. The church was expensively decorated with the aid of generous donations from the Duke of Norfolk, his mother and parishioners. The total cost of the project exceeded £10,500, which is roughly £1.5m in today's money. In 1902, a new presbytery, now known as Cathedral House, was added.

During the Second World War, a bomb blew out stained glass windows in the Blessed Sacrament chapel; the remaining windows were removed and stored in a shaft at Nunnery Colliery. The latter was flooded during the war and the glass sunk in mud. Fortunately, despite drawings for recreating the windows were destroyed, it was still possible to re-install the windows in 1947.

When St Marie's was re-ordered in 1970, dark woodwork was removed and new lighting and benches were installed. In 1972, a new altar, in the Shrewsbury Chapel, was consecrated. St. Marie's was listed in 1973, and on 30 May 1980 became a cathedral.

During the most recent round of renovation, between September 2011 and November 2012, a collection of Nottingham alabaster carvings, previously hidden, dating mostly from the 15th century, were discovered and duly restored. Apart from these, the Cathedral's interior boasts a number of historic statues and painted tiles.

St Marie's is one of the few Catholic churches quipped for change ringing. The first set of bells here, made of steel, were installed in 1861; they were replaced with the bronze ones in 1874. Presently, the Cathedral has eight bells in the main ring, and the Angelus bell, dated from 1850.

In recent years, the temple has enjoyed significant public interest, partly as a popular concert venue, having hosted many of the finest choral ensembles in the world.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Lyceum Theatre

5) Lyceum Theatre

Two previous theaters have preceded the Lyceum Theatre at 55 Norfolk Street, Sheffield. In 1879 The Grand Varieties Theatre was built at that address. Originally conceived as a circus, the theatre was managed by comedian Dan Leno. The Grand burned down in 1893 and was replaced by the City Theatre.

In 1900, the Lyceum replaced the City Theatre. The Lyceum was designed by a theatre architect William George Robert Sprague. It had the traditional proscenium arch stage and is the last Edwardian theatre in Sheffield. A statue of Mercury, guardian of Borders and son of Zeus and Maia, balance on top of the theatre's large copper dome.

The Lyceum Theatre went through some hard times and narrowly escaped demolition in 1985. Sheffield entrepreneurs and the City Council rescued it. Today it is a venue for West End productions and local shows. It is a part of the Sheffield Theatres complex, together with the nearby Crucible Theatre and the Tanya Moiseiwitsch Playhouse.

Sprague's design provided for an audience of about 3,000 with stalls on three levels around the auditorium. The Lyceum Theatre reopened in December 1990 with three gala presentations by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, including the Broadway version of "The Pirates of Penzance" by Arthur Sullivan (music) and W.S.Gilbert (libretto). The Lyceum Theatre is home to the City's annual pantomime.
Sheffield Town Hall

6) Sheffield Town Hall (must see)

On a bright May morning in 1897, Queen Victoria was waiting in her carriage. Her hand was poised over a remote control lock. At a signal, she turned a key in the lock. A window of the new Town Hall of Sheffield lit up, and three men opened the Town Hall gates. The new Sheffield Town Hall in England was officially open for business.

The New Town Hall is a replacement for the Old Town Hall, which still stands, unused on Castle Market to the north. Queen Victoria's New Town Hall, home of the City Council, is on Pinstone Street. This Town Hall is the fourth one for Sheffield, designed by architect Edward W. Mountford in the Renaissance Revival style.

The architecture resonated with the style of neighboring St. Paul's Church of 1720 since being demolished. The exterior is of Stoke stone adorned with friezes of the industries of Sheffield. The 210-foot clock tower is topped with a statue of the god Vulcan. There are no bells. The bell sounds of the tower are electronic.

Inside there is a memorial to the HMS Sheffield, a warship lost in the Falklands War. Beyond the entrance is a grand marble staircase. Friezes on the walls celebrate the killing of the legendary Dragon of Wantley. On the first floor are an oak-paneled gallery, the Lord Mayor's Parlour, Council Room, and an antechamber.

Above the antechamber door is the Bible quote: "Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves." Ships, dragons, serpents, and doves; all that in the Sheffield Town Hall.
Sheffield City Hall

7) Sheffield City Hall

The City Hall building was designed by Classicist architect E. Vincent Harris in 1920. Construction was not undertaken for eight years because of an unpredictable economy. The City Hall was formally opened in September 1932. It was conceived as a memorial of World War I. Ultimately, the name became Sheffield City Hall.

The City Hall is located in Barker's Pool Square in the city center. It was built by the Sheffield City Council and managed by the Sheffield City Trust. It is operated as a concert venue under a 99-year lease by Sheffield International Venues.

Performers at the City Hall included Nat King Cole in April 1954 and Louis Armstrong in March 1959. The Beatles appeared twice, in 1963 and again in 1964. Other artists include the band Nice in 1969, Elton John in 1971, and the rock band Bon Jovi in 1986. Mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins sang there in 2012.

The City Hall is a Neoclassical-style building with an oversized portico supported by eight enormous Corinthian columns. The largest hall inside is the Oval Hall. It can hold up to 2,217 enthusiastic fans. The Memorial Hall holds 425 people, and the Ballroom can accommodate another 400. Two four-foot-high stone lions stand guard in the foyer.
St Matthew's Church

8) St Matthew's Church

St Matthew's, or more commonly known as St Matthew's Carver Street (for its location on Carver Street), is a busy Anglo-Catholic church in Sheffield serving a lively city centre. The sanctuary was built in the middle of the 19th century, and was consecrated on 6 June 1855.

In its early years, St Matthew's was surrounded by a highly populated district of slum housing, which is a stark contrast to today's Devonshire Quarter, an area of independent retail outlets, pubs and bars, with a large student population.

At the turn of the 20th century, the church was a focal point for teaching and practice of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England. It was described as "a neat building with a graceful spire" for its octagonal bell tower, at the front (west) end, topped with a tall spire.

Next to the main entrance, on Carver Street, there is a war memorial plaque listing local worshipers and parishioners who gave their lives in World War I. Just above the door is a Crucifixion statue. During the Second World War the temple remained unscathed despite many buildings in the immediate vicinity being damaged; in the Sheffield Blitz of December 1940, the local parish also suffered casualties.

The church has three main stained glass windows, depicting the Incarnation and the images of St Matthew and other saints, dated from 1886 to 1902. Inside, the altar and reredos are by J. D. Sedding with carvings by Frank Tory and a centrepiece painting of the Adoration by Nathaniel Westlake. The interior is richly furnished with many of the designs by Henry Wilson.

The church organ dates from 1992, and is made in the classic British style by Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn, based on the early work of master organ maker Bernard Smith.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Sir Frederick Mappin Building

9) Sir Frederick Mappin Building

The Sir Frederick Mappin Building, or more familiarly the Mappin Building, is a fronting part of the University of Sheffield complex that opens onto the eponymous Mappin Street. Both the building and the street (formerly Charlotte Street) are named after Sir Frederick Mappin (1821–1910), the so-called Father of Sheffield University.

The building sits in an area known as St George's Complex (after the St George Church, also owned by the University), and houses much of the Faculty of Engineering and St George's IT centre. The south wing of the Mappin building also housed the Department Of Geology until its closure in 1990.

The oldest part of the edifice, in its centre, is the former Technical School, which is the earliest purpose-built facility for what is now the University of Sheffield.

It was completed in 1886 to a design by Flockton & Gibbs. The extensive Mappin Street frontage was also designed by Flockton & Gibbs, but in a far more demonstrative style. Work on it began in 1902 with the demolition of the former Grammar School, and was finally completed in 1913.

This part of the building includes the main entrance, the John Carr Library and Mappin Hall, and is connected to the Technical School by a bridge. Part of the northern range, along Broad Lane, and a building behind the Technical School were completed in 1955.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St George's Church

10) St George's Church

St George's Church is a listed building and a former Anglican parish church, which is now part of the University of Sheffield campus, functioning as a lecture theatre and student hostel.

This is the first of the three Commissioners' churches in the city built under the Church Building Act 1818. St George's was also the last one of them to have retained its original form, while still in service.

The church was designed, in Perpendicular Gothic Revival style, by the architects Woodhead and Hurst. It had a flat-ceilinged nave with six bays, a single-bay chancel, and a 140 feet (43 m)-high tower. The foundation stone was laid on 19 July 1821, and the consecration took place on 29 June 1825.

Measuring 122 feet (37 m) long and 67 feet (20 m) wide, it could seat up to 380 people. Eventually, the north and south walls were extended with galleries, plus there was a two-tiered gallery on the west wall added.

After being declared redundant and closed, in 1981, the building stood unused for a number of years until the University of Sheffield acquired it in 1994. In 2010, a nest-box was placed on the rooftop, which is now home to a breeding pair of peregrine falcons that can be seen via live stream webcam.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Jessop Hospital

11) Jessop Hospital

The Jessop Hospital for Women is a former medical institution that is now closed, since 2001. The hospital opened in 1878. Its construction was made possible with a large donation by Thomas Jessop, a wealthy steelworks owner, who sought to replace the old Sheffield Hospital for Women, at Figtree Lane, which had only six beds.

The new facility, featuring the classic Gothic Revival style, was designed by John Dodsley Webster. The building had fifty-seven beds and cost £26,000 – equivalent to approximately £2.1m in today's money – all paid for by Jessop.

An extension, known as the Edwardian wing, was completed in 1902. Between 1927 and 1972, another 45-bed annex, at Norton Hall, known as the Firth Auxiliary Hospital, was added.

The Jessop Hospital was made famous worldwide in 1998 when its patient, Diane Blood, gave birth to a baby boy, having been inseminated with her husband's sperm, which had been taken from his body while he was unconscious on life support, shortly before his death. A prolonged legal case gave her the right to do this, despite not having the written consent of her husband.

In 2007, the majority of the 1970s wing was demolished by the University of Sheffield, as part of their Jessop West development. The Victorian Wing of the original hospital was converted to house the Department of Music, which occupied it in 2009.

As for the Edwardian wing, despite its listed status and strong objection from the Victorian Society, it was put in for demolition in 2013. The latter was meant to provide the University of Sheffield with a greater floor area for a new development at a lower cost. The new building, Jessop West (seven stories high), is now home to the English, History and Modern Languages departments of the University.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Firth Court at University of Sheffield

12) Firth Court at University of Sheffield

Firth Court is an Edwardian-style, red-brick building that forms part of the Western Bank Campus of the University of Sheffield. It is named after Sheffield steel manufacturer, Mark Firth, who played a key role in the university's early development. The building serves as the main administrative centre for the university, as well as houses the Departments of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and Biomedical Science.

Firth Court is the first purpose-built facility for the university, constructed between 1903 and 1905, designed by Sheffield-born architect Edward Mitchel Gibbs (1847-1935). It was originally known as the Western Bank Building.

Located to the left of Firth Court, beside Weston Park, is the Rotunda, a two-storey Neo-Gothic-style octagonal chapter house of mellow red-brick and sandstone; it was also designed by Gibbs. Opened as the Edgar Allen Building in 1909 (not be confused with the university's Edgar Allen House at 241 Glossop Road), this building was constructed as a donation from William Edgar Allen, a member of the University Council, to provide a purpose-built library for the university. Replaced by a new main library (Western Bank Library) in the late 1950s, the Rotunda is now used as the Registrar and Secretary's Office.

The Firth Court quadrangle is composed of Firth Hall (formerly known as the Western Bank Building), North Block and West Block, as well as the adjoining Florey and Addison buildings. Both the North and the West blocks were completed in 1914 also by Gibbs, forming three sides of a quadrangle. The forth and the final side of the quadrangle was completed with the addition of the Florey and Addison buildings in the late 1940s. During the Second World War, the quadrangle was converted into an air raid shelter.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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