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Sheffield Manor

From Academic Kids

Sheffield Manor, also known as the Manor Lodge or Manor Castle, is a lodge built about 1510 in what then was a large deer park east of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK, to provide a country retreat for the fourth Earl of Shrewsbury. The remnant of this is now known as Norfolk Park.

The remains of Sheffield Manor include parts of the kitchens, long gallery, and the Turret House, which contains fine seventeenth-century ceilings.

Mary, Queen of Scots was held prisoner by the sixth Earl of Shrewsbury at both Sheffield Manor and Sheffield Castle (her ghost is said by some to haunt the Turret House building). Wolsey’s Tower was built to accommodate Cardinal Wolsey, who then died after travelling on to Leicester.

Mary escaped to England in 1568 seeking the support of the Catholic nobility. Mary's freedom was restricted after her cousin Elizabeth was advised of the threat that Mary posed to her own crown.

She was handed over to the custody of George, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury on 4th February 1569. She was not closely guarded, however, and was able, with the help of the Duke of Norfolk and others of the Catholic nobility, to plot against Elizabeth. Several times Mary had to be moved to places of greater safety and stricter control.

On 28th November 1570 she was taken to the Earl of Shrewsbury's Castle, where, apart from a few breaks at Chatsworth and Buxton, and more regular visits to the Manor House, she remained for 14 years.

Despite Mary's actions, Elizabeth still seemed to support her cousin's claim to the Scottish throne, and Mary wrote regularly to her supporters in Scotland asking them to be faithful and to await the help she believed Elizabeth would provide. Two letters containing her writing are preserved in the Sheffield Archives.

The Duke of Norfolk, not long released from the Tower of London, was caught in collusion with the papal agent Ridolphi plotting to bring about a Catholic uprising in England. Parliament demanded the execution of both Mary Stuart and Norfolk. At this stage no action was taken against Mary, but the Duke of Norfolk was beheaded in 1572.

In 1582, while Mary was still being held at Sheffield, an inventory of all the household goods and furniture belonging to George, Earl of Shrewsbury was made. The inventory describes the castle and contents and gives an idea of the types of rooms in the castle at this date. These included a chapel, a porch going into the great hall from the great chamber (which was probably the large dining room), a wardrobe, the Lord's chamber and outer chamber, the Lady's chamber, a bakehouse, brewhouse, pantry, washhouse and low washhouse, a round tower, a square tower and a turret, round towers on either side of the gatehouse and walls running along the waterside, a porter's lodge, a dungeon, a square room, little kitchen, old kitchen, a kennel and a range of stables.

Also included in the inventory is the "stuff" of the "Queen of Scots and her people". Mary had with her a large entourage, which varied over time, made up of Scot's, French and English friends and servants. The list of rooms for "her people" includes those of the Master of the "quences howsholde", a Mr Burgon as her doctor and a Mr Jarvys as her "surgion".

The 1582 survey also lists the furnishings "in the hawle at the Poandes", now known as the Old Queen's Head inn, Pond Hill.

In August 1584 Queen Elizabeth finally agreed to Earl George's petition releasing him from his duty of Mary's care—a task which had broken his marriage, his health and his chances of further political advancement. After leaving Sheffield, Mary was taken to Wingfield in Derbyshire by her new gaoler, Sir Ralph Sadler, and then to Tutbury. From there she went to Chartley in Staffordshire, where she became involved in the Babington plot.

Anthony Babington had first joined Mary as her page at Sheffield Castle, and like many others became devoted to her. Later he acted as a messenger between Mary and her friends on the continent. In 1586 he helped plan a Catholic insurrection in England, supported by Spanish arms, to release Mary and to murder Queen Elizabeth's ministers.

After Sheffield Manor fell into the hands of the Duke of Norfolk, it was neglected, sold to tenant farmers, and largely dismantled in 1706. The site is now (2004) the subject of a National Lottery funding bid to convert it to a heritage centre and traditional farm. The housing estate of Manor is named after Sheffield Manor.

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