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THE NORTHERN STAR.
No. 11.–For APRIL, 1818.
Picturesque Scenery, Topography, &c.
AN ACCOUNT OF HANDSWORTH.
to för eo. ** * -ko-fői HANDSWORTH, or Hanesworth, is connected in the record called Doomsday, with Whiston; in that survey it is said there was, “in Widestan and Handesvorde soke four carucates and a half. Torchil had one manor of five carucates to be taxed, and there may be seven ploughs there. Richard has now there one plough, and eleven villanes and four borders, and six sokemen with seven ploughs and a half, wood-pasture three miles long, and one broad, the whole manor two miles and a half long, and two miles broad, value in King Edward's time eight pounds, at present forty shillings."
The village of Handsworth is situate about four miles east from Sheffield, on the road to Worksop, and on an elevation which renders it oonsiderably picturesque. From thence the eye commands a most beautiful amphitheatre of diversified scenery, stretching from north to south with an expansion of landscape, rarely exceeded in sylvan variety and luxuriant cultivation. Enthusiasm might be tempted to exclaim with more than poetical propriety, Here health has fixed her residence, and offers her blessings to temperance and industry ;-and here it seems easy to be temperate, there being few incitements to excess ; here industry receives from the lap of plenty its own reward. Northerly is seen rising from a coppice at Scholes, that beautiful monument called Keppel's Pillar*; this column adds much to the effect of the perspective scenery ; but a principally interesting feature, as seen in the distance from Handsworth, is the aspiring steeple of the church of Laugton-en-le-Morthen ; rising apparently from the elevated and extreme verge of the horizon, when the beams of the sun first illumine the eastern bremisphere, while mists envelop the cireumjacent hills, and the shining river winds through the valley like a sinuous chain of silver, the steeple is seen defined on the saffron skies, like an index on the dial of morning: and is generally mentioned among the country-people with the apposite misnomer of Lighton-i'th'-morn.
According to the returns made in the census of the year 1811, Handsworth was said to contain, within its parish, 308 houses, and 1424 inhabitants, who are chiefly employed in agriculture, cutlery, and collieries. The nursery-grounds of Mr. Littlewood skirt the village, and give employment to several hands.
• This pillar was erected to commemorate the honourable acquittal of Viscount Keppel, from certain charges preferred against him by Sir Hugh Palliser, during the American war.
From places in the parish still retaining the names of Woodthorp, Wood house, we might suppose the neighbourhood to have presented formerly a more sylvan appearance than it does at present. Whether the “Wood-pasture," mentioned in the Survey, be indicated by these places, does not appear. Gleadless and Woodthorp-Common, the scene of the writer's boyish perambulations, have been enclosed several years, and left to memory alone the recollection of pleasures pursued amidst its slopes and plots of greensward, its verdant sheep-walks, and its lofty furze-bushes.
The parish of Handsworth contains valuable and extensive beds of coal ; from the collieries at Intake, a considerable portion of the coal consumed at Sheffield, and its neighbourhood, is obtained, besides vast quantities constantly converted into coke on the spot, there and at High-Hazles, near Darnal, by the process mentioned in Parke's Chemical Catechism.*
In an elevated part of the village of Handsworth stands the Church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, a plain substantial structure, neither interesting from its architecture, nor attractive by its antiquity; although that part used as the chancel seems to identify its erection with some period much anterior to the other part of the structure, this, the body of the church, is intersected by three low and obtusely pointed arches, separating a small side-aisle ; the interior quadrangle where divine service is performed, is 16 yards by 11. The inside presents as little to interest the antiquary, as the outside does to attract the architect. The massive and dilapidated pews have an uncouth appearance to a person accustomed to politer accommodations, rudely carved in some instances, and frequently crumbling to dust at the touch of time; the pannels of oak shrinking from their groves, appear
« So lose and lash'd awry,
Threat’ning ere long in wider wreck to lie,” that the sentimental admirer of these specimens of rustic workmanship and village antiquity, pauses between the wish to see the comfort of the congregation increased, and the unwillingness to disturb furniture so venerable. At the west end there is a gallery for the congregation: and opposite, a smaller one was erected in 1800, for the reception of the organ, purchased of Lord Scarborough, at Sandbeck, and considered finely-toned.
The chancel, as before-mentioned, is of prior antiquity to the other part of the edificet: although not mentioned in the Norman survey, it is believed to have existed early in catholic times; the walls are very thick, with small lancet-shaped windows, probably ornamented with stained glass originally, as some fragments yet remain. There are no particular monuments: some mų. ral tablets, one to the memory of John Parker, Esq. of Woodthorp, &c. adjoining an escutcheon emblazoned with his arms; and the Smelters of Richmond, with some mortuary memoirs of the Rectors, comprise the principal. In the aisle is a flat stone with this inscription, in capital letters:-“ Here
* See Northern Star, vol. i. p. 326.
† Immemorial tradition relates, that the church was originally projected to have been built at Woodhouse, where the materials were collected; but that during the night, they were removed, by invisible agency, to the scite at present occupied by the edifice ! A 80perstition not conflned to this place.
lyeth the Body of John Boot, Gent. fate of Hansworth, servant to the Right Hon. Gilbert, Earl of Shrevsbury. He was born in the proffession of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the same John died in the same Christian Faith, in the sixty-first year of his age, the 16 day of June, Anno Domini, 1613, and Ann his wife.” On a slab near the chancel door, in capitals, these nearly. obliterated words are inscribed, partly in a border, the rest within its circumference :- “ Here lieth the Body of 'l'homas Legge*, late Parson of this Parish. He was a faithful Preacher of God's word both by his life and doctrine; and Grisill his wife, An. Do. 1610."
The steeple, rising from the west end of the church, is low, and of an obtuse appearance, it contains three bells, thus iuscribed :-1. “Sacra fiat hic campana Beata Trinitate.” 2. “ Jhesus be our spede, 1590, h + 0"3, 1775.
The parish-register commences in the first year of Elizabeth, three years earlier than the similar record at Sheffield, which begins 1561; it is perfectly distinct and legible, but having suffered from the damps, a correct transcript has been very properly made, which, with the original, are carefully preserved.t
The living is a rectory, value in the King's books, £12 4s. 7d.; yearlytenths, £1 4s. 5 d.; the advowson belongs to the Duke of Norfolk, who is lord of the manor: it was presented in 1802 by his late Grace to the Rev. Wilfred Huddleston, the present incumbent. The glebe is excellent, and the emolument considerable; a composition is received in lieu of tithes, subject, I believe, to a septennial modification. The real value of the benefice is said to be at least £1200 per annum.
About 200 yards from the church stands the school, a respectable stonebuilding, erected by subscription in the year 1800. The first stone was laid by the Hon. and Rev. Philip Howard*, late rector, July 11, for the
* He is the earliest rector whose name is recorded. He was buried June 8, 1610, and succeeded same year by Nathaniel Bownde.
† It is thus entitled :-“ Hansworth Rejister Bok. Beginning in the first year of the raigne of ovr Sovooraigne Lady Qveen Elizabeth over England, Apno Dom. 1558.” The
are extracts : “In 1583, 23 of June, natus est, and the second of Julii, christened Jobo Talbot, filius honorabilis Gilbert Talbot. **"* 1593, Decr. christened William son of Sir Charles Cavendish.
1635, June 17, Gavin son of Gavin Hamilton, bapt. “ 1635, July 0, Mary wife of Gavin Hamilton, Gent. buried. “ 1645, June 9, Married Thos. Harrison, of the age of threescore and eighteen, to Emott Smith.
1698, July 25, the spire of the steeple struck down by a ball of fire.”
This gentleman was, I believe, a younger brother of the late Duke of Norfolk, and uncle to his present Grace. He died iä 1802, and was buried at London. A railed tomb in the church-yard is raised for the remains of his wife, the Honourable Mrs.Jape How. ard, and her mother, wife of Lord Chief Baron Idle, of the Court of Exchequer in Scotland, &c.
On a tomb-stone near the above, is inscribed a parental ejaculation to the filial affection of Eliz. Bean, daughter of Antonio Benn, of Hensingbam, in Cumberland, who died at Sheffield, Sept. 19, 1805, aged 23, on her return from the South.
education of a certain number of poor children, to be elected pursuant to the will of Dr. Lockier, formerly rector of this parish, who, with the Hon. Mrs. Jane Howard, wife of the rector, gave the uses of certain monies for its endowment. There are schools also at Woodhouse and Gleadless; 'the latter is under the patronage of Sheffield National Schools, and conducted on the same system.
At Handsworth there was formerly a mansion belonging to that splendid and honourable family, the Earls of Shrewsbury: not a vestige. of this building is to be seen; a few houses called Handsworth-Hall Gates may probably long remain to identify the vicinity of its ancient scite. Mary Queen of Scots, the unfortunate rival and ill-fated victim of Elizabeth, is said to have passed some of her time at this place, while in the custody, (from 1568-1584) of George the sixth Earl.*
At Cinder-hill, about half a mile from Handsworth, there is a small enclosure planted with trees, which was appropriated to the purpose
of cemetery about two hundred years ago : it contains several grave-stones, some raised and others lying flat, in various states of dilapidation ; not hav. ing been used apparently since the above period, the inscriptions, exposed to the weather for such a number of years and the moss covering the stones and filling up the interstices of the letters, are partly obliterated. They record the names of different members of the family of Stacyes who resided at Ballifield and Cinder-hill, and are mentioned among the earliest names of the parish. Their descendants, buried here, were Quakers ; they had formerly a meeting-house here, the walls of which were standing till within
This sect seems to have existed in this neighbourhood coeval with their commencement.* They have long had a meeting-house at Woodhouse, at which place the Methodists have recently erected a neat chapel.
• The following extract from one of the Earl's letters to Lord Burleigh, especially as it relates to the manufactures of this neighbourhood, may be interesting :-“I bave sent you a small rugge by this bearer, to wrappe about your legges at tymes convenient: (the Chancellor was then suffering from the gout) wch yor L. must accept as I present yt, and as though or county wools were mueb fyner and or workmen more curyous; and withal your L. shall receave a case of Hallamsbire wbittelis, beinge suche fruetes as my pore countrey affordeth with fame throughout this realm. Thus comendo ing me right hartely to yor. L. I leave you to the tuicon of the Almightie, desiring at yor, best leisure to heare from yor. self of yor. welfare.
“From Handsworth the last of January 1589.
“ Yor. L' assured frende
“G. SHREWSBURY.”+ Could the good old Earl be permitted once more to visit his “pore countrey," how different would be his emotions :- he would most assuredly designate it deservedly by. å very opposite epithet.-Whittles were a common sort of knives manufactured in the early periods of cutlery ; Chaucer mentions one who bore
“ A Sheffield whittle in his hose.” + The first Quaker, George Fox, visited this place several times in his perambulations through Yorkshire, and preached to great multitudes of people on Cinder-hill-Green, who were attracted thither by the novelty of his mission and the fame of his ministry. See his Journal.
| Illustrations of British History, vol. ii. p. 494.
Woodthorp, distant about one mile from Handsworth, is the residence of Hugh Parker, Esq. one of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the westriding of Yorkshire, and senior magistrate of the town of Sheffield; a man equally respected in his own neighbourhood for his benevolence, and revered for the wise and equitable discharge of his civil duties.
Gleadless is an hamlet on the southern extremity of the parish, through which a brook runs separating the counties of York and Derby ; here, too, the parochial divisions of Eckington, Norton, and Handsworth converge. At Gleadless there exists an instance of contemporary longevity, in the person of Phæbe Watkinson, who is in her 106th year; her son, an ancient ład of 85, is her companion in the vale of years.*' On Gleadless-moor is an old building, originally a school, but now decayed and disused.t
To the imperfections of the preceding account of Handsworth the writer is feelingly sensible ; the captious however would not be conciliated by candour, nor the critical appeased by explanation. Therefore to profess the one, or proceed to the other, he deems unnecessary. For its prolixity he can only apologize by saying, it is sketched by a filial hand : this he hopes may be some extenuation of its faults. His paternal ancestors, in this parish, ran their unambitious round of village-occupations, when,
“ Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.” Nor does the church-yard present one memento to retrieve from oblivion “ their name, their years, “their homely joys and destiny obscure.” They have transmitted to the writer of this article the only inheritance they had to bequeath-their name and their poverty: he in return makes the only acknowledgement in his power, by paying this tribute to their memory, and presenting this succinct account of the place which gave them birth.
J. H. Near Sheffield, Jan. 1st, 1818.
* This « dame of ancient days” has been visited by nomerous persons from motives of coriosity, who have been gratified by her answers to their chronological questions : for although she has lived to celebrate the commencement of her second centenary of existence, yet so gradnal bave been the approaches of senility, that most of her faculties are comparatively unimpaired: possessing also much of the cacoethes loquendi peculiar to her sex, her antiquity and quaint unpolished expression has enabled her to owe some comforts of life to the curiosity and kindness of her visitors.
^ Jethro Holland of Gleadless.common, who was buried Feb. 1t, 1772, under the large tree iu Handsworth church-yard, is said to have built this school at his own expepse ; he was a tall athletic man, more than six feet high, and still remembered traditionally in the neighbourhood of Wentworth and similar places, as a collector of Stag-korns, which avocation he pursued upwards of sixty
years, furnishing a considerable part of the consumption of that article in the Sheffield ontlery business.--The female above being once asked if she remembered him, answered, “ Remember him, aye belike e do, and ne'er knew nowt amiss on bim i'my life.”