“ Also referred to as the Manor Castle, the lodge was built around 1510 as a country retreat for the fourth Earl of Shrewsbury. „
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The Manor Castle lies approximately two miles to the south east of Sheffield city centre. Today there are only ruins that now remain of this once magnificent castle that was built in 1510 but since Sheffield's principal castle is now buried deep beneath the central markets these ruins are now the closest thing that the city can now claim as a castle.
It achieved its greatest fame as the place where Mary Queen of Scots was held captive for a period that spanned 14 years, except a few short breaks in Derbyshire at Buxton, Chatsworth House and the nearby Sheffield Castle.
The ruins of Manor Castle now occupy a patch of land in the middle of a Local Authority housing estate that takes its name from this building. In recent years "The Manor" estate has become somewhat synonymous with crime and poverty but don't let that put you off visiting the castle if you are ever in the vicinity. The Manor Castle is sometimes known as Sheffield Manor or the Manor Lodge. It featured on the BBC2 programme "Restoration".
The castle originally stood within the grounds of a vast deer park on land that formed part of the estate of the 4th Earl of Shrewsbury. Remnants of this park still remain and are now known as the Norfolk Heritage Park, which is situated just a short distance from here.
The remains of the castle that exist today include part of the original kitchens, as well as a large section of the long gallery. The best preserved feature however is the Turret House which is a Grade 2 listed building that contains some fantastic examples of 17th century ceiling paintings.
There are many documents that still survive that detail the rich history of this castle and in particular the period when it was occupied by Mary Queen of Scots. She was held captive at the Manor Castle by George Talbot, the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, although in her early years as a prisoner she was allowed limited freedom to visit surrounding areas.
During her stay here she wrote several letters to her cousin, Queen Elizabeth 1 and the original replies to two of these letters, from Queen Elizabeth 1, are held at the Sheffield Archives.
Mary was first brought to Manor Castle on the 4th February 1569. Eventually her Catholic supporters plotted to free her and in 1583 she dramatically escaped aided by her supporters. First being led through underground tunnels that linked the Manor Castle to the Sheffield Castle, and then out of there through a further set of secret tunnels. This extensive network of tunnels still exists beneath Sheffield city centre today, and they are occasionally opened up for the public to visit and view.
The story of Mary Queen of Scots, Manor Castle's most famous occupant is well documented and there are many street names around Sheffield that bear names that are linked to this story. Until a few years ago there was even a public house near to the castle called The Captive Queen.
In the late 17th century the estate passed into the hands of the Duke of Norfolk and the castle was neglected and went into decline. Much of the castle was dismantled and its stones were used to build the adjacent Manor Oaks Farm and Manor Cottage Farm.
In 1953 the land was handed over to Sheffield City Council on a 999 year lease.
Unfortunately there is not a great deal left of the original Castle but what is left is completely free to visit and makes for an interesting visit if you are in area.
There are some people that claim that Manor Castle was never a castle at all, but merely a grand hunting lodge for the Earl of Shrewsbury, and later the Duke of Norfolk's country estate.
The Turret House is the only part of the original building that has been fully restored and it is now used as the headquarters of a company called Green Estate (formerly known as the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust), this is the company that my late partner worked for and therefore I had an excuse to visit here many times. Normally however this building is not open to the general public, other than on a handful of days each year including the National Heritage Open Days, but it can be visited on request.
The Turret House is a very deceptive place. From the outside it is a rather small looking place but the high ceilings inside the building make it appear much larger and more spacious. The ceilings are covered in hundreds of tiny paintings that date from the 1600's and this is one of the reasons why this place is a Grade 2 listed Building.
If you are in the area and get the chance to visit here the address is as below:
Manor Lane (off City Road)