A local look in lockdown

by | 7 March 2021 | Community Focus, Heritage, Rotherham

During the restrictions on our movement, Peter Dunstan has taken the opportunity to research places of interest on his doorstep in Braithwell and in the surrounding area.

Travelling down Austwood Lane in Braithwell, the ruined Old Ruddle Mill lies on the south side of the lane on private land. The Mill was used to process Ruddle, a red ore which was ground to a powder and used for dying and marking. The Ruddle was extracted from the fields in the neighbouring village of Micklebring. A shaft, 5ft in diameter and 23ft deep, was needed to reach the Ruddle seam. It was then transported to the Ruddle Mill for processing. The area where Ruddle can be found is in Micklebring and can be seen by reference to the reddish coloured earth which can be seen especially after ploughing.
The Moat Hall is a Grade II Listed Building and is an important example of a moated site and one of the best preserved medieval grange sites in the country. Research suggests that the Moat Hall could have been used as a hospital and for the Abbey of Roche and has a chapel on the eastern side.

Arriving in Wadworth, adjacent to the White Hart Pub stands a steel maypole. The previous wooden maypole was erected in 1923, having been brought over from Norway. Records show that 1964 was the last time dancing round the maypole took place… it would be nice if, one day, the tradition of dancing round the maypole is revived.

In Tickhill, across from the pretty pond, there are the remains of an 11th century earthwork motte and bailey castle. Only the gatehouse of the original building survives, with most of the surrounding wall but only part of the moat. The castle grounds contain a private residence and are open once a year to visitors.

The village was mentioned in the Doomsday survey of 1086. It is not known if there was a Roman civilian settlement on the site of the village, but in 1953 some stones were found on the outskirts of Stainton, at Chapel Holt, which were thought to have been part of a small Roman Temple. The very name Chapel Holt may be evidence of a small religious building having occupied the site. Again, this is on private land. Granny Griddles Lane runs alongside the area of interest – who was Granny Griddle?

A former mining town, but prior to that a small village with Roche Abbey on the outskirts founded in 1147. Nearby is a place known as Maltby Craggs, which is an example in South Yorkshire of a Permian Bryozoan Reef; and is a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is well described in the Geological Conservation Review, which highlights some of the best places at which to study geology in England.

Firbeck Hall has a large historical story. Built in 1594 by William West, it has passed through many hands and has had many uses and can boast of its own golf course and airstrip. In 1939 it was used to train volunteer pilots for the Royal Air Force and in 1945 it was used as a Convalescent Home for Injured Miners. The BBC broadcast its weekly Saturday Show ‘Late Dance Music’ from the hall, with many celebrities visiting.

Wickersley Wood is worth a visit to see the beautiful sculptures carved out of wood. The Parish Council have made an annual investment to provide these works of art. You can see them scattered throughout the woodland – the storyteller’s chair and badger bench are among my favourites. Artists include Lorraine Botterill and Karl Barker.

A small village recorded in the Doomsday Book 1086. Whiston Copper Works were built in 1770 by the Duke of Devonshire. The works were built to refine copper ore taken from the Duke’s mines at Ecton and with the copper ore having been almost “worked out” the works were closed in 1818. The Stable House and Barn, situated 200m from the site of the works is the only example of a building in the locality made from moulded copper slag blocks, a by-product of the copper ore processing.

Mentioned in the Doomsday Book and given to William De Perci, a chief aid to William the Conqueror in 1066. Terry and Alicia Barber were of the opinion that the village had enough points and places of interest for it to be a case study during their archaeology studies and eventually they wrote and published a book called ‘A Brief History Of The Village Of Thrybergh’. It is available from the Rotherham Visitors Centre.

When it is safe to travel Peter plans to venture further afield, to discover more of his surroundings.