Monday, 20 May 2019

1905.20 WOULD THE ROUNDHEADS LIKE COFFEE?

I've always taken an interest in history, especially local history. My family have been in the area I live in for generations. Another interest I have in in the supernatural. Quite often these interests collide in wonderful ways. There are stories all around us, one such story is in a building I pass every day on my way to work, and it's about to embark on a new and controversial chapter.

Carbrook Hall in the east end of Sheffield has an interesting history...

Carbrook Hall in the 17th Century
The original building was owned by the Blunt family from 1176 but was rebuilt in 1462, and was bought by Thomas Bright (Lord of the manor of Ecclesall) in the late 16th century. His descendant, John Bright, was an active Parliamentarian during the English Civil War. The building was used as a Roundhead meeting place during the siege of Sheffield Castle. 
Most of the building was demolished in the 19th century, what survives is a Grade II listed stone wing that was added c1620. It was most recently used as a public house that claimed to be "Sheffield's most haunted public house" at the time.
On this site also stood a monastery which could also be the reason for its status as the most haunted pub. Previous visitors to the building have seen glimpses of something moving from the corner of their eyes, or felt a presence around them. 
It is said that John Bright's ghost still wanders the building and in particular the room known as the Oak room. There has been reported a mysterious elderly lady who sits forlornly and rocks away her time in a old rocking chair. Also a dark hooded figure of what many witnesses describe as a long-dead monk. The sounds of children playing merrily outside are perhaps an inexplicable recording of a time when the area in question was a popular recreation ground for locals in decades long past.
The Hall in 1910
The area has changed beyond recognition, green fields of Carbrook moved aside for the heavy steel industry which in turn has given way to commercial and retail. It's nice to think that through all the changes the old hall has sat in the middle of it all is kind of reassuring. It is an important historical building that needs to be looked after.

Carbrook Hall as a pub (before it's demise)
Therein lies the problem. The final pint was served in 2017 and has since remained empty and had begun to become a derelict. It had suffered an arson attack and it's future looked bleak. It was probably the riskiest period in the buildings history. I have seen important buildings fall into disrepair and 'mysteriously' burn down a number of times and to be honest I feared this would be the fate for the hall, after all it stands on valuable development land.

Currently the building is under renovation. Great? Not sure since the people doing the renovations are Starbucks, the coffee people. We had an opportunity to turn the building into a significant historical monument and perhaps museum but sadly that wasn't to be. Whilst the building is protected by grade II listing I'm not sure it's enough to protect the interior from the corporate juggernaut. What will be happening to the artifacts that were in the pub? On one hand I'm relieved that the building will be saved for future generations but the history will be hidden away behind baristas and americanos and other foul smelling drinks (I hate coffee). If the only way the building can be saved is by having a viable business then I'm glad that Starbucks are going to be custodians of the Hall, I just hope they appreciate the history. Not sure what the ghosts are going to make of it all.

Planning illustration of the new Starbucks

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