Bradfield Dale and other local places of interest
Bradfield Dale lies both in the Peak District and the lower south Pennines and has claimed to be the loveliest valley in all of Peakland.
It has a fine variety of landscapes with prospects of curving dale-sides, little woods, breezy moors and several reservoirs.
There is St Nicholas’ parish church at High Bradfield, ancient houses like Hallfield and working farms clinging to green ledges all about the valley.
In the 19th Century, the coming of the reservoirs added grand dimensions, bringing light to the valley floors, and movement and wildlife. In 1864, they also brought Victorian England’s largest national disaster, the Sheffield Flood.
Notable local landmarks and places of interest are:
the largest of the four reservoirs in Bradfield Dale, constructed in 1867 with a capacity of some 1,108 million gallons. It is the headquarters of Sheffield Sailing and Rowing Clubs.
St Nicholas’ Church:
one of the loveliest churches in the Peak District with a fine tower dating from the 12th Century and an exterior adorned with battlements.
a huge precipice of rock first appearing in documentation in 1486. This is a landslip feature and has been a popular climbing ground.
an imposing Victorian house built about 1855 by Sidney Jessop as a base for grouse shooting. Today this is in a sad, neglected state overlooking Mortimer Road.
Dale Dyke Reservoir:
whose name reminds us of one of the greatest peace-time catastrophes in the history of this country. This was the first reservoir constructed in the valley in 1863-4. It held 700milion gallons of water, but in March 1864 following a night of terrible storms, the 1,200 feet embankment gave way. The resulting flood caused “death and wreckage and desolation unparalleled in the annals of English towns”, with over 250 people losing their lives. Many of these are buried at St Nicholas’ Church.
the civil engineer Charles Boot moved to Sugworth Hall, overlooking the head of Bradfield Dale in the early 1900’s. In 1927 he built a 50ft high prospect tower known ever since as Boot’s Folly. One story is that he had this tower built so that he was able to see his wife’s grave in St Nicholas’ graveyard in High Bradfield. The real reason seems a desire to erect a landmark and to give his men work in the Great Depression.
this 17th Century house stands romantically, high above the headwaters of the Dale Dyke, source of the River Loxley. Early in the 20th Century, this became the home of Charles Boot, who enlarged the house, adding a tower and battlements. The family moved to Thornbridge Hall, near Great Longstone, in 1930 although Henry Matthews Boot continued to live in Bents House, in the valley below Sugworth Hall, until his death in 1974. Externally, Sugworth Hall remains much as Charles Boot left it and, with Boot’s Folly, creates a lasting architectural memorial to a remarkable builder, engineer and conservator.
probably named after the “strines” or stepping stones across the Strines Dyke, this grand old building was constructed in several different periods, the earliest probably being 16th Century. The inn was the home of the Worrall family and their arms are still visible above the doorway. This inn retains much of its antique appeal and is protected at the edge of the moors by its girdle of ancient trees.
High Bradfield and Low Bradfield lie some seven miles from Sheffield. Bradfield is one of the seven hills which form the “frame” of Sheffield and, since the building of the four large reservoirs in he 19th Century, has been called Sheffield’s Lake District.
The area is referred to in Papal Bulls of 1141 as “Bradefeld” (literally broad field).
The beautiful church, St Nicholas’ was a chapel dependent on Ecclesfield church and Bradfield is now one of the largest parishes in England and the church is built near the site of an old Norman motte and bailey castle. At the entrance to the churchyard is a Watch House built to combat body snatchers in 1745.
The church has a fine peal of six bells which were recently re-hung and which can regularly be heard resonating across the valley to celebrate weddings.
Cricket is still enjoyed at Low Bradfield and on Summer weekends the village fills with visitors watching matches and picnicking: the very evocation of England!