A cholera burial ground of 1832, the Cholera Monument of 1834-5, and early to mid C19 pleasure grounds, laid out on land owned by the twelfth Duke of Norfolk.
Cholera reached Sheffield in July 1832 following a national outbreak the previous year. Initially the victims were buried in local churchyards, but with the rapid spread of the disease, the rising death rate, and public anxiety, a more appropriate place of burial was required. In early August the twelfth Duke of Norfolk, one of the town's principal freeholders and a local public benefactor, provided a plot of unconsecrated land for the purpose, in an area known as The Park or Norfolk Park, on an elevated position outside and overlooking the town (Leather, 1823) and situated just off the partly laid out Norfolk Road. It was also opposite the Shrewsbury Hospital or Almshouses, originally founded in 1616 by the seventh Earl of Shrewsbury and relocated in 1827 from their original position beside the River Sheaf because of the risk of flooding (Tayler, 1832).
By November 1832 the disease was under control. It had claimed the lives of 402 citizens, including John Blake, then Master Cutler. Most of the victims had been buried hastily in unmarked graves on land which was initially known as the Cholera Burial Ground. In 1834, construction began on a monument, in a position adjacent to the burial ground and visually prominent from the town and beyond, financed by public and private subscription. The monument was completed in 1835 and was one of the first commissions by Michael Ellison Hadfield (1812-85) who joined with J G Weightman in 1834 to found one of the town's most influential architectural practices. Future commissions by M E Hadfield would include the buildings of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield (qv).
By 1838, pleasure grounds had been laid out between the burial ground and Norfolk Road (White, 1838). Eight years later, Norfolk Park (qv), one of Sheffield's early public parks, was opened. This was a project initiated by the twelfth Duke in 1841 and completed by the thirteenth Duke in 1848. Norfolk Road was the main route from the town to the park's entrance. A detailed plan of the Cholera Burial Ground and pleasure grounds in 1853 shows the Cholera Burial Ground and the adjacent walks and gardens of the pleasure grounds, with Clay Wood, a plantation established around this time, to the south (OS 1853).
The burial ground was closed in 1883 and in June 1899 the Parks Committee leased the site from the Duke of Norfolk at a nominal rent of two shillings for the next twenty-one years on condition that the grounds be fenced on all sides and that the Monument and any other buildings be kept in good condition. At this time the name was changed from Cholera Burial Ground to Monument Grounds. In 1921 the Duchess of Norfolk agreed to extend the lease until the sixteenth Duke of Norfolk came of age. On 21 June 1930 the sixteenth Duke gave Monument Grounds, by this time a well-used and popular public venue for recreation, as a gift to the city. Around this time a bowling green was created in the pleasure grounds. Following the building of Claywood Flats adjacent to the site in the late 1960s and the acquisition of Clay Wood by the city council, some alterations were made to Monument Grounds including boundary changes, the widening of the main axial walk, and new tree and shrub planting. The top part of the Monument collapsed during severe gales in 1990 (Sewell 2002). Monument Grounds remains (2003) under the management of Sheffield City Council.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Monument Grounds is located 1km south-east of Sheffield city centre on elevated land, rising gently to the south-west and south-east, overlooking the city. The south-west edge of Monument Grounds is formed by a steep slope dipping to the south-west. Oriented on a north-east to south-west axis, Monument Grounds is roughly rectangular in layout, occupying an area of 1.66ha. The north-east boundary, situated on the south side of and parallel to Norfolk Road, is formed by a 0.5m high dressed gritstone wall with elaborate coping (C19), surmounted by railings (C20). The wall and railings are terminated at the southern end by a very tall stone pier, similar to those at the main entrance. On the opposite side of Norfolk Road lie the grounds of the Shrewsbury Almshouses (listed grade II).
The south-east boundary is formed by a 1m high gritstone wall (late C20). Beyond it lies recent residential development, garages (late C20), and an access road. The boundary to the south is currently (2003) formed by the edge of woodland marking the boundary with Clay Wood, a mid C19 woodland plantation (outside the area here registered). The south-west boundary, formed by a red-brick wall of variable height (late C20), is on steep terrain on the dip slope below the Cholera Monument (M E Hadfield 1834-5, listed grade II). Boundary changes have occurred to the south and south-west following the building of Claywood Flats and the acquisition of Clay Wood. The railings which for some time formed a boundary around the burial ground and the Monument, and between Monument Grounds and Clay Wood, have gone. The north-west boundary is formed by a formal clipped privet hedge and shrub planting. Beyond it lie the grounds of the fifteen-storey Claywood Flats and the back gardens of houses on Norfolk Road.
From the Monument there are excellent views to the north-west, west, south-west, and south across the city to the western suburbs and the moors beyond. The walk around the perimeter of Monument Grounds affords occasional distant and middle-distant views to the north, north-west, and west, views partially blocked by Claywood Flats.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main entrance to Monument Grounds is situated towards the northern end of the north-east boundary and is approached from Norfolk Road. The wide carriage entrance is marked by two very tall elaborate stone gate piers (C19) and a pair of gates (C20). Other minor access points leading into Monument Grounds are from Claywood Flats, situated to the north-west (outside the area here registered), from the garages of Claywood Flats to the south-west, and from Clay Wood to the south (outside the area here registered).
Three areas can be identified within the simple layout of Monument Grounds: the Cholera Monument and its setting, situated in the south-west corner; the burial ground and the Master Cutler's grave, situated north-east of the Monument; and early to mid C19 pleasure grounds, situated north-east of the burial ground. A wide straight axial walk, connecting directly from the main entrance to the Monument, and a more circuitous path around the perimeter of the pleasure grounds, combine to link all parts of Monument Grounds.
Immediately inside the main entrance, the Cholera Monument can be seen to the south-west, terminating the view along the straight axial walk. The chapel of the Shrewsbury Almshouses, situated to the north-east (outside the area here registered), is also aligned on this axis. In the late 1960s, the axial walk was widened and long narrow planting beds introduced at intervals into the central part of the walk. Some 7m south of the main entrance, a path which gives access to the perimeter of the pleasure grounds leads to the south-east from the main axial walk. Continuing south-west along the main axial walk, to either side are seats (C20) at various intervals and trees (C19 and late C20), including cherry, oak, and sycamore, some of which may reflect an early planting scheme (OS 1853). Good views from the axial walk to the north-west, west, and south-west over Sheffield and beyond are partly obscured by both Claywood Flats and mature trees. On the eastern side of the axial walk and 85m south-south-west of the main entrance, a large shrub bed comprising mature hollies (C19) and mixed shrub planting (late C20) marks the position of a planting bed which formed part of an early planting scheme within the pleasure grounds (OS 1853). On the western side of the axial walk and 100m south-west of the main entrance, a ramped path descends into the grounds of Claywood Flats.
The exact extent and location of the cholera burial ground is now (2003) unclear. Part of the path leading south-east off the main axis and forming a circuitous route around the pleasure grounds has now gone (OS 1853) and railings which bounded the burial ground and the Cholera Monument (OS 1853, 1890, 1905) are no longer in evidence (2003). The base of a drinking fountain, c 100m south-west of the main entrance and on the eastern side of the axial walk, is still evident, situated at the north-west corner of the burial ground. Two gravestones remain, those of John Simmonite and George Toyne. The ground, which is grassed over (2003), is generally uneven suggesting areas of burial. Some 140m south-south-west of the main entrance, a path, shown on the OS map of 1853, leads south-east to the monument to the Master Cutler, a chest tomb situated on an elevated grass mound. The railings which surrounded it are now (2003) missing.
Some 145m south-west of the main entrance, the axial walk bifurcates, one path ending abruptly 6m to the west, another ending abruptly 14m to the south. Both paths formed part of a triangular path layout, now (2003) incomplete, which formerly gave access to the base of the Cholera Monument (OS 1853, 1890) and its setting. At present (2003) the Cholera Monument, situated 163m south-west of the main entrance in a prominent position on a wide grass mound, has only its lower half intact. The immediate setting of the Monument has changed through time (OS 1853, 1890). The area surrounding the Monument is now closely cut grass and immediately to the south-west the ground descends steeply, affording unimpeded panoramic views across the city. Beyond the south-west boundary wall, steps descend, giving access to the garages of Claywood Flats (late C20).
The gravel path off the axial walk which leads south-east towards the Master Cutler's grave continues south-eastwards towards Clay Wood. The path from the Master Cutler's grave was extended to connect to an existing perimeter path in the early C20 (OS 1905). On this perimeter path, towards the edge of Clay Wood and 145m south of the main entrance, a group of mature hollies signals the transition from Monument Grounds to Clay Wood (outside the area here registered), with a narrow path leading into the woods from this point. The perimeter path, surfaced in red blaize and in parts partially encroached by grass (2003), continues to the north-east, close to the south-east boundary. The site of a former bowling green (early C20) 110m south of the main entrance is still in evidence as a level grass area immediately north-west of the perimeter path. The features of the early to mid C19 pleasure grounds, expanses of grass, specimen trees, and island beds of planting shown on the OS map of 1853 remain in evidence and combine to afford progressive and varied views from the perimeter path both within Monument Grounds, towards the Monument and burial ground, and beyond towards the city. Towards the north-east boundary, good views are afforded from the perimeter path through the boundary railings towards Norfolk Road and the Shrewsbury Almshouses and grounds. The perimeter path continues to the north-west to rejoin the main axial walk, 7m south of the main entrance.
Comparison of the existing site with the 5' to 1 mile OS map published in 1853 suggests that the broad structure of the original planting layout remains in evidence. The present (2003) structure of trees combines mature specimens planted in the mid C19 with later plantings made in the early and late C20. The original positions of island shrub beds shown on early OS maps are evident today, now occupied by mature holly specimens (early C20) and recent shrub plantings made in the late C20.
J Sewell, The Cholera Monument & Monument Grounds, Sheffield: Historical Analysis and Restoration Proposals, (report for Sheffield City Council and SIS Systems, Sheffield, 2002)
J Leather, Land Surveyor, Plan of Sheffield in 1823, 1" to 300yd, 1823 (Sheffield Local Studies Library)
J Tayler, Land & Mineral Surveyor, A Map of the Town & Environs of Sheffield in the West Riding of the County of York, 1" to 300yd, 1832 (Sheffield Local Studies Library)
W White, Sheffield, 1" to 300yd, 1838 (Sheffield Local Studies Library)
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1850, published 1855
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1889-92, published 1894
2nd edition revised 1903, published 1905
OS 5' to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1851, published 1853
OS 10' to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1889, published 1890
Description written: February 2003
Amended: February 2003
Register Inspector: JS
Edited: October 2003