A public park in the centre of Sheffield, laid out as such by the Dukes of Norfolk in the early 1840s.
Reasons for Designation
Norfolk Heritage Park, Sheffield, opened in 1848, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Date: the park is an early example of a municipal park;
* Design: although enhanced, the park’s design is essentially unchanged from its original layout of the 1840s;
* Designer: the park was designed and laid out by the Duke of Norfolk’s Agent and his manager of Woods;
* Historic interest: the park was and is a important element of one of the north of England’s great industrial cities, gifted to it by the Duke of Norfolk;
* Structures and planting: the park retains various C19 structures including two listed entrances, as well as avenues of trees and enclosing woodland belts.
During the medieval period, the land now occupied by Norfolk Heritage Park formed part of Sheffield Park, the deer park of Sheffield Manor which, by 1637, covered 997ha (2462 acres). In the mid C18, Sheffield Park passed by marriage to the Howard family, Dukes of Norfolk. By the early C18 many of the remaining trees had been felled and the park had been divided into farms. In the mid C19 the area was still mainly agricultural, but, with the rapid spread of housing and industry from the centre of Sheffield along the Sheaf Valley and Duke Street, it rapidly became urbanised, and by 1862 was described as a densely populated part of the town. The actual area of the park had been subject to mining for ironstone.
The laying out of Norfolk Park as a provision primarily for 'the operative class', was commenced in 1841 by Bernard, Duke of Norfolk, and completed by his successors. The Park was partially opened to the public in 1848. In 1909 it was presented to the City Council by Henry, Duke of Norfolk at the suggestion of Alderman Senior. From its opening, the general public have enjoyed free admittance at all times.
The 15th Duke of Norfolk (and Lord Mayor of Sheffield) arranged for Queen Victoria to visit Norfolk Park on May 21st 1897, following her visit to Sheffield to open the new Town Hall. 50,000 of school children were gathered in the park to sing patriotic songs and hymns to the Queen. 200,000 people also gathered in the park to welcome the Queen, which at the time was two-thirds of the population of Sheffield.
A report to the Duke by his factor, written in 1855, details the formation of the park, referring to it as one of the improvements to the Sheffield Estate for which 'profitable pecuniary results have not had the smallest influence in their origin or completion'. The report reads:
Of these improvements the one deserving of prominent notice and distinction and which has been carried out at the expense of the late and present Dukes, is the formation of a new Park with walks, carriage drives, plantation of Trees and Shrubs and a large open space of ground in the centre now known as Norfolk Park. This was commenced by Duke Bernard in 1841 and prosecuted by his successor, but is even now incomplete as to the full extent of the original design, though still not the less capable of affording enjoyment to its daily visitors. It was principally designed and laid out from a general suggestion of the Agent by Mr Archibald Wilson then Manager of the Woods on this Estate but since deceased. To Landscape Gardening he had devoted some considerable attention in his early life and possessing more than ordinary talent had acquired a proficiency in the Art which is admirably exhibited in the planning of the walks, plantations and drives and in the general arrangements of the Park. Its formation has been a gradual but slow process, in order that the expense, which has been considerable, might be less sensibly felt.
Although it was stressed that profit was not the motive, given the quality of the land, the factor made it clear that the outlay, justifiable on 'social and moral' grounds, was not so great as was at first apparent:
It was thought that in due time the vicinity of the Park would attract the attention of those among the inhabitants of Sheffield seeking sites for residences without the boundaries of the town which combined facility of approach from the places of business with the enjoyment of rural scenery when at their homes. This opinion has been partly justified several of the latter class of houses having been erected on the sides of the principal road to the Park. The more wealthy of the people of Sheffield at present reside on the western side of the town, but as that district is becoming encumbered with building it may fairly be presumed that those wishing for something more of rural enjoyment and occupation will be driven to situations more free of population and on no side of the town can such be more readily found than adjoining Norfolk Park.
As part of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Urban Parks Programme, the park underwent a regeneration, starting in October 1998, which consisted of four phases over 5 years.
Since its presentation to the City in 1909 numerous features have been added to the park, which remains (2013) in single public ownership.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Norfolk Heritage Park lies on the east side of Sheffield, c 1.5km south of the city centre. It is entirely surrounded by city development with residential housing and school grounds forming the majority of the boundaries. Guildford Avenue lies along the south-east boundary, the gardens of Donnington Road along the north-east, Norfolk Park Road and Granville Road to the north-west, with Beeches Avenue and school buildings lying to the south-west. The park occupies a roughly circular area of just under 29ha, the land rising steeply to the south, offering fine views to the north and north-west.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main entrance to Norfolk Park is the lodge and accompanying stone screen with carriage and flanking pedestrian gates (built in 1876 and all listed Grade II) on the Granville Road, at its junction with Norfolk Road and Stafford Road. From the gates a Turkey Oak Avenue, leads south-east to the park, forming a visual continuation of the Stafford Road. The Turkey Oak Avenue is described as the longest double planted avenue of Turkey Oaks in Europe. To the north of the screen and gates, on the Granville Road, stands a mid to late C19 Gothic style cast-iron lamp standard.
A second lodge and accompanying gates (both listed Grade II) stands at the west end of Norfolk Park Road and again is linked to the main area of the park by an avenue, here doubled planted with lime trees. A third entrance leads off Guildford Avenue at the south end of the site, passing between stone gate piers.
The park is laid out more as traditional parkland than as gardens or pleasure grounds, with a carefully landscaped walk or ride through a perimeter belt round an open central area planted up with a series of tree copses. Provision was made in the original plan for cricket, supplemented when the site passed into public ownership in the early C20 by bowling greens and tennis courts on the west side of the site.
A tea pavilion constructed at the southern end of the park in 1910, commemorating the gift of the park by Henry Duke of Norfolk, was demolished in 1995 following an arson attack. The monumental archway, which was once part of the original tea pavilion, is still in situ, and leads to a viewing area over the City of Sheffield.
In 1959 the valley within the park was filled in to create the present-day level events area and football pitches. In the late C20, a children's playground was put in by the southern entrance. At the southern end of the park, to the east of the Guildford Avenue entrance, stand two pairs of model cottages and gardens (both listed Grade II), constructed in the 1870s, which lie within the park.
The park retains many of its original features: the circular carriage ride, the open expanses of grass, the avenues of trees, and the enclosing woodland belts.
Running parallel to the western boundary of the park is a deep wooded valley, the Jervis Lum Ravine. Although not part of the actual Park, there is now no formal division between the two areas.