Heritage Category: Park and Garden
List Entry Number: 1001340
Date first listed: 12-Dec-1995
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Sheffield (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference: SK 34002 87395
A municipal park, including the buildings of the Weston Park Museum and Mappin Art Gallery, modified by Robert Marnock from a mid C19 garden, and opened to the public in 1875.
In July 1873, Weston Hall and grounds, built by Thomas Harrison, Sheffield saw-maker, were purchased from the Harrison Trust, by the Sheffield Corporation, under the Public Health Act 1848. The grounds were modified for use as a public park by Robert Marnock, who used much of the existing layout in his design. The park, the first bought with public funds to be made available to the people of Sheffield, was opened in September 1875, at which time the Hall was altered to make a museum. This was subsequently extended by the addition of the Mappin Art Gallery, opened in July 1887, which was the gift of John Newton Mappin, a Rotherham brewer who bequeathed £15,000 for the buildings and also presented works of art. In 1934, Alderman J G Graves presented £27,000 to the city for the reconstruction and enlargement of the old museum, the present building covering the flower garden and fountain which had stood to the north of the original park entrance. A Festival of Britain conservatory was added in 1951 and the following year exchanges of land with the adjacent Sheffield University resulted in the construction of a new building on Winter Street on the site of an earlier entrance gate, lodge and outbuilding. The park remains (1999) a well-used public open space.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING Weston Park lies on the west side of the city of Sheffield, 1.2km from the Town Hall. The site covers c 5ha and is defined on three sides by public roads: Mushroom Lane to the west, Winter Street to the north, and Western Bank to the south. To the east lie buildings belonging to the University of Sheffield, founded in 1905.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES The main entrances are those on Western Bank, at the south-west and south-east corners of the park. The wall and railings on this frontage (most of which have since been replaced) were gifted by Sir John Bingham in 1910, following the repositioning of the south-west entrance further to the east, and the erection of new gates, in 1895. The wrought-iron gates were constructed by the ironworker J Braun, from a design by the Sheffield Borough surveyor. From the gates, a broad walk leads north to the terrace on the east front of the buildings of the Weston Park Museum and Mappin Art Gallery. The south-east gateway (listed grade II) consists of four Minton terracotta pillars designed by Gamble from models executed by Sykes at South Kensington. The ironwork and general layout was designed by Edward Mitchell-Gibbs in time for the opening in 1875. This gateway reflects the site of the entrance drive to the Hall prior to its purchase as a public park (the gates were stolen in 1994).
PRINCIPAL BUILDING When Weston Park was first laid out, the original house, Weston Hall, was altered to form a museum, opened in 1875 at the same time as the Park. In 1887 the Weston Hall museum building was extended by the addition of the Mappin Art Gallery (listed grade II*), a long, single-storey stone building in Greek Revival style with long Ionic colonnades to either side, which was designed by the Sheffield firm of architects Flockton and Gibbs following a design competition. In 1934 Alderman Graves gave £27,000 to the city to cover the cost of design and construction of a new museum building and extension to the Mappin Art Gallery. The old museum building was demolished and its replacement, the existing Weston Park Museum building, alongside an enlarged Art Gallery, was opened to the public in 1937. The new, stone-faced Museum was designed as a 1930s interpretation of the classic style of the Mappin Art Gallery, but less ornate in its treatment.
PLEASURE GROUNDS Weston Park retains much of its original planting structure, including a variety of tree species, giving form to the wide expanses of grass. Marnock¿s system of curvilinear paths with seats and shelters also survives.
The Museum and Art Gallery open onto a terrace on the east front which dates from 1887. To the east of the park buildings is the open heart of the park, six double-flowered horse chestnuts having been planted here, immediately opposite the Museum, as part of the opening ceremony. Some 75m to the north-east of the Art Gallery stands the bandstand (listed grade II), designed by Marnock in 1875, and built c 1904, with profits from the electric tramway. The perimeter path continues north from the terraces, passed the Obelisk and a shelter, to the entrance at the north-west tip of the park. The Obelisk (listed grade II), a decorated Corinthian column in whitened terracotta, is a memorial to Godfrey Sykes, artist and designer (1824-66), and was designed by the artist James Gamble (1835-1911), a pupil of Sykes, the design being based on Sykes' work at the Victoria and Albert Museum Lecture Theatre. The monument was designed in 1871 and erected by public subscription in 1875. North of the Obelisk is a shelter, to the east of which formerly stood the observatory.
The north-west corner of the park is occupied by a levelled area laid out as tennis courts and an accompanying pavilion. Three grass tennis courts were included in the original layout, these being converted to gravel courts in 1912, and in 1946 to all-weather surfacing. To the east of the courts is the University of Sheffield's Geography Department, built in 1971 following adjustment of the park boundaries through the co-operation of the Corporation with the University. The building occupies the site of a detached house, the eastern half of the grounds of which had, by 1890, been developed as two terraces of houses, Westonville Terrace and Salisbury Terrace.
The Geography Department buildings stand adjacent and to the west of an entrance and park supervisor's house on Winter Street, which date from the 1950s when an agreement for an exchange of lands was made between the University and the Corporation. St Stephen's Vicarage and grounds formerly occupied this area. The exchange involved the demolition of the original park gates (designed by Godfrey Sykes), lodge and outbuilding, and the construction of the University library in the north-east corner of the park. The path from the Winter Street entrance leads south over a bridge at the northern end of the irregular lake in the north-east quarter of the site, developed from a lake in the grounds of the former Weston Hall. There was formerly also a bridge over the eastern arm of the water, with a path and seats along the eastern bank. The path continues southwards down the west side of the lake, to the gateway at the south-east corner of the site.
Some 30m to the north-west of the south-east gates is a bronze statue (listed grade II) of Ebenezer Elliott by N N Burnard, of London. Elliott was a steel-mill owner and opposer of the Bread Tax. Erected by public subscription in 1854, the monument was moved to the park from the Sheffield Market Place in 1875. Immediately to the west of this statue stands the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment War Memorial (listed grade II), designed by Francis Henry Albrecht Jahn, erected in 1922. Alongside is the Boer War Memorial (listed grade II) in the form of a bronze screen, transferred here from the Sheffield Cathedral forecourt in 1957. The Memorial stands at the southern end of the main tree-lined walk which leads north-east through the park to the southern tip of the lake. Prior to the 1950s, alterations, this continued along the south-east bank of the lake to the original entrance on Winter Street.
Between the south end of the walk and the Museum a conservatory (now demolished, 2004) was built in connection with the 1951 Festival of Britain, set in a formal garden. To the south-west of the conservatory garden is a meteorological station, established privately at Weston Park in 1883 by Elijah Howarth, the then curator of the Museum. In January 1937, this was taken over by the Sheffield Corporation Museums Department.
City of Sheffield Weston Park Centenary Ceremony Programme (1975) Graham Hague, Manuscript notes on the history of the Weston Park, (copy held by Sheffield City Council) J Sewell, A strategy for the heritage parks and green spaces of Sheffield, (Report to Sheffield City Council 1996), pp 23-7 A brochure in support of the Weston Project, (Sheffield City Council internal report 1997)
Maps OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published c 1850 2nd edition published 1890
Description written: January 2000; updated October 2004 Register Inspector: EMP Edited: April 2000
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 2641
Legacy System: Parks and Gardens
This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.
End of official listing