South Yorkshire is the home of some truly magnificent historic sites. The county houses not only one of the largest stately homes in England, but will dazzle visitors with its medieval and industrial heritage.
Our list will show all of the must-visit highlight ranging from the enormous Wentworth Woodhouse and Hoober Stand folly to the ruined Roche Abbey and Sheffield Town Hall. Bishops’ House will charm visitors with its quirky architecture while the gardens of Brodsworth Hall will be a perfect location for a relaxed afternoon.
Here’s our pick of 10 unmissable historic sites in South Yorkshire.
1. Wentworth Woodhouse
Wentworth Woodhouse is one of the largest stately homes in the United Kingdom with over 300 rooms, covering an area of 2.5 acres. Constructed over four decades during the mid 18th century, the building served as the seat of the Earls Fitzwilliam. The majestic home is surrounded by 87 acres of gardens and grounds.
These days the estate is open to the public who can explore the history and architecture in organised morning tours, while enjoying an afternoon tea at the estate cafe.
2. Conisbrough Castle
This dramatic Norman castle served as inspiration for Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Ivanhoe’. It is one of South Yorkshire’s most impressive sites. The castle was constructed either in the 1170s or 1180s and survived unscathed for centuries. Unlike many similar structures it saw out the English Civil War without any damage, becoming a picturesque ruin only in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Conisbrough Castle is managed by English Heritage and is open to visitors who want to explore its magnificent keep and defensive walls.
3. Kelham Island Museum
The Kelham Island Museum was opened in 1982 and stands on an over 900 year old man made island. The museum is representing Sheffield’s rich industrial history, showcasing what it was like to live and work in Sheffield during the Industrial Revolution. Entry to the museum is free of charge.
The museum houses an active workshop where visitors can see engineers working on conservation projects.
4. Sheffield Town Hall
The current building was commissioned in 1890 to replace the old town hall. Construction was completed in 1897 with Queen Victoria opening the building using a remote controlled lock from her carriage. Visitors will notice the grandeur of the town hall with its richly decorated walls and marble floors.
Inside the main hall there is a small memorial relating to HMS Sheffield, sunk during the Falklands War in 1982.
5. Wentworth Castle and Gardens
Wentworth Castle is the former seat of the Earls of Strafford. The complex was created by Sir Thomas Wentworth to outshine his cousin’ Wentworth Woodhouse. It is now home to the Northern College for Residential and Community Education.
The magnificent gardens are open to public, with Stainborough Castle (folly) being one of the highlights. The fake ruins were finished in 1730 to entertain the Earl’s friends and family.
6. Bishops' House
Bishops’ House is Sheffield’s best preserved timber framed building. The Tudor house was constructed in the early 16th century and has been open to the public since 1976 on Saturdays and Sundays.
The displays in the house have had some recent small changes but are still curated by Museums Sheffield. The Friends of Bishops’ House is a registered charity and limited company, run entirely by volunteers. The house contains exhibitions on life in the 16th and 17th centuries with two rooms decorated in Jacobean style.
7. Roche Abbey
The now ruined Abbey was founded in the 12th century and has one of the most complete ground plans of any English Cistercian monastery. Following King Henry VIII‘s religious reforms, the monastery was dismantled and fell into disrepair.
Visitors can enjoy the grounds designed by Capability Brown, while exploring the beautiful ruins.
8. Hoober Stand
Hoober Stand is a 30 metre high tower located on a ridge in Wentworth, South Yorkshire. It was erected to commemorate Thomas Watson-Wentworth, Earl of Malton squashing the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. Hoober Stand is one of several follies in and around Wentworth Woodhouse park
The tower is open to the public on Sundays and bank holiday Mondays from the spring bank holiday weekend until the last Sunday in September.
9. Brodsworth Hall and Gardens
Brodsworth Hall was built in the 1860s for the Thellusson family and their servants. It is one of the most complete surviving examples of a Victorian country house in England. The building has not changed much following its completion in the mid 19th century. The house is noted for Charles Sabine Thellusson’s collection of paintings and sculptures, including a large collection of Italian sculptures bought at the Dublin International Exhibition of 1865.
Visitors can book tickets to explore Brodsworth Hall, while the gardens offer a splendid opportunity to spend a relaxing afternoon with afternoon tea served in the local cafe.
10. The Minster Church of St George
The Minster Church of St George, or Doncaster Minster was constructed between 1854-58, after the original 12th century building was destroyed by fire. Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, one of the leading minds of the English Gothic Revival and architect of Glasgow University and the Midland Grand Hotel (St Pancras railway station), the Minster stands resplendent over the newly elevated city of Doncaster.
Visitors can admire the exemplary architecture or venture inside to find a clock designed by Dent, manufacturer of non other than the clock of the Palace of Westminster, or Big Ben.