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Abbeyfield House and Park

Black and white photograph of the front and side of Abbeyfield House, 1890
Abbeyfield House in 1890 showing green houses built by Bernard Wake © Picture Sheffield, Sheffield Libraries

Black and white photograph of the front of Abbeyfield House, 2005
Abbeyfield House in 2005 © Carl Rose

This lovely house and garden dates back to a more gracious time in Burngreave. It was first built by local colliery owner, William Pass, in 1850 on what was then called Pitsmoor Road (now Barnsley Road). Although there are no religious connections with the site, he called it Pitsmoor Abbey. It was then sold to Bernard Wake, a wealthy solicitor, whose family lived at Osgathorpe. He changed the name to Abbeyfield House and made many alterations. He enlarged the house and changed its orientation so that it faced into the gardens with a view south-west towards Sheffield. He also added a boating lake, and stables, a kitchen garden, a sundial, and glasshouses to one side of the building. The gardens were completely remodelled in a naturalistic style. Records from the 1891 National Census show that Wake was living there as a widower with his son and daughter and six servants.

The house and gardens were bought in 1909 after Wake's death by Sheffield Corporation to create a park for local people. It appears to have been quite a controversial decision. At that time there was a debate within the corporation over whether there were enough green spaces in Sheffield. Some said that there were too many parks in the city, however the opening to the public was well received. A local newspaper of the time described how people flocked to view the new park and catch a glimpse of what life was like for the upper classes, in what had previously been a private place.

Since the early 1900's 1900s, the grounds have been continuously managed as a park, but the house has been used for a variety of purposes. It first became a centre for teaching domestic work, or training servants. During the First World War it housed Firshill School Infants Department, when the school itself was taken over by military authorities as a hospital. Then it became part of Firth Park Grammar School between 1918 and 1926 before being converted into three separate flats for caretakers. It is now used as office space for several community organisations.

In July each year, the park becomes the centre for the biggest community event in Burngreave's calendar, the Abbeyfield Multicultural Festival.