Not totally ruined after all

Looking back the clues were there all along, I just didn’t notice them. There is a brown and white road sign on Abbey Lane to direct the way. The sign points down Beauchief* Abbey Lane. There’s even a section on the council’s website for goodness sake.

Clearly my powers of observation are somewhat lacking.

I’ve known for years that there used to be an abbey in Sheffield, I even knew it was in the Abbeydale area (which is hardly surprising really). What I didn’t know, until very recently, was that it is still there, or at least parts of it are. I was under the impression that only a few bits of mossy stone remained to show where an abbey had been. I was wrong (but there’s nothing unusual about that).

I can’t remember who it was that told me that the abbey was ruined, but they were only partially correct. The tower and most of the nave from the original abbey are still standing and the current building is still in use as a chapel. On either side of the tower are two stone arches, believed to have been relocated from their original positions in an adjoining wall in the original structure. Unfortunately we weren’t able to explore inside the chapel, as it was closed, but it does open for weekly services.

Beauchief Abbey

The other parts of the abbey really are just ruins, but the original building has left a carefully preserved footprint. There are low walls still visible showing where the cloisters and stores once were; a curved section and the bases of two pillars mark the likely site of the chapter house.

The churchyard has an air of quiet shabbiness with its tumbledown graves, old tombs and soft mossy grass. However the mystical charm of the place was spoiled a little by the sight of golfers from the neighbouring course trundling past from time to time!

In A Grave Condition

It’s only a small site, so on a clear wintry day like today, with very few other people around, it was possible to stand back and imagine stepping back in time to see how the area used to look. I don’t know why, but I love ecclesiastical architecture, so the chance to spend some time quietly contemplating this little bit of Sheffield’s history was a real treat for me.

*Beauchief is pronounced locally as Bee-chiff

Links:
A 360 degree tour of the Abbey
My Flickr photos
(Very limited) visitor information from Sheffield Council’s Website
nb the exterior is freely accessible and no prior booking is required. There is some on street car parking nearby. Wheelchair access is very limited, there is a path to the main door, but most of the site is grassed and the ground is soft and somewhat uneven. We did spot a homemade (wood and chicken wire) ramp for disabled access to the interior!

Information leaflet about the Abbey
Wikipedia: History of Beauchief Abbey

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