Totley History Group
Totley History Group

The Milners at Totley Hall & Gillfield Wood

by Josie Dunsmore

From 1791 three generations of the Coke family, who were based at Brookhill Hall, Pinxton, Nottinghamshire, owned Totley Hall Estate.  This estate consisted of two farms, situated in Totley Hall Lane and adjacent fields, which are now Pocock’s farm, and four pieces of woodland comprising Gillfield, Pheasant, Little and Trickett Woods.  William Sechaverell Coke sold this estate in 1881 for £2,250 to W. K. Marples, who made alterations to the East Wing of the Hall before his death two years later.

 

The Estate was again sold and purchased for £2,850 by William Aldam Milner, only son of a wealthy Attercliffe landowning family (Sheffield Year Book, 1884).  At the time he was newly married to Sarah, the sister of his friend Samuel Roberts junior.  For the first time in centuries Totley Hall Estate including Gillfield Wood had long-term resident landowners from 1884 to 1931.

Sarah Milner opening Totley Recreation Ground, 1929

The Milners further extended the East Wing of the Hall to add a billiard room and alter inner rooms.  They became to all intents and purposes the Squires of Totley.  Sarah Milner was involved in serving on local community committees, attending local events, presenting prizes and supporting charities, while Mr Milner, a Cambridge graduate and qualified lawyer who never practised, served in roles at county level.  Both the Milners enjoyed the life of a country gentleman and his lady.  They lavished money on their home and gardens, and changed Gillfield Wood from being a useful commodity to the community, as well as being a money earner, to being a Victorian family’s private playground.

 

W. A. Milner enjoyed fishing in Totley Brook in Gillfield Wood, where brown trout were the main catch.  G. H. B. Ward records several instances when brown trout were present in the Brook.  In 1887, Mr R. J. Youle, a visitor to Holmesfield, mentioned seeing trout, and in 1897 George Beresford and employer George Crawshaw caught 79 trout to stock a pond at Storth House.  There are reports of trout in the stream in the 1940s and 1950s and some are still to be seen today.

 

 

Site of Shooting Lodge (photo: Bob Warburton, c. 1970)

Shooting pheasants in Gillfield Wood was another pastime enjoyed by Mr Milner.  In this he was ably assisted by his gamekeeper, Mr Arthur Bradley, who was also his right hand man.  Mr Milner had a “stone built charcoal burner’s hut in the wood converted into a hunting lodge”, said granddaughter Elsie Wilson in 1970.  This ‘lodge’ was a dug out below ground, stone lined and roofed in stone, and was in a larch copse near the Totley to Storth House footpath.  Local men interviewed by Bob Warburton in 1975 identified its situation on a map and remember it as a “shooting lodge”.  They described shooting parties organised by Mr Milner, who used to have picnics there.  It was apparently equipped with a stove for brewing a drink.  When measured by Bob in 1974 the lodge was 8 ft long and 5 ft wide.  Local men, including Frank Taylor and Sid Andrews, said this lodge had “always been there”.  As yet (2013) there is no archaeological evidence that this was a charcoal burners’ hut, but there is evidence of charcoal burning in Gillfield Wood, so it is not impossible that there is some truth in this family legend.  The building is now in ruin with only bits of the walls remaining.  However, these show that the hut was well built.

 

Gamekeeper's Hut (photo: Bob Warburton, c. 1970)

A second dug out stone-lined structure, almost identical in style to the “Shooting Lodge” but smaller (2 ft 6 in by 4 ft in 1970), was in Pheasant Wood.  This wood was cordoned off by barbed wire and used for rearing pheasants for Milner’s parties to shoot.  Mr Arthur Bradley was the last full-time gamekeeper in Totley.  He put rails in the trees for pheasants to use as roosts and kept food for the birds, including nuts and raisins in his dug out “shed”.  Local boys such as Frank Taylor and Archie Thomas and friends made sure that the food didn’t always reach the pheasants, as they raided “Old Bradley’s Shed”.  By the 1970s there were no pheasants in the area, and the “Shed” was being used as a den by local lads, though Pheasant Wood was still fenced off from the rest of the wood at that time.

 

The Barlow Hounds hunting along the edge of Monk Wood c. 1946. Elsie Wilson (right) , Hunstman Bill Spry and Anne Wilson

 

Gillfield Wood was a favourite spot for the whole Milner family, who would take picnic lunches there or exercise their horses in the wood.  Horse riding was a favourite pastime of the Milners and their three children, who rode with their friends the Wilsons of Beauchief Hall.  “Gillfield Wood and surrounding district would often echo to the sound of the hunting horn of Barlow Hunt,” remembered their granddaughters, Elsie and Anne Wilson of Horsleygate in 1970.  This memory of the Hunt is reinforced by an item in the Derbyshire Times dated 23 March 1889, which reported a ‘splendid run’ with Barlow Hounds on Tuesday with Mr W. Wilson of Beauchief Hall as Master. 

 

Derbyshire Times, Saturday 23 March, 1889

HOLMESFIELD

SPLENDID RUN WITH THE BASLOW HOUNDS

On Tuesday these well-known hounds met at Cowley Bar, Holmesfield, at 10 a.m. under the owner and mastership of W. Wilson, Esq., of Beauchief Hall, who was present, as was also the well-known whip, W. Haslam, of Milnthorpe.  A start was made to Holmesfield Park, which was found blank.  The hounds were next taken to the Burrows Wood, near Barlow, where Reynard was quickly found, and dashed off at a tremendous speed to Rosewood, the hounds following in quick pursuit, and went round the Rose Wood three times in succession.  A start was again made, Reynard leaving the wood made for Horsley Gate Hall, then to Lidgate, across to Holmesfield Park, turning up the wood in the direction of Holmesfield village, where he made a sharp turn crossing the fields to Mickley, then by Totley Orphanage to Gill Field wood to near Storth House, turning sharply round he made back to Gill Field wood, the hounds closely following him.  The fox left the wood and made to Totley brickyard, where he came to grief and was killed by the hounds after one hour and fifty minutes splendid and exciting chase.  The hounds scarcely lost sight of him during the time.  The owner, W. Wilson, Esq., took Reynard’s head, and the brush was handed to Mr. A. T. H. Barnes.

Another leisure activity the Milners enjoyed in Gillfield Wood was swimming.  Mr Percy Earl, superintendent of Totley Hall in 1971 when it was a College of Education, told history student Patricia Hall that “his father had helped to dig out the foundations of a swimming pool in Totley Brook in Gillfield Wood in the early 1900s”.  This was filled through a channel from Totley Brook and was meant to be a private pool, but there was at least one incident of trespassing, cheerfully admitted by Mr Grayson of Brook Hall (in 1971), who with his friend, son of Judge Ellison of Totley Grove, was enjoying an early morning dip only to be discovered by William Aldam Milner, who reprimanded them but softened the effect by inviting them to breakfast at Totley Hall.  The pool has been re-excavated on a few occasions – at least twice before 1970 – as it silts up quickly.  Jean Smithson and Archie Thomas have memories of it being cleared by local lads who got filthy.  On the 1922 OS map the swimming pool is seen as an oblong shape, but the 1959 OS map shows it had degenerated to a “POND”.  A large depression near Totley Brook with a silted up leat are all that remains of this pool.

Gillfield Wood was also a place of romance.  At the age of sixteen Marjorie, the only daughter of the Milners, became fond of William Wilson, who, in 1900, became Master of Barlow Hounds.  Her parents had greater ambitions for their daughter as well as not approving of the relationship as she was so young.  The couple flouted parental disapproval and met secretly in Gillfield Wood whenever they could.  Eventually in 1909 Mr Milner gave consent to their marriage, and after a big celebration the couple set up home in Horsleygate.  The photograph below shows William and Marjorie Wilson, seated centre, about 30 years later.

Barlow Hunt Pony Club summer meeting at Horsleygate, 1938

William Aldam Milner, J.P. and Chairman of many committees, was appointed High Sheriff of Derbyshire in 1911.  He and his wife were keen gardeners and raised new varieties of several plants, including a polyanthus primula and an unusual cactus.  Their elder son, William, also qualified as a lawyer but never practised, and married local colliery manager’s daughter, Beatrix Ronksley.  He served throughout the 1st World War as a lieutenant, but their younger son, Roy Denzil, was killed after only six weeks at the front.  The grieving Milners bought land for the Parish Church to be built and contributed extensively to the building fund in memory of Roy.

Roy Denzil Pashley Milner

Mr Milner retired from public life in 1925, but continued to enjoy his house, garden and wood, despite being mostly confined to a wheelchair and in great pain.  He died on 24 January 1931, age 76, and is buried in Holmesfield Churchyard.  Soon after his death his wife moved to Baslow and leased the Hall to the Cutlers Company.  It was the end of an era for the community.  Colonel Tozer, (1897 – 1971), Master Cutler, lived at Totley Hall but never had the same standing as the Milners though he was well liked and respected.

 

Mrs Milner died in 1944, but the sale of Totley Hall was deferred, by her will, until the end of the 2nd World War when, in 1945, it was sold to Sheffield Corporation.  It became a Housecraft Training College in 1949 and was vastly extended in 1962 when it became a College of Education.  In 1971 it amalgamated with Thornbridge College.

Latest News

The first meeting after our summer break will be on Wednesday, 27th September when we present an illustrated talk by David Templeman called Mary, Queen of Scots: The Final Journey - From Sheffield to Fotheringhay (1584-1587). This talk relates the compelling tale of the events leading up to and including Mary’s trial and execution. Mary’s courage and conduct come to the fore as she takes her tragic story through Wingfield Manor, Tutbury Castle, Chartley Manor, Texall and culminating in the climax at Fotheringhay Castle where she is tried and executed for High Treason. But was she guilty? That is the question this talk addresses. The meeting is in Totley Library, starting at 7.30 p.m. 

Then on Wednesday, 25th October we will be holding another in our popular series of themed Open Meetings, when you will be invited to share memories of Totley Then and Now. There will be over a hundred pairs of photographs showing how Totley's buildings, lanes, and open spaces looked in the past compared with the same scene today. The meeting will be held in Totley Library beginning as usual at 7.30 p.m.

A recently discovered box of WWII correspondence reveals the story of how a small group of ladies from Dore and Totley recruited knitters from the west of Sheffield and how their efforts made them the country's greatest provider of Comforts for the Minesweeping crews of the Royal Navy. The story is told in Knit For Victory, a new book from Totley History Group. Written by Pauline Burnett, it has 82 pages and many illustrations. It is on sale in Totley Rise Post Office and local shops. Also available in Dore at the Village Store or direct via our website.

Since 1875 when there was only a Rolling Mill and Chemical Yard alongside the river a mile from Totley, the area has changed beyond anyone's imagination  This book by Pauline Burnett tells the story of how it was named and grew into the community we know today. The Rise of Totley Rise has 94 pages including a useful index and is profusely illustrated throughout with many previously unpublished photographs from private collections. 

The story is told in Totley War Memorial WW1 of the ten men from our village who gave their lives in the Great War. Written by Pauline Burnett, Jim Martin and Dorothy Prosser, a chapter is devoted to each of the soldiers with a family tree followed by as much information as could be discovered about the men and their families. There is also information about their military careers and the actions in which they lost their lives. The book has 64 pages and is illustrated throughout with photographs of the men, their families and the houses where they lived.

Walter Waller Marrison moved to Totley around 1897 with his wife and their two young sons. He was a house builder who constructed properties around Totley Brook and Greenoak before ill health forced him to take up less physically demanding work. In 1904 he took over the tenancy of the grocers and off licence at number 71 Baslow Road. After his death in 1908, his widow Kate and later their eldest son Jack continued to run the business until it was sold in 1934.   

Ron Wijk of Nieuw-Vennep in the Netherlands has sent us two scanned images of drawings of old cottages made by the celebrated Dutch painter, Anton Pieck (1895-1987) simply annotated "Totley", and wondered whether we could identify their locations.

We would like to thank Christopher Rodgers for bringing to our attention this fascinating log of the 85th Sheffield (St. John's and Totley Orphanage) Wolf Cub Pack for 1927-45. The log is published jointly by Sheffield Scout Archives and Totley History Group as a free PDF download. It is illustrated by no fewer than 92 photographs and is supported by a comprehensive index and biographies of some of the main participants.

Following our Open Meeting event on School Days, Roger Hart, Howard Adams and John Timperley have each written to us with their memories of Norwood School, which was located in the rooms attached to the Dore & Totley United Reformed Church on Totley Brook Road. 

On 22nd July 1909 the children of Dore and Totley Schools celebrated by a pageant the union of England under King Ecgbert which took place at Dore in AD 827. The pageant was devised and written by Mrs Sarah Milner and her daughter Marjorie and performed in a field close to Avenue Farm in front of a large audience. Photographs of the event survive together with a fragment of the script.

John Edward Greenwood Pinder had lived all 46 years of his life in Totley but on census night, Sunday 2 April 1911, he was not at home; he was in Derby Gaol serving a sentence of three months hard labour. From the age of 20, John had been in and out of local courts for a series of minor offences including drunkenness, assault, wilful damage and night poaching. Finally he was sent to gaol for cutting down and stealing 86 small trees which he sold in Sheffield market for Christmas.

We have already transcribed the census returns for Totley, Totley Rise and Dore. Now we have transcribed Census Strays. These are people who were born in Totley but are missing from our earlier transcriptions. They may have been living, working or studying elsewhere or just away from home on the night the census was taken. Two people were in prison. Others were in Union Workhouses, hospitals and asylums. Fully indexed strays from the 1851, 1861, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses are available now. 

We wish to thank Gillian Walker for allowing us to digitize an archive of material about the 1st Totley Scout Group. Most of the material was collected by Arthur Percival Birley in the period 1949-51 and there are many interesting documents pertaining to the building of the scout hut on Totley Hall Lane. In addition four Newsletters survive, two from the 1940s and two from 1971.

We are grateful to Angela Waite and All Saints' Parish Church for giving us access to baptismal and kindergarten birthday rolls dating from 1926 to 1941. We have transcribed the names, addresses, birthdates and baptismal dates and created an alphabetical index of entries for you to search. 

Edmund Sanderson, a Sheffield estate agent, aquired the land on either side of the old drive to Totley Grove in 1874 and divided it into plots for development. He called it the Totley Brook Estate. But before many houses were built, the estate road was severed in two by the building of the Dore & Chinley Railway line. The eastern end of the road became the cul-de-sac we now call Grove Road

John Roberts was born in Sheffield in 1798. He became a partner in one of the leading silversmiths firms in the city before moving to Abbeydale Park in 1851 and extending the house in Victorian gothic style. He paid for the building of St. John's Church and was believed to dispense more in charity than any other person in the neighbourhood including his protege Ebenezer Hall.

The Coke Family owned the Totley Hall Estate from 1791 to 1881. With the aid of a family tree to guide us, Josie Dunsmore takes us through the story of their tenure. 

When the Rev. D'Ewes Coke inherited the Totley Hall Estate in 1791 it had two farms. Josie Dunsmore tells the story of how the two farms were combined under the tenancy of Peter Flint with the aid of field maps drawn by Flint himself and later by the Fairbanks family.

Do you think you recognize this face? More than sixty photographs of the girls and teachers at Hurlfield Grammar School for Girls in the 1940s were given to Totley History Group by Avril Critchley, who was herself a student at the school. The collection includes fifteen form photographs from June 1949. There would have been a number of girls from the Totley area attending the school in those days.

Christine Weaving tells the story of her 2 x great uncle George Edward Hukin, a Totley razor-grinder, and his life-long friendship with the academic, poet, writer, and free-thinker Edward Carpenter.

Eric Renshaw (pictured here on the right with Bob Carr) grew up and lived in Totley from 1932 to 1960. Many of his memories are of a sporting nature.

We are very grateful to Gordon Grayson for giving us this splendid sale document for the Norton Hall Estates, following the death in 1850 of Samuel Shore. The estates included a large part of Totley and the document has maps and illustrations, plus schedules of land and property with the names of tenants. We have also added a transcription of the entries for Totley and Dore. 

Watch this Youtube video of the talk given by Dr. Mark Frost and Sally Goldsmith on Ruskin, Totley and St. George's Farm. The talk was hosted by Totley History Group on 20th May 2015 as part of the Ruskin in Sheffield programme. Also enjoy a video of the outdoor performance Boots, Fresh Air & Ginger Beer written by Sally.

When Jacqueline A. Gibbons became interested in what made her father tick, it began a journey through WW1 archive records and led to her flying from Toronto to visit the house and village where he lived and the countryside that he so much enjoyed. Jacqueline reminds us that in the early 20th century Sheffield was a driving force of industry and that Totley was the place where many of its remarkable people lived and where they formulated their ideas.

Edgar Wood was the designer of The Dingle, 172 Prospect Road, built in 1904 for Rev. William Blackshaw, the founder of the Croft House Settlement. The house, together with its western terrace and boundary walls, has now been awarded Grade II listed building status. 

What was probably "the most perfect little garden railway in existence" in 1910 was to be found in the grounds of Brook House, Grove Road, the home of its designer and constructor, Guy Mitchell. Look at some wonderful photographs and read reports in newspapers and a full appreciation in Model Railways magazine. 

We have now completed our transcription of Totley School's Admission Records for the period from 1877 to 1914. There is also a useful index to the names of the scholars and to their parents or guardians. We are very grateful to Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library for allowing us to transcribe and publish these records and for permission to reproduce the photograph of a specimen page of the register.

On 8, 9 and 11 November 2014 Totley History Group held an exhibition at Dore & Totley United Reformed Church to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Below are additional links to some of the photographs we were lent and stories we researched especially for the exhibition.

 

Oscar Creswick was a local farmer who served with the Army Service Corps in Salonika and who after the war returned to Totley to become the innkeeper of the Cricket Inn and a member of the village's successful tug of war team.

 

 

Walter Evans was a market gardener who also ran a small grocery shop on Hillfoot Road when war broke out. He fought with the Machine Gun Corps at the fourth battle of Ypres. After the war, Walter ran a grocers shop at the top of Main Avenue.

 

 

 

Fred Cartwright was another Totley soldier who survived the Great War. He fought in France and Belgium and although he wasn't wounded he was gassed and was home on sick leave when his daughter was delivered by Nurse Jessop during a snowstorm in January 1917.

 

 

Maurice Johnson joined the Yorkshire Dragoons, a territorial unit, on 1 Jan 1914 and so was called up at the very start of the war. He fought throughout the war on the Somme, at Ypres and at Cambrai. After demobilization in 1919 Maurice returned to his old occupation the steel industry.

 

 

Bill Glossop lent us a letter written by his father, William Walton Glossop to his wife describing life in the army during training in the north east of England and asking her to keep him in mind with the children.

 

 

The photo above provides a link to an album of photographs taken of WW1 Hospitals at St. John's, Abbeydale and the Longshaw Estate.

 

 

Nora Green, of Chapel Lane, was only 14 when war broke out. In 1914 she was ill with diphtheria and was sent to the isolation hospital at Holmley Lane, Dronfield. Nora recovered and wrote a letter of thanks to one of the hospital staff and the reply she received survives. 

 

 

We have collected together on this page the names of local men who appear on various War Memorials and Rolls of Honour in Totley, Dore, Abbeydale and Norton.

 

 

Unfortunately we were unable to identify all the photographs we were lent of Totley Soldiers. Please take a look at this album to see if you recognize any of the missing names.

This walk visits locations that have strong associations with Totley during the First World War. It includes the homes of the ten soldiers from the village who lost their lives, the auxiliary hospitals, war memorials, and even the rifle range on which the soldiers trained. Take a look at the first draft of a new walk by the authors of "Totley War Memorial WW1 1914-1918"

As we have nowhere to exhibit memorabilia and artifacts, we have decided to create a Virtual Museum instead, starting with old bottles that were found under the floor of the Old Infant School. Please contact us by email if you would like to see the real thing or have things that you own and would like to see added to the virtual museum.

We wish to thank the Trustees of Cherrytree for giving us permission to publish transcriptions of the Cherrytree Orphanage Admissions Book entries for the years 1866-1929. There is also an alphabetical index for you to look at.

With more people having access to faster broadband and mobile networks, we have uploaded seven full and unedited oral history recordings and also added more short excerpts for you to listen to.

Our transcriptions of local trade directories have been expanded to cover the 95 years from 1837-1932 and have also been indexed. From the days when there were a handful of farmers, stone masons, saw handle makers & scythe grinders to the wonders of the Totley Bridge Garage Company, Betty's Boudoir and The Heatherfield Shopping Centre.

We continue to add to our Totley Newspaper Archive. Recent entries have included several about John Roberts and the building of St. John's Church. There are several about the history of Brinkburn Grange and its first occupier, John Unwin Wing, an accountant who later lived at Totley Hall before being convicted of forgery and fraud and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment in Pentonville gaol. There are more than 50 articles from the 1880s and 1890s about Joseph Mountain and the Victoria Gardens, and twenty on the construction of the Totley Tunnel and the Dore and Chinley Railway.

Totley Church of England Parish Magazines for the years 1922-1939 and 1948-1967 with notices of births, marriages and deaths and accounts of spiritual, educational, charitable and social matters in the village. 

Around 90 photographs taken by Stuart Greenhoff for his thesis A Geographical Study of Dore and Totley including several of Totley Moor Brickworks. Superb!  

Chronologically ordered snippets of information recorded by Brian Edwards during his many years of research into our local history.

Read the inscriptions on more than 600 gravestones in  the churchyard.

 

Visitors since 24 Sep 2012:

Print Print | Sitemap
© Totley History Group