Bishops' House

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News Update February 2013

Friends of Bishops' House have made a few significant steps in recent months.  We became a limited company in December 2012 and a registered Charity early in February 2013. Our sights are now fixed on an application for Heritage Lottery Funding, which will be submitted in the coming months. This initiative is approved by Sheffield City Council who will be party to a Tenancy agreement as part of our preparations for the application.

Should we be successful we hope to have a project worker in place to lead us through the next vital stages of developing the role of the house within the local community. We are hoping to maximise Bishops' House's associations with the Castle (through Captain William Blythe) in the next two years, when Sheffield Castle will be much in the news as excavations commence once the Markets building has been demolished. We have been lucky to be able to take the opportunity to purchase two tapestries which reputedly were taken from Sheffield Castle on its fall to the Parliamentarians in 1644.  We are looking now at raising funds for their display and preservation. In the same vein, we approached Museums Sheffield for two of our showcases to house artefacts from the Castle, and these arrived in November.

Museums Sheffield withdrew from providing school visits at the House as an educational resource last April.  This was a major worry for us but we are now establishing links with schools who are bringing us a steady stream of visiting classes, especially those studying the Tudors.  We are currently working on a model of teacher-led school visits with FOBH volunteers at hand to assist and resources for activities prepared for the Teachers to use.

Attendance at the house continues to be high and 2012 saw a catalogue of events put on at Bishops' House throughout the year visits are supplemented by organised guided tours by appointment during the week.  Musical recitals, poetry readings, Meersbrook Tree Day,  craft demonstrations, a play which ran over two nights and of course the annual Carol Singing have all drawn visitors. In November we housed a Medieval Fayre over two days; not only were there a variety of historical craft stalls in the House, re-enactors from the Escafeld Medieval Society conducted jousting and camp follower activities outside. This was very well received and like a lot of other activities will hopefully become an annual date in the calendar.

During the year Dr Roger Doonan of Sheffield University set up a kiln outside one weekend and prepared a lump of iron bloom using traditional methods. We are looking forward to seeing this transformed by a visiting craftsman into a scythe blade, the first to be crafted on the site for over three hundred years. 

A final call must go to our volunteers - none of the foregoing would have been possible without the tireless efforts of the volunteers, who turn up in all weathers , week in, week out to keep Bishops' House open to the public.

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