Who lived at Bishops' House? - 1890 to 1974
In 1886 Sheffield Corporation bought up the land of the old Meersbrook estate and it opened as Meersbrook Park in September 1887. Photographs taken at the time show a general tidying up around Bishops’ House. Two of the original brick chimneys were replaced by stone chimneys. A small stone structure to the north was demolished. The panelling in the Parlour was stripped out. An 1890 report says that the House ‘has come into possession of the Corporation’ and ‘has been restored and put into a safe condition’. The 1891 census shows farmer Joseph White living in the adjacent cottages and at some time between 1886 and 1891, Bishops’ House was occupied by a succession of gardeners and Park Keepers, and of course their families, to maintain the new park.
The Cheetham family
The first family of gardeners, living in the east part of the House was the family of James H Cheetham. He was born in 1865 in Stoney Middleton, Derbyshire. His wife Kate was born in 1867 in Waleswood, Yorkshire.
James and Kate Cheetham had five children:
1-Elizabeth E was born in 1891.
2-Sarah was born in 1893.
3-Albert H was born in 1896.
4-Arthur was born in 1898.
5-Gertrude was born in 1900.
All the children were born in Norton, Derbyshire. From around 1886 they lived at Bishops’ House where James was employed as a park gardener and domestic servant, until 1902. After that he left to work in Hillsborough Park some time before 1901.
The Ryalls family
Harry Ryalls was born in 1858 in Sheffield, Yorkshire. His wife Lucy was also born in 1863 in Sheffield
Harry and Lucy had children:
1-John William was born in 1892.
2-Charlotte E was born in 1894.
Both the children were born in Norton, Derbyshire. From around 1886 they lived at Bishops’ House where he was employed as a park gardener.
Kenneth John Ryalls, grandson of harry Ryalls) was born in Bishops’ House on the 12th of July 1923.
Harry Ryalls died in March 1929 aged 71. After his death his widow remained in Bishops’ House for a short time.
The Chester family
Charles William Chester was born in 1878 and started living at Bishops’ house in 1907, aged 29 as a gardener. He married Lily, born in 1884, in 1907.
Charles and Lily had two children:
1-Jack, born in 1909.
2-Beryl, born in 1911.
After 1917 he is listed as a Park Gardener and after 1919 as a Park Keeper. He died in June 1927 aged 49.
The Scott family
Harold Scott, assistant park keeper married Doris Jenny Armitage in 1915 at Ecclesall Bierlow. She was born in 1893. After leaving work at Meersbrook Park he went to Greystones Road and worked at the Forge Dam and later to Templeborough after his wife’s death. Her parents were Herbert and Clara Edith Armitage, both born in 1862. Clara died in Bishops’ House.
The Height family
The Height family lived at Bishops’ House for three and a half years to 1952. Roland Height married Doris Sutton in Wolverhampton in December 1930.
They had five children:
4-Kenneth George who died in 2016.
5-Michael Roland, who was born in 1942.
The family left for Dudley in 1952.
The Wattam family
George Wattam worked as a Park Attendant from about 1959 until he retired in 1966. After that he and his wife left Bishops’ House and their half of the House was boarded up.
The Gill family
Peter and Elizabeth Gill lived in Bishops’ house from 1959 until 1973. Peter was a Park Attendant. They had four children: Trudy, born on the 22nd of August 1963. She had an older brother and two younger sisters. All were born at Bishops’ House. After they left, their half of the House was also boarded up.
Here is a summary of the Park Keepers and Gardeners. Please note that some of these people may have been in occupation earlier, and left later than the dates below as the available information does not cover every year and sometimes, especially towards the end, mention anyone. Some of the information at the end is contradictory and comes from more than one source:
1886-1929 Harry Ryalls & family.
1886- 1902 James Henry Cheetham & family
1905-1906 Thomas Carter
1907-1927 Charles William Chester
1929-1944 James Stanley Hogg
1931-1940 Harold Scott
1942-1944 John Henry Hallas
1948- Clifford Hitchin
1948-1951 George Frederick Allen
1959-1961 Thomas Lloyd
1959-1966 George Wattam and family
1959-1973 Peter Gill and family
The information on the Cheetham, Ryalls and Chester families comes mainly from the census returns.
Apart from that, thanks are due to Sarah Shepherd for the information on Kenneth John Ryalls, to the Armitage family, to Janet Moore nee Height, and Michael Height, and to Trudy Birt nee Gill.