Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Victorians, Sheffield Cholera Monument & Mr Thornton's Blue Plaque

Last night after I sat and read Tolkien's letters to Father Christmas to Ruben whilst he was in the bath, the girls, Hubby and I sat and watched a brilliant documentary on BBC4 "New Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home". We had seen the historian Dr Suzannah Lipscomb on BBC Breakfast News and the show really caught our attention. Piper is a huge fan of the Victorians and I like most historical things so it was a good combination. Piper kept coming out with facts about the Victorians and statistics like the amount of Victorian children who didn't survive past the age of 12, watching this series you can see why. Treating "off" milk with Borax was one of the most shocking I think but also what chemicals were added to their basic foods such as bread was very scary. I think things have moved on quite a lot since the Victorian times. Cholera was mentioned as a big killer of the Victorian times and it reminded me there is a Cholera Monument in Sheffield, I'd never been or not that I can remember so I found out where it was and this morning we all got wrapped up and paid a visit.

As a teenager I often spent a lot of time around this area of Sheffield as two of my best friends lived right near it and I still couldn't remember visiting! When I was looking more into the history of the monument I also stumbled on to another history website where I found that the founder of Thornton's Chocolates lived in Sheffield and the first Thornton's shop was opened in Sheffield in 1911. Seems appropriate given we have bought several boxes of Thornton's recently and Piper was tucking into a big box for her birthday. I have fond memories of Thornton's as my Aunt worked there when I was about 5 or 6 years old and whenever we went to say hello she would let me pick several chocolates out of the glass cabinet all for myself. The shop was underground too, as Sheffield used to have a huge roundabout which locally was called the "hole in the road" and there were lots of shops in the subway parts. As it was only 2 minutes from the monument we paid a visit to the house to see the blue plaque.

Then we walked along the rows of Victorian terraced/semi-detached houses to Clay Wood where the monument is. In Sheffield 402 people died of Cholera in the 1832 epidemic and the monument was erected in 1835,  the victims were buried in a mass grave on this spot. The Master Cutler at the time John Blake also died in the Cholera Epidemic and has a special grave near the monument. We talked about the causes of Cholera and how there hasn't been a case recorded in the UK since 1893 because of the improvements in sanitation and hygiene.

It is a stunning viewpoint for views of the city, and we spent a while discussing the buildings we could see like Hallam University, Sheffield Cathedral, Odeon Cinema..

Sheffield United football ground in the distance:

Master Cutler's John Blake's gravestone.

Sheffield is famous for its cutlery and steel and a Master Cutler has been in place since 1624, a Master Cutler is elected every year and doesn't have to have anything to do with cutlery or steel. There is also a Cutler's Hall in Sheffield so we might have to pay a visit there in the near future.

We came back home for lunch before popping out to Chesterfield for some Christmas pyjamas, and a few more bits plus a quick trip into the central library for some new books for the girls and Ruben. I sat and read "T'was the Night Before Christmas" to Ruben whilst we were in the library too, I've never read it before. Bailey went into the shop and painted some Warhammer figures whilst hubby and I went to pick up our new glasses from the optician. Things seem a lot clearer this evening...


  1. Thank you for a really interesting blog post read. There's so much history on everyones doorsteps it's sometimes easy to miss them. xXx

  2. You always seem to find something to do or see it fascinates me lol xxx love the way you take your kids everywhere :)

  3. Love it how you find these obscure and forgotten things out and find it fascinating xxxx