Edible Pitsmoor

Abbeyfield house in the blossom
Abbeyfield house in the blossom

Story and main photo by Deborah Egan.

Abbeyfield House was built in 1850 by local colliery owner William Pass and bizarrely, he decided to call the house Pitsmoor Abbey despite there being no religious activity on-site!

It was later sold to Sheffield solicitor Bernard Wake who made the house into a classic Victorian family home and sensibly changed its name to Abbeyfield House. Bernard made some exciting alterations and invested heavily in the house structure, changing the direction it faced in (!), adding a boating lake, stables, an extensive kitchen garden, a sundial and heated glass houses.

An indication of just how much a thriving solicitor could make in Sheffield’s industrial heartland at the end of the 19th Century! In 1909, after Bernard’s death, the property and grounds were bought by Sheffield Corporation to create a park for local people.

Opening of Abbeyfield Park by the Lord Mayor, 15th July 1909. From a vintage postcard courtesy of James Woollen.
Opening of Abbeyfield Park by the Lord Mayor, 15th July 1909. From a vintage postcard courtesy of James Woollen.

It was a controversial decision and there were debates within the council as to whether there weren’t enough green spaces in Sheffield! But concerns overthrown the house and park opening was a great success. Sheffield’s Morning Telegraph describing how people flocked to view the new park and house interior – hoping to catch a glimpse of how the other half lived!

Fast forward to the present and that keen interest from local’s hasn’t gone away, and the house and estate are now run by a local community group – Friends of Abbeyfield House and Park (FOAP), in partnership with Sheffield Council On Saturday 18th September 1-4pm, Abbeyfield House will be taking part in the national Heritage Open Days (HODs).

Events are taking place all over the country on the theme of Edible England. The house opens its doors offering FREE house history tours and activities on the theme of Edible Pitsmoor- including tasting and food making workshops. There will be an opportunity to have a look around the house and learn a little more about the history.

Abbeyfield House

FOAP would like to invite you and anyone you know who may be interested to bring along an example of a preserve, a pickle, jam, chutney… anything that shows how countries around the world have preserved and used different methods to store fruit and vegetables over the ages.

FOAP is actively looking for local artists, makers, activists and foodies to take part, including stalls and workshops on the theme to please get in touch at FOAP@groups.outlook.com