12th century abbey, that is older than Sheffield itself, much of the surrounding area was both a mining and a farming hotspot. Now the abbey runs communion services and there are two separate golf courses on the grounds surrounding the abbey.
ABOUT BEAUCHIEF ABBEY
Beauchief (pronounced bee-chiff) Abbey is a medieval monastic house in the south of Sheffield, dating back to the 12th century. It was built on land gifted by Saxon lord Robert FitzRanulph de Alfreton sometime in the 1100s, and is believed to have been officially founded in 1183 – meaning that people have been worshipping, organising and teaching there for almost a millennium.
Though it was a relatively small abbey, it included a full range of monastic buildings, including the church, chapter house, cloisters, dormitory and a refectory. Today, only the western tower and attached church remain, along with some ruins.
Currently, Beauchief Abbey serves as a parish church as part of the Anglican Communion; although it is owned by the people of Sheffield rather than the Church of England, and the running is organised entirely by volunteers and the congregation, rather than any appointed priests, ministers or clergy. It holds regular church services, including baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
There is a great deal of history surrounding the abbey – it is over a century older than Sheffield itself, which was only established as a market town in the late 1200s. It was established under the Premonstratensian order (a French order of Canons regular of the Catholic Church), and housed between 12 and 15 monks, as well as workers known as lay brothers.
Beauchief Abbey was an industrial and agricultural centre, as well as a religious one. The surrounding land was used for farming and mineral extraction, including iron smelting, linking it to the steel production at nearby Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet.
Following Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, the abbey was dissolved in 1537, and its ownership was passed to Thomas Cromwell’s commissioners. Shortly afterwards, Sir Nicholas Strelley, the Lord of Ecclesall, bought the abbey and the surrounding land for the princely sum of £223. The land ownership passed through many private hands until it was sold to the Sheffield Corporation in 1931, with the remaining abbey given as a gift to the people of Sheffield. It was declared a scheduled monument in 1957, and remains in the hands of the Sheffield City Council.
Today, much of the old estate is occupied by two golf courses: Beauchief Golf Club, and Abbeydale Golf Club. However, there are several areas of ancient woodland still surrounding the abbey, including Parkbank Wood, and Ladies Spring Wood, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its flora and fauna. There are public footpaths through these areas.
The Abbey and ruins are open to guests and free to visit. It runs Holy Communion services on Sundays and on Christian holidays.