Wincobank Living History

Timeline Map

8000-4000 BC:
Mesolithic activity on the site, possibly a temporary camp where flint blades were manufactured.
Find out more

Bronze Age:
Possible Bronze Age burial mounds recorded in the vicinity of the hillfort in the 18th century, removed 'about the year 1795'. No associated Bronze Age artefacts recorded, though a flint knife of this period was found in Wincobank Wood in the 19th century.
Find out more

500 BC:
Probable construction date of Wincobank Hillfort, based on radiocarbon dating. Iron Age activity in the area is suggested by beehive querns (corn milling stones) found in the woods.
Find out more

AD 51:
Construction of Templeborough Roman fort, which marked the northern limit of the Roman Military Zone until the subjugation of Brigantia, to the north of the River Don, c.AD
Find out more

The Roman fort may have been built partly to neutralise the potential threat of the hillfort.
Find out more

AD 100-400:
Occupation of the hillfort is likely to have been sporadic during the Roman period, though several pieces of 2nd-century Roman ceramic and a coin of Constantius Chlorus (AD 305-306) were recovered from the hillfort and its immediate vicinity. There is currently no evidence to indicate that the hillfort was involved in the Brigantian revolts against Roman rule in the 2nd and early 3rd centuries, and the site is likely to have been reclaimed by the wood by the 4th century.
Find out more

Early medieval period:
The site was possibly part of the British kingdom of Elmet in the post-Roman period, before coming under Anglo-Saxon control in the late 6th/early 7th centuries. It was then located along the southern border of Northumbria, and the hillfort may have been reoccupied periodically during outbreaks of hostility between Northumbria and Mercia. There is currently no archaeological evidence for any rebuilding or reoccupation of the hillfort during this period.
Find out more

Wincobank recorded as 'Winckley', possibly derived from the Old English 'Wineca's ley', meaning 'Wineca's forest clearing'.
Find out more

Place-name 'Winkowe' recorded, with the earlier 'Wineca' element supplemented by the Old English or Old Norse 'lowe/haugr', both of which mean 'mound' and may relate to the summit of the hill.
Find out more

16th to 17th century:
Wincobank Wood was managed for the Earl of Shrewsbury's estate as a ‘spring’ (coppice) wood. During the 17th century, the hillfort's eastern bank and ditch were levelled when a field boundary was built along the line of the ditch.
Find out more

Farm called 'Le Wynkeabancke' first recorded in a document of this date. The farm later became Wincobank Hall.
Find out more

Late 18th century:
Wincobank Hall and its estates purchased by John Sparrow, and the hall substantially rebuilt. 1790: Cottages shown on Winco Wood Lane, to the north-east of the hillfort, on a map of the lands associated with Wincobank Hall. Their date of construction is unknown, but it has been suggested that they were 16th-century in origin, with later modifications.
Find out more

Joseph Read purchased Wincobank Hall and further land near the hillfort. Read laid out gardens and pleasure grounds, meadows and plantations of 'exceeding beauty'.
Find out more

Winco Wood Lane shown as a 'bridle path to Sheffield' on an 1837 sale plan of Wincobank Hall and its estate. The hall was purchased by Joseph Read's daughter, Mary Rawson. The plan also showed a quarry at the junction of Winco Wood Lane and Jenkin Road.
Find out more

A plan showed a coal mine shaft within the quarry at Jenkin Road.
Find out more

The Poor Law survey map showed the Winco Wood Lane cottages as a row of six properties, three of which were very small.
Find out more

Construction began on 'Wincobank Castle', a tower house built by George Parkin, a former teacher, close to the north edge of the hillfort. The house was completed in 1907.
Find out more

Grimesthorpe Colliery had been established by this date.
Find out more

Archaeological excavation at Wincobank Hillfort, directed by Elijah Howarth, curator of Sheffield Museum, from August to October.
Find out more

Final sale of timber from Wincobank Wood.
Find out more

The Duke of Norfolk presented the hillfort and 48 acres of Wincobank Wood to the people of Sheffield. A second archaeological excavation was undertaken at the hillfort by the staff of Sheffield Museum.
Find out more

The OS map of this date showed allotments in the western part of Wincobank Wood.
Find out more

An anti-aircraft gun emplacement was constructed on the south side of the hillfort, to counter potential Zeppelin air raids.
Find out more

During the Second World War, the tower at Wincobank Castle was used as an observation post. The anti-aircraft gun emplacement was also brought back into use and a searchlight was located to the south-west of the hillfort. A barrage balloon was also located along Wincobank Hill, while part of Winco Wood Lane was reinforced to allow access for military vehicles.
Find out more

Wincobank Castle was demolished in 1960. The cottages at Winco Wood Lane were subject to a compulsory purchase order in the early 1960s and had become largely derelict by 1967. They had been demolished by the time of the 1973 OS map.
Find out more

Yorkshire Television were granted permission to place a Radio Links Can on the top of Wincobank Hill, as the site's elevation made it an effective transmission location. The hill was also used for this purpose during BBC coverage of the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield.
Find out more

Archaeological watching brief conducted by Pauline Beswick during the cutting of a drainage ditch through the hillfort's rampart.
Find out more

Wincobank Hall

Wincobank Hall developed from ‘Le Wynkeabancke’, a farm that was first recorded in 1574. Outhouses, barns and a narrow, two-storey stone kitchen block at the east of the hall appear to have formed the oldest part of the building, although it is not known if the farm developed from a medieval predecessor. 

Much of the 16th-century building may have survived until the late 18th century, when the property was acquired by John Sparrow. Substantial rebuilding took place during this period, including a three-storey block constructed from rubble masonry with large quoin stone. The extent to which elements of the earlier structure were demolished or incorporated into the 18th-century hall is not known. 

Joseph Read bought Wincobank Hall in 1816. The old buildings at the east of the hall were demolished at this time, while two cottages and a smithy stood within fifty yards of the house. Read also purchased several acres of farmland between the hall and Wincobank Wood, where he laid out gardens, meadows, orchards and ‘pleasure grounds’ of ‘exceeding beauty’. Following Read’s death in 1837, his widowed daughter, Mary Anne Rawson, took up residence at the hall and transformed the building into a select boarding school. 

Mary and her sister, Emily Read, were noted local philanthropists and in 1840, they converted the hall’s coach house into a day school. This subsequently became the Upper Wincobank Undenominational Chapel. The Rawsons were also active in many enlightened national causes and Mary herself led the anti-slavery campaign in Sheffield. 

Mary died in 1887 and in 1899, Wincobank Hall was opened as a ‘rescue home’ by the Salvation Army. The latter left the site in 1915 and by 1921, Wincobank Hall was said to be in ‘a state of desolation’. The hall was subsequently demolished to make way for the Flower Estate.

Join the discussion

  • Niki said

    My 3rd great grandmother was a daughter of Joseph Read.

  • David Cobley said

    1911 Census shows hall occupied by Salvation Army
    11 members of SA
    invalid sister of officer in charge
    37 inmates
    all residents female apart from 2 year old boy

  • Andrew Lunn said

    Today i have bought a lovely large family bible with an inscription inside. After a bit of investigation, i find it was a wedding gift from Emily Read to her friends Edward & Sarah Rhodes in 1876. She signed it from Emily Read, Wincobank Hall. The bible is in excellent condition for its age and has been well looked after.
    I just thought it was an interesting find and that it may be of interest to your page?

    Kind regards

    Andrew Lunn

  • Penny said

    I am interested to know where the evidence is for the "select boarding school" and whether this was an income generation activity to support the family's philanthropic work. I have seen this mentioned only once in passing but have found no firm documentary evidence yet. The day school for the poorer children was opened in 1841. The building was also used as a Sunday school and later extended to become a chapel which remains active to this day.

    When the Salvation Army moved their "rescue home" the Hall was used as a Children's Home until it was demolished in 1925.

Leave your comment

We value your questions and opinions about the theories or facts presented on this page. Please join our community and post your response using this short form. We'll never publish or share your email address and never send you spam. Your comment will be held for moderation.

Submit your comment