RECENT LOXLEY HISTORY
THE ROBIN HOOD INN AND ITS BUILDER
THE “ROBIN HOOD INN” in the Loxley Valley, Sheffield, England was built in 1799 by the local entrepreneur and Unitarian minister Thomas Halliday, and to attract the tourists he called the area "Little Matlock" after that beautiful place in the Peak District. He built the "Robin Hood Inn" using his wife's Martha Patrick's money and constructed walkways down the steep sided valley, and as an added tourist attraction bought the land on which Frank Fearns gibbet had stood. His plan seems to have worked because his "House of Refreshment" i.e. the “Robin Hood Inn” became very fashionable with the genteel society of day-trippers from Sheffield.
THE FIRE PROOF HOUSE
But Thomas Halliday had been greatly affected by the death of a relative in a house fire and he determined that all his properties should contain as little wood as possible in order to make them fire proof, so when he built a house at 239 Rural Lane he built it mainly of stone. The living room and kitchen were stone flagged and there was a stone spiral staircase leading to the first and second floors which were also made of stone. Fortunately for him he owned a quarry on Loxley Common and the house now is a grade two Listed building.
Mr Halliday, who built the fire resistant houses on Rural Lane and Ben Lane also built the fire resistant "Cave House" on Loxley Common. The house was built over the entrance of a cave, which became part of the living quarters. As he owned a quarry on the common he had plenty of stone to build the front and sides of the house. The roof was made of stone slate and a large table was chipped out from the rock face, as was the living room mantelpiece. The house was built for the local gamekeeper who was employed by Mr Haliday. The ownership of Cave House then passed to Dr Payne who employed Mr Hannah as his Game Keeper and Cave House became his home. Water was obtained from a well and there was a stone trough near the house. Vegetables were grown on a small piece of land just up the hill from the house and they may have kept a few hens. There was said to be a living room and a small kitchen and from the front it looked like any other regular house. It is said to have been built around 1740 and was continually occupied till the late 1920's when it was decided to demolish it, but it was so solid it had to be blown up with dynamite. There is little to be seen today.
Thomas Halliday also built Loxley House, which is an imposing building at the top of a drive, which sweeps up from Wadsley's Ben Lane. Above the window of the lounge is a sizeable stone, which originally bore the inscription "Thomas Haliday 1806." In 1808 "The House" was sold to Thomas Payne who rebuilt it in 1826. It was much grander than the original with three storeys and three wide set bays. At the same time John Payne bought the land where the gibbet of Frank Fearn had stood, and in 1913 the descendants of Parkin Payne gave that stretch of moorland to the citizens of Sheffield. "Seventy-five acres of Land at Loxley Common and Wadsley Common to be used by the public for the purpose of exercise and recreation, and to be known as 'Loxley Chase."
By 1865 an eccentric doctor called Henry Payne was living in Loxley House. His cure for all ailments was a hot blanket over the affected part. He quarrelled with the local parson and vowed never to go to the church again, but the parson reminded him he would be carried in at the end of his days, head first, in a coffin. But the determined doctor left instructions that he was to be buried on his own estate, which included Wadsley and Loxley Commons, without a church ceremony, his wishes being duly carried out in 1895. He even marked the spot where he was to be buried with a stone, stating he wanted to be placed within a Brick Vault in the plantation adjoining Loxley House. It should be covered with earth to avoid recognition. He even stipulated who should make his coffin and of what wood. He also named the gravediggers and the fee they were to receive. The house and estate passed to his nephew Thomas Philips and later Alderman William Clegg also took up residence and then also William Bush. Then during the First World War two of Dr. Payne's spinster nieces moved in and in 1919 the Cripples Aid Association bought the building for a convalescent home. Later it became the headquarters of the Sheffield Sea Cadets. It was put up for sale in 1996 and is a Listed Grade II building.
A LEGEND OF LOXLEY COMMON Cave House possibly plays a part in the next story, for on a bitterly cold day in 1812, when the sun set early, and low storm clouds hung over Loxley Common. In a lonely cottage on the bleak moorland, a mother sang over her sleeping baby. Lomas Revill, gamekeeper to the lord of the Manor, was late, and for his wife it was a weary vigil, relieved only by the visit of a woman friend from one of the cottages on the hillside. When she had gone Mary Revill watched the flickering uncanny shadows cast by the log fire, until eventually, weariness overtaking her, she nodded off to sleep.
Struggling fitfully the moon sought to pierce the heavy snow clouds, but with little success and the wind howled across the common. As the hours passed