Monday, 17 April 2017


The Round Houses on Wickersley's historic Morthen Road near Rotherham, South Yorkshire, UK

Above are the Round Houses on Wickersley's Morthen Road as they are today.

I used the local geography as one of the backdrops for my novel 'Goatsucker Harvest' set in 1855.

These gorgeous buildings, once used as a place of worship and a shop, now private dwellings, are the ones that catch our heroine Thirza Holberry's eye and fire her imagination as she is waiting for Lucas to collect the new millstone from the quarry to cart back to Thirza's grandparents' windmill on the outskirts of Thorne and Hatfield Moors near Doncaster.

The quarries were one of lovely Wickersley's claims to fame, once renowned for their high quality "Wickersley Rock" sandstone. Their excellent grindstones were in demand for Sheffield's cutlery industry and exported worldwide. You can still see grindstones scattered around Wickersley and in the village there are still many beautiful old houses and walls built of the local stone.

"To while away the time, Thirza set out to stroll the length of what she imagined was the main street, back towards the parish church of St Alban. She gazed at a pair of unusual bow-fronted cottages and puzzled how the occupants chose furniture that would bend to the shape of the room. Or did they design their own? It must be like living in a windmill, only a windmill cut in half." - Joyce Barrass 'Goatsucker Harvest' ch 25 "Grindstones and Goatsuckers."

Here's St Alban's Parish Church. As Lucas says in the book, the top of the tower is the highest spot between Sheffield and Bawtry and used to have a lantern lit on top to guide travellers by stagecoach in the nights before streetlamps made night like day!

St Alban's Parish Church, Wickersley, from Church Lane

In the story, Thirza is hoping for a quick getaway from the stifling summer heat as she wanders around the village, but Lucas has met his friend from the Old Hall and is getting more than a little merry and incapable of driving their carriage, as he takes more than one drink at the Needles Inn (now Wickersley Social Club, still an excellent venue for a pint or two!)

The former Needles Inn, now Wickersley Social Club
The Inn stands alongside what used to be the main road between Bawtry and Sheffield, before the dual carriageway (Bawtry Road) was built just to the north in more recent memory.

The Gazebo in the grounds of Wickersley Grange beside the Inn, is a listed building reputed to have been where passengers would wait for the stagecoach, dating from the early eighteenth century. More info here on the Historic England website.

The listed Gazebo, just east of Wickersley Grange

Wickersley Old Hall is still standing proud nearby on the opposite side of the road from pub and gazebo, the road across which Lucas staggers dangerously drunk in my novel. Today, it has been converted into flats.

Wickersley Old Hall, south face

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