Norton Hall, Norton Church Road, Sheffield sits with an area rich in ghost and folklore tales, surrounding the Grade II Hall are stories of phantom carriages, white ladies and an eight-foot green man ghost said to wander the local Graves Park and its small, wondering Lanes.
Norton Church Road is a heavily wooded avenue that leads to the grand Norton Hall. Norton Hall has been one of the grandest buildings in Sheffield for many years and at one time it was surrounded by nearly eight acres of prime hunting land. Historical records show earlier Halls existing on the present site, over a period of nine hundred years. A reference in the Domesday Book shows that Godiva and Bada held the land at Norton during the reign of Edward the Confessor, they probably built the first Hall too. Subsequent families built, rebuilt and extended Halls on the site, these include the de Busli, Ingelram and the Chaworth families.
Our first story concerns the Offley Family who gained the Hall in the early 16th Century when the owners of the Hall, the Bullock Family fell into difficulties.
The Offley’s had held the Norton Estate for many generations, Edmund Offley succeeded his father at Norton Hall when he was just eighteen and a half in 1751. He lived with his two sisters Urith and Hannah Maria, Mary died in infancy.
On his father’s death, his guardians, John Rotherham and Godfrey Heathcote sent Edmund to a university in Scotland. While in Scotland Edmund met George Carr, a minister of the English Episcopal Congregation in Edinburgh, Carr offered Edmund lodgings in his own house and also intended to teach him. Edmund grew close to George Carr, probably looking upon him as a Father figure, and the arguments over Edmund’s tuition by his guardians and the Duke of Argyll who heard was a close family friend, only strengthened their bond.
Three years later, in March 1754, Edmund came of age but died unexpectedly the same year.
On the day Edmund died, the gardener at Norton Hall met his master, who asked him how he was and were things at the Hall. Edmund then took out a key and let himself in through the outer door of the old tower and went up the stairs which led only to the roof. Only when he did not come down again, did the gardener search for him. They searched for hours but did not find their master. His disappearance caused the whole neighbourhood to be alarmed.
Four days later four Scotsmen arrived at the Hall and asked to enter the house. When they were refused, they told the servants that Edmund Offley had died in the home of George Carr in Edinburgh on the evening when the gardener had seen him. The report states the Scotsmen left after breaking some windows(?), disappearing into Graves Park.
On the night of the Scotsmen’s visit, records state that blazing lights were seen on the top of the tower and the pale, ghastly figure of the dead man stretched out, his hands imploring assistance.
There was an even greater sensation when it was discovered that Edmund’s will was in favour of Carr and his wife, cutting his sisters totally out of the will.
Luckily for Edmund’s sisters, two Sheffield neighbours were able to meet with Carr and his lawyer to stop the hand over of the property. Carr agreed to relinquish all claims under the will in return for a settlement of £3940.
Edmund’s death remained a mystery but local people always suspected George Carr and his wife of poisoning the young man to lay claim to Norton Hall. Edmund’s spectre returned at night to warn the household of the injustice.
Urith Offley, Edmund’s sister, married Samuel Shore who rebuilt Norton Hall in 1815. Shore is credited as being responsible for greatly extending and opening out the grounds around the house. Although the local Lord, Sir Francis Chantry described the building as “a grey box”.
The Norton Estate remained with the Shores until 1843, when the then Lord of the Manor, Offley Shore, was forced to dispose of the Estate, owing to the failure of his bank. The Hall once again passed from family to family, but in 1925 saw the most significant change in the ownership of the land. 112 acres (including Norton Hall) were purchased on behalf of the Sheffield Voluntary Hospitals.
In November 1972 the Grade II Hall became the Beechwood Private Clinic, and until a few years ago it was claimed that the Hall was definitely haunted.
In “Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Sheffield”, Valerie Salim describes a staff member’s experience; “On Christmas Eve 1973, she was alone in the reception room, there being no else in the building. She was seated at the desk. There was not even a breath of wind. The fire-doors suddenly opened wide and she heard the sounds of a banquet, people talking and laughing and dishes clattering. Then the doors abruptly closed again and the sounds ceased. She was so unnerved that she felt she could stay there no longer and she ‘phoned her husband to fetch her.”
Later the same staff member had another experience. While seated in her office with the doors open she glimpsed a man standing in the doorway, thinking it was the handyman she told him that she had no letters for the post. She looked up to talk to him but he was not there. She looked around for the handyman and asked the lady in the next office if she had seen him. She was told the handyman had left an hour before. When returning back to her office she noticed a sweet smell of flowers in the air. The next day when she arrived at the Hall, she was told a patient had unexpectedly died in the night. ‘