The De Ecclesall family gave land to Beauchief Abbey along with a cornmill at Millhouses; in payment for this, the Abbey was to provide a canon to say prayers daily in their chapel, built in 1046.
Not all authorities, however, agree on its exact location; Joseph Hunter – in his book published only thirty years after its demolition[i] says that “the chapel stood on a site a little removed from that of the present church[ii] ‘and goes on to say that he old chapel of Ecclesall is described by those who remember it as “ a small and low building. It consisted of two parts, the nave and the chancel and had on its south side three lancet-shaped windows[iii] not seven inches wide. There was a small shed at the west end which contained a bell,”
The picture of the chapel above, left, is typical of the Early English period, except that the two dormer windows let into the roof and the ‘steeple’ above one of them have been added later- two of the lancet windows are in the smaller chancel, while the third is almost hidden by a bush to the left of the doorway ; they are only seven inches wide, because there would have originally been no glass in them.
Daily services were terminated with the Dissolution of the Monasteries around 1540. The chapel seems to have been unused till 1622, when it was thoroughly refurbished by the local inhabitants, because their nearest place of worship – our present cathedral – was too far away. They laid down a floor in the chapel and erected a small wooden steeple, set up a pulpit and a communion table and new-glazed the windows, donating five pounds per annum as the salary to the new minister, the first recipient of which was Mr. Tolle, one of the assistant ministers of Sheffield. In 1649, there were three hundred families within the chapelry.
It was demolished after a new chapel was built in 1789 on a spot a little removed from the site of the old chapel – Carterknole, (above right). Hunter describes it as ‘standing on an elevated point of ground, its white walls forming a pleasing object from many parts of the surrounding country’. Subsequent alterations in 1843, 1864 and 1907, resulted in the church we see today.
[i] Hallamshire. The History and Topography of Sheffield in the County of York p. 201
[ii] Possibly in the grounds of what is now the Prince of Wales at the top of Carterknowle Road.
[iii] So called, because their shape resembled the top of a lance.