Carbrook Hall Ghosts Investigation
We begin this account of one of Sheffield’s arguably, most notorious establishments when it was first built in 1176 by the Blunt family. Subsequent members of this influential family resided there for almost six centuries. The trials and tribulations of this period are not readily available in public records, making it difficult, if not impossible to comment on any aspect of this time with any degree of accuracy.
However, in 1621 this already magnificent building and surrounding area passed into the hands of the son of a yeoman farmer, Stephen Bright. Before his death in 1642 this man was to become the founder of the family fortunes by acquiring the status of bailiff for the Hallamshire Sheffield estates of the Earl’s of Arundel and Pembroke.
With his well earned status and ability for conducting sound business transactions, Stephen Bright eventually accumulated enough profit to purchase land worth in excess of £600 per year.
Together with his wife Joan Westby, the daughter of George Westby of Whaley, Derbyshire the couple set about building the foundations to not only a desirable extension to magnificent timber beamed building but also a powerful family that would be firmly etched into the history of Sheffield during one of its most turbulent periods, that of the English Civil War.
After the death of Stephen Bright, his third and only surviving son, John Bright, eventually to become Colonel John Bright took the elm and steered the family firmly into the history books. He was to quickly become both a distinguished soldier and personal friend of the infamous and unforgiving Parliamentarian leader, Oliver Cromwell.
The firmly established Carbrook Hall and associated estates proved to be a secure and convenient meeting place for the Parliamentarian forces to plan their offensives against the resourceful forces of the Royalists. In fact it was from Carbrook Hall that the plans were laid for the eventual successful overthrow of Sheffield Castle.
In 1752 it was a female member of the Bright family who eventually boosted the Bright family fortune and fame to new heights. Mary Bright, sole daughter of Thomas and Margaret Bright, married the most noble Charles Watson-Wentworth, Second Marquis of Rockingham. (I will discuss this union in more detail in my next article ‘The Merger of Wentworth and Carbrook’).
In 1806 the recorded occupant of Carbrook Hall was George Bradford Esq. A few years later in 1860 Carbrook Hall was listed as a common beer house. This rather demeaning sounding title was not the end of this fine establishment, merely the opening of a new chapter in its illustrious history. Many may argue it was the period where recorded history was replaced by its subsequent deviation into the annals of local folklore, where it was to gain notoriety for the renowned mysterious visits of its former occupants who refused to leave their home. Even in death they persist to protect their legacy.
Even now as we sit in the cosiness of modern and less turbulent times, Carbrook Hall still continues to build a notorious reputation, not as a secret and secure meeting place to plan military tactics to overthrow the royal establishment, nor to house powerful and influential individuals from which to base their ambitious aspirations. It now stands proud with its claim of being the most haunted public house in Sheffield. A claim that many of its staff and patrons consider to be well-founded, firmly attested by their reports of mysterious and often frightening personal experiences.
Does the ghost of Colonel John Bright still tread the boards of the Black Oak Room on the upper floor, or descend the staircase, only to vanish when reaching the bottom, leaving any unfortunate witness quivering and terrified.
Who is the mysterious elderly lady who sits forlornly and rocks away her time in the old rocking chair. Or the dark hooded figure of what many witnesses describe as a long-dead monk.
Is it possible that the malevolent spirit of a previous resident who was somehow incarcerated in a downstairs room many years ago, and even now manages to reek terror and mischief on unsuspecting patrons in the bar area.
Or maybe the sounds of children playing merrily outside is an inexplicable recording of a time when the area in question was a popular recreation ground for locals in decades long past.
These are just a few claims from a seemingly endless list of alleged experiences. Many more, far too many to discuss here remain unanswered or explained.
I make no attempt to proclaim any of these experiences genuine, nor do I discount them as a product of fanciful imagination. Confirmation can only come from those who dare to put themselves forward to undertake such a task. Fortunately Carbrook Hall is also renowned for the quality of its beers and drinkable spirits, served by a friendly landlord and his staff who go out of their way to make all visitors welcome.