Handsworth, South Yorkshire facts for kids
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Handsworth is a suburb of south eastern Sheffield, in South Yorkshire, England. Handsworth has a population of approximately 15,000. It covers an area of approximately 5 square miles (13 km2). It has five schools, four churches, a variety of small shops, a large supermarket (whose former site was featured in The Full Monty), and a range of commercial and light industrial businesses. The area is signposted from M1 Junction 31.
Today, Handsworth is a busy suburb in the south-east part of the City of Sheffield, although some of the older citizens of Handsworth still refer to it as "the village". Politically, Handsworth is part of the Woodhouse ward in the Sheffield South East parliamentary constituency.
St Mary's Parish Centre holds displays of artefacts, documents, records, photographs and maps relating to Handsworth and its history.
There is little recorded detail about Handsworth before the Norman Conquest. Roman soldiers had a settlement and fort nearby at Templeborough,
Under Norman rule, the parish of Handsworth grew to include Darnall, Gleadless, Richmond and Woodhouse.
In the Domesday Book account, Handsworth is spelt "Handeswrde" and is joined to Whiston ("Witestan") to form a single manor. Before the Conquest, Torchil (or Turchil) is reported as being the Lord of the Manor, but following the Conquest lordship was transferred to Robert, Count of Mortain, who was the half-brother of William the Conqueror. Richard de Sourdeval held it for Count Robert. The Manor then passed, through marriage, to the Paynel and Lovetot families. It was a member of the Lovetot family who built the parish church in Handsworth.
In a survey in 1379 there were reported to be nine smiths and perhaps one cutler in Sheffield, but by that time, Handsworth had 13 smiths and three cutlers. Clearly, the ancient parish of Handsworth had its own identity and history, almost as extensive as that of the city into which it became absorbed.
St. Mary's Church
St Mary's was built in about 1170. It was founded by the Norman lord William de Lovetot, or his father Richard, and the foundations were planned by William Paynel. (This church is not to be confused with St. Mary's Church, Handsworth in Birmingham UK).
Close to St Mary's Church is the Cross Keys Inn, a very old building that has not always been a public house. It was originally built in the mid-13th century as a Church House for the chaplains and lay clerks attached to St Mary's Church.
Not much of the Tudor rectory remains today. Handsworth Parish Registers, dating back as far as the reign of Queen Elizabeth I still exist. There are written documents from 1558, the year that Elizabeth I ascended the throne, recording all baptisms, marriages and burials which took place in the Parish of St Mary's.
Handsworth sword dancers
One aspect of Handsworth history which remains very much alive is the traditional sword dancing. The origins of this ancient ritual are unknown, but written records held by the team go back to the middle of the nineteenth century.
Using long steel swords, a team of eight men perform a dance which lasts about nine minutes and ends with all the swords being interlocked and held aloft by one man. Traditional music is played and the dancers wear a military style uniform similar to the Dragoons.
Formerly there were two clowns who performed for the crowd and collected money. At Christmas time, the sword dancers would tour the local villages and public houses. The sword dancing continued until the First World War and there was a revival of interest during the late 1920s. It survived through the Second World War because the sword dancers had priority occupations in the coal mines and in the steel works, so they were not conscripted.
The traditional dancing on Boxing Day in Handsworth and Woodhouse was revived in 1963, and in 1976 the clowns were reintroduced, though they later lapsed. The historic sight of Handsworth sword dancing can still be seen on Boxing Day (or the day after if it falls on a Sunday). They dance at Woodhouse Cross at 11.15 and in front of St Mary's Church, Handsworth, at noon. The dancers and their audience then adjourn to the pub for well-earned refreshment and communal carol singing.
Handsworth, South Yorkshire Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.