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St Mary and St Thomas the Martyr, Beauchief, Yorkshire West Riding

(53°19′58″N, 1°30′5″W)
SK 333 819
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Derbyshire and Yorkshire, West Riding
now South Yorkshire
medieval Lichfield
now Sheffield
  • David Hey
  • Rita Wood
20 Jul 2011, 06 Sep 2017

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Feature Sets

The ruins of the Premonstratensian abbey of Beauchief date from the late 12thc to the 15thc. The church had an aisleless nave, transepts with chapels, and a straight-ended chancel. In the 1660s Edward Pegge of Beauchief Hall made alterations to the ruins of the monastic church in order to form a private chapel which extended from the tower eastwards. The W wall of the abbey church, and much of its tower, were thus treated as a W tower for a chapel-like nave (Harman and Pevsner 2017, 601-2).

Surviving work of c. 1200 relates to three arches. A round-headed doorway of c.1200 is attached to the NW angle of the tower and leads to the churchyard. Elements of an arch now over a window in the S wall may once have belonged to a doorway and also be c. 1200. The larger central portal in the W wall shares some features, including the mouldings, with these smaller arches. However, the larger arch is pointed and may date to the early 13thc.

The interior is arranged as it was in Pegge's time, and is still in use as a church. The site of the abbey was given to Sheffield City Council in 1931 and a golf course now occupies the west side of the valley.


The Premonstratensian abbey at Beauchief (Bellum caput or 'the beautiful headland') was founded by Robert FitzRanulph between 1173 and 1176 on the northern edge of Derbyshire. It was occupied by five canons from Welbeck and its possessions included estates across the River Sheaf in South Yorkshire. The abbey was dissolved in 1537. (Hey 2011, 3)


Exterior Features




Neither of the two smaller portals is shown on Samuel and Nathaniel Buck's view of the abbey (1727).

The W doorway to the tower is built on a slanting rather than a stepped plinth, like transept doorways at Ripon cathedral. Pevsner and Harman designate this arch as Early English. (Harman and Pevsner 2017, 475)

There were excavations of the monastic site between 1923 and 1926 by boys of the King Edward VII school in Sheffield, led by a master, but the results are not published. The plan on-site is partly speculative, making use of the standard plan of a Premonstratensian abbey. (Fieldworker)


S.O. Addy, Historical Memorials of Beauchief Abbey, Oxford, London and Sheffield, 1878.

M. Chatfield, Churches the Victorians Forgot, Ashbourne 1979, 155-57.

R. Harman and N. Pevsner, Yorkshire West Riding: Sheffield and the South, New Haven and London 2017, 601-2.

D. Hey, L. Liddy and D. Luscombe (eds), A Monastic Community in Local Society: the Beauchief Abbey Cartulary, Camden Series, 40, Cambridge 2011.

S. Pegge, An Historical Account of Beauchief Abbey, London 1801.