The site is trapezoidal, bounded to the north by Crookes Road, to the west by Hallamgate Road, to the south-west by Taptonville Road, to the south by Taptonville Crescent, and to the east by the gardens of residential houses on Crookes Road and by Pisgah House (curantley owned by Sheffield University) and Etruria House (a hotel), both listed buildings.
The site slopes towards both the south and the east, with Tapton Elms (i.e. Hadow House) situated at the highest point. The boundary walls of the site to the south and the east both mark significant changes of level, being less than 1 metre high from within the site, but approximately 2.5 – 3.5 metres high from outside the site. This level change has a major impact on views into the site from the surroundings. The entire site lies within the Broomhill Conservation Area.
The site is a composite of four different sub-sites, adjacent parcels of land acquired by the University of Sheffield from different previous owners at different times, hence with diverse histories and usages. The northern part of the site houses the Tapton Hall of Residence, constructed in 1969 on the site of Hallamgate House, an eighteenth century country house whose formal garden was bounded to the south and east by a Ha-ha, the southern part of which is still standing. This land was acquired by Sheffield University in 1963, Hallamgate House demolished, and Tapton Hall built in its place. The hall of residence opened in 1969.
The western part of the site is occupied by Tapton Elms (now called Hadow House), a Victorian mansion built in 1853 at the head of Taptonville Road together with its lodge house and coach house. To the south of Tapton Elms, running along Taptonville Road, are the original gardens of Tapton Elms, which are separated by high retaining walls into two distinct areas stepping down the sloping landscape. The ornamental garden area closest to the house was built upon circa 1977 and houses two two-storey student residence blocks. The walled kitchen garden of Tapton Elms (site B2) at the south-western end of the site, ~0.2 Ha, is an enclosed space whose high stone walls form a linking landscape design element between Tapton Elms and Taptonville Crescent. Tapton Elms and its gardens was acquired by Sheffield University in 1921.
The University’s Botanic Garden was established in 1951 on a triangular parcel of undeveloped land at the centre of the site. This parcel of land was acquired by the University in 1944. The two principal garden areas are collectively referred to as the ‘Experimental Gardens’. These areas have never been developed and only house temporary structures, permissions for the retention of which have had to be periodically renewed. Outline planning permission for permanent development of this site was refused in the early 1980’s on environmental grounds. Most of the temporary structures are situated within the walled garden (Site B2). The final distinct element of this site is Pisgah House, a listed building of local historical importance dating from the 1820’s whose large, enclosed garden is connected to the Botanic Garden via an open arched entrance.
The History of Tapton Elms and Taptonville Road
Taptonville Road, which is one of the principal character areas within the Broomhill Conservation Area, was planned and developed in its entirety by John Hobson, a successful scissor manufacturer and as such an exponent of one of Sheffield’s classic trades – the manufacture of edge tools. John Hobson bought the row of fields that then stretched from Hallamgate Road south to
Glossop Road, and through the centre of these fields he laid out Taptonville Road and Taptonville Crescent. Hobson’s own family home, Tapton Elms, and its lodge, coach house and gardens were sited on the prime plot at the top of the east side of the road, where the house’s principal rooms had views over Sheffield to the east and open views of the Porter Valley to the south. The house is described in the Pevsner Guide to Sheffield1 as ‘neo-Tudor’ in style. The gardens to the south of the house and the falling land ensured that the vistas from Tapton Elms were unimpeded by the houses in the Crescent further down Taptonville Road. On both sides of the road, large plots were laid out and developed over a period of ~15 years with fine houses in a range of styles typical of the period, but with local refinements peculiar to Sheffield house builders. Many of these houses were occupied by relatives of the Hobson family. All of these original houses on Taptonville Road and Crescent survive and several of them are now Grade II listed by English Heritage. The entire street is a rare example in Sheffield of a designed street scape and its ‘outstanding historic ambience’ is recognised as a conservation priority
Broomhill Conservation Area .
Tapton Elms itself was completed by John Hobson in 1853 and occupied by his family, which was increasingly prominent in Sheffield life. Following John Hobson’s death in 1889 his second son, Albert, lived there. He was at various times Lord Mayor, Master Cutler and a pro-vice-chancellor of the newly-formed University. He held many other public offices and was knighted. Tapton Elms and its gardens was acquired by Sheffield University when it was sold in 1920, a short while before Albert Hobson’s own death 1923. Both of Albert Hobson’s sons had been killed in WW1. The house and associated buildings were used for the next thirty years as a hall of residence, including for a period during World War 2, evacuee students from London. There followed a period of use by the University’s Officer Training Corps and finally, from 1971 to the 2008, usage by the Sheffield University Music Department.
The Department of Music until 2008 occupied three buildings in the suburb of Broomhill. The first of these is an attractive Victorian house named Hadow House. Across the courtyard is the Stable Block, Pisgah House, which is found across the garden of Tapton Hall of Residence behind the Department of Music. The Department relocated to the heart of the campus in early 2009, and occupies the newly refurbished Victorian Jessop building and the purpose-built Soundhouse.