Robin Hood Inn (Little Matlock)

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Coordinate 53.399169, -1.533464
Adm. div. West Riding of Yorkshire
Vicinity Greaves Lane, Little Matlock, Stannington, Sheffield
Type Public house
Interest Robin Hood name
Status Defunct
First Record 1833
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Robin Hood Inn.
The Robin Hood Inn on an old postcard / Sheffield History[1]

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-08-07. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2022-05-05.

Around 1800, the Reverend Thomas Halliday, a local Unitarian minister and something of an entrepreneur, was so struck by the beauty, and similarity to Matlock in Derbyshire, of a spot along River Loxley then known as Cliff Rocher that he set out to transform it into Little Matlock, a name it retains to this day. Not content with altering the name, Halliday, spending his wife's inheritance, had stairs and paths cut into the rock and let trees and shrubs plant in order to accentuate the similarity to the picturesque valley in Derbyshire. The area was then opened to the public and for a few years attracted large numbers of visitors from Sheffield every summer.

In 1799[1] or 1804,[2] Halliday built a house, one half of which was from the start used as a public house, the Rock Inn. However, the exact year is not the only point of disagreement, for according to the pub's website and a local newspaper article,[2] the pub retained its original name till after the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864 and was only renamed the Robin Hood at some later point. On the other hand, a user-edited Sheffield history site,[1] listing evidence from some thirty trade directories spanning the period 1833 to 1951, knows the establishment only under the names "Robin Hood" and "Robin Hood & Little John". Contributors to that site think the pub opened in 1833. To this we may add that there was already a "house of refreshment" in 1824 (cf. 1824 Evidence below) and that an 1845 trade directory[3] lists the establishment as "Robin Hood and Little John, [proprietor] John Rusby, Little Matlock". This latter source does not mention Rock Inn. Finally, we note that Harrison refers to the establishment as Rock Inn in 1864 (see Evidence below), long after it first appeared in the records as Robin Hood (or similar). Unless the Robin Hood and Rock Inn were in fact two different establishments, we must conclude that locals continued to refer to the Robin Hood as Rock Inn more than thirty years after it got its new name or that perhaps Harrison used the old name out of habit. In any case, the Robin Hood Inn closed on August 28, 2011.[4]

A brief list of proprietors for the years 1879 to 1919 can be found at Pub History.[5]


1824 - Holland, John - Picture of Sheffield

In the grounds of a most beautiful spot, about four miles from Sheffield, called Little Matlock, (after the famed Matlock in Derbyshire, which it much resembles) is a well which has been named Robin Hood's well from time out of mind, and the ruins of a house are also to be seen, in which it is said that famous marauder first drew his breath. Little Matlock is well worth visiting. There is a house of refreshment at which tea parties may be accommodated. [6]

1864 - Harrison, Samuel - Complete History of Great Flood at Sheffield

We now reach Little Matlock, one of the most romantic and picturesque scenes in the neighbourhood of Sheffield, a place to which, it is said, Robin Hood and Little John used frequently to resort. At the bottom of the valley, near the bed of the river, were the tilts and forges of Messrs. Chapman, and of Mrs. Denton, and also a row of strongly-built and good-looking stone houses inhabited by the Chapmans. The grounds of Little Matlock, and the Rock Inn, lie above, on the precipitous and finely wooded declivity of a steep hill, a scene of beauty unsurpassed in the neighbourhood, and which in summer attracts thousands of visitors to enjoy the sequestered walks, to ramble among the rocks, or to descend into the beautiful valley where the river Loxley ripples and foams along in its rocky and shady bed.[7]




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