Chapter Eleven Part IV
During the 1870s two of the Earl of Scarbrough’s daughters were married in Maltby. The first, Lady Ida Arabelia, was married in the Parish Church. Soon after her marriage the new Chapel at Sandbeck was completed so that in November, 1874 Lady Sibell could be married at Sandbeck. The Rotherham Advertiser of November 7th, 1874, has a graphic and romantic account of the wedding. It illustrates the affluence of the aristocracy of the day, and the romantic attitude of the public at large.
Sandbeck, the seat of the Earl of Scarbrough, was on Tuesday last scene of one the most brilliant assemblages of aristocracy which has taken place in this neighbourhood for many years. The occasion was the wedding of the nineteen years old Sibell Mary Lumley, daughter of the Earl of Scarbrough, a Peer of the Realm, and Victor Alexander, Earl Grosvenor, eldest son of the Duke of Westminster, a Peer of the Realm.
The Chapel at Sandbeck had been decorated by the Estate workers with evergreens and white flowers. The text had been picked out above the Altar, ‘The Lord bless thee and keep thee’. The wedding was conducted by the Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of all Ireland and grand-uncle of the bride. He was assisted by the Sandbeck Chaplain and the Vicar of Maltby. The list of guests was studded with titles – Duke and Duchess of Westminster, Duchess of Sutherland, Duke of Rutland, Earl and Countess of Zetland, Earl and Countess Fitzwilliam, Viscount and Viscountess Newport, Lord and Lady Galway.
Leaving the Chapel for the wedding breakfast the happy couple were greeted by the scholars of the Sandbeck School, founded and maintained by the Countess of Scarbrough, who had presented each scholar with a new blue frock and a scarlet cape. The bride had given to each a straw hat with a blue ribbon on which she herself had printed ‘SIBELL’.
At the wedding breakfast, which was naturally lavish, the center-piece was a three tier cake four feet high and weighing one hundredweight. The numerous gifts the couple received included a pair of magnificent silver candlesticks from the Rt. Hon. Benjamin Disraeli, MP.
The honeymoon was to be spent at Trentham Hall, the seat of the Duke of Sutherland. The couple traveled first in a coach and four to the Rotherham Station where they took a train to Derby.
Leaving the Lodge Gates at Stone, they passed under an archway decorated with evergreens and flowers and bearing on the house-side the words ‘Health Happiness to them’. Further up Blyth Road Mr. Ellis of the Grove School was waiting with his scholars under another archway bearing the words, ‘Long Live the Earl of Grosvenor and his beautiful bride’.
When Maltby was reached the village was in festive mood< Flags were everywhere displayed and another archway had been erected with the rather enigmatic words, ‘We wish you good luck in the name of the Lord’. The local proceedings at Sandbeck commenced with a fireworks display at 5.30 p.m. It was indeed a Red Letter Day for the villagers though it did nothing to relieve the poverty of the “poor”.
In 1876, two years after Lady Sibell’s marriage, the Tenth Earl proposed to enclose the Common Land. As in earlier centuries the enclosure was opposed. No less a protagonist than Vicar Rolleston’s son, Professor George Rolleston, made his objection. He wrote from Oxford to the Government’s Enclosure Commissioner: “A form of industry which Maltby is likely to develop in the future is that of providing temporary lodgings to persons from such places as Rotherham and Sheffield”.
Great opposition to the Earl’s plans was aroused from far beyond Maltby, not least in the towns mentioned by Professor Rolleston. There were public meetings. The Mayor, Aldermen and Town Burgesses of Sheffield sent a petition to the Common Land Commissioners, as did the Mayor of Rotherham. The Sheffield petition described Maltby as a place of “salubrity and natural beauty much frequented every summer by the inhabitants of Sheffield who resort there with their wives and children for weeks together”.
The Mayor of Sheffield and the Master Cutler gave evidence at the House of Commons Select Committee on Common Lands. Objections from Maltby people included the loss of grazing. Local carters said it would mean the loss of their livelihood. In spite of the objections in the 1879 Summer the enclosure seemed imminent. An open air meeting was held attended by 200 Maltbeians.
The order of enclosure was withdrawn from Parliament on July 3rd, 1879. So strong was feeling that a Commons Preservation Society was formed. People in Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster had become aware of the need to preserve common open spaces.
The House of Commons Select Committee directed that 25 acres at Wood Lea should be enclosed but given to the parish. In 1880 a writ was issued against Mr. Askern, a villager, who claimed he had rights of Commons on the Common Land. The dispute seemed to have died down with a sort of status quo. The vexed question has arisen again nearly a hundred years later! The Tithe Commutation Agreement for Maltby in 1839 stated that 2,103 of Maltby’s 4,473 acres was arable. Of the rest, 1,583 acres were pasture and 708 acres woodland Only 81 acres were common land. The movement for enclosure in the Eighteenth Century had taken its toll.