Elm Tree Farm, Cedar Street
Believed to be the oldest building in Hollingwood, Elm Tree Farm and its adjoining cottages are listed in census returns from 1841 to 1911. Until 1861, they were merely listed at “Hollingwood Common” and for the next 30 years as “Hoole’s Farm” after the family who lived there and farmed the 17 acres. From 1901, it was farmed by the Bennett family.
In 1931, The Yorkshire Telegraph and Star carried the headline, “Haunted House Which is to Become Church – A Grim Story of the Ghosts which walk at Elm Tree Farm.” The farm had been given by the Staveley Coal and Iron Company to the Church of England for conversion into a church for the new village. Local people objected and told stories of ghosts, secret rooms and hidden passages. One story was that “some centuries ago, a girl was doped at Ringwood Hall, and brought down the secret passage from there to Elm Tree Farm. When they got there, the knight was terror stricken to find the drugging had been done too well – the girl was dead. As the penalty in those days was boiling alive in oil, I don’t wonder at it. Anyway, he and his man concealed the body in the secret room, walled up the door, and left for the wars.” This tall story is easily dismissed as Ringwood Hall was not built until 1830 – although tales of secret passages still persist locally, despite evidence to the contrary.
St Francis Church opened in 1932 as a daughter church of St Andrew’s, Barrow Hill. A new Parish of Barrow Hill and Hollingwood had been created in 1928. In 1973, it became part of the team parish of Staveley and Barrow Hill and finally closed, due to dwindling numbers, in 1995.