Jeremy Brooke is the founding partner of Sheffield city centre law firm SSB Law. His passion for social justice has seen him take cases through the higher courts including one which went to the European Court of Human Rights. At school Jeremy loved his lessons in social, economic and political history and reflects his interest in that subject through his legal work. Through his development of pioneering legal products and fixed fees, Jeremy now speaks at national seminars arranged by the likes of Thomson Reuters. Jeremy is originally from Rotherham, where he still lives with wife Suzanne and their son Archie, aged 10, and six-year-old daughter Erin.
Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned right here in Sheffield by her cousin Elizabeth I some 500 years ago. Why is that significant? Well, it was part of the social revolution that saw England part with Catholic Europe. Familiar story? Sheffield played its role in the original Brexit and shaped Britain and its relationship with Europe (often a violent and war-torn one). Manor Lodge is a fantastic place to see not only the place where Mary was held captive, but also the social and economic life of a vanished England, look at old farming techniques, buy some fantastic wild flowers and (my favourite) have a great cup of tea and a cake.
My mum used to tell stories about the bombings of Sheffield and how as an 11-year-old she would watch the planes from the hills at Firth Park. I remember the chill that ran through me when she walked me out from the Hole in the Road one day, en route to the cinema in the square, and told me about how the Marples which stood on the corner of Fitzalan Square was bombed during the Blitz in 1940. Once the centre of a busy commercial district, being the original market area of Sheffield, the square thrived before gradually falling into decline. And just as its dereliction represented the mood of Sheffield throughout the 80s and 90s it is now seeing signs of life. The old post office is being redeveloped and the mood appears to be lifting.
I have been a regular train commuter for 20 years. In the early days I would arrive at the station as late as I could, try to find somewhere to park and rush to the train. The station was, like much of Sheffield, dirty, tired and, had you asked me then, in need of pulling down. For a long time it seemed Sheffield was waiting, hopelessly, for the pits and the steel works to open again. The station waited with them. And then, a few years ago, the signs began to appear that Sheffield’s slumber was over. A new station car park, a magnificent fountain, a great place to have a beer, coffee shops and places to eat. The results are fantastic.
I used to love going down to the Moor. Redgates toy store had to be every child’s favourite destination. My annual birthday treat was a meal at the Golden Dragon. But, as with many of my favourite places, it fell into decline. But just as the railway station and Fitzalan Square now beat again, so does the Moor. There is a vibrancy returning.
I am fortunate enough to live less than a mile from this amazing house. When I first moved to Thorpe Hesley in 1976 I was awestruck. My dad’s family come from Chapeltown and my dad told me stories of scout jamborees, hog roasts on the lawns and about being carried on my grandad’s shoulders up the hill to Wentworth and catching a glimpse of the Earl himself. Plans are in place for it to pass to ownership by a trust that will see it developed and opened. It can, and should, easily rival its little sister at Chatsworth.
At the bottom of Wentworth Woodhouse grounds are the fishing ponds - a picturesque setting and good fishing. I have only recently become introduced to fishing. My 10-year-old son, Archie, loves it. I have no idea what I am doing. So we contacted the Chapeltown and District Amateur Angling Club and a fantastic guy called Phil has been coaching Archie and introducing him to some amazing locations. It is a perfect pastime for a father and son – and daughter too, as six-year-old Erin waits for her new pink rod. A chance to talk, to spend time together, to learn new skills, to see new sights and relax.