Houndhill is a fortified manor house in Worsbrough, Barnsley, England dating from the Middle Ages. It was originally owned by the Elmhirst family who lived on the site from the 14th century. After several enhancements and ownership changes it is now back in the hands of the Elmhirst family as the family seat. The manor house is now a Grade II* listed building.
The house first came to documentation in 1306 when Robert de Elmhirst worked the land. It was developed and fortified during the Middle Ages by nine generations of Elmhirsts. It was developed from a medieval manor into a Tudor mansion and then fortified by perimeter walls and turrets with provision for a garrison of approximately fifty men at arms.
Richard Elmhirst held it during the time of the English Civil War for the Royalist cause. Richard Elmhirst was the chief agent for Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford whose house, Stainborough Castle sits across the valley from Houndhill. Richard Elmhirst held the fort from the time of the Battle of Edgehill until late 1644. Oliver Cromwell was returning south from his victory at Marston Moor and the Siege of York and diverted forces to dislodge the stubborn resistance. The 50 defenders stood little chance and large parts of the walls were destroyed by the Roundheads. Legend has it that Cromwell himself dined in Richard’s kitchen after the brief siege although this is unsubstantiated. Richard Elmhirst was expected to be executed for his resistance but persuaded Cromwell to pardon him on two grounds. Firstly, that the house had been held against vagabonds on both sides. Secondly, that his wife, Elizabeth Elmhirst (née Waite) was pregnant with their eighth child, William. He was reprieved. During The Restoration Richard Elmhirst was granted the Elmhirst Coat of arms by King Charles II of England.
Although farmers by tradition Richard's Great Great Grandson, Philip Elmhirst was a Midshipman on HMS Africa (1781) at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and Philip's nephew Charles Elmhirst rose to become a Lieutenant General in the 19th Century. During the Industrial Revolution coal was discovered in abundance beneath the family lands. Houndhill was sold when the Elmhirst family moved into a purpose built castle named Elmhirst in the Ward Green area of Barnsley. Air Marshal Sir Thomas Elmhirst and Leonard K. Elmhirst were both brothers who lived at Elmhirst. Subsidence from coal mining in the area led to the dereliction of Elmhirst in the 1930s and the family bought Houndhill back. It was bombed by the Germans during raids on the Sheffield area during World War II but escaped undamaged. It did not take in refugees due to its proximity to the industrial target of Sheffield but did take German POWs to work on the land.
Today the house is still owned by the Elmhirst family after 700 years and remains the family seat. The house is not open to the public.
Edward Baines MP (1870). Yorkshire Past and Present.
Michael Young (1982) The Elmhirsts of Dartington
S. R. Jones, 'Houndhill, Worsbrough', Archaeological Journal, vol 137, 1980