RETRO: Why is it called Penistone, anyway?

This week’s Retro A to Z tour of Sheffield and surrounding areas heads to Penistone, a name to strike fear into many a journalist’s heart.

Tuesday, 8th December 2015, 6:37 pm
A general view of the 112th annual Penistone Show, held on the show ground, Penistone - 8th September 1984

This is because an unlucky break in the word at the end of a line of type has unfortunate consequences. Hopefully none will get through the net today…

The name is probably a combination of the Old English word tun, meaning farm or village, and the Celtic penn, meaning hill. Earlier versions include Penstun and Penstone.

Penistone's very 'puny' Christmas tree - 14th December 1984

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Settlements have been traced back to the eighth century.

Penistone was said to have fallen victim 200 years later to the ‘harrying of the North’ by William the Conqueror. Whole areas were laid waste to put down rebellions against Norman rule.

The parish church of St John began life in the 12th century. Most of the present building originates from the 1300s but there is evidence of a building from the 900s.

Cubley Hall, now a country house pub, was originally a farm on the old packhorse route that was converted into a gentleman’s home.

Penistone Cinema workers in 1975

According to the present owners, it was the home of the manager of a foundry owned by the famous shipbuilding and engineering company Cammel Laird. It made train wheels, forgings, castings and railway lines.

Apparently a model village was planned at Cubley Hall with a school, playing fields and a church, but the foundry closed in 1922, so it was never finished.

Cubley Hall passed through several owners including Newton Chambers and became an orphanage after Word War Two.

A resident ghost, Flo, is said to be the daughter of first owner Mr Lockley, who was married at Cubley Hall in 1904. She may have died after becoming lost on the moors but was said to be a friendly ghost, watching over the orphans.

Penistone village looking down High Street - 1980

The current owners restored the building in 1980.

Penistone Grammar School claims to be able to trace its origins to 1397. Its motto, disce aut discede, pulled no punches: it translates from Latin as ‘learn or leave’. Now it’s the inspirational ‘never stop flying’.

According to the school’s unofficial history website,, in 1702, teacher John Ramsden, of Batley, promised to “carefully endeavour by moderate correction and other provident methods to restrain all swearing, cursing, lying, and other evil practices, spoken or committed within or without the school by any under his authority”.