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UK Cathedral Church of St. Marie's, Sheffield - September 2015

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History

“The architecture and much of the decoration of St. Marie’s cathedral uses designs and motifs from English churches built before the Reformationâ€.

The Cathedral Church of St. Marie is an English Roman Catholic Cathedral, located in Sheffield city centre. It was designed by Matthew Ellison Hadfield, a Victorian Gothic Revival architect who was well-known for his work on Roman Catholic churches, and constructed between 1846 and 1850. Before the cathedral was constructed, a smaller chapel existed on the same site; this was known as Sheffield’s Medieval Parish Church of St. Peter. During the reign of Henry VIII, St. Peter’s was destroyed and most of the Catholic priests were hunted down and murdered or imprisoned. The congregation, too, were socially excluded and faced loss of property and possessions. By the late 18th Century, however, Catholics were able to worship more freely in Sheffield (though not completely) and, subsequently, a small group of priests purchased a house (The Lord’s House which was built by the Duke of Norfolk) on the corner of Fargate and Norfolk Row; this was close to where the cathedral now stands. A new small chapel was discretely constructed in the back garden and the remaining land became a cemetery in later years when Catholic’s were legally allowed to practice their religion. Some parts of the original building continue to exist to this day. By 1846, the chapel was deemed too small for the number of worshippers attending on a regular basis, therefore, Fr. Pratt - a young priest who was becoming increasingly prominent in Sheffield – sought out Hadfield to design a larger building that could cater for the expanding city.

Hadfield used the design of a 14th Century church in Heckington, Lincolnshire, to sketch plans for a new site of worship. Upon completion the church was expensively decorated; courtesy of the Duke of Norfolk, who supported the project with money and additional generous ornamental donations. Unfortunately, Fr. Pratt never witnessed the completion of the church because he died on 17th February 1849 (aged 38) whilst it was still being constructed. His body was initially buried at St. Bede’s, in Rotherham, along with all of the other people who were moved from the original cemetery. Yet, in spite of the decision to move Pratt to Bede’s, a stonemason, who had often heard Pratt suggest that he wanted to be buried at St. Marie’s, decided to secretly dig up the coffin and rebury it in a tomb near the newly positioned altar inside St. Marie’s. To this day, the body had remained in that same location.

As above, St. Marie’s was completed in 1950 and it officially opened on September 11th. The cost of the church exceeded £10,500 and, despite the Duke’s support, it took almost forty years to pay off the debt. The Parish of St. Marie’s, which covered the whole of Sheffield, became part of the Diocese of Beverley in the same year when the Catholic Diocese were re-established for the first time since the Reformation. Like most churches and chapels, St. Marie’s was extended in later years (1902) as the congregation continued to grow. During the Second World War, however, all progress halted when a bomb blew out a number of the stained glass windows. To prevent the remaining ones from being destroyed, the church decided to remove the glass and store it in a shaft inside Nunnery Colliery for the duration of the war. In spite of these efforts, the mine flooded after unusually heavy rainfall and the stained glass sunk in mud; the drawings were also all destroyed. In 1947, however, some of the windows were rediscovered and the church were able to restore them.

The church became a listed building in 1973, and later, on May 30th 1980, the New Diocese of Hallam was created; meaning St. Marie’s became a cathedral. Initially, St. Marie’s had been part of the Diocese of Leeds. Bishop Moverley was placed as its first bishop and he served until his death in 1996. Thereafter, Bishop Rt. Rev. Ralph Heskett was installed as the second Bishop of Hallam. Recently St. Marie’s has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Funded grant to conserve its heritage. The project will allow the conservation and long term preservation of the unaltered 19th Century Lewis organ, the highly decorated Victorian wall tiles and the 15th Century alabaster panels.

Our Version of Events

After a little wander around Sheffield, to see if the sites have changed at all, we spotted some new scaff and this time it was around the cathedral! Instantaneously, we gave in to temptation and set about creating some sort of plan. Ten minutes later, with the plan in full effect, we sat and enjoyed a beer and some food; waiting for the cover of darkness. After a few hours of that, later on that same evening, we set off once again, back to the cathedral. Once we arrived outside, we had to make sure we timed our entry carefully, in between passing pedestrians, but somehow we managed it without being seen. Although it’s normally quite quiet in Sheffield city centre, on this night everyone seemed to be out for a walk. After that we focused on climbing to the top. The climb itself wasn’t particularly challenging, but since you feel quite exposed as you get higher the thrill is certainly there. We did attempt to hide in the shadows where shadows were available, however, since it was a very clear night, there weren’t many around. At the top we were able to access the actual tower itself and could walk around the entire thing; this meant that we were able to see the old gargoyles and decorative features close up. The tower of the cathedral offers some fantastic views of Sheffield; yet another vantage point from which we could gaze at the city below. And yet, despite the awesome views, the highlight for myself was when the old clock bells chimed at a certain hour: they were loud and gave us a good taste of their music.

Explored with Soul.

 

 

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Cool to see those gargoyles and beasties up close, cracking shots mate :thumb

There were loads of them up there. Pretty weird when one is suddenly glaring at you down the viewfinder.

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Now that's epic, like a smaller version of York Minster. Great shots and you've got to love a gargoyle!

Cheers mate. Yeah, it's a building that's always stood out for its awesome architecture. Glad I've seen the top of it now.

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2 minutes ago, coolboyslim said:

Nice roof shots there m8ty. Thx for report and pics.


Cheers mate :thumb Thanks for looking. 

Edited by WildBoyz

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