Sheffield Catholic Cathedral welcomes public as major renovation is completed

Heritage engagement and learning officer, Laura Claveria
Heritage engagement and learning officer, Laura Claveria
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Visitors are being welcomed to St Marie’s Catholic cathedral as it comes to the final stages of its restoration.

The church has seen a complete overhaul and just the finishing touches are left. The project spanned six years and was aimed at making the cathedral's heritage more accessible.

The main attraction at the church is a set of seven alabasters, described as "rare survivors of the reformation period". The tablets were discovered in 2012, after being forgotten for decades. They were "in pieces, completely destroyed" but will now be unveiled to the public for the first time and will be displayed in the cathedral's cloister.

Six of the seven carvings date back to the 1400s and Heritage engagement and learning officer, Laura Claveria said: "For Sheffield they are a unique asset".

Laura hopes that the Cathedral will interest more people in the community, following the refurbishment. She said: "Most Catholics are familiar with this space. We want to make sure that everyone in Sheffield knows that we are here and we are open to everyone -- it's an amazing building full of history".

The church features beautiful examples of Catholic art, design and architecture. The stain glass window above the entrance is "one of the jewels of the cathedral". It was designed by the architect behind the Wicker Arches viaduct, Matthew Hadfield.

Laura Claveria described the church as "neo-gothic" as the design was heavily influenced by medieval styles. She said the church used the "most amazing artists and archietects at the time" and the building also features work by renowned architectural draughtsman, Augutus Pugin.

Part of the restoration project was funded by the heritage lottery fund. It covered the restoration of the alabasters, the revamp of hand painted tiles around the mortuary chapel and the repair of the Lewis organ.

The church's organ dates back to the 19th century and is the only Lewis and co organ left to still include the original keys, meaning it produces the same sound it did over a century ago.

On top of the work that was completed using the HLF grant, the church has also had its leaning spire fixed, all of the original guilding cleaned and brightened and new furniture brought in. The cathedral's interior is now in pristine condition and over 200 angels can be seen overlooking the space.

The cathedral remained untouched for years and before now, hadn't seen any work since the Second Vatican Council's changes in the 60s.

St Marie's run an innovative activity program which includes guided tours, community projects, workshops, exhibitions, talks and festivals. Last year 1300 people attended the winter gardens in one day for the Spanish speaking festival, led by the church.

The cathedral are currently working with Sheffield Printmakers. An exhibition featuring art inspired by the cathedral is expected to begin in May.