Visitors are being welcomed back to Sheffield’s St Marie’s Catholic Cathedral as it nears the final stages of restoration.
The project has spanned six years and has been aimed at making the cathedral’s heritage more accessible.
The main attraction at the church on Norfolk Row in the city centre 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 displayed in the cathedral’s cloister.
Six of the seven carvings date from the 1400s and heritage engagement and learning officer Laura Claveria said: “For Sheffield they are a unique asset.”
Laura hopes the refurbished cathedral will now interest more people in the community.
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 stained glass window above the entrance is ‘one of the jewels of the cathedral’, designed by Matthew Hadfield, the architect behind the Wicker Arches viaduct. Laura 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 architects at the time’ and also features work by renowned architectural draughtsman Augustus Pugin, who designing the interior of the Palace of Westminster.
Part of the restoration project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which covered the restoration of the alabasters, the revamp of hand-painted tiles around the mortuary chapel and the repair of the organ.
The 19th century organ is the only Lewis and Co organ left to still include the original keys, meaning it produces the same sound it did more than a century ago.
The church has also had its leaning spire fixed, all of the original gilding cleaned and brightened and new furniture brought in.
The interior is now in pristine condition and more than 200 angels can be seen overlooking the space.
The cathedral had remained untouched for years and before the renovation had not had any work carried out since the 1960s.