Historic Sheffield church where Michael Palin was baptised celebrates reopening

A historic church in Sheffield which was forced to shut when part of the ceiling collapsed has finally reopened.

Tuesday, 2nd October 2018, 3:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd October 2018, 3:43 pm
The Rev Canon Dr Matthew Rhodes at St John's Church in Ranmoor (pic: Bob Rae)

St John's Church in Ranmoor boasts the city's tallest spire and the Grade II-listed building is eulogised in the famous Pevsner Architectural Guides.

Michael Palin was baptised at the church in 1943 and it was there the Monty Python star gave his first public performance, reading one of the lessons at a Christmas carol service.

The restored ceiling at St John's Church in Ranmoor (pic: Bob Rae)

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Its architectural splendour makes it a popular wedding venue, with around 25 couples tying the knot there each year, and the church is also renowned for its music, having an orchestra in residence and several choirs.

The church closed for urgent repairs last October, which cost more than £100,000 and took nearly a year to complete, but it has now reopened and parishioners are preparing to celebrate.

Kicking things off will be a Harvest Festival Celebration this Sunday, October 7, at 10.30am, including music and a children's pageant, in aid of the Cathedral Archer Project, which helps Sheffield's homeless.

The church's comprehensive music programme resumes a week later with an Orchestral Mass for which it is teaming up with Sheffield Festival Orchestra.

St John's will also join churches across the country in marking the centenary of the First World War ending, by ringing its bells on Armistice Sunday, November 11, at 7pm, and a week later will host an evening of Renaissance music for Evensong.

Its newly-appointed vicar, the Rev Canon Dr Matthew Rhodes, said everyone was delighted to be home again, having had to stage services and recitals at the church centre over the road.

'It's brilliant to be back after what's been a difficult year, and we're looking forward to hosting more weddings and staging more musical events,' he said.

He told how urgent repairs had been required after a plaster panel fell from the ceiling just after a baptism, and it was lucky no one was injured.

Tests revealed other panels were in a parlous state, and they had to be replaced too.

The church has collected about 80 per cent of the funds needed to pay for the restoration work but is still trying to raise the rest of the money required.

St John's opened in 1879 but had to be almost completely rebuilt following a fire just eight years later. The existing building is described in Pevsner's Architectural Guide to Sheffield as the '˜finest' of the city's 19th century parish churches.

For more information about St John's services, the programme of events and the restoration fund, visit stjohnsranmoor.org.uk.