Retro: Sheffield Cathedral visit by prncess

Princess Margaret at Handsworth Youth Centre - 15 November 1966.
Princess Margaret at Handsworth Youth Centre - 15 November 1966.
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Often it was reported that Princess Margaret’s life was one of glamour and controversy, she was, nonetheless, a conscientious supporter of the arts, president of the Royal Ballet, and keenly worked with the National Society for the Prevention of cruelty to children, of which she was also president.

Born Margaret Rose on August 21, 1930, her father and mother were then Duke and Duchess of York. Following the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII and the accession of her father, this quickly edged Margaret and her sister Elizabeth closer to the throne.

Cubs at Handsworth Youth Centre ready to greet Princess  Margaret - 15 November 1966.jpg

Cubs at Handsworth Youth Centre ready to greet Princess Margaret - 15 November 1966.jpg

During World War Two, she spent time along with her family at Windsor refusing to be evacuated. Afterwards, she took her share in royal duties besides taking an active interest in fashion and the arts. Her circle of young, wealthy aristocrats were even nicknamed the ‘Margaret Set’.

Her emotional involvement with Group Captain Peter Townsend ended in disharmony during the late 1950s and she eventually married Cambridge graduate and photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones at Westminster Abbey in 1960.

Her first visit to Sheffield had occurred on April 18, 1953 when she opened the Rowlinson Secondary School, Norton. The second was on November 15, 1966 when the main purpose of her visit was to attend the re-hallowing of Sheffield Cathedral, following the completion of the extensions.

It was a scheme in which her aunt, the former Princess Royal, had taken a keen interest from the start.

Princess Margaret also took the opportunity to visit the youth centre at Holy Trinity Church, Millhouses and Handsworth Parish Centre.

Arriving at RAF Finningley in a Heron of the Queen’s flight, Princess Margaret was met by Lord Scarbrough, the Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding.

Accompanied by her lady in waiting, Lady Juliet Smith, she was driven to the Cutler’s Hall, Sheffield where, beneath a specially erected canopy, she was received by Lord Mayor, Ald Lionel Farris. Inside, she met the Master Cutler and the Senior Warden.

Meanwhile, across at the cathedral, the pageantry had already started with the arrival of various processions from the diocese and the university and many other dignitaries from the surrounding areas.

This was besides the architects, craftsmen and builders who had taken part in the work.

The Roman Catholic Church and the Free Christian Churches were represented at the service.

When the royal party arrived at the south-west door, the Princess was greeted by the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Sheffield and the Provost.

Then, following a number of formalities, the Provost asked for the re-hallowing of the building, and the Bishop traversed those parts of the building to be dedicated.

He marked the cross of consecration and ordered the sentence of consecration to be read.

The Bishop signed the parchment and the Archbishop and others were witnesses. Deeds, plans and keys were handed over to the Registrar and the Provost.

At the conclusion of the service the Provost conducted Princess Margaret to the Chapter House, where members of the Chapter were presented to her.

Accompanied by the Archbishop, the Bishop of Sheffield and the Provost, Princess Margaret toured the building to see it in closer detail and then returned to the vestry to take tea.

Then, in the company of the Lord Mayor and the Bishop Princess Margaret left for her visit to Millhouses and Handsworth.

At Handsworth Parish Centre she met the youngest member because the parents of 12-week-old Mark Lazenby had a baby-sitting problem. Baby Mark was in the arms of his father, 22-year-old assistant youth leader, Alan Lazenby, who was among those waiting to meet the Princess as she toured the centre.

Mr Lazenby said: “The Princess said Mark was very well behaved. I told her about our baby-sitting problem and she sympathised with me.”

After being introduced to the Rector of Handsworth, Canon H Ferraby, she made a tour of the centre building, unveiling a plaque commemorating her visit.

Scouts from the 273rd (Handsworth) Troop stood for 15 minutes outside the centre in a cold wind waiting for the Princess to arrive. They stood shivering in their short-sleeved shirts and shorts but smiled bravely.

At some points, people crowded so far into the road that they threatened to halt the procession of cars and at Millhouses Holy Trinity there was a packed crowd waiting, with Guides, Scouts and Brownies forming a guard of honour.

Inside, the Princess talked to Brownies and Guides at play, chatted to Scouts and took great interest in displays of photographs of the club’s activities.

When almost about to depart, she spotted a bar, and barrel seats, made by club members.

A quick turn and she was at the bar and arms resting on it, as she chatted to members about their part in the club’s activities.

A smiling Princess left with a crowd cheering her on her way, a crowd which was unstinting in its admiration of the way she had cheerfully accepted the atrocious weather.

She had also refused the use of an umbrella for her walk in and out of the centre.