Building » +Sheffield – Cathedral Church of St Marie

+Sheffield – Cathedral Church of St Marie

Norfolk Row, Sheffield, S1

  • Image copyright Alex Ramsay

The cathedral church of the Diocese of Hallam, and the finest Gothic Revival church in the City of Sheffield. The church was opened in 1850, year of the restoration of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales. Designed by M. E. Hadfield of the local firm of Weightman & Hadfield, it is a fine essay in the approved (by Pugin and the ecclesiologists) ‘Middle Pointed’ style, a stately composition whose chief glory externally is the slender stone spire rising from a square tower at the southwest corner. The church was built with support from the Duke of Norfolk and his family and despite some loss of historic furnishings (notably in a reordering of the early 1970s) represents something of a roll call of major Catholic ecclesiastical designers of the nineteenth century – including A. W. Pugin, Hardman & Co., William Wailes, Boulton of Cheltenham, Mayer of Munich and J. F. Bentley. The church was raised to cathedral status in 1980, a development commemorated with fine stained glass by Patrick Reyntiens, and in 2012 was sympathetically reordered. With the early twentieth century Cathedral House it makes a notable positive contribution to the City Centre Conservation Area. 

In the eighteenth century Sheffield Catholics attended Mass in an attic chapel at The Lord’s House in Fargate, on the corner of Norfolk Row. This had been built in 1712 by the Duke of Norfolk and was occupied by his agent. In 1814 local Catholics acquired the house, demolished it and built a separate chapel capable of holding 300 in the back garden (between the present Cathedral’s Mortuary Chapel and Blessed Sacrament Chapel). Possibly dedicated to St Peter, this earlier chapel was opened in 1816 and enlarged in 1838.

In 1843, the Rev. Charles Pratt was appointed to the mission. He was imbued with the principles of the Gothic Revival as espoused by A. W. Pugin, and attempted to confer a more ecclesiologically correct character on the late Georgian chapel. He installed a screen and seating for surpliced choirs, and commissioned a font and statue of Our Lady from the workshop of George Myers, Pugin’s favourite builder (both items were later removed to the present church). These were but temporary improvements pending the building of a larger and more worthy Gothic church. For this Fr Pratt acquired additional land to the west of the chapel and obtained designs from the local architect Matthew Ellison Hadfield, the young partner of J. G. Weightman and a member of the congregation. The two men travelled together in the East Midlands and the East Riding of Yorkshire looking at fourteenth century churches which might serve as appropriate models. Hadfield’s eventual design was in the approved (by Pugin and the ecclesiologists) ‘Middle Pointed’ style, influenced above all by the church of St Andrew in Heckington, Lincolnshire.

The foundation stone for the new church was laid by Bishop Briggs, Vicar Apostolic, on the Feast of the Annunciation (25 March), 1847. The principal contractors were Thomas Hayball (timberwork) and Benjamin Gregory (stonemason), both of Sheffield.

The old chapel was demolished, and while the new church was being built, the Mount Tabor Methodist Chapel at the corner of Rockingham Street and Wellington Street, newly dedicated to St John the Baptist, was used by the congregation. The new church would be dedicated to St Marie, the Frenchifying (medievalising?) of St Mary being a favourite conceit of Pugin and his followers. Fr Pratt died aged just 38 in 1849, before the church was completed, and was buried at St Bede, Rotherham; however, shortly afterwards he was reinterred near the high altar at St Marie’s, beneath a monument designed by Thomas Earp.

The high altar was consecrated and the first Mass said by Bishop Briggs on 10 September 1850, and the church was publicly and solemnly dedicated on the following day. It was built and furnished with the support of the family of the Duke of Norfolk as well as by members of the congregation, and cost £10,562 12s 2d. It is a fine example of Puginian Gothic Revival architecture, containing a reredos designed by A. W. Pugin and made at Myers’ workshop by Theodore Phyffers, and original stained glass by William Wailes (including the east window, designed by George Goldie) and Hardman & Co. (west window, designed by A. W. Pugin). Floor tiles in the chancel, Norfolk Chantry and Blessed Sacrament Chapel were designed and supplied by Minton & Co., the woodwork by Thomas Hayball (carpentry) and his son Arthur (carving, including the rood figures). In keeping with Puginian best practice, a rood screen enclosed the entrance to the sanctuary.

The main developments between 1850 and 1980 were as follows:

  • In 1850 an Angelus bell was cast by Mears & Stainbank.
  • In 1860 or 1861 a west gallery was added, and the J. C. Bishop organ of c. 1838, which had come from the old church and had been originally placed in the south transept gallery, was moved here.
  • In 1867, the shrine of Our Lady in the north transept was dedicated. It incorporated a statue of c. 1850 by Johann Petz and thirteenth century Frosterley marble colonettes said to have come from Durham Cathedral. The ensemble was carved by Boulton of Cheltenham from designs by M. E. Hadfield & Son. The retable painted with four saints was by Westlake. New Stations of the Cross in oak frames were also installed, and the organ was moved from the west gallery to the north side of the chancel, where it was repaired and adapted.
  • Also in 1867, the choir relocated from the gallery to its original position in stalls in the chancel.
  • In 1872, the altar of the Norfolk chantry was added, from designs by Charles Hadfield, the carved work by Thomas Earp and Theodore Phyffers, the glass by Lavers, Barraud & Westlake. The Bishop organ was sold at this time.
  • In 1873, the west window openings of the transepts were formed, with clear gazing, that in the north transept with an unglazed opening at the base (builder John Pearson, working under the supervision of the Hadfield firm, at the expense of the Duke of Norfolk).
  • In 1874 a new organ donated by the Duke of Norfolk, built by Thomas Lewis of London and with a case designed by J. F. Bentley was installed in the chancel. Bentley (architect of Westminster Cathedral) was from Doncaster, and was a close friend of Charles Hadfield. In the same year, eight bronze bells by Mears & Stainbank of London were installed in the tower, replacing steel bells cast by Naylor Vickers & Co. which had been loaned to the church in 1861. A shrine was also erected to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour at the west end of the Mortuary Chapel.
  • In 1877 the Sacred Heart shrine was added in the north transept, again by Boulton of Cheltenham to a design by C. Hadfield, with painted panels of saints by Nathaniel Westlake.
  • In 1878-9, the Lady Chapel was formed from designs by C. Hadfield. This was an adaptation of the south transept gallery, reached by stairs from the south transept and with a rib vaulted octagon over the altar. At the same time the sacristies were extended along Norfolk Row, with a relief of the Annunciation by Earp over the door near the corner with Norfolk Street.
  • In 1886 encaustic memorial tiles to deceased clergy were installed in the Mortuary Chapel, the first of several similar schemes in the church for which the dates/maker have not been established.
  • In 1889, additional clerestory windows were formed, three on the north side and four on the south (architect Charles Hadfield, builder George Webster). These are distinguishable from the originals by their quatrefoil tracery. On 1 June of the same year the church was consecrated, the debt having been paid off.
  • In 1891 a nave pulpit was installed, from designs by Arthur Hayball (completed by his daughter Clara after Arthur’s death in 1887).
  • In 1898 Fr (Canon) Oswald Dolan took over the mission; he was to remain until his death in 1935, after which a window was installed to his memory in the baptistery.
  • Until the end of the nineteenth century, priests of the St Marie’s mission had occupied a house on the corner of Norfolk Row and Norfolk Street. In 1903-4 a purpose-built rectory (now Cathedral House) was built from designs by C. and C. M. Hadfield.
  • In 1921 a new war memorial high altar by Hardman and Pippet replaced the original Pugin altar, and was placed in front of the Pugin/Phyffers reredos. Also a bronze war memorial plaque by Walker & Hall was installed in the baptistery, recording men of the parish killed in the war.
  • In 1924 the top third of the spire was rebuilt, topped by a new stainless steel cross. According to some sources, the upper half of the spire had to be rebuilt again in 1935, when the bells were restored and rehung in a steel frame.
  • In 1937, a window appears to have been inserted in the west wall of the baptistery (not original, it is apparent in an aerial photograph of 1935, information from Paul Walker).
  • During the Second World War a bomb blew out two stained glass windows in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and damaged the organ. The remaining stained glass was removed and stored in a mineshaft at Nunnery Colliery until reinstated in 1947.
  • In 1956-7 terrazzo floors were installed in the nave and porch, and the communion rails were replaced in cast terrazzo, by Hodkin & Jones of Sheffield. A glazed timber draught lobby was placed at the inner south door (moved to the west door in 1971-2 and removed altogether in 2012). New benches replaced the original pews.
  • After the Second Vatican Council a temporary forward altar was placed outside the rood screen and altar rails. In 1970, the first major reordering for the reformed liturgy began, under J. J. Frame of Cowfold, Sussex (who had reordered the cathedral at Gibraltar). The 1921 altar, the 1869 choir stalls, 1957 communion rails and the 1850 rood screen were all removed. Arthur Hayball’s nave pulpit was dismantled and the parts used to make a lectern and portable font, while a celebrant’s chair (from 1980 the bishop’s throne or Cathedra) was improvised from choir stall ends. Fr Pratt’s tomb effigy was moved to the Mortuary Chapel, where seven medieval alabasters had been placed for safe-keeping (these were removed, sent for auction and stored when returned unsold; following conservation they will form part of the cathedral’s heritage display). The sanctuary levels were altered and repaved with polished marble, and a forward altar was introduced. New lighting and benches were installed. Redecoration included the colouring of the carved capitals of the nave and the recolouring of the heraldic shields of SS More, Fisher and Howard on the nave ceiling. In 1972 the new altar was consecrated by Bishop Moverley, auxiliary Bishop of Leeds.
  • In 1973, the soot-laden exterior of the church was cleaned by sandblasting.

On 30 May 1980, the new diocese of Hallam was created and St Marie’s became the Cathedral Church. Bishop Moverley was installed as the first bishop and served until 1996. In 1997, the Rt Rev. John Rawsthorne was installed as the second bishop, and in 2014 the Rt Rev. Ralph Heskett CSsR became the third Bishop of Hallam.

Changes since the church was raised to cathedral status have been:

  • In 1982 a window designed by Patrick Reyntiens commemorating the new diocese was installed in the south transept, depicting Our Lady flanked by the Padley martyrs, Nicholas Garlick and Robert Ludlum.
  • In 1988, two windows by Goddard & Gibbs were installed in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, replacing those blown out in 1940.
  • In 1989, at the time of the centenary of the consecration, the 1846 font was moved from the baptistery to the north transept. Timber confessionals were removed and the baptistery was converted to two reconciliation rooms. Some baptistery railings were moved to the sanctuary (from where railings had been removed to make way for the organ in 1875; they were moved again from here in 2012). John Rochford & Partners were the architects for this work.
  • In 1992, a cellar beneath the cathedral was converted to a burial vault under the direction of Vincente Stienlet, with ironwork by Giuseppe Lund and mosaic and crucifix by Fenwick Lawson. This is the burial place of Bishop Moverley.
  • In 1995, the church was re-roofed and other repairs carried out, with English Heritage grant aid (architects John Rochford & Partners).
  • In 1997, railings designed by Maria Hanson were installed along Norfolk Row as part of a city centre enhancement scheme.
  • In 2000, a glass door was placed in the south porch and the nave, and the transepts and aisles were redecorated, with painted votive legends to local martyrs.
  • In 2008, a WC block was added on the north side (architect Nicholas Rank of Buttress Fuller Allsop Williams)
  • In 2012, Buttress Fuller Allsop Williams undertook a major further reordering. The sanctuary was further extended and the levels altered. The 1972 sanctuary furnishings were removed, and a new altar, ambo and cathedra designed. The nave was repaved in sandstone with slate inlay, incorporating underfloor heating, and the 1950s nave benches replaced with ones supplied by a Polish contractor (who also supplied the material for new confessionals and the limestone for the liturgical furnishings). The 1846 font was moved to the sacristy corridor and a new font provided at the west end with a mosaic apron by Tessa Hunkin. Nearby, freestanding reconciliation rooms were added. The memorial to Fr Pratt was restored and returned to its original (1850) position in the sanctuary. The church was redecorated, with additional votive legends, and at the west end a former alleyway was covered with a glass roof to create an accessible new entrance.
  • In 2014 the Heritage Lottery Fund offered a grant for the overhaul of the Lewis/Bentley organ, work which was in progress at the time of the visit (March 2015).


The architecture of the building is described fully in the list entry (below), and repetition is unnecessary. However, the chief furnishings are described in less detail, and the cathedral has undergone a major reordering since the list entry was revised in 1995. The following is an account of the chief furnishings:

  • West window, 1850, designed by A. W. Pugin and made by Hardman & Co., with scenes from the life of Christ and Old Testament prefigurations.
  • Stone font (2012), with mosaic apron on floor by Tessa Hunkin. At the time of writing, the 1846 octagonal stone font is housed in a corridor off the south transept, which is being developed as a heritage display area.
  • The former baptistery (with war memorial) is now a shop. Glass of c.1924 (Baptism of Our Lord, maker not established) and 1937, by Hardman & Co.
  • (St John Baptiste de la Salle, St Oswald and St Theresa of Lisieux, to the memory of Canon Dolan, died 1935).
  • South aisle, with windows by William Wailes, 1850 (St William of York, symbols of priesthood, St Edward the Confessor, St Hilda of Whitby) and Hardman & Co., post-1859 (Our Lady of Sorrows, St Teresa and St Helen).
  • South transept, with glass of 1850 by Wailes (St Teresa of Avila, St Anne, St Joachim and St Joseph) and 1982 by Patrick Reyntiens (Our Lady, Blessed Robert Ludlum and Nicholas Garlick), commemorating the establishment of the Diocese of Hallam.
  • Munster (Lady) Chapel, now used by the Polish community, formed in 1878-9 and reached by a winding stone stair from the south transept with windows made by Lavers, Barraud and Westlake from designs by J. F. Bentley c.1884 (Annunciation and St Joseph). Rib vaulted octagon built over the altar and other stonework carved by Thomas Earp. Architects Hadfield & Son, builder John Pearson, Sicilian marble altar by Boulton, stained glass (Coronation of the Virgin, attendant angels) by Hardman & Co.
  • Norfolk Chantry, now St Joseph’s Chapel, 1872, by Charles Hadfield, the carved Caen stone reredos by Thomas Earp, the relievo of the death of St Joseph by Theodore Phyffers, the stained glass (Immaculate Conception and Sacred Heart) by Lavers, Barraud & Westlake. Wall tiles depict female saints and recall the Sisters of Notre Dame (date and maker not established). Also statues of female saints. The Minton floor tiles depict emblems of the Duke of Norfolk.
  • Stone ambo (2012) inscribed with the opening words of St John’s Gospel.
  • Stone altar (2012) carved with the Pious Pelican. Above this is suspended the rood, 1850, decorated by Henry Taylor Bulmer, with figures by Arthur Hayball.
  • Stone Cathedra (2012). Above this, painted and gilded arch braced hammerbeam roof with angels carved by Arthur Hayball.
  • Stone reredos, 1850, designed by A. W. Pugin and carved by Theodore Phyffers.
  • East window, 1850, designed by George Goldie (apprenticed in the office of Weightman & Hadfield) and made by William Wailes, depicting eighteen scenes from the life of the Virgin, with donors Matthew and Sarah Hadfield at Our Lady’s feet.
  • Original clergy seating, based on the sedilia at St Andrew, Heckington. This and most of the enriched carved stonework here by Charles James.
  • Effigy of Fr Charles Pratt, builder of the church, 1850 by Thomas Earp, the priest holding a model of the church.
  • Organ, 1875, built by Thomas Lewis with a case designed by J. F. Bentley and carved in Austrian oak by J. E. Knox.
  • Blessed Sacrament Chapel, with a window of 1850 by Wailes over the altar (Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament) and two windows of 1988 by Goddard & Gibbs depicting the Sacraments of Confirmation and Baptism (remnants of earlier glass in tracery at head of both windows).
  • North transept, containing the shrine to Our Lady (1867-1874), incorporating a statue of c. 1850 by Johann Petz of Munich, and thirteenth century marble colonettes said to have come from Durham Cathedral, the ensemble carved by Boulton of Cheltenham from designs by M. E. Hadfield & Son, with an oak canopy of 1872 incorporating paintings by Nathaniel Westlake. Also the Sacred Heart shrine (1877), by Boulton to a design by C. Hadfield, with painted panels of saints by Westlake. Stained glass of 1862 by Hardman & Co. (St Thomas Villanova, St Michael, St Elizabeth of Hungary and St Mary Magdalene). Also in the north transept, a memorial to M. E. Hadfield (died 1887), architect of the church, by Charles Hadfield, with an alabaster pieta carved by Frank Tory, the design from a cast supplied to Matthew Hadfield by Pugin. In the floor of the transept is a glass panel giving light to the 1992 crypt chapel.
  • Mortuary Chapel, with wall tiles of 1886 to deceased clergy, maker not established. Three windows of 1850 by Wailes (St Elizabeth of Hungary and St Mary Magdalene, St Michael the Archangel, St Elizabeth and St John the Baptist).  Also a small shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (1875), a painted copy of the famous icon at Sant’ Alfonso di Liguori all’ Esquillino, the mother church of the Redemptorists in Rome.

List descriptions



Cathedral church and attached parish room. 1846-50. By Weightman & Hadfield. Munster Lady Chapel 1878-79 by ME Hadfield & Son. Ashlar and coursed squared stone, with ashlar dressings and steep pitched slate and lead roofs. Gothic Revival style. PLAN: cruciform plan with chancel with side chapels, lady chapel, parish room, transepts, nave with clerestory, aisles with south porch and north side chapel, south-west tower with spire. EXTERIOR: plinth, sillband, string courses, coped parapets and gables with crosses. Windows have hoodmoulds. Chancel east gable has angle buttresses and a 7-light pointed arch window with flowing tracery, hoodmould and mask stops. South side has a 3-light window with Kentish tracery and similar hoodmould. South-east chapel has a 2-light pointed arch window to east and a similar 3-light window in the south gable. Below it, a transomed 2-light window with blind tracery and flat head. To left, a canted projection with string courses and 3 lancets. To right, a single-storey square porch with chamfered pointed doorway and steps to west, and a 2-light window to south. At the south-east corner, an octagonal stair tower, 3 stages, topped with a leaded spire. Three 2-light pointed arch windows to the top stage. To right, single-storey parish room with parapet. To left, a 3-light window and to right, five 2-light windows, all with flat heads. Below these, 2 small mullioned openings. To right, a 2-storey canted porch with parapet, crenellated octagonal stair turret, and large clustered side wall stack with 3 flues. To west, a chamfered square headed double doorway and above it, a double niche with figures, with nodding ogee canopies and crocketed gables. On each side, a crocketed gable, and below, 2 shields. Right return has a small 2-light flat-headed window, and below, 2 flat-headed single light windows. North-east chapel has to north two 2-light pointed arch windows. Transepts have gables with angle buttresses and 4-light pointed arch windows. South transept has a 3-light pointed arch window to west. Nave clerestory has on each side a 2-light and seven 3-light pointed arch windows with linked hoodmoulds. West end has a 4-light pointed arch window with a trefoil above it, and below, a central moulded doorway with hoodmould. South aisle has buttresses and to left of the porch a 2-light pointed arch window, and to its right, 2 similar windows. Right buttress has a niche with figure. South porch has crocketed angle buttresses and coped gable with moulded doorway with triple shafts and hoodmould. On each side, a trefoil window. North aisle has a moulded doorway with single shafts and above it, a 3-light pointed arch window with central canopied niche. Both have hoodmoulds. On either side, a 3-light pointed arch window, and in the west end a similar window. North side chapel has 2 single lancets to north and a 2-light pointed arch window in the west end. South-west tower, 3 stages, has gabled 2 stage clasping buttresses topped with crocketed spires. To west, the lower parts of the buttresses have figure niches. First stage has to south and west, a 3-light pointed arch window. Second stage has a niche with figure to south and a similar window to west. Bell stage has a 2-light pointed arch bell opening on each side. Set back octagonal spire is linked by flying buttresses to the tower pinnacles. 3 tiers of lucarnes with crocketed gables.

INTERIOR: chancel has arch braced hammer beam roof with ogee wind braces and traceried spandrels, all painted and gilt. Double coved arch with hoodmould and angel stops and clustered triple shafts. East end has roll moulded window surround. South side has to east a doorway and a 4-seat sedilia with crocketed gables. To west, a moulded arch with a 6 bay Decorated stone screen with Latin inscription and wall painting on the chapel side. North side has west arch with organ and east arch with wrought-iron screen. South chancel chapel has Decorated style traceried stone screen to west, and elaborate reredos and 2 stained glass windows to east, flanked to right by a piscina. South side has an Early English style blind arcade with figures of saints. Lady chapel has screen wall with Decorated style balustrade and moulded pointed doorway flanked by single windows. The octagonal turret has blind arcaded lower level and stone winder stair leading to shrine with moulded pointed arches and 2 round piers, framing a central large standing figure. North-east chapel has coffered panelled wooden vault and wrought-iron screen and gates. Stained glass windows, C19 and C20, to north and east, and traceried aumbry to east. Transepts have common rafter roofs with collars. South transept has 2 arches to east, into adjoining chapels. North transept has to east a single arch into the east chapel, and 2 shrines with gilt figures. Nave has a 5 bay arcade to south and a 6 bay arcade to north, with clustered quatrefoil piers, double chamfered arches and linked hoodmoulds. Arch braced panelled wagon roof. West end has a stained glass window. South-west bay has a stilted segmental arch to the tower chamber. South aisle has strutted lean-to roof and mid and late C19 stained glass windows. Moulded doorway with stoup. North aisle has similar roof and segmental pointed doorway with niche and figure above it, flanked by stained glass windows. Moulded east arch to transept. North side chapel has arch braced lean-to roof with wall shafts and traceried east opening into transept. Glazed tile dado with memorials to priests. Rib vaulted tower chamber has moulded arches and is fitted with late C20 confessionals.

STAINED GLASS: nave and south transept west windows designed by Pugin. East window by G Goldie. South transept south window by Wailes. FITTINGS include chancel reredos designed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, 1850, organ case, 1875, by J F Bentley, and C19 traceried pulpit. Other fittings C20. MEMORIALS include shrine with alabaster figure, 1850, by Thomas Earp to Fr Charles Pratt. Gothic wall tablet with relief figures, 1885, to Matthew Hadfield, architect. Ashlar table tomb with effigy below it, 1849.

(The Buildings of England: Pevsner N: Yorkshire: The West Riding: London: 1967-: 451-452). Listing NGR: SK3547487293

Cathedral House


Presbytery to Cathedral Church of St Marie (qv). Dated 1903. Red brick with ashlar dressings and steep pitched Westmorland slate roofs. 2 gable and 2 side wall brick stacks with stone bands and multiple flues. Eclectic Gothic Revival style. EXTERIOR: plinth, sillbands, coped and crenellated parapets. 3 storeys; 3:1 window range. Norfolk Street front has canted 2 storey oriel window with parapet. Central niche with figure, flanked by single shouldered window. Beyond, on either side, a single sash with glazing bars and hoodmould. Above, similar fenestration, the oriel window having a central blank. Below, central moulded pointed arched doorway with nodding gabled canopy and door with ogee headed fanlight. On either side, 2 small glazing bar sashes with hoods cut in the lintels. To left, a single storey range with 3 flat-headed cusped single lancets. To right, a gable set at an angle with a 2 storey canted bay window with 4 shouldered glazing bar sashes above and 4 plain sashes below under gabled hoodmoulds. Above, a triple glazing bar sash flanked by pilasters which run up into the diaper-work gable peak and are topped with traceried gables. Right return has to left, a 2 storied canted wooden oriel window with triple glazing bar sashes, flanked by single glazing bar sashes on each floor, the upper ones in flat topped through-eaves dormers. Below, 3 similar windows. All these windows have surrounds with pointed heads. To right, a further range, 3 windows, with 2 gabled through-eaves dormers. Rear has a parapeted semicircular stair turret with a 4-light cross mullioned window. INTERIOR not inspected. Listing NGR: SK3551187290

Last amended: 16.01.2018.

Heritage Details

Architect: Weightman & Hadfield

Original Date: 1850

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II*