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:
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:
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:
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
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.
Architect: Weightman & Hadfield
Original Date: 1850
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II*