Sunday, 23 September 2012

History In Sheffield Pt 2

Today's installment is on the Cathedral Church of St Peter & St Paul. Sheffield Cathedral, as it is more commonly known, is located near the heart of the city.

While its prestige and size cannot compare to the more well known cathedrals of Lincoln and York Minster, Sheffield Cathedral has a beauty of its own: "One of Sheffield's oldest buildings where God has been worshipped for over a thousand years" (Guide, 1).

In 1101, William de Lovetot built a church on the current site. Remains of the Norman building were incorporated into the later structure and can still be seen today. One example is the diamond shaped stones implanted in St. Katherine's Chapel:
(white strips, top left)
A discussion with one of the guides led to him point out the structure of the Sanctuary window. According to him, the frame of stone holding the window in place was, in fact, the doorway to the Norman church:
The cathedral proper, as we see it today, was mostly built in the 1430s. It was built in the popular perpendicular style and incorprated many altars and a hammerbeam (carved wood) roof:

Here's where we get to my favorite part. There are several areas pertaining to the Tudor period (1485-1603) within the cathedral. To the right of the high altar lies the Shrewsbury Chapel. This was built in the 1520s by George Talbot, the 4th Earl of Shrewsbury and was intended to be a family burial site. The Earl lies there today between his two wives (Ann and Elizabeth). The alabaster figures on the tombs still carry faint traces of paint and it is thought the images were carved to lifelike precision.
On the opposite side lies the magnificent tomb of the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. His claim to fame was his custodianship of Mary Queen of Scots while she was kept captive in Sheffield from 1570 to 1584. Also elaborately carved, the armored figure of the Earl rests on a mat of rush with his feet lying on a Talbot (hunting dog). The Earl's many accomplishments are carved in latin above his effigy. To the top right of his tomb are mounted three helmets thought to have been used at his funeral in 1590.
There are several additional chapels including two dedicated to the York & Lancaster Regiments as well as to the three Royal Navy ships to bear the name HMS Sheffield. The bell of the first is in the west end of the nave. Military memorabillia including battle standards and sabres can be seen as well. While a simple blog post cannot do justice to a thousand years of history, I would be remiss without mentioning other small details: When standing in the Shrewsbury Chapel, look up to see pagan "green men" carved into the ceiling. They are now picked out and gold and pose an interesting juxtapostion between pagan and christian beliefs. Similarly, the freemasons have had a hand in the construction of the church over the years. Some of their images can be spotted as well. In St. Katherine's chapel sits a row of 3 oak carved chairs dating back to the Tudor period. Another oak chapel screen can be seen by the stained glass window depicting the "Sheffield Worthies" (6 men who had an impact on the city). Sadly, none of the stained glass in the church, while very beautiful, dates before the 1800s.
As of right now, I will be visiting the cathedral for three concerts where I get to sit amongst the wonderful architecture and listen to Baroque and Classical pieces. Looking forward to uncovering more of this amazing building! Please enjoy the brief video I took:

1 comment:

  1. Nice church! Could do without the music, though ;) The tomb is really awesome. Don't think I've ever seen one quite like it.