For the whole of 2013 and the early months of 2014 Sheffield Anglican Cathedral went through a major reconstruction process on the forecourt and interior called the Gateway Project. Up-dating some facilities such as heating and lighting and better access for all around the building was needed. As a consequence, the areas around the main entrance forecourt, the nave, chancel and two side chapels were boarded up and out of use to allow the construction work to be completed. Over the months I've recorded some of the work that has taken place from early in 2013 until the middle of this year.
This was the forecourt and main entrance before the present reconstruction work took place. Now the pathway up to the main entrance has been levelled and this has been re-arranged and glazed to provide a reception area and small shop.
This was the site outside during 2013 when some of the walls of the main entrance had been demolished (later to be built up in places using some of the stone). The floor and pavements were lifted stone by stone and then levelled and the Victorian gateposts returned to the south-east corner of the forecourt.
Early on the furniture in the nave was removed and stored away, some heavy duty glass doors removed, meshing was fixed to stained glass windows and the monuments were boxed in for protection.
Work on the nave could be viewed through windows in the temporary wall that separated the main part of the cathedral from that to be used by visitors, clergy, office and other ministry staff. Services took place in the St. George's, Holy Spirit and Crypt Chapels. Gradually the old floor was removed using water-cooled saws to keep the dust down. Finally the concrete flooring underneath was lifted revealing the bare earth. New foundations were needed to strengthen each of the columns in the nave. The next phase of work was the renewal of the electrical, boiler and under floor heating systems before the layers of flooring could be replaced together with the installation of a new loop sound system and some new lighting.
|The St. George's Chapel where many of the services took place during the reconstruction work.|
A special lift was installed for those who were unable to use the steps up into the chapel.
During the Heritage Open Day in September 2013 visitors were given a guided tour of the nave and heard about the work in progress.
The Shrewsbury Chapel (below) was built early in the 16th century as the Earl of Shrewsbury's family chapel. On the left is the tomb of the 4th Earl with his first and second wives. The monument on the right depicts George, the 6th Earl, who guarded Mary Queen of Scots for the 14 years when she was held prisoner in Sheffield by Queen Elizabeth I. The Earls of Shrewsbury were Lords of the Manor of Sheffield for 200 years. The family name was Talbot so their emblem was the Talbot dog, a medieval hunting dog, which is also depicted on the tombs.
|The Shrewsbury Chapel|
During the excavation work on the foundations there was an opportunity to open up the entrance chamber to the Talbot vault underneath the chapel which had not been done since the early 19th century. Seventeen members of the family had been buried there during the Tudor period. However, the 19th century archive of the investigation of the sealed crypt mentioned that the 4th Earl and 14 of his relatives had vanished from their resting place along with the lead coffins. This has intrigued present day historians and archaeologists who are working on the mystery of what may have happened to the bodies. One theory would be grave-snatching, but since the lead coffins are also missing it's possible that they've been taken to another location. However, experts are now exploring the possibility that the vault contains a secret wall behind which is the location of the missing members of this important Tudor family.
|The medieval chancel and sanctuary with the Shrewsbury Chapel beyond|
|The Six Sheffield Worthies Window shows 6 people from the city's past history|
who also had connections with the Cathedral, formerly Sheffield Parish Church before 1914.
Throughout the upheaval of the reconstruction work the life of the Cathedral continued in the north side separated by the temporary wall. By Easter 2014 the work was almost complete and the Cathedral could be fully used once more. It's inspiring to know that the building in its various forms has been in use for hundreds of years and will be in the future.
|The West End Crossing (July 2014)|
|St. George's Chapel and The Holy Spirit Chapel and Crypt is beyond it. (July 2014)|
|Stained glass window in The Holy Spirit Chapel|
|The Nave (July 2014)|
|Stained glass window (south side of the Cathedral)|
|The South Aisle leading to The Shrewsbury Chapel (July 2014)|
Not only is the Cathedral a place of worship, the Community there hosts concerts and other events that reflect the heritage of the city and the county of Yorkshire. In July there was an exhibition of decorated bicycles specially created for the Yorkshire Festival and the Tour de Yorkshire. Nine bicycles from different areas of Yorkshire were brought together and exhibited in the Cathedral and I had a good time looking at the crochet and knit work as the detail on each one demonstrated some aspect of Yorkshire life and heritage. Next time I'll share what I photographed of the bicycles, other related artwork and some more of the beautiful Cathedral setting.