Located within the very center of Sheffield is the large and prestigious Cathedral. While other cathedrals can trace their cathedral dedication back even to shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066, Sheffield’s Cathedral was not dedicated as such until 1914[i]. Nevertheless, the site has been used as a place of worship for many hundreds of years. An Anglo Saxon cross, now located in the London museum, dates back to the 9th century and testaments that the place was used for Christian worship for a thousand years even before a medieval church was built[ii]. In 1101, William de Lovetot, lord of the manor of Sheffield, had a parish church built in that area[iii]. Tradition states that when Sheffield Castle was destroyed in 1266, the parish church was also destroyed[iv]. That may well have been the case since Archbishop Wickwane of York dedicated the church in 1286[v]. Now only 15th century work remains except for a few stones from the 12th century found in the walls[vi].
In the 15th century, tower spiers, a spire, the arcades of the chancel, parts of the roof of the chancel, the nave roof, and much more was added or modified on the parish church[vii]. In times before the Reformation, there was a rood screen beneath the eastern arch of the tower against which stood the rood altar[viii]. These were removed in 1570 upon the orders of Elizabeth I[ix]. During the 17th century, many men who would be Non-Conformists were vicars or assistant ministers in the pulpit at the parish church, as well as many other nearby churches (Hilltop Chapel being one). James Fisher, a presbyterian, was perhaps the most well-known during this time and was ejected from this church in 1662[x]. From that dreadful day in August 1662, not one Puritan minister came into the pulpit at Sheffield Parish Church again.
Benjamin Huntsman invented crucible steel in 1742 and by that date, Sheffield had grown considerably in size. A clerical visitation report in 1743 recorded by John Dossie, vicar of Sheffield, stated that there were 2000 plus families in Sheffield of which 250 were Dissenters, mostly Independents and the rest were Presbyterian[xi]. There is an interesting fact that should be noted: this church was called Trinity Church during Reformation times but was later changed to St. Paul and St. Peter’s Church in the 19th century[xii].
In the latter half of the 18th century, more renovations were done to the building by adding moorstone to the walls of the chancel and aisles as well as adding a vestry on the northern side[xiii]. This therefore obliterated the original cruciform design of the building[xiv]. Another interesting fact that happened during that century was that John Wesley was prohibited from preaching in the pulpit during his visit and instead he preached to 4000 people in nearby Paradise Square[xv].By 1805, the church was considered “gloomy” and was therewith pulled down and rebuilt[xvi]. It underwent another series of renovations in the late 19th century[xvii]. It was finally granted cathedral status in 1914 and has since gone through more renovations and restorations.
[i] Sheffield Cathedral, An Illustrated Guide. 1.
[iv] Canon Odom. Sheffield and its Cathedral Church. 18.
[v] Archbishop Wickwane’s Register. Surkes Society, Vol. 114. Preface, p xvii.
[vi] Canon 19.
[x] Canon 34.
[xi] Canon 20.
[xii] Canon 21.
[xv] Sheffield Cathedral 1.