Rare alabaster sculptures, the historic Lewis organ and beautiful Victorian ceramic tile work in St Marie’s Cathedral will be restored thanks to a grant of almost £500,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The alabaster panels date from the 15th century and are among a few in the country that survived the English Reformation.
Known as Nottingham Alabasters because Nottingham was a centre for alabaster carving in medieval days, the alabasters were presented to the Cathedral shortly before it opened in 1850, after being discovered buried in the neighbourhood of Exeter Cathedral.
The seven panels, depicting The Annunciation, Adoration of the Kings, Betrayal, Flagellation and Crucifixion of Christ, The Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin were believed to have originally stood around the altar of the Cathedral’s Mortuary Chapel.
The panels were removed in the 1970s and put up for sale by order of the Bishop of Leeds to fund an earlier restoration of the Cathedral. However, no buyer came forward and the historic Alabasters laid forgotten in a cupboard until being rediscovered prior to the latest restoration. After restoration they will go on display in the Cathedral.
Lewis and Company was an internationally important firm of organ builders, founded by Thomas Christopher Lewis, one of the leading British organ builders of the second half of the nineteenth century. Its organs are highly prized, quite scarce, and have greatly influenced succeeding generations of organ craftsmen.
The beautiful ceramic tiles show pictorial scenes and are inscribed with the names of Sheffield parishioners and the clergy who served in the church.
Cathedral Dean, Fr Christopher Posluszny, said, “The whole community of St Marie’s is absolutely delighted with the grant, which will allow us to share with the people of Sheffield and further afield wonderful stories and objects that have been hidden until now.”
Pictured is the Lewis organ at St Marie’s Cathedral.
Photograph by Margaret O’Malley.