Each year doors to cultural treasures open up all over England for 4 days of free heritage events, led by local experts and volunteers. This year Sheffield hosted more than 80 events throughout the City, co-ordinated by the Sheffield Civic Trust.
St Marie’s Cathedral organised a varied programme of events throughout the weekend of 8-11 September. Taking part in this year’s celebration provided a great opportunity to share the Cathedral’s heritage with visitors from Sheffield and beyond.
The weekend was a huge success with more than 700 visitors attending St Marie’s events. The tours were fully booked, the bell-ringing demonstrations were oversubscribed and the Victorian party proved very popular with 230 visitors on Saturday afternoon. Feedback from visitors was extremely positive too, with many visiting the Cathedral for the first time.
The bell-ringing event on Thursday evening was part of a co-ordinated performance with other bell towers in the City, which aimed to celebrate England’s bell-ringing tradition.
The two bell-ringing demonstrations on Saturday were organised in partnership with Sheffield Universities’ Guild of Change Ringers. The event offered members of the public the rare chance to visit the Cathedral’s bell chamber and find out more about the complex systems used by the bell-ringers.
The illustrated talk and tour by the Cathedral historian, Deacon Bill Burleigh, focused on St Marie’s stained-glass windows. Those who attended the presentation were able to find out more about the hidden symbolism and the stories behind each window.
“The talk was very informative, and you could see the speaker loved the subject. His enthusiasm and knowledge shone through. It was fascinating to see the windows in close up before viewing the real thing,” a visitor said.
Our guided tour on Saturday morning took visitors around the world without leaving the Cathedral. Visitors were able to discover the unexpected connections St Marie’s has with many countries.
“It was lovely to focus on how different communities and artists from all over the world have influenced the Cathedral. Our guide was so interesting,” another visitor commented.
The Victorian Party had something for everyone. Travelling back to 1850, the year when the church was built, this family-friendly event was packed with Victorian themed activities such as embroidery, calligraphy bookmarks, greeting cards inspired by the Cathedral’s stunning stained-glass windows, dressing-up boxes, trails, games and story-telling.
Visitors were welcomed by Victorian characters and given traditional Victoria sponge cake. There was also a history display which included photographs of St Marie’s and its surroundings from the Victorian period. The programme also included live music performed by the Cathedral’s organist, Mr Hugh Finnigan.