Rare carvings found during cathedral renovation
Date: 26/04/2012. Story submitted by: Kevin Meagher
As spring cleans go, the renovation of St. Marie’s Catholic Cathedral on Norfolk Row in the City Centre is rather grand in scale.
But like all clean-ups the £1.9 million restoration of the Grade II listed building has thrown-up an unusual find. In this case, a series of 15th century alabaster carvings, depicting biblical scenes, which the cathedral had thought were lost forty years ago.
The Dean of St Marie’s Fr. Chris Posluszny made the surprising discovery while clearing out the sacristy – the room where priests put on Mass vestments.
“I got to the last cupboard on the last shelf and found seven boxes” he says. “I’ve got used to finding old stuff, usually rubbish that has accumulated over the years. I found the boxes piled up. They were filthy so I got a cloth and cleaned them and saw the carvings underneath” he says.
The carvings, which originate from Exeter and were given to St. Marie’s when it opened in 1850, had been lost during the cathedral’s last major renovation.
“They were due to be auctioned in 1970 then disappeared” says Fr. Chris. “We assumed they had been sold but had been sitting in that cupboard in the sacristy ever since.
“No-one opened it because the door was sticky!”
“Thankfully they have now been salvaged. They are scenes from the life of Mary and Joseph. Six of the seven date from 1480. One was done in the 1700s, which was very rare during the Reformation.”
The carvings will now take pride of place in a specially-built display in the cathedral’s cloister.
To all would-be spring cleaners: it just goes to show that it’s always worth checking at the back of your cupboards.
Address: Norfolk Street, Cathedral House Sheffield South Yorkshire S1 2JB
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