Sheffield on Saturday

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I would say we were up at the crack of dawn, but it was probably some time before that as an eventual glance at the clock had shown that what had felt like a long, leisurely lie in was still unconscionably early. So stupid o’clock saw me perched with needle and gold thread in my accustomed position on the kitchen step whilst my host plied me with coffee. It gave us time to complete his costume apart from a couple of small purchases.

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Mine, however, has thus far been a disaster as I have told elsewhere, so a walk into town seemed like a good idea. Now, you may have gathered I have an unnatural aversion (for a female) to shopping in general and clothes shopping in particular. However, the prospect of getting creative with the costumes was pleasing so off we went, about half past nine, towards the city, expecting we would probably be able to pick up most things long before we got there. Not so.

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Apparently the shops in the immediate vicinity were not likely to be open until about eleven, so the city it was. I’ve never really explored much of the centre of Sheffield and it was quiet being so early, so I was pleasantly surprised. Our purchases duly made and a little creative thinking about some props sorted, we wandered off, ready to escape before the crowds built. I still hadn’t got anything I needed, but I have faith that things will turn up as required. Maybe I was thinking along the wrong lines.

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We stopped, almost inevitably, at a church. This time it was the Catholic Cathedral Church of St Marie. From outside it doesn’t look any more promising than most Victorian churches and, being Catholic, we knew it was unlikely to be much older. Henry VIII had dispensed with Roman authority in 1534 and, apart from a couple of brief periods, Roman Catholicism remained illegal in England until 1791. The Cathedral Church was completed in 1850. We were not expecting what we found.

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The church was built following the design of the 14th century church at Heckington in Lincolnshire and is painted, gilded and decorated in a way that brings life and colour to the stonework. You get an impression of how the older churches may have looked once upon a time and it has evolved into a place of light. Every window is stained glass…even though they were removed and hidden in a mine shaft after bomb damage during the war. Every surface gleams and candlelight flickers on the gilding. I may have a preference for the little stone chapels and the faded ochre of medieval paint, but I can appreciate what has been created here.

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There are some unusual features, like the galleried chapels and painted tiles, as well as a great deal of symbolism and art. One of the nicest surprises was the chapel to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour… because until we walked in there I could not give a name to the Lady of the lovely little diptych my companion had given me some time ago.

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The picture shows Mary and her Son; the Child, one sandal fallen from His foot, is afraid of the instruments of the crucifixion held by the Archangels. His mother, a star on her forehead as Stella Maris, holds him close. The original of the Cretan icon resides in Rome and records trace it back over five hundred years. As is the way with this type of painting every detail is symbolic. It is of the type of icon called Hodegetria, “She who shows the Way”, and legend says that it is a faithful copy of a picture painted by St Luke on the wood of the table of the Holy Family. In the centre of Sheffield, we had found a little gem, and a long history.

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in England, History, Photography, Sacred sites, travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sheffield on Saturday

  1. ksbeth says:

    finding a gem, amidst the mundane, is a wonderful surprise every time )


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