St Mary's Church, Handsworth, Sheffield

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St. Mary's Church
St Marys Church Handsworth Sheffield.jpg
St Mary's Church, Handsworth, Sheffield is located in Sheffield
St Mary's Church, Handsworth, Sheffield
Shown within Sheffield
Basic information
Location Handsworth
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England
Geographic coordinates 53°22′16″N 1°23′04″W / 53.371131°N 1.38443°W / 53.371131; -1.38443Coordinates: 53°22′16″N 1°23′04″W / 53.371131°N 1.38443°W / 53.371131; -1.38443
Affiliation Anglican
District Diocese of Sheffield
Architectural description
Architectural type Church
Completed around 1170 (original building)

St Mary's Church in Handsworth, a district in the east of Sheffield, England, was founded in the 12th century.

The Normans were very enthusiastic church builders and St Mary's Church was constructed in order to satisfy the growing need of the local community for a permanent priest. It has remained the focal point enhancement for over eight centuries.[1]. (This church is not to be confused with St. Mary's Church, Handsworth in Birmingham UK).

St Mary's was built in about 1170. It was founded by the Norman lord, William de Lovetot, or his father Richard, and the foundations were planned by William Paynel. In the 1220s, St Katherine's Chapel was added, probably by Maud de Lovetot, so that prayers could be offered for the soul of her husband, Gerard de Furnival, and perhaps her son, Thomas de Furnival who died on a crusade to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. By 1472, Fabric Rolls of York reported that the Church was in a ruinous state, although in the process of being rebuilt. It was successive Earls of Shrewsbury who repaired much of the damage in the Tudor period.

Lightning struck the church spire in 1698, the new steeple subsequently built to replace it was much smaller and became known as "the Handsworth stump". In the 1820s the "stump" was demolished and a new tower erected. Lightning struck the tower again in January 1978, this time causing less damage. Major building work was undertaken in 2002 when extensive repairs were performed on the spire, and the clock and bell tower.

Standing in the shadow of St Mary's Church is the Cross Keys Inn. This too is a very old building, but it has not always been a public house. When it was originally built in the mid-13th century, it was used as a Church House for the chaplains and lay clerks attached to St. Mary's Church.

Simon Foliot, the first Rector, had two assistants and by 1535 there were five. During the reign of Henry VIII they lost their livings when the King broke away from the Church of Rome, its customs and traditions. After the Reformation, the old medieval Church House was converted into a school. In about 1823, it became licensed as a public house and has remained one ever since (now the Cross Keys).

The old Tudor Rectory was situated on the site now occupied by the Parish Centre. It was originally a timber framed building, both a section of the straw and daub wall (in the present day Museum) and an oak tree post (in the present Day reception hall) can still be seen as remnants of the Tudor Rectory.

At some point in the late 17th or early 18th centuries, the Rector of the day decided to build a larger and more modern house at the East End in the Georgian style. Shortly afterwards a wing complementary to the East wing was constructed. The old-fashioned Tudor timber framed buildings were demolished although parts of the Tudor Rectory became incorporated into the new building. In addition, all the pre-Georgian outhouses, except the coach house and stable block, were removed.

The coach house and stable block were modernised in Victorian times. Improvements and renovation work on these buildings, now all part of the parish centre, continues today.

The tower and west front

Not much of the Tudor Rectory remains today, but Handsworth Parish Registers, dating back as far as the reign of Queen Elizabeth I still exist.

From 1558, the year that Elizabeth I ascended the throne, there are written documents recording all the baptisms, marriages, and burials which have taken place in the Parish of St Mary's.[1] Parish Registers were first ordered in England during the turbulent early years are of Henry VIII's reign, probably to compensate for the dissolution of the monasteries, which had previously kept some deaths registers. Parish Registers were continued until 1836, when a new system of registration began.


  1. ^ GENUKI: Handsworth parish registers: Dates and current locations etc

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