The Cutlers' Feast at Sheffield
The Illustrated London News
Nov. 9, 1867
The Cutlers' Feast at Sheffield: Inauguration of the New Hall
[ illustration slightly cropped in scanning, mainly from the left side;
go here to see a larger version (138 kb);
we now see our scan elsewhere on the web... tut, tut, they didn't ask! ]
The annual Cutlers' Feast at Sheffield, under the presidency of Mr. Mark Firth, the Master Cutler, took place on Thursday week, in the new banqueting-hall of that important local corporation, which in former times was the ruling body of the town, when there was no municipality of Sheffield.
The hall, erected in 1832, which has a front of Corinthian architecture, in Church-street, now serves as a reception-room; and the feasts are held in the new hall adjoining it, where there is room for 350 persons, the old hall not having accommodation for more than 200. The dimensions of the new room are 110 ft. long by 50 ft. wide. It is entered from a door at the side of the old hall.
The interior has a very elegant aspect, as shown in our Illustration. The ceiling and walls are gilded and tinted very artistically, and the overall effect is rich and beautiful. In a large centre ornament there are medallions of Vulcan, Mercury, Apollo, and Minerva, surrounded by appropriate emblems. At the end of the room there is a ladies' gallery, and in front of this gallery are medallion portraits of Chaucer, with his famous words about the Sheffield whittle, and James I., who granted the charter to the company. The decoration of the walls is extremely pleasing. The walls are divided into panels, which are separated by pillars, painted to represent Sienna marble.
The room is lit by five small semicircular windows at the top of each of the side walls, three more at the end opposite the ladies' gallery, and one larger one over the ladies' gallery itself. Over the windows, in the cove of the ceiling, are the coats of arms of the lords of the manor from the Norman Conquest to the present time. These are De Busli, De Lovetot, De Furnival, Talbot, and Howard. Over each window are the arms of the Cutlers' Company in colours. At each end of the room are the Royal arms and the corporate arms of the borough.
There are forty-four columns in the hall, sixteen round, and the remainder square, all having Corinthian capitals. The base of the columns is in imitation seraclin, and the surbase and plinth are in Belgian marble. The frieze is ornamented with festoons of drapery, alternated with laurel. There are two chandeliers, one at each end of the room. They are of gilt scrollwork, and each contains about 1500 large cut-glass prisms and drops. There are ninety-five burners in imitation of candles and globes in each chandelier, and the whole is raised and lowered by machinery. In addition there are fourteen large scroll brackets of the same description as the chandeliers, each bracket containing twelve burners and a number of glass drops and prisms. These brackets are placed at the base of the columns round the room.
The additions comprise another large room, for meetings, under the new banqueting-hall, and a new staircase and offices. Messrs. Flockton and Abbott are the architects of the new premises; the decorations have been executed by Messrs. J. and J. Rodgers; the ornamental plastering by Mr. C. Green, Sheffield; and the chandeliers have been supplied by Messrs. Chabrié Frères, Rue des Martyrs, Paris.
The Cutlers' Feast, on Thursday week, at the opening of this new hall, was a brilliant affair. The only disappointment was the absence, from ill-health, of Sir John Brown, in whose mastership the work was commenced, and by whose efforts, with those of Mr. Firth and Mr. Jessop, it has been mainly accomplished, the funds having been raised by a public subscription in the town.
Among the guests on this occasion were Earl Fitzwilliam, Lord Halifax, Lord Foley, Lord Milton, and Lord Denman; the Right Hon. Sir J. Pakington, Secretary for War; Mr. Cheetham, M.P.; Mr. G. Hadfield, M.P.; Sir F. Lycett, Sheriff of London; Alderman Sir Sydney Waterlow, of London; the Mayor of Leeds, and other visitors, besides the chief persons of Sheffield.
After the loyal toasts, they drank the health of the Duke of Norfolk, lord of the manor, and that of Earl Fitzwilliam. The health of the Master Cutler was proposed by Earl Fitzwilliam, and suitably acknowledged. The toast of "Her Majesty's Ministers" was proposed by Mr. Overend, Q.C., and responded to by Sir John Pakington. That of the House of Lords was acknowledged by Viscount Halifax, and Lord Denman and Mr. Cheetham spoke for the House of Commons. Lord Milton, Mr. Hadfield, Mr. Harrison, Mr. T. Jessop, the Rev. Canon Sale, and others also spoke. The proceedings were of a very agreeable character.
On Saturday the Master Cutler entertained all the workmen employed by his firm (Messrs. T. Firth and Sons) at dinner in the new building.
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