In Focus: Sheffield's Cutler's Hall

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Sheffield, Cutlers Hall

The Cutler's Hall was designed in 1832 by Samuel Worth and Benjamin Broomhead Taylor. It was extended in 1865-7 by Flockton & Abbott, and 1888 by J. B. Mitchell-Withers. It is one of Sheffield's finest buildings, presenting a handsome dignified Grecian exterior; internally, an unexpectedly opulent and extensive sequence of rooms, a showcase for assembly, display, feasting and entertainment - the annual Cutlers' Feast is the opportunity for local business to meet and influence the wider political and commercial world.

The present Hall is the third: the first (1638) was possibly, and the second (1725) certainly, on the same site. Hemmed in by adjacent properties, the site is awkwardly shaped and there are no other publicly visible elevations. Daylight penetration into the depths of the building is limited so, except for the rooms facing the street, only skylights, clerestories and obscured glazing permit subdued daylight to illuminate the inner reaches. Three halls dominate the interior; whilst the offices, kitchens and service spaces take second place. Successive Masters Cutler have commemorated their reign by donating improvements or additions.

  • Click on the picture to find out more about its design

Cutlery has been manufactured in Sheffield for over 700 years. Chaucer mentions a Sheffield thwitel (knife) in the Reeve's Tale. The London Cutlers' Company dates from the 12th century. In Sheffield the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire was founded in 1624, and it became the leading Company in the 18th century. A Guild of craftsmen, it safeguarded and controlled its trading interests, apprenticeships, and the trademark "Sheffield". By the 18th century, Sheffield's administration was represented in three neighbouring buildings - the Parish Church, the old Town Hall, and the Cutlers' Hall. From 1860 the Company incorporated the steel manufacturers and thereby became a larger and more powerful body, still regulating its own trades but additionally promoting wider social, educational and transport initiatives. 

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Sheffield, Cutlers' Hall, Interior

The largest room inside is the LARGE BANQUETING HALL on the first floor. This was added to the building in 1865-7. It was designed by Flockton & Abbott and measures 100ft x 50ft (30.4m x 15.2m) with ladies' and minstrels' galleries. Strident Italian RenaissanceGlossary Term style interior. A high black Belgian marble dadoGlossary Term, incorporating pedestals supporting pairs of engaged scagliolaGlossary Term CorinthianGlossary Term columns, single columns at the ends, dividing the large area of windowless walling into panels. On the friezeGlossary Term of a continuous entablatureGlossary Term are key dates in the Company's history, the quotation from Chaucer's Reeve's Tale and words from Ruskin in praise of Sheffield's workmanship. Above are clerestory lunettes in a coved ceiling. The effect is unexpectedly overpowering.

The illustration shows the feast which was held to celebrate the opening of the hall in 1867.


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