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Mary and John Parsons Remembered in Christmas Tree Festival

Published: 14th December 2020

Mary and John Parsons Remembered in Christmas Tree Festival

Sheffield Assay Office, who administer The Mary Parsons Charity for the silversmiths of Sheffield, were asked to take part in Sheffield cathedral's Christmas Tree Festival and have decorated a tree beneath the Mary and John Parsons memorial plaque.

The tree has been decorated with a selection of images relating to silverware manufactured by early silversmiths in the 18th and early 19th century. John Parsons was one of the earliest Sheffield platers and silversmiths in Sheffield. He was a partner in the firm Winter, Parsons and Hall of which was the first company to register their mark at the Sheffield Assay Office, on the 11th September 1773. John Parsons registered in his own right on the 3rd July 1783, John Parsons & Co, his company was located at Market Place, Sheffield. The company were well known for the manufacture of candlesticks. In the mid 18th century, Sheffield pioneered the mass production of silverwares. Silver was rolled into thin sheets and stamped out in dies made from Benjamin Huntsman’s new crucible steel. The silver was then soldered together and in the case of a candlestick filled with pitch. A wide variety of different designs could be produced using different permutations of dies for nozzles, stems and bases.

Within the Sheffield Assay Office precious metal collection there are a couple of examples by John Parsons and Co, a sterling silver candlestick of 1786, (see image) and a pair of candlesticks from 1791.

The charity hopes that you will approve of the decorations, although sadly not made of silver, they are appropriate pieces of traditional silverware of the period and allow us to visualise the fine and exquisite designs of silverware that were designed and made in the city by highly skilled craftspeople like John.

All the trees are now on the Cathedral’s website and people are already casting their vote for their favourite tree. There will be a cash prize for the winning corporate sponsored tree and also one for the winning ‘not-for-profit’ sponsored tree.

A virtual tour of the festival is on the cathedral website here:

At the moment the Cathedral is open 10 – 3 for private prayer and services and the trees will remain in place until the 31st December 2020.

Canon Geoffrey Harbord (Acting Dean) has kindly offered to remember Mary and John Parsons and the silversmiths of the City of Sheffield in his sermon and in prayers at the Sunday morning service on the 27th December 2020, St John’s Day. Anyone that wishes to attend the service must book a place in advance with Sheffield Cathedral, details can be found on their website. If you would like to watch the service from the comfort of your own home this can be done so by visiting, a live streamed service from the Cathedral is on Facebook and on YouTube. To find out more about the Mary Parsons Charity, just click here and for anyone wishing to make a donation, cheques should be made payable to 'Mary Parsons Charity' and sent to:

Sheffield Assay Office, Guardians' Hall, Beulah Road, Hillsborough, Sheffield, S6 2AN.

The Sheffield Assay Office was established in 1773, under an Act of Parliament and today the company assays and hallmarks the precious metals - silver, gold, platinum and palladium. Sheffield Assay Office is one of only four UK assay offices who all work to uphold the Hallmarking Act of 1973 and continue to ensure consumer protection for customers purchasing precious metals.

To find out more about the whole range of services offered by Sheffield Assay Office, such as our hallmarking and analytical services, please email us at or complete the contact form on our website at,

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