Liverpool Cathedral

Liverpool Cathedral

Liverpool Cathedral sits atop St James’ Mount, overlooking Liverpool’s city centre and docks. This Anglican Cathedral is one of two cathedrals in the city – the other, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, sits half a mile away to the north. The two cathedrals are linked by Hope Street where you’ll find the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Everyman Theatre.

The entrance to Liverpool Cathedrall.
Outside the entrance to Liverpool Cathedral.

The entrance to Liverpool Cathedral.

I’ve always thought of cathedrals as old buildings, the ones I’ve visited previously (such as Salisbury and Bristol) certainly are, yet Liverpool Cathedral is relatively new. Building began in 1904 however this magnificent cathedral was not completed until 1978!

The Nave at Liverpool Cathedral.
The Nave (known as the Well).
Dulverton Bridge in Liverpool Cathedral.
Dulverton Bridge, originally built for part of the organ.
A section of stained glass window in the Nave.
A section of stained glass window in the Nave.

On 23rd July 1904, the East & South Devon Advertiser reported on “Liverpool’s New Cathedral”:

“The cathedral, standing on St James’s Mount, 155 ft above the river, will have two great towers 415 ft above the level of the sea. The ground the cathedral, the chapter house, and morning chapel will occupy will be above 90,000 square feet. The cathedral will be 584 ft long. One of the most remarkable features will be the height of the vaulting of the nave and choir – into the high transepts 140ft – while in the choir and central space it will seat 3,500, and in the whole building 8,000.”

Inside Liverpool Cathedral.
Inside Liverpool Cathedral.
Looking towards the High Altar.
Looking towards the High Altar.
The High Altar at Liverpool Cathedral.
The High Altar.

Inside Liverpool Cathedral.

Visitors to the cathedral will note it does not have the planned two towers. By 1910 the plans for the main body of the building had been changed. Instead of two towers at the west end of the cathedral, the revised plans called for a single central tower which now stands 100.8 metres (331 ft) tall.

The Lady Chapel - The first part of Liverpool cathedral to be built.
The Lady Chapel – The first part of the cathedral to be built.
Looking up at the windows and ceiling of Liverpool Cathedral's Lady Chapel.
Looking up at the windows and ceiling of Liverpool Cathedral’s Lady Chapel.

On 19th July 1924, Liverpool Cathedral became the first new English cathedral to be consecrated in nearly 700 years and the ceremony was regarded as of international importance. In June 1924, the Aberdeen Press and Journal reported:

“King Henry III was present at the last ceremony in 1225 at Salisbury, and King George and Queen Mary will attend next month’s consecration of the new Liverpool Cathedral, the foundation stone of which was laid by King Edward 20 years ago.”

A brass sailor figure guarded by an angel.
The figure of a sailor guarded by an angel on the Book of Remembrance Table in the War Memorial Chapel.
The War Memorial Chapel.
The War Memorial Chapel.

By 1926, newspapers reported that work on Liverpool Cathedral was proceeding quickly. They predicted that given adequate financial support the cathedral should be completed within 15 years. Much like during the First World War, the outbreak of World War Two caused the workforce to dwindle. The building was also damaged by German bombs during the May Liverpool Blitz in 1941.

It wasn’t until 25th October 1978 that there was a thanksgiving service to mark the completion of Liverpool Cathedral, this time in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The cathedral’s architect, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, would not get to see this wonderful building to completion. He died on 8th February 1960, aged 79 years old, and is buried outside the west entrance to the Cathedral. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott is also responsible for one of Britain’s most iconic creations – the red telephone box!

A memorial to John Charles Ryle, First Bishop of Liverpool.
A memorial to John Charles Ryle, First Bishop of Liverpool.

Another notable person buried outside of Liverpool Cathedral is Sergeant Arthur Herbert Lindsay Richardson VC (1872 – 1932). Arthur was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1900 for an act of bravery whilst serving in Canada’s Strathcona’s Horse regiment in the Second Boer War. However, in 1924, Arthur discovered not one but three imposters laid claim to his very own Victoria Cross! A newspaper article in the Aberdeen Press and Journal on 3rd April 1924 tells the story.

“Arthur Herbert Lindsay Richardson, a native of Southport, and a labourer in the employment of the Liverpool Corporation, declares that he is the real V.C. who has been impersonated by Corporal Arthur Henry Leonard Richardson, who died suddenly at Aberdeen… Richardson said that he was staggered when he read in the papers the accounts of the exploits of the man who had been masquerading as himself.”

The article continues:

“Richardson lives at 133 St Domingo Vale, Everton, Liverpool, and he produced papers to confirm the fact that he is the Wolve Spirit V.C., and show that he is still in receipt of a V.C. pension of £10 a year.

“I cannot understand how his other man got away with it,” he continued. “He could not have been receiving a pension, and it is a mystery to me how he could have been given a military funeral. This man who has died in Aberdeen seems to have had a very good time with my V.C. I have not. I am of a quiet disposition, but when I saw that I was dead I thought it necessary to let people know that I was very much alive, and not an imposter.”

The newspaper article then goes on to tell of two letters, both relating to men, now dead, who also claimed to be the rightful V.C.!

The memorial stone for Sergeant A. H. L. Richardson V.C.
The memorial stone for Sergeant A. H. L. Richardson V.C.

There is so much to see at Liverpool Cathedral. If you’re feeling energetic, you could buy a ticket for the Tower Experience (2 lifts and 108 stairs to get there!) or if you would prefer to relax you can grab a drink and some food from the cafe and take in the marvellous surroundings.

49 comments

  1. Lisa says:

    I can’t believe the Cathedral was only started in 1904, it looks so much older, like something from Norman times. What a stunning building, well worth a visit.

    • Nikki says:

      I was amazed when I looked into the history of the cathedral as I too had assumed it was older. If only such wonderful buildings were built these days!

  2. So many of the new Cathedral buildings are very architecturally modern, so this a lovely “bridge” between the old and new and the craftsmanship on the interior brickwork pillars and arches, is stunning. The high altar is amazing too!

    Never visited Liverpool, in fact so many of the ‘northern’ cities have escaped our radar. Perhaps when we retire this is a ’round robin’ trip we need to make!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Kelly says:

    Thank you for this tour of Liverpool Cathedral. Your photos are stunning. I especially like seeing the ceiling in the Lady Chapel. I love cathedral architecture, whether ancient or modern and I really like the feel of what they’ve done here. Beautiful!

  4. Kris P says:

    Such is the difference between our countries, I had to look up whether Los Angeles had any churches warranting labels as cathedrals. It turns out there are four, including a Russian Orthodox structure I visited a few years ago for a Ukrainian friend’s memorial service. It wasn’t nearly as elegant as the structures in your photos.

  5. Anca says:

    Those 200 stairs are worth the effort, the views of Liverpool from above are amazing. Your post is lovely.
    I’m not sure if you know that there are all sort of events in the cathedral, they had the Moon, a replica of the Moon there for a while, it takes part in LightNight, an annual event in May, with all sorts of secular displays and concerts.

    • Nikki says:

      Maybe I’ll make it up the stairs next time!

      The event with the moon sounds wonderful. I will be back in Liverpool in May, but won’t have time for another cathedral visit, sadly.

  6. Jo says:

    Goodness, there was identity fraud 100 years ago. It’s a beautiful building, I didn’t realise it had been completed so recently. I love those windows.

  7. jeanie says:

    It is so refreshing to see a cathedral built before (in part) and finished in 1978 resisting the urge to go modern and keeping it beautifully traditional. This is absolutely gorgeous. The history is fascinating and your photos are wonderful.

  8. Oh my goodness, what amazing photographs. Looking at the possibility of a Liverpool City Break {its easy to get to from Newcastle plus it is supposed to be very ‘disabled friendly’} the cathedral is right up there on my things to see and do.

    • Nikki says:

      I would definitely recommend a trip to Liverpool. This time I stayed at the Holiday Inn across the road from Lime Street Station and it was the perfect location for looking around the city.

  9. Marty says:

    What a beautiful building. So grand in scale, and I agree it’s hard to believe it only started in 1904. It has that look of something from the early 1800s!

  10. Ann Coleman says:

    I just love old churches and cathedrals! They were built to stand the test of time. It makes me sad when I see the plain, metal buildings that are being built now as “new church starts.” Thanks for sharing the photos and stories!

  11. Lauren says:

    The cathedral is so pretty! I haven’t been to Liverpool but would like to visit there. Thank you for sharing some beautiful pictures.

    Lauren x

  12. What a stunning building. Churches and Cathedrals always blow me away with the architecture. I love that this is still relatively old in style despite it being a newer build as far as Cathedrals go. I need to visit if I ever find myself back in Liverpool x

  13. I visited both cathedrals on a school trip in the late 1960s but I don’t remember much about either of them. Looking at the architecture it’s hard to believe it’s so ‘new’ compared to much older buildings, harder still to believe that when I went there it still wasn’t finished. I love the photos, especially the one of the Lady Chapel ceiling and windows 🙂

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