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.
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!
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.”
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.
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.”
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!
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.!
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.