There’s an old Liverpool folk song which says, “If you want a cathedral we’ve got one to spare,” it’s not wrong. The city has two cathedrals which sit at either end of Hope Street – how cool is that! They are very different in every way – from the architecture and design of the buildings to the fact one is Roman Catholic and the other Anglican. Having been to Liverpool many times, we have often spotted the Anglican Cathedral from afar, this visit we decided to pay it a visit.
Not so far out of the city centre, an easy 15 minute walk, we strolled up the hill and were immediately struck by the vast size of this church.
Having seen it in the distance, we really did not realise how huge it is up close. It is the largest cathedral in Britain and the 5th largest in the world. Built of brooding red sandstone, we again, in our ignorance, assumed it was really old, finished centuries ago. Much surprise then when we found out it was only completed in 1978.
The building was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, work started in 1904 and took 74 years to complete. Sir John Betjeman called it “one of the great buildings of the world.” I can totally see why.
Inside we found a vast, airy, uncluttered space. Apparently Scott said, “Don’t look at my arches, look at my spaces.” There are many spaces to look at here.
This was the last Gothic style cathedral to be built in the world and was dedicated in the presence of Queen Elizabeth in 1978. I was totally wowed by the impression of space and length. Apparently it is one of the longest cathedrals in the world. We arrived when the organ was playing, another impressive feature and another to stack up on the “most” list. It has nearly 10,000 pipes, the most found in any church.
Son was most surprised to find an old red telephone box inside the church. Those telephone boxes were also designed by Giles Gilbert Scott as well as the power station that houses now the Tate Modern in London. Clearly not a man for small things.
We bought our tickets to go up the tower and take the self-guided audio tour. It is free if you want to wander around but we opted for the full experience and at £5 each, I thought it was all very reasonable.
First we went up the tower. It is 330 feet high and thankfully this was one of the (rare) church towers where we didn’t have to climb a gazillion steps. Son was more than a bit impressed and relieved by this. We squeezed into two snug consecutive lifts followed by an easy 108 step climb.
At the top we found a wide open space, a very helpful guide and great views through the “slats.”
Views all over Liverpool and a perfect view of the Catholic Cathedral on the other end of the street. Husband was excited to spy the football grounds.
Apparently on a clear day you can see to North Wales – we were not blessed with clear weather.
We saw the huge bells on the way down, apparently the heaviest in the world and browsed briefly at a tapestry exhibition where we took in magnificent views down over the inside of the church.
The audio tour was very interesting, no vast and lengthy history here though so it doesn’t take too long. Just as well, Son gallivanted from one thing to the next with the speed of a racehorse. We had a look in the Lady Chapel and ended up watching the Great Space Experience – a 10 minute film about the cathedral and the city of Liverpool – just the perfect way to end a visit to this great cathedral.