Detailed review by micksheff
Sheffield, United Kingdom
I’ve always known that Liverpool had two cathedrals. I think it was probably from the Dubliners “In my Liverpool Home which was one of my dad’s favourite songs when I was young. There’s a line in that “If you want a cathedral, we've got one to spare, in my Liverpool home. Having said that I never really considered this to be unusual since my hometown of Sheffield also has two cathedrals, One Anglican and one Roman Catholic just like Liverpool.
Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral is however pretty spectacular in relation to most other cathedrals and it is actually the largest Anglican cathedral in the world and the 5th largest cathedral of any denomination in the world (St Peter’s Basilica in Rome is the largest).
I’ve always wanted to visit Liverpool’s cathedrals (yes both of them) not because I am a religious person but because I do love grand churches and the history of them. Many of our churches are amongst the oldest surviving buildings in Britain so old parish churches tend to tell the story of an area over the centuries. Recently when I planned a daytrip to Liverpool I made sure that both of the city’s cathedrals were on my list of places to visit. Thankfully they are only a short distance apart, connected by Hope Street, a road which has no religious connotations but instead takes its name from a famous Liverpudlian called William Hope.
Officially known as the Cathedral Church of Christ in Liverpool the tower of the cathedral stands over 100 metres high, although these days it’s only the 3rd tallest structure in Liverpool, which is a sign of the changing times in the city, where modern skyscrapers seem to be everywhere you look.
As far as cathedrals go this isn’t really a very old building at all. King Edward VII laid its foundation stone just over a hundred years ago in 1904 and its first area the Lady Chapel opened in 1910. This was however a huge construction project even for the twentieth century and as a result the cathedral was completed in many different phases with the tower being completed in 1942 but the final part of the building not finished until as 1978, which was 18 years after its architect Giles Gilbert Scott (1880 1960) had died. By the time it was finished it occupied a total area of 9,687 square metres and was 188 metres long.
On arriving at the cathedral there is no denying that it looks huge, but I think that because it is particularly high its internal size is deceptive from the outside. Before I entered I walked right around the perimeter of the building but its not until you step inside that the wow factor really hits you. The ceiling seems so high it actually mad me feel a little bit dizzy looking upwards!
There is no admission charge to enter the cathedral and unlike many other cathedrals photography and even the use of video cameras is allowed. Of course donations are always welcome as the upkeep of a building like this is colossal and therefore a £3 donation is suggested.
I visited on a Saturday morning and as the bells of midday rung out we were all asked to stand still for a few minutes and observe a short silence. After that we were advised that there was a service about to take place in one of the chapels to which everyone was welcome to attend. I didn’t attend this so I can’t comment on it. Visitors are free to wander around and I enjoyed poking my nose into all the little nooks and crannies. There are lots of small chapels but there are a few other more unusual things here as well including a red telephone box. Initially puzzled by this I soon discovered that the same architect that designed this cathedral also designed the famous British red phone boxes too and so this has pride and place inside the cathedral to commemorate this fact. It is probably less surprising to hear that there is a gift shop inside too but there is also a large café, which includes an outdoor seating area and toilets, which are fully equipped for visitors with disabilities.
Free guided tours of the cathedral are available but due their popularly it is recommended that these are booked in advance. Its well worth taking this tour as you are not only provided with step by step information via your headphones you also get the chance to visit a few areas that are otherwise out of bounds for the general public. I hadn’t pre-booked a tour but I was fortunate enough to tag onto the end of one from around half way through and if I ever visit again I intend to do the full tour.
The Cathedral is open daily for visitors from 8am to 6pm and regular services take place throughout the week with a main service every Sunday. All visitors are greeted by a friendly member of staff (or at least I was) and offered leaflets and a plan of the cathedral which are available in several different languages.
I would certainly recommend a visit to Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral and I’m not surprised that it receives over 300,000 visitors every year.
Liverpool Anglican Cathedral