Monday, 23 January 2017

We've got one to spare

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Liverpool had no Cathedral. Now that seems a long time ago to many of us. But when you compare it with say Winchester (1071), Salisbury (1258), Ely (1109)  and even Chester (1541) we are absolute beginners. The plans for an Anglican Cathedral began in about 1901 and the first part of the building was completed in 1910. It was designed by the fascinating Giles Gilbert Scott, a Roman Catholic who showed his versatility by also designing the classic red telephone box! 

For various reasons the magnificent building was not completed until 1978. Its external length makes it the longest in the world. Overall it is the fifth largest in the world. Because of its size and location on St James’ Mount, it dominates the Liverpool skyline. Putting it simply – it is huge!! It is built in gothic style and its huge arches and stained glass windows take your breath away however many times you see them.

It is worth the visit just to wander around and take in the sheer splendour of the building

To add spice to a visit you can take a lift (£5.50) to the top of the tower and, on a clear day, enjoy some of the most spectacular city views in the world –

By the 1960s moves were afoot to build a second cathedral for the city's Roman Catholic population. In 1962 work began. It was completed somewhat more promptly than its Anglican counterpart, opening just 5 years later. So this year it celebrates its 50th birthday
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King is a masterpiece of modern architecture although back in the 60s locals did not know what to make of it. It was variously nicknamed Paddy’s Wigwam and the Mersey Funnel. Today it stands out as a magnificent feature of the city’s landscape.

But the external grandeur does not prepare you for the stunning beauty of the interior. With its modern windows, central altar and soft colours it literally shocks the senses. If you visit this cathedral you simply need to sit and take it all in. It is an experience not to be missed.

The two cathedrals are less than half a mile apart and are linked by the appropriately named Hope Street. Stand on the steps of the Metropolitan and you can see the Anglican at the far end of the street.

The Street is in fact named after a former dignitary William Hope but the name of the street has often come to symbolise the unity of the two communities particularly after the Toxteth riots and the Hillsborough disaster on 1989.

According to the classic folk song we’ve got one to spare. Some might even say we’ve got two to spare. But these two Cathedrals are now part of the fabric of Liverpool and we would not lose either for the world!

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