The largest of its kind in the world, Liverpool Cathedral – also known as the Anglican Cathedral (it’s of protestant orientation) – looks like a gothic spaceship has landed on Liverpool; the city’s own District 9 edifice looming over the south of the city.
From the exterior (the second longest in the world, with the highest Gothic arches anywhere) the cathedral is a famous sandstone, modern gothic monolith: it’s elegant and powerful but decidedly bold and different. From the inside it’s often a work of industrial brutality; concrete, iron and cement. Rather like Scott’s Battersea Power Station, the Anglican Cathedral marries forms, uses and styles to confuse perceptions.
Because of its size it’s used to stage vast fireworks displays and you even can abseil off the roof for the good of a local charity. Liverpool Cathedral’s size has made it the local edifice-of-choice for events that have little do with praising God.
Underneath the cathedral is St James’ Gardens – a sunken garden with gravestones and memorials that’s a rare green space in the city centre. The Oratory is the cemetery’s former chapel that frequently hosts exhibitions.
Liverpool Cathedral hosts regular services and choral events, but the cathedral stages an eclectic range of events, from modern opera performances, musical theatre, and even club nights. There are also two places to grab a bite to eat and a drink; the Welsford, on the steps overlooking the cemetery, is fully licensed and provides a range of imaginative British dishes daily.
Keep an eye out for art throughout the cathedral, which has a number of static installations and artworks, including the most recent addition by Tracey Emin. The cathedral also stages regular exhibitions through the year.
Liverpool Cathedral tours
There are guided tours every day – plus the Great Space Film and Audio Tour – the best introduction to the cathedral, its architecture and history available in six languages.
Tours to the top of the cathedral tower are available daily while, in Summer, you can watch the sun go down over the city from the roof on a Twilight Tour. The view is never less than superb on a clear day – Cheshire, Blackpool, Snowdonia are visible – but the changing face of Liverpool as the day comes to an end and the sun ensanguines the skies is wonderful to behold from the top of the tower.
To get to the belfry requires taking two separate lifts plus another 100-or-so steps to the roof. At the door to the first is a red telephone box; there to commemorate another great design by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the cathedral’s architect. On the way up you’ll see 30 tonnes worth of church bells – famously the heaviest and highest ringing peal of bells in the world. Go on the right day and you can have a go of ringing them yourself.
Described as the “last undoubted masterpiece of the Gothic style, and of Gothic craftsmanship, in England,” the Liverpool Cathedral is deserving of a visit in its own right. With a wealth of activities, attractions and special events it’s an absolute must on a visit to Liverpool.
Liverpool CathedralSt James Mount