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Anglican Cathedral Church of Christ

A Grade I Listed Building in Riverside, Liverpool

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Latitude: 53.3974 / 53°23'50"N

Longitude: -2.9732 / 2°58'23"W

OS Eastings: 335382

OS Northings: 389397

OS Grid: SJ353893

Mapcode National: GBR 76S.T3

Mapcode Global: WH877.9VFV

Plus Code: 9C5V92WG+XP

Entry Name: Anglican Cathedral Church of Christ

Listing Date: 28 June 1952

Last Amended: 22 March 2016

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1361681

English Heritage Legacy ID: 359401

Also known as: Cathedral Church of Christ in Liverpool
Liverpool Anglican Cathedral
Cathedral Church of Christ

ID on this website: 101361681

Location: Cathedral Church of Christ, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1

County: Liverpool

Electoral Ward/Division: Riverside

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Liverpool

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Church of England Parish: St Luke in the City Team

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool

Tagged with: Gothic Revival Anglican or episcopal cathedral

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Anglican Cathedral, begun 1904 and completed 1978, by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, brick with red sandstone facings, copper and reinforced concrete roofs, free and eclectic Gothic style. Lady Chapel built 1906-10 under the influence of G F Bodley. Chancel and East Transepts 1920-24, central Vestey Tower and West Transepts 1924-42, the Nave 1945-78.



Nave (also known as 'The Well') to ritual west (actual north) end, Chancel to ritual east (actual south) end with Ambulatory behind. Chancel flanked by North and South Choir Aisles. Vast Central Space under the Vestey Tower. Transepts to ritual east and west of great porches. Octagonal Chapter House to ritual north-east corner, Lady Chapel to ritual south-east corner. Set upon raised plateau of St James' Mount with former quarry to ritual north side containing early C19 grade I registered St James' Cemetery (now St James' Gardens).


Massive in scale with contrasting east and west ends; that to the east is more elaborate, that to the west is in stark simplicity. Gableted buttresses. Mortar pointing to exterior and interior deliberately designed by Scott to highlight the Cathedral's stonework structure.

WEST ELEVATION: Scott's West wall re-designed by Frederick G Thomas and Roger Arthur Philip Pinkney in 1967 (completed 1978) due to lack of funding. Massive arched recess containing 3-light Great West window with pinnacled crest and glazed tympanum, flanking buttresses surmounted by pinnacles. West Door (cathedral's ceremonial entrance) with elaborate carved niche above surmounted by 13 ft high green bronze figure of the 'Welcoming Christ' by Dame Elisabeth Frink (1992), flanking side doors.

NAVE: 3-bays, in same style as choir but with fewer carved figures, large windows to north and south sides with simple geometrical tracery incorporating 2-lights with sexfoil above, quadrant jambs, separated by widely spaced buttresses, arcaded gallery above each window.

TRANSEPTS: Two transepts to each north and south side with tall traceried arched windows of 2-lights with octofoil above, copper roofs. Low arched projections to left and right of south transepts contain undercroft entrances.

PORCHES: Space in between transepts occupied by enormous porches with wide arched entrances and flat reinforced concrete roofs; that to ritual north side known as the Welsford Porch, that to ritual south side known as the Rankin Porch (cathedral's main entrance). Both accessed by stone stair flights, Hillsborough memorial stone laid by steps to Rankin Porch. Tall iron gates to Rankin Porch surmounted by elaborate cross and fish design. Both porches contain large arch to rear containing three wide carved oak doors with flat ogee heads merging into traceried tympanum. Triple-light windows to porch side walls with pierced balustraded gallery to top, studded oak doors to each side of Rankin Porch interior. Carved figure sculpture to both porches by Edward Carter Preston (Sculptor to the Cathedral, 1931-1955) influenced by C13 French portal figures, features based upon people working in the Cathedral. Sculpture depicts themes of Natural and Supernatural Virtues, Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Resurrection, and the Active Life. Carved figures of George V, Queen Mary, George VI, and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother to side walls of Rankin Porch.

VESTEY TOWER: 331 ft high, spans Central Space above and behind porches, design worked on from 1910 with Burnard Green as engineer. Square lower stage with plainer masonry and single large window to each north and south side incorporating 3-lights with rose above. Upper stage of tower is tapered with more elaborate decoration, octagonal corner turrets surmounted by carved lanterns, tall paired lancet belfry windows with timber louvres, 8 pinnacles surmounting top of tower with one slightly taller than the rest (added in February 1942 with carved initials of Scott and date).

CHOIR: 3-bays with large windows to north and south sides with simple geometrical tracery incorporating 2-lights with sexfoil above, carved figures and quadrant jambs, separated by widely spaced buttresses, arcaded gallery above each window. Walled founder's plot to south side in front of choir.

EAST CHOIR ELEVATION: Dominated by massive Great East window with curvilinear tracery and wide central mullion incorporating statue niches, four small pointed arched windows below, all flanked by full-height buttresses and corner turrets with short spires. 2-storey buttressed projection to bottom of elevation with series of lunette windows with cusped lights to upper level lighting Ambulatory, plain triple-light windows to lower level lighting former vestries (now education rooms).

CHAPTER HOUSE: Octagonal in shape with conical copper roof, taller stair turret to north-east side, tall pointed arched windows with curvilinear tracery, open balustraded balcony wraps around upper part and connects to main body of cathedral via a high-level bridge. Chapter House provided by Freemasons of West Lancashire in memory of 1st Earl of Lathom (their 1st Provincial Grand Master).

LADY CHAPEL: Tall, narrow, rectangular chapel of 8-bays with end bays forming polygonal apse. Tall slender windows with Decorated-style tracery, pierced balustrades above and below windows attached to full-height buttresses. Porch attached to bay 1 on south side with tall 2-arched balcony above, carved figures of children by Lillie Read in C15 Italian Renaissance style.


Massive height with exceptionally tall Gothic arches to Nave, Transepts and Chancel. Subtle Gothic styling characterised by blank masonry broken up at strategic points by sophisticated and intricate detailing. Marble floor with hypocaust system. Animals feature heavily in the interior decoration. Interior woodwork by Green & Vardy and Waring & Gillow, metalwork by the Bromsgrove Guild, sculpture by Edward Carter Preston, Walter Gilbert and Louis Weingartner.

NAVE/'WELL': Sunken floor lower than Central Space and aisles, artificial sandstone vaulting known as 'Woolston' to second bay, triforium to each side of nave; that to south side contains Elizabeth Hoare Gallery. Late C20 toilets, lift, and stair inserted behind north wall of north aisle. Vestibule off adjacent south aisle containing stairs and lift to tower and operational K6 telephone kiosk (iconic 1935 design by Scott produced to celebrate Silver Jubilee of King George V). West Door with elaborate carved surround and crest with carving of royal coat of arms above, Great West/Benedicite window above.

DULVERTON BRIDGE/NAVE BRIDGE: Completed 1961, spans first bay of Nave and draws eye down length of cathedral. Surmounted by pierced oak balustrade and gallery, accessed by two stairs; that to south side with dedication stone reading 'THIS STONE WAS UNVEILED BY HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II ON 25TH OCTOBER 1978 AT THE SERVICE OF DEDICATION TO MARK THE COMPLETION OF THIS CATHEDRAL', that to north side with stone displaying carved initials of Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh with entwined lovers' knot.

NORTH-WEST TRANSEPT: Contains shop and mezzanine cafe, converted in late C20.

SOUTH-WEST TRANSEPT (BAPTISTRY): Ornate dodecagon font of buff coloured marble with carved figures of apostles to each side by Edward Carter Preston, 39 ft high elaborate oak baldachino (ornamental canopy) designed by Scott with painted and gilded ornamented panelled ceiling, 15 ft high carved oak font cover with pulley system concealed in columns of baldachino, all set upon black marble platform with inlaid mosaic depicting breaking waves and fishes representing Christianity. Robing rooms below transepts converted into the Western Rooms (banqueting rooms).

CENTRAL SPACE (area between transepts underneath tower): Circular inlaid marble memorial to Scott to centre of floor reads '1880-1960/SIR GILES GILBERT SCOTT/O.M..R.A./ARCHITECT'. Three doorways to each north and south side lead to Rankin and Welsford Porches, similarly styled to the outer doors with sculpture by Edward Carter Preston, tower windows above, vaulted vestibule beyond doors to Welsford Porch now contains a cafe. Two paintings by Adrian Wiszniewski depict the parable of the Good Samaritan and the House built upon Rock, donated by the Jerusalem Trust in 1996. Star-shaped vaulted ceiling to Central Space with central circular opening through which the bells were hauled, Corona Gallery immediately below vaulting (originally used by cathedral's choir).

TOWER: Reinforced concrete girdle to base, steel cradle supports 14 bells (highest and heaviest peal in the world) including the great Bourdon Bell ('Great George'), bells cast by Whitechapel Bell Foundry, psalm texts incorporated onto each bell. Massive bell chamber with tall oak louvres, concrete stairs lead up to roof.

NORTH-EAST TRANSEPT/WAR MEMORIAL CHAPEL: Ornate alabaster and gilt altarpiece. Low rectangular carved alabaster cenotaph set on shallow plinth to front of chapel surmounted by bronze case containing the Roll of Honour (names of 40,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen from the Liverpool area lost during the First World War), bronze angels set to each corner of the case face inwards with kneeling figures of a soldier, sailor, airman and marine facing outwards. Wide arched porch surmounted by balustraded gallery to each side of transept; that to east side has glass case with decorative carved surround containing King's Regiment's Roll of Honour. Military colours displayed to each side wall with carved regiment badges above. Ship's bell of HMS Liverpool commemorating Liverpool's role as allied headquarters during Battle of the Atlantic in the Second World War.

SOUTH-EAST TRANSEPT (DERBY TRANSEPT): Contains tomb of 16th Earl of Derby (first chairman of Cathedral Committee) designed by Scott, bronze memorial depicts recumbent effigy of the Earl resting his head on a sculpture of the Cathedral with a timorous mouse peering out from his drapery.

CHANCEL: Divided into Choir and Sanctuary. Carved stone pulpit with pierced balustrade and statue niches to left of Chancel entrance, incorporates carved inscription in memory of Sir Arthur Forwood and John Torr who raised the Bishopric Endowment Fund. Elaborate carved oak organ cases either side of Choir take up a complete bay, designed by Scott, project slightly into the Choir, contain organ by Henry Willis III installed 1926, rebuilt in 1958-60 and made electric by Henry Willis IV, console to north side, organ gifted by Mrs Barrow. Carved oak clergy and choir stalls (latter gifted by Lord & Lady Waring), incorporate carved paired Liver birds guarding the choir stall steps, Bishop's Throne with Diocesan crest carved above gifted by Miss Watt, crest replicated to mosaic in Presbytery floor (eastern part of Choir) in front. Two paintings behind choir stalls by Christopher Le Brun depict Good Samaritan and Return of the Prodigal Son, donated by the Jerusalem Trust in 1996. Decorative patterned marble floor to Sanctuary. Altar set upon stepped platform (steps in alternating light and dark coloured marble). Highly elaborate carved stone and gilded reredos behind by Weingartner & Gilbert, overall design by Scott influenced by Spain, gifted by Mrs Mark Wood, figures designed and carved by Walter Gilbert, figures in lighter coloured Wooler sandstone carved by Arthur Turner. Lower reredos panel depicts Last Supper, centre panel depicts Crucifixion flanked by scenes of the Passion, outer panels depict Nativity and Resurrection. Altar rail supported by ten bronze figures depicting Ten Commandments, by Weingartner & Gilbert.

NORTH CHOIR AISLE: Memorial inscriptions to walls, door to west end leads into Chapel of the Holy Spirit with alabaster altarpiece depicting Jesus praying at Sea of Galilee by William Gough, 'Redemption' artwork by Arthur Dooley and Ann McTavish.

CHAPTER HOUSE: Tall geometric-patterned metal entrance gates by Keith Scott (1980s). Concrete domed ceiling, patterned marble floor. Panelled oak stalls to lower part of walls with carved detailing to Bishops' and Dean's stalls, plain panelled oak altar with altar painting of Crucifixion (Craigie Aitchison, 1998). Large carved stone relief crests in between stained glass windows. Oak door with ornate metal strap hinges incorporating Lancashire rose motifs and carved stone surround set to north-east corner leads to turret stair and high-level gallery above Chapter House floor.

AMBULATORY: Situated behind High Altar, lower floor level, corbelled ribbed vaulted ceiling with carved bosses. Four arched openings to west side (with stained glass windows above) lead into lobby area with series of oak doors with decorative ironwork and carved stone surrounds (one of which depicts a rose and Bishop's mitre), former vestries behind now used as education rooms. Two wide arched openings to west side of Ambulatory provide processional route in and out of Sanctuary. Stair flights to each north and south end set within arched openings accessing choir aisles, small corbelled balconies above.

SOUTH CHOIR AISLE: Monuments to Bishop Chavasse, Bishop Ryle and Dean Frederick Dwelly to north side, foundation stone to south side with inscriptions by Herbert Tyson Smith reading 'TO THE GLORY OF GOD THIS FOUNDATION STONE WAS LAID BY KING EDWARD THE SEVENTH ON THE 19TH DAY OF JULY 1904', and 'OTHER FOUNDATION CAN NO MAN LAY THAN THAT WHICH IS LAID, WHICH IS JESUS CHRIST'. Stained glass rose windows to west end of each Choir Aisle. Two doors towards east end of south wall of South Choir Aisle lead to Lady Chapel; that to west accesses a stone stair leading to the chapel floor, door to east leads to arcaded gallery to west end of Lady Chapel with short stair flight connecting to main chapel stair.

LADY CHAPEL: By Bodley and Scott, richly decorated, dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus. Black and white marble chequerboard floor with interspersed motifs, decorative metal pendant lights by Scott, elaborate rib vaulted ceiling. Fine decorative stone carving by Joseph Phillips. Original choir stalls now removed. Wall piers linked by arches and pierced by narrow passage aisles, support triforium surmounted by elaborate crest, 38 carved angels with instruments project out above triforium, stylised stone inscription of the text 'GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON...' (St John 3:16) carved below triforium, tall stained glass windows above and behind. Altar to east end with ornate tryptych reredos designed by Bodley and Scott, figures by G W Wilson, constructed by Rattee & Kent, centrepiece with delicate gilt filigree surrounding painted panels depicting the Nativity and Christ's early ministry, flanked by blue panelled wings to each side with gilt text. C15 kneeling figure of Our Lady by Giovanni della Robbia to left of altar. 'Alleluia Door' to north side of chapel with bronze handle incorporating a snail and salamander, ornate carved stone surround incorporating 'ALLELUIA' and relief crown above door. Elaborate carved oak organ case designed by Scott to west end above arcaded gallery.

STAINED GLASS: Window themes chosen by stained glass committee led by Sir Frederick Radcliffe with large input from Scott.
GREAT WEST WINDOW/BENEDICITE WINDOW: By Carl Edwards, 3 lancets over 52ft high depicting creation with separate lunette window to top depicting the Risen Lord, covers 1600 sq ft in total, installed in 1978.
NAVE AISLES: Windows depict historical development of the ministry, teaching and liturgy of the Church of England. Bishops' window by William Wilson depicts various historical bishops. All remaining windows to Nave by Carl Edwards; Parsons' window depicts various clergy members. Laymen's window depicts tradesmen who worked on the cathedral and committee members, including G F Bodley, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, Sir William Forwood & the Earl of Derby. Musicians' Window depicts contributors to Anglican music. Hymnologists' window depicts hymn writers. Scholars' window depicts Oxford & Cambridge scholars, including the first Dean of Liverpool, Dean Frederick W Dwelly.
NORTH-WEST TRANSEPT: Window by Herbert Hendrie depicts theme of Church and State, including King George V and Queen Mary at 1924 consecration.
SOUTH-WEST TRANSEPT (BAPTISTRY): Window by Herbert Hendrie depicts salvation and healing through water, and baptisms.
CENTRAL SPACE: Old Testament window to north side of Central Space by James H Hogan depicts Old Testament figures and scenes, including Call of Abraham. New Testament window to south side of Central Space (also by Hogan) depicts New Testament figures and scenes, including Nativity and Crucifixion.
NORTH-EAST TRANSEPT/WAR MEMORIAL CHAPEL: Window by J W Brown & James H Hogan has theme of sacrifice and risen life.
SOUTH-EAST TRANSEPT: Window by J W Brown destroyed during the Second World War, replaced with simplified version by James H Hogan in same theme of Jesus' miracles.
GREAT EAST WINDOW/TE DEUM WINDOW: By J W Brown of Whitefriars Studios, gifted by Mrs Ismay, illustrates traditional hymn of the church 'Te Deum Laudamus', alternating bands of colour and clearer glass as dictated by Scott. Septfoil window to top depicts risen Jesus surrounded by heavenly chorus, two sets of paired lancets below with curvilinear-style tracery to top depict heavenly choirs with representatives of the faithful on Earth below, including apostles, saints, martyrs, and figures from the arts, science, law, commerce, scholarship, architecture and the army.
NORTH CHOIR AISLE: North Choir Aisle windows by J W Brown. 'Sapphire' window depicts St Matthew (symbolised as an angel) and Epiphany, 'Gold' window depicts St Luke (symbolised as an ox) and feeding of the five thousand, rose window to east end depicts journeys across the sea undertaken in faith.
CHAPTER HOUSE: Windows originally by Morris & Co, damaged in the Second World War and repaired by James Powell & Sons, depict interests and traditions of the Freemasons. Corn Merchants' window to Chapter House stair by C E Kempe & Co Ltd commemorates Woodward family (Liverpool corn merchants) 1803-1915.
AMBULATORY: Four windows by Burlison & Grylls each depict a pair of saints associated with the four nations of the British Isles.
SOUTH CHOIR AISLE: Windows by James H Hogan. 'Ruby' window depicts St John (symbolised as an eagle) and various biblical events, 'Emerald' window depicts St Mark (symbolised as a lion) and scenes from his gospel, rose window to east end by J W Brown depicts biblical demonstrations of God's power in and through water.
LADY CHAPEL: Windows illustrate role of women in history of faith from biblical times to C20, scroll runs across all windows displaying words of the Magnificat. Original glass designed by J W Brown destroyed during the Second World War, replaced by simplified adaptations by James H Hogan and Carl Edwards, gallery window above and behind organ by Hogan depicts Annunciation. Noble Women windows on west stair and atrium by J W Brown, 1921, donated by Girls' Friendly Society. Damaged in the Second World War but re-made to original designs, depict women who contributed to society, including Elizabeth Fry, Louisa Stewart, Grace Darling & Kitty Wilkinson.


In June 1901 Francis James Chavasse, 2nd Bishop of Liverpool embarked upon plans for an Anglican Cathedral on St James' Mount. An earlier scheme in 1885 for a cathedral designed by Sir William Emerson next to St George's Hall had already failed. Sir William Forwood offered his support to the bishop, along with the Earl of Derby who donated an initial £10,000.

In 1902 a competition was held to find an architect and a suitable design. Out of 103 entries judged by G F Bodley and R Norman Shaw, five were shortlisted including that of Giles Gilbert Scott (son of George Gilbert Scott and grandson of Sir George Gilbert Scott, both renowned architects). Scott's Gothic design was finally selected in 1903, and he was a controversial choice for some due to his youth, inexperience and Catholicism. A compromise was reached whereby G F Bodley would act as joint architect.

Funding for the cathedral throughout its construction was raised by local subscription, including over £300,000 that was donated by Lord Vestey and his brother Sir Edmund Vestey for the construction of the Vestey Tower in memory of their parents. The builders of the cathedral were William Morrison & Son. The cathedral's sandstone came from the nearby Woolton Quarry, owned by the Marquis of Salisbury who later presented the quarry to the Cathedral Committee.

The foundation stone (inscribed by Herbert Tyson Smith) was laid on 19 July 1904 by King Edward VII. The partnership between Scott and Bodley was not happy and Scott was about to resign when Bodley died in 1907. The Lady Chapel (funded by Arthur Earle on behalf of the Earle and Langton families) was under construction at this time and the design had been heavily influenced by Bodley. Scott subsequently redesigned everything above the arcades that had not yet been constructed, and the Lady Chapel opened in 1910.

On 19 July 1924 the main part of the cathedral, including the Sanctuary, Chapter House, Chancel and Eastern Transepts, was consecrated in a ceremony attended by King George V and Queen Mary. The following day Giles Gilbert Scott received a knighthood. He was later appointed to the Order of Merit in 1944.

Work on the cathedral was delayed during both World Wars due to a shortage of labour and money, and damage sustained during the Second World War.

Scott's design evolved continuously right up until his death in 1960, and the finished building bears little resemblance to that chosen in the competition of 1903, which had a longer nave and twin towers instead of the final central tower. His 1942 design for the West Wall was redesigned by Frederick G Thomas and Roger Arthur Philip Pinkney in 1967 due to a lack of funding. The final consecration service took place on 25 October 1978 when the Cathedral was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

A visitor centre/shop and refectory were created in the Welsford Porch and North-West Transept in 1984, and the Western Rooms were also converted into a dining area for larger groups in the 1980s. The statue of the Welcoming Christ by Dame Elisabeth Frink above the West Door was unveiled on 11 April 1993 by her son, Lin.

Reasons for Listing

The Anglican Cathedral Church of Christ is listed at Grade I for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural Interest: it is the last undoubted masterpiece of the Gothic style, and of Gothic craftsmanship, in England. Its inspired use of light, space and height within the interior creates a feeling of awe and dramatic splendour and mark it out as one of the world's greatest modern cathedrals;
* Architect: it was the life's work of the eminent C20 architect, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, inventor of the New Gothic style;
* Siting: set upon a raised plateau it forms a major landmark within Liverpool observable from all over the city and from the River Mersey ('the life of the city');
* Innovation: its construction displays great engineering skill that takes medieval concepts to their limits using C20 materials and techniques, including the tallest and widest Gothic arches in the world;
* Craftsmanship: the quality of design, craftsmanship, artistry and materials is of the highest order throughout the building;
* Artistry: the building's original concept has been enhanced by more modern works of art, including a powerful statue of the Welcoming Christ by Dame Elisabeth Frink.

External Links

External links are from the relevant listing authority and, where applicable, Wikidata. Wikidata IDs may be related buildings as well as this specific building. If you want to add or update a link, you will need to do so by editing the Wikidata entry.

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