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25 June, Wednesday

UNITED KINGDOM | Wednesday, 25 June 2008 | Views [206]

Today we finally managed to get back to Liverpool to visit both of the Cathedrals.

Our first stop was the Anglican Cathedral – the newest and largest Gothic Anglican Cathedral in the world. It was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (a Catholic!) when he was 20 years old, and when the only thing he had actually completed had been a pipe-rack. He was also the designer of the famous red telephone boxes. Work was started n 1904 and the Cathedral wasn’t completed until the 1970s, being officially opened by the Queen in 1978. I was confirmed there when I was a teenager, but hadn’t been back since.

It is an incredibly awe-inspiring building, with a tower higher than that of Westminster Abbey. We started our tour by climbing to the top of the tower, which is 101 metres high (we climbed up via two lifts and 108 steps). On the top, out in the open, the view was incredible and it was very windy. We could see for miles.

When we came back down, there was a short service going on, after which there was an announcement that a service of Holy Communion would be held in the Chapter House, which anyone could attend, so we did. It was a lovely experience, just the three of us plus the Minister and his assistant and two others.

Following this, we had lunch in the Refectory and then our audio tour which we all enjoyed. The stained glass windows are glorious and it was interesting to see the Lady Chapel where I had been confirmed. The High Altar, in the main body of the Cathedral, is beautiful and the organ is the biggest in the country. At the end of the audio we went to stand on the Nave Bridge where, through the headphones, we heard the choir sing – it was amazing! When we looked at our watches we found we’d been there for over 4 hours!

Next stop was the Catholic Cathedral, known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, and which is at the other end of Hope Street to the Anglican one. This is a very much more modern building but still very beautiful in its own way.  After the first attempt to build a Cathedral failed, the second attempt (by Sir Edward Lutyens) was also abandoned and it wasn’t until 1960 that Frederick Gibberd’s design (he was an Anglican!) was chosen and the present Cathedral completed in 1967.

The Cathedral is round in shape, with a modern tower on top. Inside it is very modern, with beautiful stained glass panels and wonderful tapestries. The altar is white marble and is in the centre, with the congregation (it can seat 2,300 people) sitting all around. Around this vast circular shape are small chapels containing works of art and devotion by contemporary artists, with 14 Stations of the Cross in manganeses bronze, by a local artist. The Crypt is the only part of the Sir Edwin Lutyens design to be completed and this is much more traditional. Unfortunately we weren’t able to go into the Crypt when we were there.

After our big tours, we decided to have a drink and went to the Philharmonic Pub for a Guinness – this is an old pub, very decorative and with small rooms with names such as Brahms and Liszt, giving it the atmosphere of a Gentleman’s Club – lots of Chesterfields and Tiffany lamps. Even the Gents’  is ornate, with all the fittings in marble. We inveigled Ron into taking a photo!

Home again for a quick dinner before heading out with Chris and her friend Gwyllem to North Wales to the Clwyd Theatre where we watched a comedy called The Bouncers, which was very funny. Boy, were we tired when we finally got to bed!

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