musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Abercromby Square

Loving Liverpool (7) The Catholic Cathedral

As I was saying…

I will admit that I have not been to many Catholic Cathedrals, or even been inside any of their churches, although the odds are that some of the older churches and cathedrals may have been from the Catholic Faith before the reformation. 

Liverpool has two cathedrals: the Anglican Cathedral has already been covered in this blog, and of course the Catholic Cathedral.  When doing my navigation I really added the latter to my list of places to visit if I had any spare time, which I did. The cathedral is officially known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, or better known as the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Google Earth co-ordinates are:  53.404769°  -2.968593°

My first real view of the building was when I was looking for Abercromby Place, it was really a landmark for the park, but I had ended up in the wrong street originally so it did not help me anyway. At that time of the early evening the cathedral was closed anyway, but at first glimpse it did not really inspire much interest because it was obviously a modern iteration of a cathedral and as a result I really expected the worst. Clinical concrete, chrome and glass.

I was absolutely shocked when I arrived there for my visit though because the interior I saw was like nothing that I had experienced before.  There was a service on the go in the one chapel when I got there so I ambled along on the periphery just absorbing the ambience of the building. It was like walking around the periphery of a stadium, and it was a long distance to walk around too!

The interior was stunning; yes, there was concrete and neon and glass but it blended in with the interior space, and of course the large lantern was letting in the right amount of light and it blended well with the stained glass and coloured lighting. The altar and pulpit were in the centre with light coloured wood bench seating all around it.

It was really an awe inspiring building, and so very different from any of the other cathedrals and abbeys that I have seen already. It was designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd, and construction began in October 1962 and it was consecrated on the Feast of Pentecost 14 May 1967. It is almost as old as I am!

The bells are incorporated in the wedge shape above the entrance.

Aspects of the interiors were almost simple, but so very effective in how they were presented. The one memorable piece of art (14 pieces actually) was Stations of the Cross by Sean Rice.

Many years ago I was given a year book from 1967 and there were images of the newly consecrated cathedral in the book, I recall that those images were odd, part of the vision of the future presented in the present. As I walked around those images came back to me and the dots were connected, this was the same place! It was infinitely better in real life.

Once the service was over I could explore, but I seem to think that somewhere in the building somebody was doing something that involved moving something else because their voices resonated around me. What would a service sound like? Or even the organ? I don’t have answers to those I am afraid.

Unfortunately I did not get to look around the much vaunted Luytens Crypt, but that is parr for the course for me. One more for the bucket list if ever I return to Liverpool in the future.

I left after a final look around and headed to my next destination. But to be honest that building really impressed me, it did not have the heaviness of the Anglican Cathedral, but had a light and almost joyous feel about it. Had the grand vision of Lutyens been built it would have really overpowered everything and it probably would feel very much like St Paul’s in London which made you feel small and not welcome. Fortunately the Metropolitan was  nothing like that.

The Baptistry

 

It had been a brief visit, but I came away much more impressed than when I had arrived. The building has its faults though and there was a lot of controversy when it started to leak shortly after it was completed. And of course detractors condemned it when they saw it. But I expect that it is past that point a long time ago and is now a part of the landscape and the congregation would not have it otherwise. The big question is: in 100 years time, will it still be here? how will it survive the weight of ages like so many cathedrals and abbeys? I guess we will only know in 100 years time. 

I do recommend a visit to the cathedral website too. The Cathedral is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Liverpool and the seat of the Archbishop of Liverpool, the spiritual leader of the whole Northern Province of the Catholic Church in England. 

Having visited the Cathedrals of Liverpool it was time to come to grips with Western Approaches Command. Have your pass ready please. 

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DRW © 2018. Created 06/06/2018

Updated: 27/06/2018 — 19:10

Loving Liverpool (3) Museum of the Moon

In which we go looking for Abercromby Square.

Having checked into my hotel and showered I still had some time to kill as the sun was still high and bedtime was nowhere close. Marked on my navigation was “Abercromby Square” which sounds kind of obscure but there was a reason for my interest. 

Liverpool was home to members of the Chavasse family, the most famous of whom was Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse. VC*, MC. while his father was the second Bishop of Liverpool. I was keen to find the place because there was a statue of him in the square. It was more like a pilgrimage though, and one of the many reasons I was visiting this city originally. Unfortunately my street map did not show the square, but I knew it was close to the Catholic Cathedral so technically should not be too difficult to find as long as I went up the right street in the first place. Unfortunately I did not and while I could see the cathedral I could not work out where the park was on the ground in relation to it.

Catholic Cathedral

My mapping app did not work either because it would never refresh and if you tried to refresh it manually all you would end up was a “mapping app has stopped functioning” error. Bah humbug! I decided that my best course was to try the roads at the front of the cathedral (this is the back) and see what happens. Fortunately a kind hearted soul took pity on me and pointed down the road to a green area 3 blocks away. Huzzah! the destination was in sight. 

Abercromby Square

The statue was not in the square but on the pavement next to it, and it was such a moment to see that statue. 

The statue was engraved:

“Liverpool Heroes.
This scuplture commemorates the life and death of captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse
VC and Bar, MC, RAMC. Medical officer to the 10th battalion (Liverpool Scottish)
King’s Liverpool Regiment, and fifteen other recipients of the Victoria Cross who were
born in Liverpool and whose names appear around the base

Captain Chavasse, son of the second Bishop of Liverpool, was the only man to be
awarded two Victoria Crosses during World War I, and died on 4th August 1917 of
wounds received in Flanders

Several of the other’s also made the supreme sacrifice. May this memorial remind
us all of the debt we owe to such men.

“Greater love hath no man than this
that a man lay down his life for his friends”

The names around the base are:


The sculptor is Tom Murphy of Liverpool

It was time to move on. The Catholic Cathedral was closed so I started to head towards the direction of town. Unfortunately for me, the Anglican Cathedral loomed close by at the end of a street. It just seemed so close. 

The sun was still shining and I had some time to kill so I thought I would head down in that direction and have a quick recce before returning the next day. There were really two spaces I wanted to visit at what is known as “St James Mount”:- the first was the actual cathedral, and the second was a cemetery known as St James Garden (aka St James Cemetery). Situated behind the cathedral it was created below ground level in a former quarry that was in use till 1825, and until 1936 was used as the Liverpool city cemetery and contrary to what you would think, the cemetery is not associated with the cathedral. It is a very beautiful place and I was very glad that I saw it in the evening light.

I went in through the gate by the Oratory, which is  the former mortuary chapel of the cemetery. It was designed in 1829 in classic Greek architecture by John Foster Jnr, as a re-creation of a Greek temple. 

The Oratory

It was all downhill from here…

Once flat ground was reached I was in a quiet park, dotted with headstones, flowers, pathways, mausoleums and trees. People were sitting around and enjoying the coolness of the air, others were walking their dogs or just strolling. It was hard to believe that you were actually in a cemetery that held close to 60 000 people. 

The domed cupola in the last image is the Huskisson Monument, it was designed to house the statue of William Huskisson who holds the distinction of being the world’s first reported railway passenger casualty; when he was run over and fatally injured by George Stephenson’s pioneering locomotive engine Rocket. The statue is no longer there, but the monument is.  A mineral spring also flows through this area (the Chalybeate) although I did not see it at the time.  From the flatness of the bottom of the quarry it was time to ascend. I was starting to tire and needed to make my way home so I followed the path upwards to the gate and to ground level. 

This was the back of the cathedral and even here people were enjoying the warm evening air. I really felt like staking a spot for myself but I still had a long walk ahead of me so resting was not an option at this point.

I walked past the huge building and it is a mighty, lofty, looming building. It is reportedly the largest Anglican Cathedral ever built. I came to the spot where I had entered the area and saw that the Cathedral was open so decided to pop in and have a quick look….

When I saw what was inside it my plans for heading back to the hotel went for a wobbly because there was an event going on in it called:

The Museum of the Moon.

Museum of the Moon is a new touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. Measuring seven metres in diameter, and internally lit,  the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface*. (https://my-moon.org/about/)

I kid you not, the moon was shining in the cathedral, and it was magnificent. Photographs do not do the work justice. 

It was one of those things that children would love and adults would be amazed by. Everywhere people were taking photographs and just staring. The huge cavernous interior of the cathedral just made it so much more impressive. It was like something out of the original “Despicable Me” movie. The coloured lights on the walls of the image above is caused by the sun shining through the stained glass windows of the cathedral. I am not covering the cathedral in this blogpost but will cover it on it’s own page, these images are all about the moon….​

And having stood in awe at the moon and the cathedral I shall now turn the page and cover the cathedral on the next page.

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I headed off home after a quick walk around and spent a restless night trying to get to sleep. I was bushed, but the reality is that I had accomplished all that I wanted to see and do in half a day. The only thing left was the ferry trip across to Birkenhead and of course the cathedral.   

DRW © 2018. Created 03/05/2018

Updated: 14/06/2018 — 05:38
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