Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King - Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, UK

Frederick Gibberd
Date Built
1962 - 1967
Mount Pleasant
Because of dramatic increases in the Catholic population of Liverpool in the middle of the 19th Century (due to the migration out of Ireland during the potato famine) it was decided that a cathedral was required.  The first attempt to do that was a building in Everton designed by Pugin.  Unfortunately, construction only progressed to the point of building the Lady Chapel.  The money ran out and the chapel became a parish church called " Our Lady Immaculate",  which survived until the 1980s.

The second attempt followed the aquisition of the site of today's cathedral.  This time the architect was Edwin Lutyens and his design was monumental.  Had it been built it would have dominated the city skyline being 190 feet taller than the Anglican cathedral.  Work did begin on Lutyens' building.  The foundation stone was laid in 1933 in the height of the depression and building on the crypt continued until 1941.  After the War though the decision was first made to scale down the building and then in 1960 to start again with a competition for a new design.  Significantly though, the crypt of Lutyens' cathedral was actually completed and the building we see today sits above it.

Frederick Gibberd won the competition and construction began in 1962.  The building was constructed of concrete clad with Portland stone in a shape that resembles an inverted funnel winning it the nickname of "The Mersey Funnel."

It is supported by sixteen concrete trusses linked by two ring beams.  Rising up in the centre is a lantern tower that floods the interior in colour.

 At the top is a metal crown.

The approach to the cathedral from Hope street is via a long flight of steps that take worshippers under a wedge-shaped tower which holds four bells.  Below the bells there is a relief sculpture by William Mitchell that includes three crosses.

The conical design results in a massive open internal space uninterupted by supporting pillars.

The focal point of the interior is the white marble altar and above the altar is a "baldachino", a crown-like structure that was designed by Frederick Gibberd.

Arranged around the outside are a number of chapels .....

...  many containing exquisite works of art like this "Virigin and Child" by Robert Brumby.

Then in the Chapel of Unity you will find this mosaic by George Mayer-Merton.

As a twist on the tradition of lecterns with eagle bookrests, here you will find this wonderful sculpture of sea eagles cast in silvered bronze designed by Sean Rice and created by Robin Riley . 

And below the cathedral you can visit the restored Crypt that is all that remains of Lutyens' dream

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