Westminster Cathedral, London

John Francis Bentley
Date Built
Cathedral Plaza, Westminster
The foundation stone for Westminster Cathedral was laid in 1895 and eight years later the basic fabric of the building was completed.  The building is Grade 1 Listed and has been described as one of the finest examples of Byzantine art in the world.  John Betjeman described it as,  " ... a masterpiece in striped brick and stone in an intricate pattern of bonding, the domes being all-brick in order to prove that the good craftsman has no need of steel or concrete."

The British Listed Buildings website says this about the exterior of the building, " Free Byzantine style. Complex west facade stepping forward in lower stages with central entrance in semi-circular arch with decorative voussoirs, columned jambs and mosaic by Robert Anning Bell in tympanum and sculptured medallions of 12 Archbishops of Canterbury. Blind round-arched arcading to upper tier, flanked by polygonal towers with corner buttresses supporting domes."

A square campanile tower rises to 273 feet in height.  It is dedicated to St Edward the Confessor and contains a solitary bell called ‘Edward’ that was the gift from the Duchess of Norfolk, in 1910.  A lift takes visitors up to the viewing gallery at the top.


Inside the Cathedral remains unfinished but nevertheless it is a magnificent space dominated by the vast nave.  The Catholic Encyclopedia describes it as follows: "The main piers and transverse arches that support the domes divide the nave into three compartments, each 60 feet square. The domes rest on the arches at a height of 90 feet from the floor; the total internal height being 111 feet, or about 10 feet higher than the choir of Westminster Abbey."

Arranged on either side of the nave are panels depicting the Stations of the Cross.  These were created by the sculptor Eric Gill.

Beyond the nave are a number of spectacularly decorated chapels.

In 2012 the Cathedral has a website dedicated to a Restoration Appeal.  It says that they need to raise £3m to, " ... fund a major restoration programme, including urgent repairs to the Cathedral's domes, and modernising electrical and mechanical systems."

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