The theme of this, the final blog of this 12 blog series on the overview history of English Cathedrals, is 20th century cathedrals.
There were three new-build cathedrals in the 20th century, the 10 other new cathedrals being previously parish churches – Southwark 1905, Birmingham 1905, Bury St. Edmonds 1914, Chelmsford 1914, Sheffield 1914, Bradford 1920,Blackburn 1926, Leicester 1927,Derby 1927 and Portsmouth 1927.
The three new-builds of the 20th century are; Liverpool (s.p.b.), Guildford 1960s and Coventry 1962.
The construction of Guildford cathedral had begun in the late 1920s but was later interrupted by the restrictions and regulations of the Second World War. In some ways similar to Liverpool its style is lofty and plain. Its style is similar to a number of more modest 20th century churches in Hull – a topic worthy of further consideration.
Coventry cathedral was built between 1956 and 1962 in a very modernist style alongside the nave and chancel of the late-14th, early-15th century St. Michael’s church ruined by enemy bombing during the Second World War. As may be seen in the photo above the elegant tower and spire of the gothic church survived and is still used as a belfry. The new cathedral incorporates many items of modernist art, not only in its built style but also in its fixtures and fittings. Given its history Coventry cathedral has focussed-on the theme of Reconciliation in promoting its Christian ethics.
All three new-build cathedrals were officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II and it is certainly true that the building programme of both Liverpool and Coventry cathedrals were matters of national interest back in the day.
Will there be re-newed cathedral building in the 21st century?, probably not, the Established Church needing to be seen to be more concerned with people rather than bricks and morter, although a 21st century cathedral would probably be steel-frame and cladding – the beauty of holiness!
(I may take a week off before beginning my next theme.)