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Description: Westminster Cathedral
Date Listed: 1 December 1987
English Heritage Building ID: 208558
OS Grid Reference: TQ2924879074
OS Grid Coordinates: 529248, 179074
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4958, -0.1395
TQ 2979 SW CITY OF WESTMINSTER ASHLEY GARDENS SW1
99/15 The Metropolitan Cathedral
Church of the Most
the address shall be amended to read: "ASHLEY PLACE (south side) - Westminster Cathedral"
and the description shall be amended to read as follows:
Roman Catholic Cathedral. Commissioned by Cardinal Vaughan: built 1895-1903 to the designs of J F Bentley; consecrated 1910; interior fitting-out continued by John A Marshall of Bentley's office. Red brick, Portland stone bandings and dressings on Cornish granite plinth, with concrete foundations and vaults. Saucer domes of brick and concrete, three over nave and one over sanctuary. Narthex flanked by baptistery and porch, aisled 3-bay nave with 4 aisle chapels to (liturgical) north and three to south, where western one is subsituted by base of 284ft campanile; narrow two-bay transepts beyond which the apsed choir and sanctuary is flanked by apsed and aisled chapels. Sacristry to rear.
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. Two-storey wings to either side with round-arched arcading and plate tracery. Further domes over the polygonal corner turrets to the banded bulk of the nave. Square campanile with polygonal buttressing at top supporting cupola. Side elevations with Diocletian
windows, paired round-arched and plate traceried windows divided by angular buttresses in each bay; these rise behind flat roof from less moulded ground-floor aisles, and similarly the gabled transepts are shallowly moulded. Sanctuary towers are polygonal with shallow, blind arcading and onion domes over corner buttresses. Three-bay sacristry with Diocletian windows to ground floor, round-arched lancets above.
The interior has never been completed, yet is magnificent - the nave for its volume and (especially) the chapels for their wealth of enrichment, most of it mosaic in keeping with Bentley's intention and much of it to his design. The walls lined with veined marble in cream and green to springer level. The brickwork above left rough for future mosaics where not yet installed. Narthex, for which Bentley left complete designs, with columns of Norwegian granite
and marble floor. Organ by Henry Willis and Sons over. Nave has broad galleries over aisles, supported at the centre of each bay by paired monolithic columns, the Carrara marble capital of each being a different design. Stations of the Cross by Eric Gill, 1913-18. Pulpit remodelled and enlarged 1934 by L H Shattock. Rood by Christian Symons. Statue of St Peter copied from that at St Peter's, Rome, c.1900. Pendant lights of 1909.
Aisle chapels separated by further single columns of rare marble. The Chapel of the Holy Souls completed to Bentley's fully worked out designs, in black and white marble and with carefully overseen mosaics by Christian Symons 1902-3. Altarpiece shows Christ enthroned. Marble floor 1906, bronze gilt grille 1908.
Chapel of St George and the English Martyrs, also developed as a war memorial from 1915; largely designed by Marshall with altarpiece by Eric Gill, 1946. Figure of St George by Lindsay Clarke. Shrine to St John Southworth (1592-1654), reintered here in 1930. Apsed chapel of St Joseph with fine altar by Marshall, and monolithic panels of c.1992.
On south side, from the west the baptistery, with font by Bentley. Statue of St John the Baptist. Marble screen and steps lead to the Chapel of St Gregory and St Augustine, with altarpiece by Henry Holliday set into design by Bentley (drawn up in detail by him and which he later simplified) with mosaics by Clayton and Bell 1902-4. Chapel of St Patrick and the Saints of Ireland, clad in Irish marbles with memorials to the Irish regiments of 1914-18, designed by Marshall in the 1920s; the altar also by him, 1910; statue of St Patrick by Arthur Pollen. The
green hue of this chapel is in contrast to the blue and white of the neighbouring Chapel of St Andrew and the Scottish Saints, the gift of Lord Bute and the work of R Weir Schultz 1910-14. Lean openwork screens of white metal by W Bainbridge Reynolds; sculpture by Stirling Lee, stalls by Ernest Gimson (considered amongst his finest works) with kneelers by Sidney Barnsley, reliquary by Harold Stabler and altar cards by Graily Hewitt. Chapel of St Paul similar to Marshall's work for that to St Joseph, 1913-17.
Transepts with doors and confessionals by Bentley and Marshall, the latter a standard design for the Cathedral also found in St Patrick's Chapel and elsewhere. Mosaic of St Joan of 1909-12 by Christian Symons in north transept, where also is the Chapel of St Thomas of Canterbury - the Vaughan Chantry. Effigy of Cardinal Vaughan by Marshall and carved by Henry McCarthy; Marshall's also the marble and mosaic decoration, as designed by him in 1907.
Sanctuary has marble and jasper arcades supporting arcaded tribune above. High altar of Cornish granite, with baldacchino of Veronese marble on marble floor, designed by Bentley in 1901 and executed by Farmer and Brindley in 1905-6. Bas relief by Lindsay Clark; mosaic in tympanum over high altar by Gilbert Pownall, of Christ in Glory. Fittings by Marshall, 1908-10. Sacristy to rear not seen. Crypt under sanctuary dedicated to St Peter, with tombs to Cardinal Wiseman
by Edward Welby Pugin and to Cardinal Manning by Bentley (but only partly carried out) and mosaics by Christian Symons. Bentley left designs for the marble work.
The northernmost of the aisles to the apsed chapels either side of the Sanctuary forms the Shrine of the Sacred Heart and St Michael. Black Panderma marble installed by Farmer and Brindley with contrasting white marbles and rosso antiquo highlights; mosaic of the Holy Face the last work of Christian Symons, 1910. Alabaster statue of the Sacred Heart by Farmer and Brindley and bas relief of St Michael on altar frontal completed by 1919. Silver lamp before the statue
by Osmond Bentley and J A Marshall, who also designed the electric light pendants.
Linked by screens is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, marble clad between 1904 and 1909, enclosed by grilles and gates 1907 by Marshall, above which is represented the 'Pelican in her Piety'. Altar rail 1908, tabernacle and suspended canopy 1909, all by Marshall. Mosaics by Boris Anrep, completed in 1962. -
The Lady Chapel is clad in richly-coloured rare marbles, completed c.1914. White marble altar, with mosaic of Our Lady with the Holy Child by Anning Bell executed by a Miss Martin, who also did those to the apse recesses. Other mosaics by Gilbert Pownall, C15 Nottingham alabaster statue installed 1955, marble floor 1956.
Winegride de L'Hopital, Westminster Cathedral and its Architect, vol. I, 1919. Westminster
Cathedral, popular guide, n.d.
Westminster Cathedral Bulletin, July-August 1993.
TQ 2979 SW CITY OF WESTMINSTER ASHLEY GARDENS
Cathedral Church of
the Most Precious Blood
Roman Catholic Cathedral. 1895 to 1903 J. F. Bentley. Red brick, Portland stone
bands and dressings. Free Byzantine style. Narthex, aisled nave with aisle
chapels; transepts with chapels to east; chancel Tower to northwest, of square
section, pilaster strips, complex upper stage with corner buttresses supporting
polygonal dome cupola raised upon arcaded drum. Complex west facade stepping
forward to lower stages with central entrance in semicircular arch with
decorative voussoirs, columned jambs and mosaic to tympanum. Blind arcading to
upper stages with arched windows and raised domed finials to west end of nave and
narthex. Magnificent interior. Nave of three domed bays, with internal
buttresses rising to deep sill height arches, two per bay, this rhythm further
subdivided by aisle arcade, of four arches per bay, which supports a broad
gallery to north and south. Side chapels beyond aisles, in Italian manner.
Eastern bay of nave forms crossing; arcades form screens across transept ends.
Dome to chancel punctured by semicircular windows. Apse and semidome to east
end. Paired arched windows to gallery with thermal windows over; plate tracery
of various patterns. Rich marble cladding to aisles, arcades and chapels; brick
to upper structure; mosaics to northeast and southeast chapels. Interior
fittings of superb quality including Bentley's font, baldacchino, screen etc;
Eric Gill's Stations of the Cross, 1913 - 18 and his sculpture above the altar in
the Chapel of St George; Weir Schultz's Chapel of St Andrew with stalls of 1912
by Gimson, considered one of Gimson's finest works, and kneelers by Sidney
Barnsley. Also many other fine fittings.
London, Vol I. N Pevsner. Edwardian Architecture and its Origins. Ed A Service.
Listing NGR: TQ2925279068
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.