What was a simple church built to adapt to the rapid growth of the town, is now a historic, heritage-listed building in the heart of Birmingham. The beautiful St. Philip’s Cathedral has served the Anglican-catholic community of Birmingham since 1715 and remains the oldest building in the city centre to still be used for its original purpose. Besides worship, you can visit this historic landmark every day and even attend a spellbinding Candlelight concert at its sanctuary.
The cathedral is located in the heart of the city centre near The Grand Hotel Birmingham and the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. The nearest station is Snow Hill if you’re taking the train or Metro services, but all city centre buses pass by, as well. Additionally, there is limited on-street parking in Colmore Row, Temple Row and Waterloo Street.
Facts, Curiosities and Interesting Things about St. Philip’s Cathedral
1. The story starts with the church of St. Philip, built and consecrated in 1715.
Due to the rapid growth of the town in the 17th century, a notable English Baroque architect was hired to design an Anglican church that would serve the growing population of Birmingham. Influenced by the churches of Borromini, Thomas Archer included a dome, volutes, giant pilasters, oval windows, rusticated stonework and a balustrade with decorative urns in the structure. Certainly, its main highlights are the four beautiful stained-glass windows, designed by Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones that depict the scenes from the life of Christ.
2. Additions to the initial design were made in 1725.
The construction of a tower became possible in 1725 through donations by the King. It also consisted of a gilded cross, a weather vane a boar’s head and orb. The weather vane was meant to include a part of the Gough family crest, who were responsible for garnering the funds needed for the tower’s completion.
3. There’s a historic Swarbick organ still in place, dating back to 1715.
Originally built by Thomas Swarbick, a renowned English organ builder in the 18th century, the beautiful organ of the cathedral still dates in part from 1715. It was first positioned in a West end gallery and restored, enlarged and modernised several times to include some more modern installments. The most recent major changes were made by Nicholsons in 1993. The cathedral has a strong tradition of musical prominence, linked to its organ and the regular evensong that takes place every day during school time.
The popular Candlelight concert series is known for its signature sea of candles and the culturally significant locations where such intimate concerts take place. This season, Birmingham Cathedral is one of the select venues to host a number of tributes to contemporary artists in the likes of Coldplay, Taylor Swift, Oasis, Leonard Cohen and Adele. The combination of the cathedral’s heavenly sanctuary and the warm glow of candlelight makes for a breathtaking backdrop to one-of-a-kind classical performances.
What else can you do at St. Philip’s Cathedral?
St. Philip’s Cathedral is free to enter and open daily till 17:00 if you want to visit its stunning interiors, take pictures and marvel at the many features of the nave. There’s also a children’s choir that often performs in the cathedral. If you’re interested in learning more about updated weekly events, keep an eye out on the church’s calendar.
The beautiful St. Philip’s Cathedral is a historic landmark you can’t miss on your next visit to the city centre. It has heaps of stunning architectural features that are definitely worth the visit. What’s more, the cathedral is offering a range of Candlelight tributes to popular modern-day artists. For those of you interested in finding out more about Candlelight, there are several other locations across the city hosting these performances, as well.