Sunday, 6 September 2020

Belfast Cathedral Design

Belfast Cathedral ~ the Cathedral Church of Saint Anne in Belfast ~ is a relatively recent ecclesiastical building.

Construction began, in fact, during the end of Queen Victoria's reign.

Belfast itself is of relatively recent growth; unlike, for instance, ancient cathedral cities like Canterbury, York, or Dublin.

The Cathedral's foundation stone was laid in 1899 by the Countess of Shaftesbury, and blessed by the Rt Rev Thomas Welland, Lord Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore.

The last public service in the original St Anne's parish church was held on the 31st December, 1903, prior to demolition.

Sir Thomas Drew's original design

The nave of the new cathedral church was, in fact, built around the old church of 1776.
St Anne's Parish Church was provided at the sole expense of the landlord of the town, Arthur, 1st Marquess of Donegall.
The traditional name by which the church should have been called was St Patrick's, but the noble donor wished to honour the name of his first wife (née the Lady Anne Hamilton, daughter of James, 5th Duke of Hamilton) and so it was dedicated in the name of SAINT ANNE, the mother of the Virgin Mary.
The Cathedral chapter, board and vestry had ambitious plans for the new cathedral.

It was intended to build a lady chapel at the east end of the cathedral, 76 feet long and 30 feet wide, terminating at an apse with a domed roof.

The present apse constitutes the eastern end of the cathedral, though the lady chapel was intended to accommodate a congregation of about 200 people with a small chamber organ.

CLICK TO ENLARGE ~ Architectural Design for Completion

A TOWER was also planned (or proposed), rising to a pinnacle and linked to the north-east side of the Cathedral by a covered cloister and vestibule.

It was to be 210 feet in height, twice the height of the nave's roof.

At its base, the Tower was to have an exterior measurement of 40 feet square, progressively stepped down to 32 feet square.

The lower portion of the Tower was intended to serve as a Chapter House.

This tower was to house a campanile or bell chamber, 24 feet square, and containing a grand peal of bells.

The lady chapel and the tower are the two primary features which were abandoned.

In 2007, a stainless steel pinnacle, 130 feet in height, was installed on top of the cathedral.

It was named the "Spire of Hope".

The structure can be illuminated at night.

The base section of the spire protrudes through a glass platform in the cathedral's roof directly above the choir stalls, allowing visitors to view it from the nave.

First published in September, 2014.


Andrew said...

This may be a naive question, but why did they demolish a parish church to build a cathedral? Presumably it was too poky. My home town of Derby turned All Saints Parish Church into Derby Cathedral in the 1920s pretty much as it was I think. Maybe expectations of a cathedral are different in England!

Timothy Belmont said...

Belfast had been granted city status; the Mayor became a Lord Mayor, and styled Right Honourable. There was great pride, and it was felt that the city should have a cathedral.

Despite this, a bishop of Belfast was never created in the Church of Ireland. Belfast Cathedral is shared jointly between two dioceses, and there are two episcopal thrones!

Andrew said...

I've never quite got to the bottom of the symbiotic relationship between cities and cathedrals. Derby had the cathedral from the 1920s but was not made a city till the Jubilee year 1977 when I saw the Queen there as a boy. St Asaph and St David's in Wales both have cathedrals and are probably thus small cities. Not sure if this works in Ireland. Cashel in County Tipperary where I lived has a C of I cathedral but think it unlikely Cashel is considered a city. Same with Cloyne in County Cork.

Unknown said...

Can you send me the plan of the Belfast Cathedral in higher resolution ? I'm very interested in this kind of architecture.