St. Philip’s Cathedral, Birmingham

Constructed at the start of the 18th Century as a parish church for central Birmingham, St. Philip’s became the city’s cathedral in 1905.

Having been built, to accommodate rising congregations, at the point when Birmingham began to rapidly expand; St. Philip’s can in many ways could be considered to have developed alongside the city that it serves. It is easy to read the story of Birmingham’s path to modernity through the fabric of the building and the items and religious artifacts that it contains.

The Cathedral is built in the baroque style and its interior is largely in the same early 18th Century style. As an architectural style baroque is deeply influenced by the designs of the classical world, albeit heavily filtered through a northern European lens.

Affluent Birmingham residents in the 19th Century paid for the church to be partially remodeled. Changes in worship style led to chancel being extended under the direction of local architect J.A. Chatwin (who also worked on the refurbishment of Edgbaston Old Church). Between 1885 and 1897 the Birmingham born pre-raphaelite Sir Edward Burne-Jones designed and produced a series of stained glass windows illustrating key scenes from the life of Christ. The glass work was done by William Morris’ firm.

Changing ideas about worship have led to further changes since St. Philip’s became a cathedral in 1905. The fixtures installed for the Bishop of Birmingham, like the bishop’s throne, are grand and heavy, showcasing the power and authority of the Church of England and the British state. More recent additions to the Cathedral such as the font, which dates from the early 1980s and the more modern religious art are a lot lighter and speak to a growing sense in the second half of the 20th Century that the church should display openness and sense of equality. Some of the recent additions to the church speak other cultures around the world reflecting the diverse nature of Birmingham’s population in the 21st Century.


Photographs of St. Philip’s and its surroundings

 


Objects and Ornamentation Inside St. Philip’s

 


 

Stained Glass Inside St. Philip’s

Nativity and Crucifixion


Accession and Return


 

A link to an in depth audio interview with Lay Canon Terry Slater, in which he explains the history and symbolism of the Burne-Jones windows, and other features of St. Philip’s Cathedral including the font  (26 minutes).