The site of Blackburn Cathedral has been home to a church for over a thousand years, but today’s structure was built in 1826 as St Mary’s Church. It has been renovated and extended over the years and was elevated to cathedral status with the creation of the Diocese of Blackburn in 1926. It is the only Anglican cathedral in Lancashire.
The octagonal lantern tower is one of the cathedral’s most striking features. Its 56 panes of stained glass illuminate the altar below. A steel corona, representing Christ’s crown of thorns, hangs from it. The altar, corona, and glasswork were designed by John Hayward.
Another example of Hayward’s work can be found above the cathedral’s main entrance. The huge statue of Christ the Worker looks down on the nave. It hangs on a metallic frame reminiscent of a Lancashire weaving loom.
The exterior wall on the western side of the building features what is widely regarded as the most radical sculpture of any English cathedral. The Healing of the Nations is a circular design, measuring eight meters in diameter. Fibre optic cables, threaded between the sculpture’s copper panels, emit ever-changing patterns of light in the evening. It was designed by Mark Jalland and added in 2001.
In 2015 the cathedral was extended further with the completion of Cathedral Court. The extension comprises a library, refectory, underground car park, and accommodation for clergy and staff. It is part of Blackburn’s Cathedral Quarter development. Other elements of the project include a new transport interchange, hotel, and offices.
Head down into the basement for the most unusual dining location in Blackburn. The Café in the Crypt is open during the week for breakfast and lunch.
Blackburn Cathedral is situated in the heart of Blackburn town centre, right next to Blackburn Train Station. Admission is free and all are welcome.