We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Marcus, our new guest blogger. This year he decided to attempt to visit and photograph every Anglican and Catholic Cathedral in England and Wales. He’s going to write a piece for our website about some of those he’s visited and how it felt as a ‘visitor’ to them.
He’s started with Blackburn Cathedral. Enjoy!
Early in 2019, I realised I’d visited quite a lot of cathedrals and was a regular visitor to Gloucester.
With the year of the Cathedral coming in 2020 I wondered, if I could visit all of them, all 42 Anglican Cathedrals in England before the year-end. Over the next year, I’d like to share some of that journey, what it meant and where it took me.
So let’s start the journey in the café of Blackburn Cathedral, one of Britain’s newest cathedrals. I was about to go up the stairs when a door opened followed by thirty primary school kids who bounded upstairs. A cathedral volunteer said “Do you want to have a look?” and opened up the undercroft, which is usually closed. It’s in need of a lot of work, there is an appeal on to raise the money to make a first-class community space which will be so valuable.
I could hear the children; they were bellowing the Lord’s Prayer from upstairs, inside the cathedral.
“Everyone’s is welcome here” our guide said, “they are all Muslim children and they spent the morning in the Mosque before coming here.”
Our guide asked what brought us to Blackburn and I explained I was trying to visit every Cathedral in England, she asked how I was doing and I told her this was the last, the end of my journey, “You’ve done them all, that’s amazing. What’s been your favourite?”
There is no answer to this question, they are all different, they are all fascinating and they all weave together the story of our country. My favourite thing about England’s Cathedrals is the warmth of the welcome exemplified perfectly in Blackburn.
From the outside, Blackburn looks old, and the frontage is, but inside it is open, airy and has more modern and contemporary art than just about any other. The series of fifteen paintings, by Penny Warden, called The Journey are as audacious as any of the great stained glasses of other cathedrals and John Hayward’s sculpture of Christ the Worker sets Christ on a Lancashire Textile loom. It is as memorable and stunning as any sculpture in a church anywhere and then wait until you see the organ where pipes come at you from all sides.
Blackburn is a Cathedral for the curious, it’s got everything you could hope to find.
The warmth of the welcome is wholly unforgettable.
Marcus Green is a part-time management consultant focused on voluntary sector leadership. He is also the CEO of Action Pre-eclampsia. His photography has been widely published everywhere from the Washington Post to Vogue. In 2019, in advance of the Year Of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage he decided to attempt to visit and photograph every Anglican and Catholic Cathedral in England and Wales.