Brentwood Cathedral given listed status

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The first classical cathedral to be built in England since St Paul’s in London has been granted listed status.

The rebuilt Brentwood Cathedral in Essex was inspired by the designs of Sir Christopher Wren and was opened in 1991.

It has been listed at Grade II* by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England.

Work on St Paul’s Cathedral was carried out until 1710.

Brentwood Cathedral in Essex has been listed at Grade II*. (Historic England Archive/ PA)
The first Roman Catholic church on the site of Brentwood Cathedral opened in 1837 (Historic England Archive/ PA)

Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “It is fantastic that the magnificent Brentwood Cathedral has been listed at Grade II*.

“The first classical cathedral built in the country since St Paul’s, its stunning design deserves this recognition and the listing will help to preserve the cathedral for generations to come.”

An earlier Gothic church, built on the site in Brentwood in 1861, had been listed as Grade II in 1999.

The rebuilt cathedral consists of a surviving section of this Gothic church and a dominant classical addition, built to the designs of architect Quinlan Terry.

The first Roman Catholic church on the site opened in 1837 but was soon outgrown by an expanding congregation, with a second church built in 1861.

In 1917, the church was made the cathedral of the newly-created diocese of Brentwood and was refurbished to reflect its new status.

Brentwood Cathedral was opened in 1991. (Historic England Archive/ PA)
The rebuilt Brentwood Cathedral was opened in 1991 (Historic England Archive/ PA)

In 1974, a new addition enabled the cathedral to seat 1,000 people.

In the late 1980s, a major anonymous donation allowed for the possibility of rebuilding the cathedral.

The Right Reverend Thomas McMahon – then 6th Bishop of Brentwood – commissioned designs from architect Mr Terry.

His classical designs took inspiration from the early Italian Renaissance fused with the English Baroque of Sir Christopher Wren.

Mr Terry said he was “delighted” that the cathedral, which had previously been refused planning permission, only gaining it following an appeal, had been listed.

The Right Reverend Thomas McMahon, now Bishop Emeritus of Brentwood, said his decision to choose a classical design for Brentwood Cathedral was “influenced by a number of reasons”, adding he was a “great admirer of the Christopher Wren churches in London”.

Matthew Cooper, Historic England senior listing adviser, said: “This beautifully designed building gives a sense of serenity and calm that we can all appreciate in these challenging times.

“The cathedral’s classical design, unusual in modern churches, is testament to the architectural skill and vision.

“It is a remarkable achievement.”

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