Brentwood Cathedral was the first classical cathedral to be built in the country since the famous Anglican cathedral of St Paul’s London and is considered revolutionary due to its use of classical architecture to create a central worship space.
The cathedral retains a surviving section of a Gothic church, built 1860-61, based on the designs of the renowned Catholic architect, Gilbert R Blount, while also boasting a dominant classical addition, which was added between built 1989 and 1991.
Its architect, Quinlan Terry, said: “I’m delighted that Brentwood Cathedral has been listed at Grade II*. When we consider the history of my design which was refused planning permission and only obtained approval following an appeal nearly 40 years ago, we begin to realise that the attitude towards serious classical architecture has now changed considerably.”
Father Martin Boland, Dean of the Cathedral and lead Priest for the Parish of St Mary and St Helen, also welcomed the announcement. In a statement on July 14, he said: “We are delighted that Brentwood Cathedral has received a Grade II* listing and that Quinlan Terry’s unique vision has been recognised. His design combines both tradition and modernity in a striking fashion. The listing also recognises the Catholic community’s role in the history of Essex and the Cathedral’s place as a sanctuary of hope and prayer for so many people.”
The cathedral site hosted its first Catholic Church from October 1837 but a growing congregation meant that a second church (dedicated to St Helen) was built in 1861 and the original church then served as a school, parish hall and Cathedral Hall.
In 1917, the church became the cathedral of the newly established Diocese of Brentwood and was refurbished accordingly and by 1974 it was further developed to accommodate 1,000 worshippers, according to the designs of John Newton.
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