Blackburn Cathedral
Blackburn Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral Church of Blackburn Saint Mary the Virgin, is a cathedral situated in the heart of Blackburn town centre, in Lancashire, England. The cathedral site has been home to a church for over a thousand years and the first stone church was built on there in Norman times.

With the creation of the Diocese of Blackburn in 1926 (taken from the Diocese of Manchester) the impressive parish church of St Mary the Virgin was raised to cathedral status. The church, which was built in 1826 and designed by architect John Palmer, now forms the cathedral's nave. In the early 1930s, fundraising began to enlarge the cathedral so that the building complemented its newfound importance. By 1938, enough money had been raised and work began on enlarging the new cathedral. Although work was interrupted by the war, it was resumed afterwards and continued through the 1950s and into the early 1960s. After the death of architect W.A. Forsyth in 1950, architect Laurence King joined the project and designed the distinctive lantern tower. The lantern tower, which consists of 56 different panes of coloured glass and an aluminium spire, was completed in 1967. The cathedral was finally completed in 1977 and what had been built over the past decades was finally consecrated as Blackburn Cathedral. The North transept contains eight misericords dating from the 15th century. It is not known at what time they arrived at the Cathedral, but they are believed to have originated at Whalley Abbey. This could mean that they were removed to a builder's yard after the Dissolution, but with the cathedral not being built until the 19th century, this allows for the possibility that they had lain unused for some 300 years.


At Blackburn cathedral there are 7 choirs " Boys, Girls, Children's, Lantern Voices, YPC (Young Peoples' Choir), Men and Renaissance (Bach) Choir. On Sundays the Parish Communion is sung by the YPC and the Eucharist and Evensong by the Cathedral Choir (Boys and Men).

Details of the organ from the National Pipe Organ Register

  • 1828 - 1831 Joseph John Harris (later organist of Manchester Cathedral)
  • 1832 R. Nimmo (temporary)
  • 1832 - 1838 Henry Smart
  • 1838 - 1840 John Bishop (formerly organist of St. Paul's Church, Cheltenham)
  • 1840 - 1848 William Robinson
  • 1848 - 1858 Joseph Rolley (from Church of St George, Bolton)
  • 1858 - 1863 Charles Greenwood
  • 1863 - 1870 James H. Robinson
  • 1870 - 1882 Thomas S. Hayward
  • 1882 - 1888 Walter Handel Thorley
  • 1888 - 1900 James H. Rooks
  • 1900 - 1912 Christie Green (afterwards organist of Holy Trinity Church, Coventry)
  • 1912 - 1914 Richard Henry Coleman
  • 1914 - 1916 Charles Hylton Stewart
  • 1916 - 1939 Herman Brearley
  • 1939 - 1964 Thomas Lucas Duerden
  • 1964 - 1983 John Bertalot
  • 1983 - 1994 David Anthony Cooper
  • 1994 - 1998 Gordan Stewart
  • 1998 - current Richard Tanner (from All Saints' Church, Northampton)
See also the List of Organ Scholars at Blackburn Cathedral.

Recent developments
In 1998, the lantern tower underwent restoration, being rebuilt in natural stone (the original 1960s tower was constructed in concrete) and the windows were replaced. Further work was carried out in 2000”“1 to re-build the east end roofs and parapets and blend them into the existing structures. Upon completion of this work the cathedral was finally deemed to be finished after over 70 years of construction. As well as this rebuilding a new piece of art was commissioned for the exterior of the building. The sculpture by Mark Jalland, entitled 'The Healing of The Nations' and measuring 35 by 26 feet, is an abstract steel and copper circular piece containing thousands of interwoven fibre optics that create ever-changing patterns of light at night. It is deemed by many to be one of the most innovative pieces of modern sculpture at any English cathedral. The cathedral still forms an important part of the community. It is open to visitors and has a gift shop and café as well as hosting numerous events. Between 1 to 28 February 2011 the Cathedral exhibited the Quaker Tapestry from Kendal.


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