Brentwood Cathedral in Essex receives list status

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

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

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

Work on St. Paul’s Cathedral continued until 1710.

Brentwood Cathedral in Essex has been listed as Grade II*.  (Historical Archives of England/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 as Grade II*.

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

A former Gothic church, built on the Brentwood site in 1861, had been Grade II listed in 1999.

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

The first Roman Catholic church on the site opened in 1837, but was quickly overtaken by a growing congregation, with a second church built in 1861.

In 1917 the church became the cathedral for the new Diocese of Brentwood and was remodeled 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 allowed the cathedral to accommodate 1,000 people.

At the end of the 1980s, a large anonymous donation opened up the possibility of rebuilding the cathedral.

The Very Reverend Thomas McMahon – then 6th Bishop of Brentwood – commissioned plans from the architect Mr Terry.

His classical designs draw 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, having only obtained it following an appeal, had been listed.

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

Matthew Cooper, Senior Listing Advisor for Historic England, said: “This beautifully designed building gives a sense of serenity and calm that we can all appreciate in these difficult times.

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

“It’s a remarkable achievement.”

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