Places of Worship

St. Philip’s Cathedral

England / Europe

St Philip’s Cathedral in Colmore Row, is a Church of England cathedral and the seat of the Bishops of Birmingham.  It was originally built in the baroque style by Thomas Archer (1668-1743), his first church commission, as a parish church and consecrated in 1715.  The tower was completed in 1725 and urns added to the parapet in 1756.  Archer was much inspired by visits to Rome and his admiration of the churches of Borromini (1599-1667).  Further work was undertaken by J.A. Chatwin (1830-1907), coincidentally the great-grandfather of the writer, Bruce Chatwin (1940-89).  He extended the eastern apse and refaced the exterior of the church. It is Grade 1 listed, and has the distinction of being the third smallest cathedral in England after Derby and Chelmsford.  The land on which it is built was donated by Robert Philips in 1710 – hence dedicated to the apostle, St Philip, and is one of the highest points in the district.  It served as a parish church from 1715 to 1905.

Birmingham became a city in 1889, and the church was raised to the status of cathedral in 1905, thanks to the work of Joseph Chamberlain and Charles Gore (1853-1932), Bishop of Worcester, who then became its first bishop.  The cathedral was bombed and gutted on 7 November 1940.  Fortunately several stained glass windows and the west window by Edward Burne-Jones (1833-98) had been safely stored, and they were put back in 1948.  The cathedral contains six heritage-listed monuments – to two men who died in the construction of the Town Hall, to the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings in 1974, to Bishop Charles Gore, and an obelisk in memory of the swashbuckling Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1842-85), who died at the battle of Abu Klea in the Sudan.  (He is also the subject of a famous Tissot portrait).


  • St. Philip's Cathedral

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