Exploring the Cathedral Archives
Hear from Canon Val all about what can be found in the Archives here at Liverpool Cathedral.
One of the responsibilities of the Archive Team is keeping the Cathedral Inventory up to date on behalf of the Chapter. The Inventory is made up of information and photographs of all the memorials and inscriptions that are found around the Cathedral. All the valuable silver is recorded together with gifts of glass and china that are kept in the Sacristy. Each item has to be listed and recorded with information about its history and provenance. The items have to be checked for wear and damage, especially in the case of moveable objects or floor memorials that are walked on. In 2019, we began to expand the Inventory to include all the Artworks in the Cathedral, we will also be including the important collection of liturgical vestments in the Hoare Gallery and all the altar Frontals.
In 2003 , a group of ladies from NADFAS began to record items around the Cathedral and in the Sacristy. Since then the work has been ongoing to add images and find provenance. The document is presented to Chapter and the Fabric Committee annually. There are many contributors to the work inculding the Archive team, Vergers, Guides and Constables. It is not always easy to find the provenance of an item or take photographs so this is very much a team effort. Reference can be made to Vere Cotton’s wonderful book of the Cathedral which lists many of the early donors and the history behind a memorial. The Historical Cathedral Bulletins provide an additional resource. Recently the book Liverpool Cathedral Chronicles written by Roy Redman, who was our Head Guide, has shed more light on the memorials. This book can be purchased in the Cathedral Bookshop and provides a fascinating insght into the story of our Cathedral.
The images above are of the Elizabeth Frink maquette which can be found in the Ambulatory and the two images from the Lady Chapel of the Della Robbia image of the Madonna together with the addition of the Christ-child by Don Mackinlay.
The Frink maquette was donated to the Cathedral by Mrs. Susan Cotton in memory of her husband. The massive 'Welcoming Christ' statue, Elizabeth Frink’s final piece of work, was installed in Liverpool Cathedral in 1993, just a few days before she died from cancer. The maquette gives us a closer look at this powerful work. It can be found in the Ambulatory at the East end of the building.
The 15th-century statue in wood of the Kneeling Madonna by Giovanni Della Robbia was given to the Cathedral by Francis Neilson. It can be found in the sanctuary of the Lady Chapel. Giovanni Della Robbia worked in Italy in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, and the kneeling figure of the Madonna in the Lady Chapel has been attributed to the school of this artist. The Madonna was probably part of a set of Nativity figures, including an infant Christ, before whom the Madonna kneels in worship and adoration.
In 2002, the Cathedral Chapter commissioned the Rossendale artist, Don McKinlay, to create a Christ-child to be set alongside the Madonna. The commission was given in memory of Dean Derrick Walters who died in 2000.
These two pieces are just a small example of the treasures which can be found around the Cathedral. Next time you visit, why not have a closer look at our memorials and sculptures and be amazed at the beauty of the work of sculptors, carvers, carpenters. There is always something new to find.
“Yes, we know that Thou rejoicest
O’er each work of Thine;
Thou didst ears and hands and voices
For Thy praise design;
Craftsman’s art and music’s measure
For Thy pleasure all combine.”