Thursday, March 05, 2020

Restorations of the Cathedral of Shrewsbury, England

We are glad to share some good news which we received from Fr Edmund Montgomery, the administrator of the cathedral of Shrewsbury, England, about the restoration of the cathedral which has just begun.

The works begun at Shrewsbury Cathedral are part of an initial exploratory programme to uncover some of what was lost in the reordering of the 1980s. Shrewsbury was one of the original dioceses established at the restoration of the hierarchy in 1850 by Blessed Pope Pius IX; the cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady, Help of Christians, and St Peter of Alcantara. The building was designed by AW Pugin, but completed by his son Edward, and consecrated by Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman in 1856.
A view of the original design of the sanctuary, from the cathedral’s Facebook page.
Regrettably, in the last half century and the reordering that took place following the Second Vatican Council, many of its beautiful aspects were removed: the altar rails, the pulpit, the stencilling and painting on the upper sanctuary, the high altar, the painting of Christ in Majesty above the chancel arch. We hope to ensure that original Pugin elements such as the baptismal font, the reredos, the sanctuary lamp, the pulpit, are retained and brought back to their full beauty, and explore whether we might locate them to their original position.

The sanctuary, just before the restoration works began this week.
The flooring now uncovered dates back to the early 1900s and was a further beautification of the cathedral, likely in preparation for its Golden Jubilee in 1906; all things considered, it is in a good state of repair. The two side chapels of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St Winefride (a Welsh virgin whose has a shrine at Holywell) also have original tiles. Those in the Sacred Heart chapel are rather plain, but St Winefride’s chapel is both beautiful and damaged. Repairs are hopefully easy to achieve here.

Part of the original mosaic floor uncovered.
Damage to the original floor from the new installations of the 1980s.
Now that these initial works are underway, I hope to be able to advise the Bishop of Shrewsbury on the next stages. Together with the Historic Churches Committee and the various diocesan bodies tasked with heritage and conservation, it is hoped that a new schema for the sanctuary retaining the uncovered flooring and having a new altar, etc will be drawn up in the coming months.

If anyone is interested in this project and wishes to be in touch, they can be at:
The sanctuary before restorations began.
The new ambo...
of which pictures in its newly destroyed state were just posted today on the cathedral’s Facebook page. Made out of concrete and resin, it could not simply be taken apart in pieces. 
A surprising discovery - a trap door under the floor! to be opened...

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