LUTYENS’ Scheme for the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool is oft hailed as the greatest building to never have been built. Strictly speaking, this is not accurate, as the building was structurally finished, although not completely decorated, up to the crypt level. Nonetheless, had it been finished, the cathedral almost certainly would have been considered Sir Edwin Lutyens’ greatest work
The cathedral, seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool, would have been a massive 530 ft long, larger than any other cathedral in England. The ceiling of the nave would reach 138 ft from the floor, while a great dome, 168 ft in diameter and 300 ft high would crown the church. Aside from the high altar, which would be twelve feet above the floor of the nave, fifty-three side altars would be located down the nave, along the aisles, and in the transepts and apse. The cathedral's dome would have been larger than St. Peter's in Rome. At 520 ft, the cathedral's height would overpower the nearby Anglican cathedral, itself 330 ft tall. (Somewhat ironically, the design of Liverpool's Catholic cathedral was by Lutyens, an Anglican, while the modern gothic of the city's contemporary Anglican cathedral, was designed by Gilbert Scott, a Catholic.
The foundation stone was laid on Whit Monday, June 5, 1933 and work continued even after the start of the Second World War, until 1941 when the growing restrictions of wartime finally meant that construction had to cease. In 1956 work recommenced on the crypt, which was finished in 1958. Thereafter, Lutyen's design for the cathedral was considered too expensive and so was abandoned.