This 20th-century Anglican cathedral was designed by Belfast architects Sir Thomas Drew and WH Lynn in the romanesque style. Though it may be young, its artwork and design reflect hundreds of years of Irish history.
This Church of Ireland Cathedral is what gives the artsy Cathedral Quarter its name. It was built in 1899 on the site of the old parish church of St Anne, which had been there since 1776. One of the old church’s windows remains in the Good Samaritan window, which you can see in the sanctuary.
The Cathedral was designed by Sir Thomas Drew and WH Lynn in a Romanesque style., with semi-circular arches and a basilica. Only the nave of the cathedral was built at this time; the rest came later, in 1927, 1928 and 1932. A bomb during the Belfast Blitz of 1941 almost destroyed the Cathedral and damaged a lot of the surrounding area. Over the next 30 years, the ambulatory and transepts were added bit by bit. The most recent addition is the Spire of Hope, a great steel spire which was added in 2007 and hangs above the choir stalls, piercing the cathedral’s roof and reaching up to the sky. It symbolises the progress and growing prosperity of Northern Ireland at a time when Belfast was growing strongly.
The design of the building is rather simple and pared-back, but there are artistic details almost everywhere you look. Look up to the right and left on your way in and you’ll spot the mosaic roof of the baptistry, made of 150,000 pieces of coloured glass and representing the Creation narrative. Further down the Cathedral, the central pillars each represent an aspect of Northern Irish life: science, the linen industry, agriculture, shipbuilding and womanhood, among others. The Titanic funeral pall hanging is made of deep blue Merino felt and dotted with hundreds of silver crosses and Stars of David, representing the lives lost when the ship sunk in 1912. It was gifted to the Cathedral in 2012 and made by two textile artists, Helen O’Hare and Wilma Kirkpatrick, from the University of Ulster just next door. The only tomb in the Cathedral is that of Lord Edward Carson, the prominent Unionist and anti-Home Rule politician who was buried there in 1935.
The Cathedral holds regular services and often hosts concerts and lunchtime organ recitals on the 1907 Harrison and Harrison organ.