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St Barnabas Penny Lane

Of the 40 places that are listed on the official Liverpool Heritage Open Days site for 2014 exactly half of them are churches and religious buildings. Not having a religious bone in my body I don’t have a problem with that. Many of them have unique architectural, cultural or artistic attributes. Many of them are quaint and are part of the history of the city. The high percentage of religious sites merely serves to accentuate the fact that much of the cultural heritage of the city is being denied to the people of Liverpool.

At one time there were almost as many churches in Liverpool as pubs (but only almost). This was especially the case in the oldest parts of Liverpool, those which encompass the area of the original seven streets, more or less that area inside the present day Chapel/Thithebarn Street to the Birkenhead Tunnel, then along Whitechapel and Paradise Street to the river. Now there’s only one church in the city centre (if we discount the Quaker Meeting House) and that’s Our Lady and St Nicolas Church on the corner of The Strand and Chapel Street (also known as the Sailor’s Church) down by the riverside.

As the city expanded away from the river in the 19th and 20th centuries many churches were constructed often demonstrating and representing the wealth that was being accumulated by the various religious denominations. There are modest buildings in the collection of 20 in the Liverpool Heritage Open Days but many are substantial buildings which a modern visitor would consider somewhat over the top for the population they would have served.

A warning. Many of the churches, from my experience over the last few years, seem to use the Heritage Open Days as a chance to proselytize and get new members. You might get more than a cup of tea and a biscuit if you’re not careful.

The pages linked to this one will seek to point out some of those unique and quaint aspects that are often characteristic of most the churches and religious buildings.

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