Bishop Gore Statue
The Statue of Bishop Gore is by Thomas Stirling Lee in 1914. Gore was the first Bishop of Birmingham from 1905 to 1911.
The Last Judgement window
The Last Judgement (1897), is widely recognised as the finest example of Burne-Jones’ work, depicting the return of Christ and his judgement on humanity. The window was a memorial to the Bishop Bowlby of Coventry who was Rector of St Philip’s from 1875 to 1902. Christ is surrounded by a mass of angels, their vibrant red wings and draperies fill the top half of the window with bold red colour. Christ wears a crown of thorns and the stigmata, the marks of the nails from the cross, are evident on his hand which is raised in blessing. He is sitting on a delicate rainbow which can be glimpsed behind the figure of Christ. The Archangel Michael is in the centre blowing a trumpet which marks the end of the world. Below the feet of the angels is a contemporary city – the dark, murky buildings are collapsing and appears to be breaking apart. Below the city, the risen dead stand on graves, with figures in the process of emerging and rising up from the ground. Many figures look up to the heavenly realms with expressions of distress and confusion, a small child grips his parent’s cloak, and some shield their eyes from the light. There are meticulous details such as the elaborate gold crown worn by the figure clothed in red on the right of the window. The angels hold a range of beautifully intricate objects such as the leather-bound Book of Judgement and the key to the gates of heaven.
The Ascension window
The Ascension window was the first to be installed in 1885, depicting Jesus parting with his followers and ascending into heaven forty days after Easter.
The Ascension window was initially intended to be the only window in the Cathedral. However, Burne-Jones was so struck with its beauty that he was inspired to design two more. The top half of the window displays Christ surrounded by the heavenly host. Six angels stand around Christ – three on each side of him. They have their hands clasped, as if in prayer. They are draped in long flowing fabric in various pastel shades which, in certain strong lights, can appear almost neon.
Above the heads of Christ and the angels, the tops of many halos are just evident through the mass of feathers which flood the top of the window with vibrant red. Like many of Burne-Jones’ figures, the angels which surround Christ have proportionally small heads and long bodies which heightens the impression of the angels as other worldly beings. They have serene and placid expressions and appear two-dimensional.This contrasts with the depiction of the disciples and followers of Jesus who are painted in bold, vibrant tones.
The deep blues of the sky which divide the two halves of the window emphasise this contrast and symbolise the separation between the earthly and spiritual realms.
The disciples display evident emotion in their expressions and gestures as they look up to Christ. They gaze up at him, surrounded by the angels in heaven – but their own feet are firmly planted on the ground. Christ extends his left hand towards them – but his right hand points towards his heavenly destination.
The Nativity window
The Nativity window depicts the birth of Jesus, and is positioned opposite The Crucifixion window in the cathedral, highlighting the contrast and anguish of the two events. Both these windows were both paid for by wealthy Birmingham resident Emma Chadwick Villers-Wilkes, who specifically requested that there should be no oxen in the Nativity scene, as she considered them to be too brutish. At the feet of the angels is a flock of sheep, attended by a group of shepherds with expressions of shock and fear. Two of the three shepherds shield their eyes from the brightness of the angels. The trees behind the shepherds are painted in intricate detail and the leafless branches indicate the scene is set in the winter months. The figures in the Nativity are clothed in jewel tones adding great warmth to the image. Mary the mother of Jesus kneels before the Christ child. Joseph and three angels stand to the right, bowing in reverence. The figures curve inwards, framing the delicate depiction of baby Jesus who is the focal point of the work. Swaddled in cloth, he is positioned on a stone above a shallow pool of water which heightens the vulnerability of the scene. The white of the cloth and halo of the Christ child contrast with the dank, dark interior of the cave, drawing attention to the purity and innocence of the infant.
The Crucifixion window
The Crucifixion window depicts the death of Jesus, and is positioned opposite The Nativity window in the cathedral, highlighting the contrast and anguish of the two events. Both these windows were both paid for by wealthy Birmingham resident Emma Chadwick Villers-Wilkes, who specifically requested that there should be no blood in the scene of Christ’s death.
Behind Christ’s head are the partially concealed initials of a sign scorning his claim of being the son of God. The crown of thorns also mocks him as the ‘King of the Jews’. Christ’s head is encircled with an elaborately detailed halo, painted in cream and yellow tones which, during the day, shines with a strong white light. The tortured state of his body is emphasised by the sharp fragmentation of glass over the expanse of Christ torso.
The sky in the top of the window begins as a deep, rich navy and fades into a paler shade as the window descends. The vibrant blue of the sky contrasts with the vivid blood red of the flags, which fill the space under the cross and Christ’s outstretched arms.
The harsh features of the stern Roman soldiers’ contrast with the distress and grief of Christ’s followers and the curious faces of the onlookers – all set against the serenity of Christ’s own expression. Jesus’ mother Mary is clothed in a characteristic blue robe, looking up in anguish at her dying son. Mary Magdalene, a close friend of Jesus, is at the foot of the cross, bent over in grief with her head in her hands.
This Bishop's throne of 'cathedra' as well as the Canon's stalls were introduced in 1905 when St Philip's was designated a cathedral.
The case of our organ is made by Thomas Schwarbrick of Warwick in 1715. The inner workings have been rebuilt on a number of occasions and it was originally located at the West End of the Church and moved as part of the alterations in the 1880s.
The striking portrayal of the crucifixion is on display, along with a pair of candlesticks - all by Peter Eugene Ball in 1986.
These unusual door handles represent the four gospels. St Matthew - a man, St Mark - a lion, St Luke - an ox, and St John - an eagle.
These ornate bronze door handles are on the door what was once the Verger’s vestry, and were designed by David Wynne in 1954.
Wrought iron railings were installed at around 1715 - designed by Robert Bakewell of Derby, the finest English decorative metalworker of his day. Although an outstanding example of English Baroque design, they no longer function as an altar rail after they were moved as part of the reordering of the chancel in 1982. The High Altar cross is made by jeweller John Donald. It includes a large piece of quartz at its centre.
Bishop Wilson Memorial
John Leonard Wilson was Bishop of Birmingham between 1953 and 1969. During the Second World War, when serving as Bishop of Singapore, he was interned and tortured in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Despite his terrible treatment he famously baptised some of his captors.
Baptismal font with engraved inscription designed by John Poole 1982.
Memorial to Samuel Lines
Samuel Lines (1778 - 1863) was a topographic artist and founder member of the Birmingham Society of Artists. Lines' house was situated directly across Temple Row from his memorial. Although since rebuilt. the site is commemorated with a Birmingham Civic Society Blue Plaque.
Memorial to Nanette Stocker
Nanette Stocker was Britain's smallest woman. The inscription on her grave reads: NANETTA STOCKER who departed this life, May 4th 1819, aged 39 years. The smallest woman ever in this kingdom. Possessed with every accomplishment only 33 inches high. A NATIVE OF AUSTRIA.
Marble memorial to Lt Col Thomas Unett
The memorial, by William Hollins was installed around 1856, following the death of Unett in 1855 during the siege of Sevastapol in the Crimea.
Birmingham Pub Bombings Memorial
The Birmingham Pub Bombings Memorial was unveiled in 1995, commemorating the 21 victims of the 1974 Birmingham Pub Bombings.
The Obilisk is a memorial to the soldier and adventurer Frederick G Burnaby by Robert Bridgeman of Lichfield, 1885. Burnaby was killed in the Sudan in 1882 whilst serving in the army sent to relieve General Gordon who was besieged at Khartoum.
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Military standards and colours
It is common practice in the UK to place decommissioned military and other flags in cathedrals and churches – this is called “laying up”. It is a tradition of the Anglican Church dating back centuries whereby the colours are laid up and never disturbed, allowed to decay until there is nothing left. .
The idea is one of symbolism—that a long-honoured flag would at last find a resting place to decay quietly and gracefully. This creates almost a sense of pride in those visiting the cathedral; standing under old, “battered” colours allows us to honour their unique histories and the men that served under them at the time.
The Military Colours in Birmingham Cathedral
Coldstream Guards Colour - This is the oldest regiment in the British Army in continuous active service. It originated in Coldstream, Scotland, 1650 during the English Civil War, and was founded by General George Monck when Oliver Cromwell gave him his permission to form a new regiment. The regiment has earned a total of 117 battle honours.
“Old Contemptibles” - The British Expeditionary Force to France in 1914 dubbed themselves the “Old Contemptibles” as a result of the Kaiser’s alleged reference to them as a “contemptible little army”.
King’s Colour, 2nd/6th Service Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment - This colour was laid up upon the disbandment of Battalion. The second battalion had been serving since 1931 and was part of the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium. They had to fight their way back to the beaches of Dunkirk when the German army launched their Blitzkrieg in 1940.
British Legion – West Midland area - The crosses of St. George, St. Andrew and St. Patrick symbolise unity, chivalry and loyalty to our Sovereign, community and nation. The blue indicates loyalty and fidelity whilst the gold signifies service – ‘as gold is tried by fire’. It reminds us of all those who gave their lives for our country.
Queen’s own Hussars Guidon - This was laid up in May 1986, the day that Freedom of the City of Birmingham was granted to the regiment. The home base of the regiment is in Warwick and they recruit from the Midlands area.
Royal Marines Association—Birmingham Branch
Ensign flown by HMS Birmingham (1913) - HMS Birmingham split the German U-boat, U-15, in two after firing and ramming on 9th August 1914. Consequently, the U-15 became the first U-boat to lose to an enemy warship. HMS Birmingham also sank two German merchant ships that year and took part in the Battle of Jutland, 1916, as a member of the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron, sustaining damage caused by splintering during the night of the battle.
Royal Navy Association, Birmingham Central Branch
Royal Navy Association, Birmingham and District (submarine) flag - Command rank flags to denote the commander-in-chief of the English fleet and later Royal Navy were used from as early as 1189.
Flag of the state of Maryland, USA - The original flag was presented on May 30th, 1923, in Birmingham to the Bishop Hamilton Baynes in commemoration of Thomas Bray (1656/58-1730), an English clergyman and abolitionist who helped to formally establish the Church of England in Maryland – Bishop Hamilton had led a mission to Maryland in 1922 prior to the state flag’s presentation.
The difference between Military Standards and Military Colours
Flags and historic banners are encouraged to be preserved; They should be kept in the hanging position, ensuring the suspending edge is strong with no weak areas or visible damage. They should not be hung above radiators or a direct draught and should be kept as straight as possible on their poles as creases catch more dust. Conservation treatment may need to be applied if the material is particularly fragile. Military Standards, Guidons and Colours are different, however; since they belong to the state, they cannot be disposed of without Ministry of Defence sanction. Once colours are laid up, they should stay where they are until completely disintegrated. The remains should then be buried with the staff and lion and crown colour pole mount in consecrated ground without any markings.
Royal British Legion Standards differ again from military Standards; They cannot be removed once laid up but can be conserved.
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