Learning

There are lots of opportunities for learning at Birmingham Cathedral.

Whether you want to improve your own knowledge, or organise an educational visit for your school, college or university, there are plenty of resources to support you.


Resources for schools and educational groups

We can provide various sessions and resources for schools and educational groups. These can be delivered in person or virtually, either within the classroom or at the cathedral. All sessions last approximately 2 hours.

Please get in touch to discuss your particular requirements. – Email Jane McArdle, Head of Learning at jane.mcardle@birminghamcathedral.com

Sessions for schools

A place of Christian worship

This session explores what a cathedral is, origins and beliefs, the role of prayer, baptism and the story of the life of Christ.

Details

  • Cost: £1.50 per pupil
  • Group size: up to 60 pupils
  • Delivery: at the cathedral or virtually
  • Curriculum links: RE, Art and History
  • Key Stages: 1 – 3

This sessions enables pupils to understand Christianity and the distinctiveness of a place of Christian worship.

Please do get in touch to find out more, discuss your exact requirements, explore collaborations, and make bookings.

Divine Beauty for schools

This session celebrates our world-famous stained-glass windows designed by Edward Burne-Jones and made in the workshop of William Morris.

Details

  • Cost: free
  • Group size: up to 60 pupils.
  • Delivery: at the cathedral
  • Curriculum links: Art, History, RE, Literacy, Drama
  • Key Stages: 1 – 3

This session is run thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Pupils will explore the artistic importance and making of the windows through role play and pupils will make their own piece of art to take away.

Music sessions for schools

These sessions celebrate the role of music at the cathedral, and involve singing games, learning new songs and performance.

Details

  • Cost: Free
  • Group size: Up to 60 pupils.
  • Delivery: Classroom
  • Curriculum Links: Music, Art, History, RE, Science
  • Key Stages: 1 & 2

Sessions are themed as History of Birmingham Remembrance, The Victorians or The Natural World. Details of dates for planned sessions can be found in our calendar.

Advent sessions for schools

This session explores this important time in the Christian Year and take place inside the cathedral and in the churchyard.

Details

  • Cost: £1.50 per pupil
  • Group size: up to 30 pupils
  • Delivery: at the cathedral
  • Curriculum Links: RE, Art, Music
  • Key Stage: 2

Pupils will be taken on a journey of discovery through the Christmas story, looking at different traditions and singing a Christmas carol in front of the Nativity Stained-Glass window.

Details of dates for planned sessions can be found in our calendar.

Learning resources

Please feel free to utilise our range of resources to help pupils and young people learn more about our beautiful cathedral!

Hearts and sounds trail

A beautifully illustrated guide to our cathedral and surrounding churchyard.

Candles in the cathedral

A learning resource suitable for Key Stage 1

Cathedral stories blog

The Cathedral Stories blog explores the significance of Birmingham Cathedral past and present. 


Discover the Christian faith videos

Supported by a generous grant from Westhill Endowment Trust, The Arts Society Birmingham has collaborated with six different places of worship, Birmingham Faith Leaders and other organisations to produce resources designed to enhance a school visit, or to support a virtual visit.

Below are four videos featuring Birmingham Cathedral. Feel free to use these directly from our YouTube channel.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4


Explore Birmingham Cathedral

A brief history

Birmingham Cathedral is the third smallest cathedral in the UK, and has an intriguing history that has brought us the beautiful building we have today.

In 1660 the population of Birmingham was around 6000 people and by 1732 it was estimated to have risen to 15,000. The rapid growth of the town meant the existing parish church of St Martins was no longer adequate to service the population and a new parish church was required. It was built on higher land given by Elizabeth Phillips. Unusually as a compliment to the family who gave the land the church was named St Philips.

Consecrated as the parish church of St Philip’s on the 4 October 1715, Birmingham Cathedral is a rare and fine example of elegant English Baroque architecture. Particular Baroque features include the dome, volutes (scrolls), giant pilasters, oval windows, rusticated stonework and the balustrade with decorative urns.

The tower was added ten years later in 1725 with donations from the King, along with a gilded cross, weather vane and orb. The weather vane incorporates a boar’s head which is part of the family crest of Richard Gough, the man responsible for securing the money needed for the tower’s completion.

The cathedral is also home to a remarkable set of stained-glass windows designed by Birmingham born pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones. More information on the windows, their creator and their restoration can be found as part of the Divine Beauty project.

Our organ dates from 1715 and was originally built by Schwarbrick. It has since been moved from its original position in a West end gallery, enlarged and modernized, most recently by Nicholsons in 1993. For more information see the National Pipe Organ Register

Originally there were three galleries (two of which remain), rows of double sided pews and a triple decker pulpit. The third gallery would have run from north to south across the west end of the nave, and would mostly have been used by the choir. The organ was originally located at the west end. The original altar rail remains in the building but no longer functions as an altar rail.

St Philip’s remained a church until 1905 when the new Diocese of Birmingham was created with Charles Gore as the first Bishop. Rather than fund a new cathedral building Bishop Gore decided to use an existing church as the cathedral and seat of the Bishop. It was at this time that a  Bishop’s throne and canon’s stalls were installed as well as electric lighting.

During the Second World War the windows were removed for safe keeping courtesy of the Civic Society. The foresight was remarkable as the cathedral suffered considerable damage caused by an incendiary bomb dropped in October 1940. However by 1948 the building had been restored and rededicated.

In the 1980’s the altar was re-ordered and an underground meeting room and song school installed in the crypt. In 2000 the churchyard was renovated with new railings and paving and in 2014/15 stone repairs, new lighting and interior paintwork was completed.

There are thought to be around 60,000 burials in the Cathedral churchyard. Only a few people could afford the luxury of a headstone, and most of those that were put up have disappeared with time.

In 1858 the burial ground was closed to further burials, conditions were very poor and potentially a threat to public health “offensive to the surrounding neighbourhood, especially in the summer months.” There are about 100 monuments left visible. Very occasionally new ones are added to mark a person or event of significance, most notably there is a memorial all 21 who died in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings and it was erected in 1995.

The graves reveal the variety of professions that would be expected in a rapidly expanding town of the 18th and 19th centuries including surgeons, lawyers and craftsmen but also, reflecting the particular trades of this city, gun makers, and artists.