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, delivered in person or virtually. All sessions last approximately 2 hours.

Please get in touch to discuss your particular requirements. – Email our team at enquiries@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: £2 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, or to 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

The National Lottery Heritage Fund supports this session.

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.

Planned dates for these sessions are in our What’s on 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: £2 per pupil
  • Group size: up to 30 pupils
  • Delivery: at the cathedral
  • Curriculum Links: RE, Art, Music
  • Key Stage: 2

This session takes pupils 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 windows.

Planned dates for these sessions are in our What’s on 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. 

Nativity trail

An illustrated guide telling the story of Christmas, in the context of our stained-glass windows.


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. It has an intriguing history that has brought us the beautiful building we have today.

In 1660 the population of Birmingham was around 6000 people, which rose to around 15,000 by the 1700s. This rapid growth of the town meant the existing parish church of St Martins was no longer adequate. Elizabeth Phillips gave the land on which a new parish church was built, and unusually as a compliment to the family, the church was named St Philips.

The parish church of St Philip’s was consecrated on the 4 October 1715. The building is a rare and fine example of elegant English Baroque architecture, and includes dome, volutes (scrolls), giant pilasters, oval windows, rusticated stonework and a balustrade with decorative urns.

Other additions

In 1725, donations from the King enabled the construction of a tower, which incorporated a gilded cross, weather vane and orb. The weather vane includes a boar’s head, which is part of the Gough family crest. Richard Gough was the man responsible for securing the money needed for the tower’s completion.

Birmingham born pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones designed four stained-glass windows for St Philip’s, depicted scenes from the life of Christ. Our Divine Beauty Project pages provide more information on the windows, their creator and their restoration.

Our organ by Schwarbrick was originally positioned in a West end gallery. It is larger and more modern than when it was first installed. The most recent major changes were made by Nicholsons in 1993. For more information see the National Pipe Organ Register

Originally there were three galleries, rows of double sided pews and a triple decker pulpit. The third gallery was located across the west end of the nave, along with the organ, and was originally used by the choir. The original altar rail is no longer used as such, but can still be seen in the cathedral today.

The church that became a cathedral

The new Diocese of Birmingham was created in 1905, with Charles Gore as the first Bishop of Birmingham,. Gore decided to use an existing church as seat of the Bishop, and update St Philip’s with canon’s stalls and electric lighting to enable it’s use as a the new cathedral.

Removal of the four stained-glass windows in 1939 kept them safe in a Welsh slate mine during the Second World War, courtesy of the Civic Society. The foresight was remarkable as the cathedral suffered considerable damage caused by an incendiary bomb dropped in October 1940. By 1948 the building had been restored and rededicated.

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

Changes to Cathedral Square

There are thought to be around 60,000 burials in the Cathedral churchyard. However, only a few people could afford the luxury of a headstone when burials were commonplace in the churchyard. Today, only around 100 monuments can still be seen.

The churchyard closed to further burials in 1858, due to very poor conditions and a potential threat to public health. There are about 100 monuments visible today, and headstones are only very occasionally added to mark a person or event of significance. Most notably, a memorial to the 21 people who died in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings 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.

To find out about more of the incredible heritage that Birmingham has to offer visit Birmingham Heritage Forum.