The completion of the work to install a new passenger lift to enable more visitors to reach its beautiful Lady Chapel was celebrated at a Choral Eucharist conducted by the Rev Canon Myles Davies (Acting Dean of Liverpool Cathedral) in Liverpool Cathedral.
The installation of the lift was made possible thanks to a generous donation of £69,000 from the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and continues a tradition of more than 100 years of Masonic support for the cathedral.
The Rev Canon Davies said that because of the generosity of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity the cathedral is able to offer a much better experience to all who visit.
The completion of the lift will enable the cathedral to make much better use of the Lady Chapel for worship and also for events, knowing that those with mobility issues are fully welcomed and included.
The lift gives access from the main Cathedral floor to the Undercroft where a public lobby has been created to allow wheelchair access to the Lady Chapel and secure access to the choir accommodation. The new lift will allow the cathedral to offer even more options as a place of worship, as the Lady Chapel is one of the most important parts of the cathedral historically and architecturally and is the place where many visitors choose to pause and reflect.
The Lady Chapel is the oldest part of the cathedral and celebrated its centenary in 2010. It contains some fine architecture and the magnificent “Noble Women” windows. Built in an era when accessibility was not at the forefront of people’s minds up to now it has only been accessible via stair cases both inside and outside the building. The new lift marks the last major development in the cathedral’s policy to provide unrestricted access for all.
Rebecca Bentham (Fundraising Manager of Liverpool Cathedral Foundation), said the project to redesign the lower area of the cathedral is taking place in phases, as funding is secured. Phase one focuses on the access lift and the provision of the boys’ and girls’ toilets. The entire project including the lift will cost just under £500,000 and the cathedral is working hard to raise funds for each phase.
Facilities for those using the Lady Chapel will include the provision of catering and male and female toilets, which will provide the Lady Chapel as an alternative option for events which will increase the revenue potential for the cathedral.
At the dedication service the Rev Canon Myles Davies said: “This accessible lift is a wonderful addition to the cathedral enabling so many more people to access the Lady Chapel. As a result of the generosity of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity we are able to offer a much better experience to all who visit our cathedral.”
John Smith CEO of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity said: “We are pleased to be able to help improve access to the Lady Chapel for disadvantaged people. Freemasons have a long history of supporting the cathedral that goes back as far as 1906 when local Freemasons donated the funds to build the Chapter House”.
At the dedication ceremony the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker said: “The Province and the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity have had an association with Liverpool Cathedral which began over 100 years ago.
“In 1904, our Grand Master, King Edward V11 laid the foundation stone for Liverpool Cathedral.
“In 1906, our Pro Grand Master, the third Earl Amherst, laid the foundation stone for the Chapter House. The Chapter House was funded by the West Lancashire Freemasons in memory of the first Earl of Lathom, our Provincial Grand Master from 1873 to 1898.
“In 1924 the cathedral and the Chapter House were consecrated, and one of my predecessors, the then PrGM of West Lancashire, John Hearn Burrell, and his team, conducted the service to dedicate the Chapter House.
Within my own memory, I recall 2001, when we celebrated 175 years as a separate Province. How appropriate that in our celebrations the Province donated £40,000 to Liverpool Cathedral to provide bursaries.
“The Freemasons of West Lancashire have continued to be involved the cathedral and supported it over the years, and this support has comprised both personal service and involvement as well as financial support. Indeed, it was one of our senior Masons, Brian Jackson, a volunteer worker in the cathedral, who facilitated the initial application by the cathedral for financial support in connection with the provision of a disabled lift to enable access to the Lady Chapel, which was the first part of the cathedral to be completed.
“As they say, the rest is history, the result being a grant from our Grand Charity of £5,000 and total grants from our West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity of £69,000.”
Peter concluded by saying: “We were attracted to the project, for two reasons – first, the project provides much needed help to disadvantaged people who wished to access the cathedral’s Undercroft and the Lady Chapel, and secondly, it reinforces our long relationship with the cathedral.
“We are grateful to the cathedral for the opportunity to share in the dedication of this disabled lift and to Rebecca Bentham who has been instrumental in organising the event.”
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