About this church
Blackburn Cathedral was formerly the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, becoming a cathedral in 1926, when the Diocese of Blackburn was created.
Essentially a Georgian building, designed by John Palmer and consecrated in 1826, it stands on a site reputedly associated with early Christianity. The foundation is believed to date from the year 596.
The most treasured relic the Cathedral owns is the 15th century Pax, a small gilt tablet engraved with the Madonna standing on a crescent moon holding the baby Jesus, which was kissed by priest and congregation at the moment of the peace in the Mass. Most of these were destroyed at the Reformation, and as far as is known, only eight now exist in England. The Blackburn Pax had been hidden in a gravestone in the churchyard and came to light in 1820 when the stone was being moved to make way for the new church.
During the time of the battle of Preston, during the Civil War, the then church was despoiled by Cromwell's soldiers. By 1818 the old church was in disrepair and it was decide to build a completely new building. John Palmer was asked to build the new church. A pioneer of gothic revival of which St Mary's must have been a very early example, it was still a Georgian church. This building forms the nave of the Cathedral and was adorned as we see it today as part of the completion scheme of the late 1960s by the Architect Lawrence King.
Cathedrals are ever changing places, responding to the needs of people they seek to serve. In 2001 it was decided to try to realise William Temple's aspirations set out in 1933 in a way which would meet the needs of the 21st century, by restoring the heartbeat to Blackburn town centre. For 14 years the Chapter worked in partnership with the Borough Council and others to regenerate the Cathedral Precinct and the surrounding area now known as the Cathedral Quarter. These plans came to fruition in the £33m regeneration scheme, completed in 2016 including a new hotel and office block as well as a new eastern precinct for the cathedral and other buildings.