Lutyens Crypt - History and Facts | History Hit

Lutyens Crypt

Liverpool, England, United Kingdom

Beneath the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is the Lutyens Crypt, a stunning space often referred to as 'Liverpool’s third cathedral’ designed by Edwin Lutyens, Britain’s greatest 20th century architect.

Lily Johnson

10 Jun 2021

About Lutyens Crypt

Beneath the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is Lutyens Crypt, a stunning space often referred to as ‘Liverpool’s third cathedral’ and designed by Edwin Lutyens, Britain’s greatest 20th century architect.

Lutyens Crypt history

In the 1930s, Edwin Lutyens, Britain’s greatest 20th century architect (The Cenotaph, Castle DrogoThiepval Memorial, India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan) submitted designs for a magnificent Catholic cathedral to be known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool.

Lutyens’ designs incorporated a dome bigger than that of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome; it would have been taller, wider and longer than Liverpool Cathedral at the other end of Hope Street; it would have housed the world’s biggest organ; it would have swallowed St. Paul’s Cathedral whole and after St. Peter’s, it would have been the world’s second-largest church.

However, money was scarce after World War Two and when the projected costs sky-rocketed from £3m to a staggering £29m, his Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King became the greatest building never built.

Instead, Sir Frederick Gibberd built the Cathedral on a budget of £1m between 1962 and 1967, but the undoubted star is what lay beneath – the Lutyens Crypt & Treasury. Lutyens had begun building his proposed design with the magnificent crypt, which now remains the only legacy of his original vision, as Gibberd took over construction of the above Cathedral.

Lutyens Crypt today

A genuine British architectural gem, today the Lutyens Crypt & Treasury remains beneath the Metropolitan Cathedral, and is a six-million-brick and granite masterpiece.

As you descend the spiral staircase next to the Blessed Sacrament chapel, you find yourself inside a magnificent space built with deep purple bricks and granite hewn from Penrhyn Quarry in Cornwall. Described as a ‘beautiful, atmospheric space’, the crypt holds a wonderful collection of religious iconographic treasures, the vast majority of which are on display and line its walls.

The vaulted passageways, chapels, and concert room are also highlights, indicating a small piece of Lutyens’ grander vision. Known by many in the city as Liverpool’s third cathedral, the Lutyens Crypt is unlike any other church crypt in Britain.

Getting to Lutyens Crypt

Lutyens Crypt is located beneath Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, which can be reached by following the brown tourist signs from the M62 or via the Wallasey Tunnel from the M53. The Cathedral has an underground carpark available to visitors.

Liverpool Lime Street train station is a 10-minute walk away, while the City Sightseeing Bus Tour or City Explorer Bus Tour both stop at the Cathedral, where visitors can hop-on and hop-off the bus at leisure.

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