MORE than 600 worshippers gathered to witness the Archbishop of York open the first set of Cathedral Close buildings and Cloister Gardens for 570 years.

Archbishop John Sentamu, blessed the £8million build and held a service in front of a packed audience.


Acting Dean, Bishop of Burnley the Rt Rev Philip North, was joined by Cllr Hussain Akhtar, the mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Council, along with several clergyman from across the region in the civic procession.

The scheme includes on-site housing for all the clergy and staff, offices and a function ‘State Room’ round a medieval style ‘Cloister Garth’ garden.

The historic move, costing £5million, was the final part of a redevelopment of Blackburn Cathedral started when it was consecrated in 1926, interrupted by the Second World War, and then restarted in 2011.

It will be open to the public on weekdays and part of Sundays but in evenings will allow clergy, staff and guests an open area for quiet prayer, rest, and meditation just as the monks used their Cloisters in medieval times.

Archbishop Sentamu said: “This unique development is truly fantastic.

“It was William Temple, when he was Bishop of Manchester, who decided Blackburn Parish Church should be the new Cathedral and his vision was for this place to be ‘a centre of influence on all aspects of people’s lives’.

“As well as benefitting those that work and study here, visitors and worshippers at Blackburn Cathedral can enjoy the new open spaces, public gardens and café.

“This is a great place to visit, to know God is alive and at work in this town and its people.”

The new build is a key element of the £30million Cathedral Quarter development including a Premier Inn Hotel, two office blocks and Cafe Northcote in the Cathedral.

Rt Rev North, said: “As a relative newcomer to the Cathedral, I am astonished by the scale and ambition of this development.

“It is really exciting to see the Cathedral place itself right at the heart of the regeneration of the town.

“The opening of the building will be a chance to celebrate the contribution of all those who have played a part in this magnificent project, especially those who have funded it.”

The project was brought together by PURCELL Architects.