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Brentwood Cathedral An introduction by the Rt. Revd. Thomas McMahon, Bishop Emeritus of Brentwood

All the Classical architectural orders are represented in the interior - the four giant Doric pilasters, the Tuscan arcade of arches, the Ionic pilasters of the Palladian windows in the east and west aisles, the Corinthian and Composite influences evident on the cathedral and the organ case.

Photo: The choirstalls are made of ash.  Notice the trellis-work on the front benches.  The design of the lights is inspired by an 18th-century candlestick.

While the interior of the cathedral has a deliberately 'restrained' feeling to it, richness is to be found in the ceiling. The Roman key pattern and the double guilloche pattern, picked out in gold leaf, are dominant here. All the round-headed windows are in the Classical-Wren style, with clear leaded lights of hand-made glass.

With clear windows on all four sides, the cathedral is flooded with light at any time of the day. This, together with the white walls and stone floor, combines to give a translucent effect which uplifts the spirit and conveys its own sense of the presence of God. The cathedral is lit by brass English Classical chandeliers (one of which was formerly in the church at Epping) and, above the cornice, concealed lighting.

Photo: The altar symbolizes Christ's sacrifice and stands beneath the lantern as the focal point of the cathedral.  It is marked with a central cross.  At the time of dedication it is anointed with oil in the centre and at each corner.

The altar is the focal or high point (which is what the name means) of any church because it is the sign of Jesus Christ himself and the one eternal Sacrifice of Our Saviour. The processional cross is a copy of a medieval design. The figure represents a transitional period in the theology of design where Christ still wears the crown of the Risen Lord, but the corpus is that of the crucified Saviour.

Photo: The Bishop's chair.  Its design was inspired by one at San Miniato-al-Monte in Florence.

The Bishop's chair or cathedra is a tangible sign of his presiding over the diocese. He uses it also for presiding at the liturgy, a link with presiding chairs in parish churches throughout the diocese. It was made in Pisa, in Nabrassina stone, and has steps of Portland stone. In the centre is the coat of arms of the diocese. The base of the seat is inlaid with slate, to match the floor.

Consecration crosses are incised into the stone of the Doric pilasters that hold up the clerestory. They were anointed like the altar, as a sign that the whole building is dedicated to God.On the feast of the Dedication the candles in front of the gilded crosses are lit.

In the east aisle, there are two rooms set aside to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. Opposite them is a crucifix, formerly in the church at Stock, Essex.

Photo: 'Mary meets Jesus': one of the very fine roundels above the arcade by Raphael Maklouf.  It is a meditation on the face of Christ - sorrowful, yet noble and strong.

Around the arcade are terracotta roundels representing the 15 Stations of the Cross. These were modelled by Raphael Maklouf, the well-known sculptor, who was responsible for the Queen's head on all current coins.

Their milky glaze perfectly complements the subtlety and intimacy with which the familiar scenes have been expressed.

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