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.
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
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.
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.
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.