Itâ€™s well known that Liverpool, England is famous for its unique Liver Building, football teams (Everton and Liverpool) and of course the fabulous Beatles. The city is also making a name for itself with discerning food lovers and has several outstanding restaurants.
Visitors to the city may not realize that Liverpoolâ€™s Anglican Cathedral in the heart of the city is not only a must see tourist attraction – it has just won the â€˜Large Visitor Attraction of the Yearâ€™ award at the Mersey Partnership Tourism Awards 2009- but the cathedral also offers the opportunity to sample some of the regionâ€™s delicious food.
Other cathedrals offer dining in their restaurants or function rooms, but Liverpoolâ€™s Anglican Cathedral is unique in also offering the option to dine in the main part of the splendid cathedral itself. Religious centre, architectural tour de force and landmark tourist attraction (itâ€™s the largest cathedral in the UK) – as venues go, this one takes some beating!
The catering facilities offer an inimitable opportunity to dine in the main part of the magnificent cathedral itself, surrounded by the impressive stained glass windows and architecture. The Great Space is transformed into a sophisticated venue in a slick and highly efficient operation that can accommodate a conference for 100, a VIP reception or Gala dinner for 1000. Thereâ€™s a cleverly concealed lift underneath the marble floor of the cathedral, to transport tables, chairs, etc, before and after the events. Food is from local producers and fair-trade suppliers.
I recently attended a fund raising dinner held in the spectacular Cathedral Well (shown right). It was certainly an awe inspiring experience to enjoy delicious food and wine surrounded by the wonderful architecture, beautiful stained glass windows and of course the distinctive atmosphere.
Of course, no matter how good the venue, it needs terrific food to be a success and the menu doesnâ€™t disappoint â€“ it features food sourced from local producers and fair-trade suppliers.
The Dean and Chapter see the use of the building for corporate dining as a means of serving the city, welcoming international and national delegates and importantly, to raise much- needed funds for the upkeep of the cathedral, as thereâ€™s no entrance charge to visitors.
The Dean of the cathedral, the Very Rev. Justin Welby told me “Cathedrals have been places of gathering, hospitality and welcome since the Middle Ages. For many people even crossing the threshold is a new experience, and so events and dinners are a wonderful way of introducing the heritage of our Cathedrals, and the message that is carried in their design and culture, to people who may not have encountered it before. Secondly, unlike the rest of Europe, English Cathedrals are not maintained by the State, and so the use of the space to generate funds is essential. So dinners and events hit two targets at the same time. And of course, an evening of good food, good company and stunning surroundings is great funâ€.
But you donâ€™t have to attend a corporate event to enjoy delicious food â€“ visitors can have a snack or a meal upstairs in the recently refurbished 40-seater cafÃ©, which is situated close to the previously obscured beautiful stained glass window of the North-West Transept. Diners have a wonderful view of the Baptistery and the famous Nave Bridge, while enjoying cakes and pastries, freshly made in the cathedral kitchen.
Carol Wilson has been a contributing editor to Epicurus.com since it was founded in 1996. Carol remains one of our most popular contributors. She writes about all things British, particularly food and food history. Carol is a member of The Guild of British Food Writers. See some of her other articles in this Blog by clicking on her name to the left.