Plymouth Cathedral

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Plymouth Cathedral
Cathedral Church of Saint Mary and Saint Boniface
Plymouth Cathedral is located in Plymouth, Devon
Plymouth Cathedral
Plymouth Cathedral
Shown within Plymouth
Coordinates: 50°22′25″N 4°09′06″W / 50.3737°N 4.1516°W / 50.3737; -4.1516
OS grid referenceSX4710054859
LocationPlymouth, Devon
DenominationRoman Catholic
Heritage designationGrade II
Designated1 May 1975
Architect(s)J. A. Hansom[1]
StyleEarly English Gothic[1]
Years built1856—1858
Spire height61 metres (200 feet)[1]
DiocesePlymouth (since 1850)
Bishop(s)Mark O'Toole, ninth Bishop of Plymouth (cons. 28 January 2014)
DeanBart Nannery
Director of musicChristopher Fletcher

The Cathedral Church of Saint Mary and Saint Boniface in Plymouth, England, is the seat of the Bishop of Plymouth and mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth, which covers the counties of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. The Diocese of Plymouth was created in 1850 after the issuing of the papal bull Universalis Ecclesiae. In 1858 the new condign cathedral was opened and put under the patronage of Virgin Mary and Saint Boniface, the latter being born in Crediton in the area of the diocese.

The Cathedral is also used by Royal Navy personnel stationed at HMNB Devonport for the annual naval mass celebrated in July.[2]


View of the cathedral from the north west


Prior to the Reformation Exeter Cathedral was the seat of the bishops whose diocese included all of Devon and Cornwall. In 1850, under Catholic emancipation, Plymouth became the centre for Cornwall, Devon and Dorset in the reconstructed Catholic diocesan structure. The first bishop was consecrated on 25 July 1851: George Errington, a Yorkshireman who was notable for visiting Dartmoor Prison weekly. Four years later Errington was appointed coadjutor Archbishop of Westminster, and on 19 July 1855, William Vaughan from Bristol was consecrated the new Bishop of Plymouth.[3]


Since the diocese's foundation, the small church of Saint Mary, erected in 1807 at Saint Mary Street,[4] had served as Pro-cathedral. Vaughan decided to build a cathedral replacing the pro-cathedral. On 20 February 1856, he bought a portion of land on the town's outskirts. It cost £3,904: £1,000 from Mr Bastard and the remaining money was raised throughout the diocese and elsewhere in England. Joseph Hansom and Charles Hansom were the architects and local men from Stonehouse built it.[5] Work commenced on 22 June, during which a Royal Navy officer fired new Turkish Man-of-war guns in Plymouth Sound, which caused subsidence.[6] The Cathedral was opened with Mass on 25 March 1858 (the Feast of the Annunciation),[7] and consecrated by Vaughan on 22 September 1880.[8]

Convent School[edit]

On 26 July 1860 the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who looked after poor schools, settled in the presbytery of St Mary's Church. On 19 October 1858, they purchased land near the Cathedral and opened a convent and girls' boarding and day school. It was closed after being bombed during the Plymouth Blitz of 1941. It has now been redeveloped as a residential complex.[9] The Notre Dame Catholic School is now located in the Plymouth suburb of Derriford.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c David, Pepin (2005). Discovering Cathedrals. Osprey Publishing. p. 154. ISBN 0-7478-0597-0.
  2. ^ Bishopric of the Forces – Naval Mass Retrieved 11 July 2013
  3. ^ "History of The Plymouth Cathedral". Cathedral of Saint Mary and Saint Boniface website. Archived from the original on 4 May 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  4. ^ Moseley, Brian (11 June 2011). "Church of Saint Mary". The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  5. ^ Harris, Penelope, "The Architectural Achievement of Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-1882), Designer of the Hansom Cab, Birmingham Town Hall, and Churches of the Catholic Revival", The Edwin Mellen Press, 2010, p.159, ISBN 0-7734-3851-3
  6. ^ "History of The Plymouth Cathedral". Cathedral of Saint Mary and Saint Boniface website. Archived from the original on 4 May 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  7. ^ "Cathedral of St Mary & St Boniface, Plymouth Celebrates 150th Anniversary". Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth website. Retrieved 24 November 2008.
  8. ^ "Diocese of Plymouth". The Catholic Encyclopedia (1911). Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  9. ^ "History of The Plymouth Cathedral". Cathedral of Saint Mary and Saint Boniface website. Retrieved 23 November 2008.

External links[edit]