The Oratory, Liverpool

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The Oratory stands to the north of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral in Merseyside, England. It was originally the mortuary chapel to St James Cemetery, and houses a collection of 19th-century sculpture and important funeral monuments as part of the Walker Art Gallery.[1] It is a Grade I listed building in the National Heritage List for England.

The Oratory
The Oratory
LocationLiverpool, Merseyside, England
Coordinates53°23′56″N 2°58′24″W / 53.3988°N 2.9732°W / 53.3988; -2.9732Coordinates: 53°23′56″N 2°58′24″W / 53.3988°N 2.9732°W / 53.3988; -2.9732
OS grid referenceSJ 354 895
ArchitectJohn Foster
Architectural style(s)Greek Revival
Governing bodyNational Museums Liverpool
Listed Building – Grade I
Designated28 June 1952
Reference no.1063282
The Oratory, Liverpool is located in Liverpool
The Oratory, Liverpool
Location in Liverpool


The Oratory was built in 1829, and used for funeral services before burials in the adjacent cemetery. It was designed by John Foster. When the cemetery closed, the building fell into disuse. In 1986 it came under the care of National Museums Liverpool, and is used to contain a collection of sculpture and statues.[2]


The building is in the form of a Greek Doric temple. At each end is a portico with six columns. There are no windows and the building is lit from above. Inside, a coffered ceiling is supported by Ionic columns. Pollard and Pevsner consider this to be Foster's best surviving building.[3] On 28 June 1952 it was designated as a Grade I listed building.[4] In the National Heritage List for England it is described as "one of the purest monuments of the Greek Revival in England".[4] Around the Oratory are cast iron railings and gate piers that have been listed at Grade II.[5]


Inside the building is a collection of monuments, mainly Neoclassical reliefs, many of which were brought here from demolished buildings in the 1980s. These include a monument dated 1834 to the Nicholson family by Francis Chantrey, one to William Earle, who died in 1839, by John Gibson, to Dr William Stevenson, who died in 1853, by J. A. P. Macbride, to William Hammerton, who died in 1832, by Gibson, to William Ewart, who died in 1823, by Joseph Gott, to Emily Robinson, who died in 1829, by Gibson, and to Agnes Jones, who died in 1868, by Pietro Tenerani.[3] There is also a statue of William Huskisson by Gibson that was formerly in the Custom House.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Oratory", Walker Art Gallery, retrieved 17 March 2015
  2. ^ Pye, Ken (2011), Discover Liverpool, Liverpool: Trinity Mirror Media, p. 50, ISBN 978-1-906802-90-5
  3. ^ a b Sharples, Joseph; Pollard, Richard (2004), Liverpool, Pevsner Architectural Guides, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, pp. 243–244, ISBN 0-300-10258-5
  4. ^ a b c Historic England, "The Oratory, Liverpool  (Grade I) (1063282)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 19 August 2012
  5. ^ Historic England, "Railing and Piers to The Oratory, Liverpool  (Grade II) (1359856)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 19 August 2012