With its distinctive candy-striped red-brick and white-stone tower features, John Francis Bentley’s 19th-century cathedral, the mother church of Roman Catholicism in England and Wales, is a splendid example of neo-Byzantine architecture. Although construction started here in 1896 and worshippers began attending services seven years later, the church ran out of money and the gaunt interior remains largely unfinished, although some radiant mosaics dazzle from the gloom.
The application of colour is a painfully slow process. The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament and elsewhere are ablaze with Eastern Roman mosaics and ornamented with 100 types of marble; the arched ceiling of the Lady Chapel is also richly presented, while other areas of the church remain just bare brick.
The highly regarded stone bas-reliefs of the Stations of the Cross (1918) by Eric Gill and the marvellously sombre atmosphere make this a welcome haven from the traffic outside. The views from viewing gallery 64m up in the 83m-tall bell tower – thankfully, accessible by lift – are impressive. The Treasures of the Cathedral exhibition is rewarding and there's a cafe near the Baptistry. Several masses are given daily (including one in Latin, and one with singing from the Cathedral's Choir); check the website for the full schedule.