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The 7 Wonders of Lancashire
The seven wonders of the ancient world such as the Colossus of Rhodes and The Hanging Gardens of Babylon have gone down in history and legend. But you don't need to travel back in time to see great structures which lift the spirit. We have some stunning examples right here in Lancashire. Here is our guide to the 'Seven Wonders of Lancashire.'
Generations of mariners and their passengers have gazed upon this as their last sight of England, or their first glimpse of home. This marvel in red sandstone, Britain's largest cathedral, reputedly the greatest Anglican church in the world, miraculously defied the bombs of the Liverpool Blitz and is now a beacon of pride symbolising the renaissance of the great city in which it stands.
Its tower alone soars more than 331 feet, its bells have the highest and heaviest peal in the world and it contains the largest operational organ in the world. Its internal spaces, awe-inspiring in their vastness, stun even the most jaded visitor into silent amazement. Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is a titan by the Mersey.
This fabulous Gothic extravaganza is architect Alfred Waterhouse's undisputed masterpiece. Soaring nearly 300 feet above Albert Square, it is more a cathedral than a town hall. Inside, its three great spiral staircases add to the atmosphere of a medieval minster. Fantastic mosaic floors, carved capitals, stained glass windows and exquisite tracery crowd the senses. The famous series of wall murals by the eminent Pre-Raphaelite artist Ford Madox Brown are the jewels in the crown of this Mancunian marvel, a beautiful embellishment to a mighty structure. Of all the proud town halls of England, none can match the Gothic glory that is Manchester Town Hall.
Visitors to East Lancashire cannot fail to be impressed by the gaunt yet beautiful shape of Pendle Hill. All over the world from Ayer's Rock to the Matterhorn, hills and mountains that stand alone are focuses for the spiritual needs of the people. It is no different with Pendle. This weird mass of millstone grit, covered with thick peat and fragrant clusters of bilberry and cloudberry, is the mecca for thousands every Hallowe'en - drawn there by some unknown need. During the reign of James 1 Pendle was the backdrop to the strange saga of the Lancashire Witches. In 1652 George Fox experienced amazing visions as he ascended Pendle. They led him to found the Quaker movement. The distinctive outline of Pendle is visible huge distances away. Yet it has a magnetic pull that draws people from near and far.
This is a soaring masterpiece of Gothic inspiration. It is rare indeed for a humble parish church to be constructed in such a spirit of imaginative whimsy - with a spire that reaches towards heaven in one graceful darting shape. When people think of the spires of England, they think of Salisbury Cathedral; but when Lancastrians think of spires, it is Saint Walburge's slender outline they conjure. Designed by J A Hanson (of Hanson Cab fame), this marvel by the Ribble has the third highest steeple in the land - a white needle that seems to float in the air. But it is not the spire alone that distinguishes this architectural tour de force. Inside, the superb hammer beam roof takes the breath away. As eminent architectural critic Pevsner said: :Nothing prepares you for the shock of the interior.' This church, cathedral-like in conception, is a marvel indeed.
When Lancashire mills closed for the Wakes Weeks, Blackpool Tower became the beacon by the sea that drew the cotton town masses. This titanic edifice in iron and steel was not conceived as some temporary side show in the bustling resort. Rather, it took the Eiffel Tower itself as its model. Five million bricks were used to house the base alone, but building on the grand scale did not mean neglecting aesthetics. Blackpool Tower is an elegant masterpiece, especially when clothed with its annual garb of 10,000 illuminated bulbs. From its top, all 518 feet from the coastline of the Fylde peninsula, several of the other wonders of Lancashire are visible. Blackpool Tower is the most famous wonder. It dominates Europe's greatest resort. There is, quite simply, no place like Blackpool. There is no tower like Blackpool Tower. But then, there is no county like Lancashire.
The gleaming white Baroque masterpiece that looks down on Lancaster's lanes and wharves. This Edwardian folly on the grand scale is architecturally of the first importance. Built by Lancaster industrialist Lord Ashton as a tribute to his wife, this is Lancashire's Taj Mahal. Surrounded by acres of lush parkland this romantic marvel dominates the Lune Valley and commands views to the distant Isle of Man. From Lancaster's bustling thoroughfares this pale, elegant vision is evident, high up in its verdant setting. Pevsner reached for the superlatives when describing this beautiful creation calling the external staircase 'reminiscent of the Sacre Coeur.' The Ashton Memorial, he declared, is 'the grandest monument in England.' London's Albert Memorial was swept into second place.
At 2,633 feet, Coniston Old Man is Lancashire's highest ground. Surely England's best loved mountain, The Old Man dominates the skyline in this part of Lancastrian Lakeland. This mighty eminence was backdrop to Donald Campbell's doomed heroism in 1967 and is the site of vast former industrial workings - witness the shattered terrain of Coppermines Valley en route to the summit. Its majestic presence towers over the village of Coniston and its day to day business. From the summit trig point stupendous vistas open up: of silent Goat's Water in the hidden valley below; of the fearsome precipices of Dow Crags; and of the entire Lakeland massif, spread out for inspection. To the south, Blackpool Tower is a pinprick on the horizon. To the west, the Isle of Man stands in its emerald element. As Wainwright said, the Old Man is 'undisputed overlord' of this domain.