Whipsnade Tree Cathedral, Bedfordshire

Not a true Cathedral (there is no bishopric here) Whipsnade Tree Cathedral nevertheless has a nave, chancel, transepts, chapels and cloisters – all made up of various species of tree. Services are also conducted here frequently.

The Cathedral was begun by a veteran of the Great War, Mr Edmond K. Blyth. He visited partially built Liverpool Cathedral in 1930 and he later wrote “As we drove south through the Chiltern hills on our way home... I saw the evening sun light up a coppice of trees on the side of a hill. It occurred to me then that here was something more beautiful still and the idea formed of building a cathedral with trees."

Work began two years later and continued until 1939 when World War II broke out. For six years the Cathedral was left to run wild but after clearance work in the late 1940s development began once again and today the Cathedral covers 9.5 acres. The first religious service was held in 1953 and services have continued until today.

In 1960 the Tree Cathedral was gifted to the National Trust who maintain the site – services are operated by the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral Fund.

Wandering around this site is quite an interesting experience, an odd mix of tranquil woodland and hushed church atmosphere that is quite unique.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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