The Oratory, St James's Cemetery
The Oratory is the former chapel of St James’s Cemetery, a now disused burial ground which occupies the rocky hollow on the east side of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral.
This hollow was originally a quarry and provided the stone from which the Town Hall and other 18th century public buildings in the city were constructed.
By the 1820s, however, it was exhausted and a proposal was made to adapt it as a cemetery, Liverpool’s only public cemetery at that date being the non-denominational Necropolis at Low Hill, opened in 1825.
"On the spot where we now stand, will soon arise a specimen of the purest era of Grecian art... long to remain a monument no less of the piety of the age that erected it, than of the classical purity of taste ini the architect who designed it. It will possess all those beauties which were characteristic of the noblest, as it was the earliest, invention of the building art - grandeur, simplicity, and harmony, united with that degree of ornament with which true taste refines and dignifies the vigorous conceptions of genius. It will be a counterpart of those beautiful and much-admired temples of the most polished nations of antiquity; not, indeed, to be applied for the same purpses as they were.... but to be devoted to the pure, and simple, and chaste, and impressive services of reformed Christian worship."
Jonathan Brooks, Rector of Liverpool, on the laying of the founation stone of the Oratory, September 1827.