Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King was the undisputed star of the show as presenter Fiona Bruce made the mother church of the Archdiocese her 100th Antiques Roadshow venue on Sunday.
The perennial BBC1 programme, now in its 37th series, was returning after a ten-week break and Bruce immediately set about showcasing both the Cathedral itself and the Lutyens Crypt in her introduction to Sunday night's episode.
"Of all the venues we've been to on the Roadshow over the years – and I've been on this programme for seven years now – I think Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral has to be the most unusual and the most striking," the Scottish presenter said, having explained the history behind "one of the most iconic modern buildings in the city, the Metropolitan Cathedral – otherwise known as the Mersey funnel or the wigwam".
Bruce highlighted how the Cathedral, built between 1962 and 1967, was a "radically different and very modern design" when compared with the Lutyens Crypt. "Down in the crypt is a completely different world – huge cavernous spaces in total contrast to the building above," she said. "That's because this crypt was originally designed to be part of a vast cathedral, one of the largest in the world – but it was never built."
Both Crypt and Cathedral featured prominently as the backdrop to a number of exciting finds by the Roadshow team which reflected the maritime and cultural heritage of the city. Among the treasures – brought by more than 1,200 people – were a medieval merchant's ring and a collection of items belonging to Arthur Rostron, captain of the Carpathia, the first ship to rescue survivors from the Titanic. Other pieces told the story of Liverpool's artistic and musical past.
There was even a cameo appearance by Bishop Tom Williams, receiving expert advice – and approval, it turned out – for some pottery he had chanced upon in a Garston presbytery several decades ago.
One discovery that particularly delighted Fiona Bruce was the Lutyens-designed circular mechanical stone used to seal off part of the Crypt, which represents the large stone that lay across Christ's tomb.
Viewers of the BBC's Sunday-evening staple were also informed how "if the original design [for the Cathedral] had gone ahead it would only have been finished around now", though the realisation of Sir Edwin Lutyens's vision may well have been worth the wait. "This building would have dwarfed the Palace of Westminster in London. It would have been colossal. Building work started on the Crypt in 1933 but by 1941 everything stopped: the Second World War was raging and virtually all builders were called up for military service," Bruce said.
The programme, filmed last September, aired at 8pm on 22 March and is still available to watch on the BBC iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05p1qkt/antiques-roadshow-series-37-15-liverpool-metropolitan-cathedral-1
The Crypt and the Cathedral will also figure in the 29 March edition of Antiques Roadshow: http://www.liverpoolmetrocathedral.org.uk/dont-miss-the-metropolitan-cathedral-on-the-bbc-antiques-roadshow/