Ten British stamps featuring cathedrals

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15 December 2014
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Over the past fifty years, Royal Mail has produced many stamps featuring Britain's cathedrals and here's our pick of ten of the finest issues. ...
Over the past fifty years, Royal Mail has produced many stamps featuring Britain's cathedrals and here's our pick of ten of the finest issues.

1 Air battle over St Pauls Cathedral

One of the most iconic images of World War Two is that of a defiant St Pauls Cathedral standing proud over the ruins of wartime London. Despite heavy bombing, the famous cathedral dome was never destroyed and was a key part of keeping morale high during the London Blitz.

This 1965 stamp was issued to mark the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and shows fighter planes above the Cathedral and the bombed ruins of the city of London. This set of stamps also included images of anti-aircraft artillery and Hawker Hurricanes.

2 British Cathedrals

In 1969, Royal Mail issued a set of six stamps showing the following cathedrals: St Pauls, York Minster, Canterbury (pictured), St Giles, Liverpool Metropolitan and Durham.

Canterbury Cathedral is one of Britain's oldest places of Christian worship and was established in 579AD by St Augustine's mission to bring Christianity to Britain. It is best known as the place where Thomas Becket was martyred and became a site of pilgrimage after Becket was killed by knights of King Henry II.

3 Christmas 1974

This image of the Virgin and Child was part of Royal Mail's 1974 Christmas stamp issue, which featured religious art from buildings around the country.

The stamp shows a painting from Worcester Cathedral and the set was designed by Peter Hatch Partnership.

The cathedral has strong links with Mary, being officially named as The Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Worcester. The cathedral building also featured on £20 notes issued between 1999 and 2007.


4 Europa Peace and Freedom

We now move forward to 1995, and stamps issued on a 'peace and freedom' theme. This image of St Paul's Cathedral highlighted under searchlight beams symbolised the cathedral as a symbol of hope and the return of peace during World War Two.

Another stamp in the set featured a photograph of British troops and French civilians celebrating the end of war.

5 Missions of Faith

Two years after the Europa Peace and Freedom stamps came 'missions of faith', which celebrated the work of early Christian missionaries in Britain.

The four stamps, designed by Graven Images Ltd, included a 63p value showing Saint Augustine with a model of a cathedral. Augustine is famed as the man who brought Christianity to Britain, founding Canterbury Cathedral in 579AD.

The saint was also shown with King Ethelbert, whom he converted to Christianity, and there were two stamps showing Irish missionary Saint Columba who founded the monastery at Iona.

6 Millennium Series: The Christian's Tale

In 1999, Royal Mail's Millennium Series stamps included a set of stamps devoted to the history of Christianity in Britain. St Andrew's Cathedral in Fife featured on the 44p value, titled 'pilgrimage' which celebrated the building's history as a place of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages and its links with Saint Andrew, patron saint of Scotland.

7 Millennium Projects

In the year 2000, Royal Mail continued its theme of the new Millennium with a four-stamp 'spirit and faith' issue designed by The Post Office which highlighted religious projects in buildings around Britain. The 65p value featured the ceiling of the chapter house at York Minister, which was highlighted in this series for the heritage of its mystery plays.

York's Mystery Plays date back to the medieval era, when members of the city's guilds performed an annual series of plays to mark the feast day of Corpus Christi. The plays moved around the city streets on carts, allowing a large audience to take part in the festivities.

8 A British Journey

The eighth stamp in our set once again highlights St Pauls Cathedral; one of ten locations (including Bath, Birmingham, Isle of Wight and the Lake District) which were chosen as iconic British views.

The 1st class stamp featured St Paul's in an aerial view, with its distinctive dome standing out amidst the streets of skyscrapers which surround it.

9 Cathedrals

In 2008, St Pauls was one of seven British cathedrals highlighted in a special issue devoted to cathedrals, which saw the cathedral as the only one in the set to have four stamps devoted to its distinctive and historic interior.

The two x 1st and two x 81p values featured colour photographs of the cathedral's interior, noted for its lavish use of white marble.

10 London 2012 Paralympic Games

The status of St Paul's Cathedral as a symbol of British life was confirmed with this 2012 Royal Mail issue devoted to the sports featured in the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

The £1.28 value features a photograph of a power lifter lifting a weight in front of an image of St Paul's Cathedral.

For all the latest stamp and coin news and new issues, see each issue of Stamp & Coin Mart magazine.

All images copyright Royal Mail
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