St. John's Cathedral
St. John’s Cathedral is a work in progress. Additional stalls were added in the 1950s and 60s, two bays of the nave (the central area of the church) and side aisles were completed and consecrated on 22 November 1968.
In 1989 the church launched a program and fund raising campaign to complete the cathedral, the extension of the nave, construction of two western towers, central tower and porches are still to be accomplished.
The precinct also includes the Deanery (1853), Webber House (1904), Church house (1909) and St. Martians House (former hospital 1919-1922).
It has been the focal point of Anglican worship in Brisbane and the seat of the Archbishop since 1910. The first church was established in a converted carpenter’s building at North Quay. In 1850, a land grant from the NSW government enabled the church of England congregation to build a church in what is now Queen’s Gardens, where a plaque records its former existence. It was consecrated in 1854.
When the Diocese of Brisbane was created in 1859, this St. John’s became the temporary cathedral. Edward Tufnell, the first Bishop, had plans for a cathedral, which did not eventuate. It took the energy and drive of the third Bishop, William Webber, to instigate the project and he worked tirelessly to raise the funds, making five trips to England for fundraising. There he engaged noted English architect John Pearson to design it.
Pearson died in 1897 leaving his son, Frank, to finish the work. Bishop Webber died in 1903 before his dream was fulfilled and his remains lie under the High Altar. Between 1904 and 1910, the congregation met in St. Luke’s Church in Charlotte Street until the completion and consecration of stage one on 28 October 1910.
Many local motifs are set amongst the Gothic splendour of St. Johns. Two ring-tailed possums overlook the choir stalls from the case covering more than 4000 organ pipes. Reef fish, kangaroos, poinsettias, and butterflies are amongst the flora and fauna to be found on more than 400 needlework cushions designed by Queensland College of Art students for the pews.
Another unusual feature found is the legs of the English-made font are the perfectly formed bi-valves and molluscs that can be easily be seen and touched in the 350 million-year-old fossil ferrous limestone.
It is the only fully stone vaulted ceiling in Australia and it is magnificent to behold. Some say that the building will never be complete, but they are still working away at it to this day. They are hoping to silence those disbelievers with a completion in 2010. I can’t wait to see that. Not since I walked through the castles in Germany have I seen such details and intricate work on a building.
They are open Monday –Saturday 9:30-4:30, Sunday 11:00-4:30. Tours are Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 2:00 and Sunday only at 2:00. There is also a Cathedral Shop that is open daily. Suggested donation for entry is $2.50. [more]
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