Friday, February 27, 2009


The foundation stone of St. John's Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane was laid in 1901 by the Duke of Cornwall on his way home from opening our first Federal Parliament. The building is finally completed after being cloaked in scaffolding periodically as the church struggled to raise the money to complete it. The final stages have cost about $37 million, completing the west end of the building with its two towers and spires and finishing the central bell tower.

The time it's taken to build it is not unusual; St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney took just under 150 years, St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Adelaide began in 1850 and work lasted until the late 1990s, just under 150 years and work began on St. Edmundsbury Cathedral in East Anglia, England in the Middle Ages, through to completion just three years ago.

St. Edmundsbury Cathedral

Gothic architecture had its origins in Northern Europe, cold and dark. In the Middle Ages larger windows were designed to allow more light in and a system of buttresses were used to withstand the forces in the building.

St. John's was designed by British architect John Loughborough Pearson, recognised as one of the great Gothic Revival architects of the 19th century. Pearson died four years before the first stone was laid but his son, Frank Pearson, took over the practical details of completing and simplifying the design but essentially it was his father's design. The size of the windows are much narrower than cathedrals in Melbourne, Sydney and Europe. Pearson deliberately narrowed them to cope with the Brisbane climate.

Read more on neo-Gothic architecture at Wikipedia.


willow said...

Sad that Pearson didn't live to see the completion, but nice that it was kept in the family. Beautiful architecture.

Coccinella said...

Photos don't do it justice. I just sat and gaped at buildings in Italy, imagining ropes, winches, wooden scaffolding, etc..