St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne

St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne
Cathedral Church of Paul the Apostle

Interior (nave or arcade) of St Paul's
37°49′01″S 144°58′03″E / 37.816853°S 144.967384°E / -37.816853; 144.967384Coordinates: 37°49′01″S 144°58′03″E / 37.816853°S 144.967384°E / -37.816853; 144.967384
Location City of Melbourne
Country Australia
Denomination Anglican Church of Australia
Former name(s) St Paul’s Parish Church (1852-1885)
Consecrated 22 January 1891
Architect(s) William Butterfield
Style Gothic transitional
Years built 1852, 1880-91, 1926
Diocese Melbourne
Province Victoria
Archbishop Philip Freier
Dean Andreas Loewe
Precentor Heather Patacca
Canon Pastor Ruth Redpath
Director of music Phillip Nicholls
Organist(s) Siegfried Franke,
Lachlan Redd,
Roslyn Carolane

St Paul's Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Melbourne and the seat of the Archbishop of Melbourne who is also the metropolitical archbishop of the Province of Victoria and, since 28 June 2014, the present seat of the Primate of Australia.

The cathedral was built in stages and is one of the City of Melbourne's major landmarks.


St Paul's Cathedral is in a prominent location at the centre of Melbourne, on the eastern corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Street. It is situated diagonally opposite Flinders Street Station, which was the hub of 19th-century Melbourne and remains an important transport centre.

Immediately to the south of the cathedral, across Flinders Street, is the new public heart of Melbourne, Federation Square. Continuing south down Swanston Street is Princes Bridge which crosses the Yarra River, leading to St Kilda Road. Thus the cathedral has a commanding view of the southern approaches to the city.

The location for the cathedral marks the place of the first Christian service held in Melbourne in 1835. Previous buildings on this site include a corn market and St Paul's Parish Church.


1862 lithograph of Melbourne from Princes Bridge, showing on the right the predecessor St Paul's Church
Repair work on the spires, 2004

St Paul's Cathedral is built on the site where the first public Christian service in Melbourne was conducted in 1835. The area of the current site became a corn market until 1848, when it was made available for the construction of St Paul's Parish Church, a bluestone church. The Church of St Paul the Apostle, consecrated in 1852, remained in use as a parish church until its demolition in 1885 to make way for the current cathedral.

A distinguished English architect, William Butterfield, designed the cathedral, in the architectural style of Gothic transitional. The foundation stone was laid in 1880 and, on 22 January 1891, the cathedral was consecrated by the Rt Revd Charles Perry, Bishop of Melbourne, in the presence of John, Earl of Hopetoun (later Marquess of Linlithgow), Governor of Victoria.[1] St Paul's replaced St James Old Cathedral which then stood on the corner of William Street and Collins Street - later moved to a site near the Flagstaff Gardens. To fit the block, the cathedral edifice is orientated NNW.

The erection of the spires began in 1926, to the design of John Barr of Sydney superseding Butterfield's original design. The 1960s saw extensive work completed to the exterior of the cathedral and the T.C. Lewis organ was restored in 1989 by a major National Trust appeal. Major restoration works were completed in 2009 with significant repairs to the spires, the building of the Moorhouse Tower Lantern and the new processional doors.

Although there was no established church in colonial Victoria, most of the dominion's establishment were Anglicans and the Church of England (as it was then) was given the best site in Melbourne for its cathedral. At the time of its construction St Paul's was the tallest building in central Melbourne and dominated the city's skyline. The growth of multi-storey buildings in central Melbourne during the 20th century robbed St Paul's of its commanding position and restricted views from many angles. The construction of Federation Square, which involved the demolition of a pair of adjacent highrise buildings, the Gas and Fuel Buildings, has improved the cathedral's visibility from the south.


William Butterfield's original design for the new Church of England cathedral
North aspect and spire

St Paul's is built in a revival of the style known as Gothic transitional, being partly Early English and partly Decorated. It was designed by the distinguished English architect William Butterfield, who was noted for his ecclesiastical architectural works. The foundation stone was laid in 1880. Butterfield never saw the site and the building work was frequently delayed by disputes between Butterfield, who was in England, and the church authorities in Melbourne. Butterfield resigned in 1884 and the building was completed by a local architect, Joseph Reed. Consequently, the design of the spires differs greatly from those originally planned (similar to those built at Christ Church, South Yarra). The cathedral chapter retains a scale model of the original completed design.

The cathedral was consecrated on 22 January 1891, but the spires designed by John Barr of Sydney were only finished in 1931. Its pipe organ was commissioned from the English builder T. C. Lewis, one of the most prominent organ builders of the 19th century.[2] Besides Sunday and weekday Eucharists the cathedral "maintains the English tradition" (p. 14) of a daily choral Evensong, being the only Australian Anglican cathedral to do so.[3]

St Paul's is unusual among Melbourne's more notable 19th-century public buildings in that it is not made from bluestone, the city's dominant building material. Instead it is made from sandstone from the Barrabool Hills and limestone embellishments of Waurn Ponds limestone, both from near Geelong, giving the cathedral a warm yellow-brown colouring rather than Melbourne's characteristic cold blue-grey. This gives it a different appearance to the bluestone Gothic of St Patrick's Roman Catholic cathedral on the eastern side of the city. Because the spires are built from Sydney sandstone and are 40 years newer, they are of a darker texture than the older parts of the building. St Paul's Moorhouse Tower is the second highest Anglican spire in the world, the tallest being that of Salisbury Cathedral.[4]

By the 1990s the constant traffic vibration in central Melbourne led to concerns about the structural soundness of the cathedral, particularly its spires. A public appeal, led by the then Dean of Melbourne, David Richardson, raised A$18 million to restore the spires and improve the interior of the building. The seven-year restoration project was completed in 2009, under the guidance of Falkinger Andronas Architects and Heritage Consultants (now Andronas Conservation Architecture). The restoration works were undertaken by Cathedral Stone and were acknowledged by the Australian Institute of Architects, the Victorian Chapter Heritage Architecture Award 2009 and the Lachlan Macquarie National Award for Heritage Architecture 2009.

As part of the work, stone heads of the former dean David Richardson and the philanthropist Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, created by Melbourne sculptor Smiley Williams and carved by stonemason Daryl Gilbert, were added to the spires and new dalle de verre glass was created by Janusz and Magda Kuszbicki for the west doors and the "Eighth Day" lantern in the Moorhouse Tower.


The high altar and reredos are made from Devonshire marble, alabaster and Venetian glass mosaics. One of the carved figures on the pulpit is of a former Mayor of Melbourne's daughter who died in infancy. The floor tiles and dado (wall tiles) are features of Butterfield's original design. The floors are of imported marble and alabaster, with richly patterned tiles by Maw & Co., UK. In Persian tile on the rear wall of the narthex is a replica of an 8-pointed star found in two churches in the Anglican Diocese of Iran - the church of St Simon the Zealot in Shiraz and St Luke's Church in Isfahan. There are two baptismal fonts. The round font of Harcourt granite was installed when the cathedral was constructed. In 1912 the immersion font was built in memory of Field Flowers Goe, third Bishop of Melbourne.[5]


Night view
Interior from south aisle

The dean of St Paul's Cathedral, who is responsible for its day-to-day running, is formally styled the "Dean of Melbourne":



Music plays an integral part of worship at St Paul's and is the responsibility of the Director of Music. The Music Foundation,[7] established in 1993, provides funding for the musical life of the cathedral.

Director of Music


The Director of Music at St Paul's Cathedral, until the appointment of Philip Nicholls in 2013, was also the organist.

The former Director of Music and organist, June Nixon AM, was awarded a Lambeth doctorate (DMus) by George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1999.[8] This recognised her long contribution to choral and organ music and marks the first woman to be so honoured.


The cathedral's pipe organ was built by T. C. Lewis and Co of Brixton, England. Over six and half thousand pounds were spent on its construction, shipping and installation before it was played at the cathedral's inaugural service in 1891. Various modifications and maintenance works have been carried out since then, culminating in a A$726,000 restoration which was completed in 1990 with the help of a National Trust appeal. In its restored state the organ has four manuals and pedals with 53 stops, all with electro-pneumatic action, and is housed in the cathedral's south transept behind newly stencilled façade pipes.


Stained glass window

Originally formed in 1888 in conjunction with the choir of All Saints' St Kilda, the cathedral choir led the procession for the official opening in 1891. The choir sings at Evensong throughout the week and for two of the four Sunday services. The choir is also called upon for special occasions including chapter Evensongs, synod services, state funerals, concerts, carol services and seasonal services.

Since the early 1990s the choir cassocks are of a deep burgundy colour, matching the stencil design hue on the organ pipes. Originally the choir wore traditional black cassocks and white surplices, but with the introduction of An Australian Prayer Book in the late 1970s, new cassocks of a green colour approximating that of the new prayer book cover (and coincidentally, that of the visible organ pipework at the time) were introduced and surplices were discontinued. On a visit to the cathedral in 1985 by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, a somewhat astonished Robert Runcie exclaimed that he had "never seen a cathedral choir wearing green robes before".[9] With the restoration of the organ in the early 1990s, surplices were restored and cassocks of a deep burgundy were introduced matching the new stencil design hue on the organ pipes.

Unique to St Paul's Cathedral is the boys choir role of "Dean's Chorister" created by David Richardson when Dean of Melbourne. The Dean's Chorister primarily has the role of leading the choir with the "virge" or ceremonial mace, a task formerly performed by the head chorister.


St Paul's has a ring of 12 bells set for change ringing in the key of C♯, with an extra bell to allow different subsets of the full number to be rung still to a diatonic scale. All 13 bells were cast by Mears & Stainbank of Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1889.[10] The tenor originally weighed 31cwt but after the whole set was sent to Taylor's Bell Foundry in 1963 for retuning it now weighs 29cwt.

The bells were a gift from Thomas Dyer Edwardes and were dedicated and first rung on 15 November 1889 for the departure of the Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Loch (later Baron Loch). The St Paul's Cathedral Society of Bellringers was founded in 1896 and are affiliated with the Australian and New Zealand Association of Bellringers.[11]

Significant occasions

Lady chapel (commemorating the visit of HH Pope John Paul II)
West End and Door

St Paul's Cathedral has hosted many significant occasions in national, Commonwealth and international history. St Paul's continues to be the choice venue for many state funerals and has played host to those of many prime ministers, premiers, governors, governors-general and other significant people.

Papal visit

On 28 November 1986, on his arrival in Melbourne, Pope John Paul II paid a visit to St Paul's Cathedral in recognition of the dialogue between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches in Melbourne fostered by their respective former archbishops, the Most Reverend Sir Frank Woods (Anglican) and the Most Reverend Sir Frank Little (Roman Catholic).

The cathedral choir sang "Ecce vicit Leo" as the Pope entered the cathedral. After this the Pope prayed for Christian unity and lit a metre-long candle. A memorial chapel (pictured right) commemorates this historic occasion: the third time in four centuries when a reigning Pope had made an official visit to an Anglican cathedral.

Christmas carol service recording

On 28 November 2007, a carol service featuring the choir was recorded by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and broadcast Australia-wide on Christmas Eve.



Mondays to Fridays

Saturdays and public holidays

See also


  2. Maidment, J. (1991) OHTA News for January (Vol 15, No 1)
  3. Notes & News (2012) St Paul's Cathedral
  4. Salisbury Cathedral Website - Visitor FAQs
  5. "St Paul's Anglican Cathedral Melbourne- a Ten Minute Tour", St Paul's Anglican Cathedral, 2015.
  6. St Paul's Cathedral Chapter
  7. "Music at St Paul's"
  10. Baldwin, John (2009). "Melbourne Cath Ch of S Paul". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  11. "Melbourne: St Paul's Cathedral". ANZAB Tower Directory. The Australian and New Zealand Association of Bellringers. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
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