Friday, January 7, 2011

...I'm back...know thy neighbour

St Mary's Cathedral taken Christmas 2010 late afternoon.

Wow...what a strange couple of days.  Wednesday was moving day and the van arrived at 8am... so there was no time to get up to the park.  However, when I drove past I could see that there was plenty going on with Sydney Festival First Night bump in. Trucks, containers, structures going up. It will be a great event on Saturday and I can't wait. 

Last night I tried to blog but could not get onto blogspot.  All other websites were accessible so the site must have been down.  I was going to start the series 'Know Thy Neighbour'.  This will be a series of blogs about the buildings that surround Hyde Park.  Many of these building have a big impact on the mood of the park and I think it would be fun to find out more about  their history.

'Know Thy Neighbour" - St Mary's Cathedral.

I love St Mary's.  There is always something happening in the forecourt...tourist, skateboarders, weddings, lightshows.

I often go inside to light a candle and sit in peace. 

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Archbishop Polding laid the foundation stone for the present cathedral in 1868. It was to be a huge and ambitious structure with a wide nave and aisle and three towers. Unfortunately, Polding did not live to see it in use as he died in 1877. Five years later, on 8 September 1882, his successor, Archbishop Vaughan presided at the Dedication Mass.
 St Mary’s Cathedral is unusual among the world’s large cathedrals in that, because of its size, the plan of the city around it and the fall of the land, it is orientated in a North/South direction rather than the usual East/West.

The plan of the cathedral is a conventional English cathedral plan, cruciform in shape, with a tower over the crossing of the nave and transepts, and twin towers at the West Front (in this case, the South.). There are three processional doors in the South with additional entrances conveniently placed in the transept facades so that they lead from Hyde Park and from the Presbytery buildings and school adjacent the cathedral.

The architecture is typical of Gothic Revival of the 19th century, inspired by journals of the Cambridge Camden Society, the writings of John Ruskin and the architecture of Augustus Welby Pugin. At the time the foundation stone stone was laid, the architect Edmund Blacket had just completed Sydney's very much smaller Anglican Cathedral in the Perpendicular Gothic style and the Main Building of Sydney University.

Blacket was an architect whose competence and flair was extraordinary. It must have been inspiring to Polding to see what was possible, within the burgeoning Sydney Town. St Mary's, when William Wardell's plan was realised, was to be a much larger, more imposing and more sombre structure than the pretty little St. Andrew's, and because of its fortuitous siting, still dominates many views of the city, despite the high-rise buildings.

The style of the cathedral is Geometric Decorated Gothic, the archaeological antecedent being the ecclesiastical architecture of late 13th century England. It is, in fact, based fairly closely on the style of Lincoln Cathedral, the tracery of the huge chancel window being almost a replica of that at Lincoln.

St Mary's from Hyde Park on Australia Day 200 with spires under construction

For many years the two squared-off towers of the façade gave a disappointing appearance to an otherwise-elegant building. It was from time to time suggested pinnacles should be put up to match the central tower as it appeared plain that William Wardell’s proposed spires would never be built. But with the assistance of a grant from the Government to mark the new millennium, the spires were eventually built in 2000

1821 The foundation stone of the first St Mary's Chapel is laid by Governor Lachlan Macquarie and blessed by Fr Therry.The site of the chapel is near the convict barracks, on the edge of the town. It will be a stone building in a naive gothic style.

1835 - Sydney's first bishop, John Bede Polding OSB, arrives on September 13, as Vicar Apostolic of New Holland. St Mary’s Chapel becomes his Cathedral.

1842 - Polding becomes first Archbishop of Sydney.

1851 - Work on extensions to the Cathedral commences, to designs by A W N Pugin, the celebrated English architect and promoter of a more correct gothic style.

1865 - The first St Mary’s Cathedral is ruined by fire on the evening of June 29.
1868 - The foundation stone of a new Cathedral is blessed by Archbishop Polding. The new Cathedral is to be an outstanding example of gothic revival architecture, designed by William Wilkinson Wardell.

1877 - Roger Bede Vaughan OSB becomes Archbishop of Sydney.

1882 - The incomplete northern section of the new Cathedral is opened and dedicated.

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