The Cathedral's Construction

The Construction of the Cathedral is a story of great dedication and craftsmanship. The original church was built on the present site of the Old Cathedral. The foundation stone was laid in November 1843, construction continued until mid-1847 and the church was opened on the 11th of February 1848 by Archbishop Polding. With the gold rush of the 1850s Goulburn’s population boomed and soon the church was extended to meet the needs of the growing congregation. The old church sacristy and transepts remained in use after the first part of the present Cathedral was finished in 1872. When the second half of the Cathedral was completed 15 years later the bricks from the original church were removed and carried our through the front door with some going in to form the rubble underneath sacristy. Some of the old foundations are still evident under the Cathedral floor.

The original foundation stone was laid by Bishop Lanigan on the 12th of February 1871.  Tenders were called for the Cathedral’s construction to the design of architect Andrea Stombucco, whom Bishop Lanigan had appointed as diocesan architect in 1867.   The first stage of construction went smoothly under the supervision of Stombucco, with the Nave of the Cathedral built outside the nave of the old church. The second stage, however, took considerable time and proved more difficult. Mr Stombucco had left the project after the first stage was finished in 1872 and the supervising architect was Charles Spadacinni. The warm relationship between Bishop Lanigan and Stombucco didn’t continue with the new architect, and deep tensions are documented in correspondence between the two.

The Cathedral is unique in that its builders drew on local quarried materials and timbers. It is constructed from a locally quarried greenstone called diorite porphyrite.  All the sandstone used was quarried locally from the Marulan area.  The roof slate was imported from Bangor. All windows, jambs, windowsills, arches, coping, triangle caps, buttress caps, quoins and base are made of Wingello stone, from the Marulan area. The woodwork in the ceiling throughout is of special interest.  In the nave and aisles there are exposed purlin beams and bracketed principal beams, which also appear in the transept and Sanctuary. 

The fretwork detail on the brackets under the principal roof beams are a distinct feature of the ceiling. The striking pillars inside the Cathedral are of Malmsbury bluestone however, in the 1927-30 renovation the columns were painted and sanded to look like sandstone. These will be restored to their original state as part of the interior restoration.

A project of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and the Sts Peter and Paul’s Old Cathedral Restoration Appeal.

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