St John's Anglican Cathedral Brisbane is the last great neo-gothic Cathedral to be built in the southern hemisphere.  On 22 May 1901, the Duke of Cornwall and York, later King, George V, laid the foundation stone of the cathedral. Construction began in 1906 with the western  and central towers finally completed in 2009. It was designed by the great nineteenth century English architect and Surveyor of the Fabric  John Loughborough Pearson (who is buried in Westminster Abbey in London). He also designed Truro Cathedral Cornwall, built in thirty years between 1880-1910. Truro Cathedral looks very similar to St John's from both within and without and is considered his finest work.

The interior of the building is amazing.  Designed like a twelfth and thirteenth century French Cistercian monastery church, the interior is made from beautiful cream coloured Helidon sandstone. The nave is supported from the outside by flying buttresses while the interior is punctuated by numerous tall columns.  These columns support a superb stone vaulted ceiling stretching the whole length of the nave, the choir and the ambulatory.  Beautiful stained glass windows are prominent along both sides of the aisles. The multicoloured stone on the outside is Brisbane porphyry, the blocks quarried from the O’Connelltown Quarry in suburban Brisbane. The stone can be see at the Kangaroo Point cliffs, They are known for a fabulous view over the city and the river and the centre of rock climbing in Brisbane.

The Cathedral has quite a few works of art including some lovely altar screens by William Bustard, English (1894-1973 in the Lady Chapel, the Chapel of the Holy Spirit and the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament.  It also has a British flag (Union Jack) which was a Regimental Colour presented to the Cathedral after WW I. Original there were many military flags hanging in the transepts but age has caught up with  them and they are no longer there.

The Cathedral has a beautiful pipe organ and a traditional Anglican choir of men and boys who sing on Sundays  It also has a peal of twelve bells. The original eight bells were purchased by public subscription from John Warner and Sons Cripplegate and were cast in 1876. Before they were hung in their present position in the Northern tower, they were housed in a large wooden tower beside the then unfinished Cathedral. Four new bell were added, given to the Cathedral as gifts from the Friends and the Bookshop. You can hear them on Sunday mornings before the 9.30 service or sometimes on Saturday afternoons for weddings.

Cathedral's deanery, formerly called Adelaide House, built in 1853 was to become Queensland’s first Government House  From the verandah on the 10 December 1859, the first Governor, Sir George Bowen, read the proclamation declaring Queensland a separate colony from New South Wales.

Brisbane is a big city of glass and concrete skyscrapers and it's just lovely going into the Cathedral to escape the hustle and bustle. There are guides on duty every day of the week who can take you around free of charge, though a donation is appreciated. If you are lucky, you may be able to coincide your visit with one of the many art exhibitions hosted by the Cathedral during the year or an organ recital during the lunchtime.

It's amazing that such an incredible stone building has been completed in Australia in the 21st century.

If you are in Brisbane this beautiful building is a must visit.


Added information by Clive Lambourne, chorister 1957-1962