Feb 19, 2009

19 February 1873

The original proposal for an Anglican cathedral for Christchurch called for an iron and glass structure along the lines of London's 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition building. Regretfully, this design was abandoned in favour of a more conventional neo-Gothic structure in stone. Thus it was that the foundation stone of Christ Church Cathedral was laid on the 16th of December 1864, but by the following year construction plans had been halted as a consequence if inadequate funding.

On the 19th of February 1873 the Anglican Synod voted on a motion to sell the cathedral site to the Provincial Council for public offices, for the sum of £10,000.

An alternative site was proposed for a section of three and a half acres on Durham Street, between Gloucester and Armagh Streets, opposite the Provincial Council buildings. It was also suggested that economy could be effected by letting the frontages for building sites conditionally on the fronts of the houses erected thereon facing the Cathedral. If this were done, the Synod committee suggested that the Cathedral would stand upon the northern frontage of the land and the tower would be on Armagh Street.

The proposal was defeated by only one of the thirty-five votes and construction in Cathedral Square resumed in 1875, with the building being completed eight years later.


Jayne said...

LOL I read (and wrote up) about the hair breadth by which the Christchurch Cathedral site was kept.
St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne almost never was, too, by similar slim margins.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Thanks Jayne, it was your blog post that inspired me to rummage in the archive.
The alternate site was going to cost £5,000, so they would have made a handsome profit on the Cathedral Square site, which cost them nothing.

Jayne said...

That IS surprising that money didn't sway the final vote!

Canterbury Heritage said...

It appears to have been the decisive vote of a clergyman that upset the ambitions of the Synod, which appears to have been otherwise dominated by commercial and political interests.

Accordingly, it could seem to have been an anomaly in the ongoing history of conflict of interest and cronyism that might appear to continue to be the hallmarks of Canterbury's establishment.