Wednesday, June 24, 2009

St John's Cathedral

How long does it take to build a cathedral? Readers of Ken Follett's best-selling novels "The Pillars of the Earth" and "World Without End" know that it takes a very long time indeed. Follett opined that it takes at least thirty years, often longer if there is war or famine to contend with. Here in Brisbane we must be setting a world record in this category (well, I hope we at least made the finals!), because the Anglican St John's Cathedral in Ann Street in the city has taken over 100 years. The Duke of Cornwall and York laid the foundation stone of the magnificent gothic-style cathedral in 1901, the year of Federation, so the cathedral is as old as the very concept of a nation called Australia. The following picture of the cathedral and the next-door deanery was taken in 1910.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #117230)

The historical photo was taken from a rooftop vantage point in Adelaide Street, and shows the imposing structure high atop the sheer cliff face opposite. A combination of the overhanging awnings on the present buildings in Adelaide Street and the now-abundant greenery behind the cathedral made my recent attempt to emulate the original picture a tad difficult, but I did my best.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

A picture taken in Ann Street of the other side of the building provides a little more detail of the exterior of the cathedral.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

The story of the building of the cathedral, including the delays caused by fluctuating finances (well known to most of us in current times!) can be found in the cathedral's web pages. As a structure it is most impressive, so much so that I suspended my usual avoidance of churches for a visit to see the completed cathedral. Inside the rather stern-looking Gothic exterior are wonderful vaults and arches, with dappled sunlight filtered through stained glass windows playing on the brickwork.

(Photos: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

And the windows themselves are very colourful and impressive. Stained glass windows usually contain stories within the fabulous panels of multi-coloured glass, and these are no exception. The cathedral is open to visitors and it is well worth making time to see this beautiful and historic building.

Click here for a Google Map.


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