What is significant?
In 1848 at the request of the newly arrived Charles Perry, first Bishop of Melbourne, Superintendent C J La Trobe signed an Order-in-Council granting the present site of St Paul's Cathedral to the Church. A very substantial stone parish church was erected on the site together with parsonage and school. This first St Pauls Church which opened on 5 December 1852.
These buildings survived until 1884 when they were demolished to make way for the new Cathedral, the foundation stone of which had been laid four years earlier on 13 April 1880, a little north of St Pauls Church by His Excellency, the Marquis of Normanby. The Cathedral, with the exception of the towers, Cathedral Offices, and Chapter House, was designed by the eminent English architect William Butterfield (1814-1900). Butterfield never saw the Cathedral or visited Melbourne, the supervision being carried out by the Melbourne architects Terry and Oakden, and after Butterfield's resignation in 1884, by Joseph Reed. Plans for the Cathedral Offices and Chapter House prepared by Joseph Reed were accepted by the Cathedral Erection Board in 1889.
After the death of Joseph Reed on 29 April 1890, Mr F J Smart was appointed architect for the Cathedral and Offices.
On 23 January 1891 the new Cathedral was consecrated and the Holy Communion celebrated by the Right Reverend Field Flowers Goe, third Bishop of Melbourne. The Cathedral Offices were progressively occupied in 1891, the Choir School taking occupation of part of the building in October 1891. The building of the towers and spires was begun on 18 April 1926. The three towers and spire were designed by Sydney architect James Barr and built by Clements Langford. On 30 April 1933 a Service of Thanks for the completion of the Cathedral was held.
St Pauls Cathedral is high Victorian Gothic, with poly textured finish Waurn Ponds and Barrabool sandstone cladding. The horizontally striped interior derived from Siena Cathedral, is lavishly fitted out with encaustic tiled floor and wainscoting, stained glass by Clayton and Bell of London, a reredos of Derbyshire spa, Devonshire marble and Venetian glass mosaic, and furniture and fittings of Blackwood. The organ was built by T C Lewis, London in 1890, rebuilt in 1929 by Hill, Norman and Beard of Clifton Hill, and restored in 1989-90 by Harrison and Harrison, Durham. The Cathedral Offices of four stories in ecclesiastical Gothic style are situated between the Chapter house and the Cathedral.
How is it significant?
St Pauls Cathedral Precinct is of architectural, historic and scientific (technical) importance to the state of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
St Pauls Cathedral is of architectural importance as a unique example in Australia of a high Victorian Gothic Revival architecture of the eminent English avant garde architect of his age William Butterfield (1814-1900). The Chapter House and Cathedral Offices designed by prominent Melbourne architect Joseph Reed (1823-1890) on a smaller scale than the Cathedral, contribute to form a cohesive group. The Gateway beneath the Chapter House and the associated shops and walkway constitute a pedestrian route providing a townscape vista of European character rare in Australia. The Chapter House Chamber with its noble proportions and timber vaulted ceiling is an important interior by Joseph Reed.
The St Pauls Cathedral precinct is of great historical importance as the long standing focus of the Church of England in Victoria.
The organ is of scientific (technical) and historical significance as the most important work, along with the 1897 Lewis organ in Southwark Cathedral, London, of its builder, T C Lewis to survive , retaining all of the original pipework, windchests, wind system, swell boxes, and casework. Lewis was among the most important organbuilders in late 19th century Europe.