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St. Peters Cathedral, Adelaide
St Peter's Cathedral is an Anglican Cathedral in the South Australianmarker capital of Adelaidemarker. It is the seat of the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide. The cathedral is situated on approximately one acre (4,000 m²) of land at the corner of Pennington Terrace and King William Road in the suburb of North Adelaidemarker.

The south face has similar features to the Cathedral of Notre Damemarker in Parismarker, including an ornate rose window above the main entrance which depicts stories of South Australiamarker and the Bible. The Cathedral is open from 9.30am until 4.00pm daily for private prayer and free tours are conducted on Sundays at 2.30pm.

Foundation and construction

The Cathedral's frontage.
The See of Adelaide was constituted in June 1847. As there was no cathedral, Trinity Churchmarker on North Terrace was denoted as the pro tempore Cathedral Church. Augustus Short, first Bishop of Adelaide, held the first ordinations there on Saint Peter's feast day (29 June) in 1848. When Adelaide was surveyed, by Colonel William Light over a decade before, land in Victoria Square had been set aside for public use. Bishop Short obtained a land grant in the square from Governor Robe in March 1848; the grant was registered on 23 April 1851. By late 1849 a subscription was bringing in funds for construction of a cathedral on the now cleared site. Around this time the legality of the land grant began to be publicly questioned. It was argued that the area was a public reserve and the governor had no power to issue such grants. To resolve matters Bishop Short, supported by the Synod, took the matter to the Supreme courtmarker. The judgment in June 1855 confirmed that the grant was invalid and construction could not proceed.

Bishop Short purchased just over an acre of land, at the corner of King William Road and Pennington Terrace North Adelaide, on 8 August 1862. He reported in 1868 that the funds gathered were sufficient and announced to the Diocese's Synod of his decision to begin construction of a cathedral. Bishop Short had William Butterfield design the cathedral though the long communication gap between England and Adelaide contributed to delays and disagreement. Butterfield's plans were purchased and given to Edward John Woods, of Adelaide architectural firm Wright, Woods and Hamilton, for completion. Woods changed some of the plans' materials and design, while keeping the general details as Butterfield had proposed. Woods was noted by his colleague Walter Bagot as strongly influenced by french architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, and had imbued a French Gothic character in many elements of its design. Bishop Short laid the foundation stone, a block from Glen Ewin Quarry, on St Peter's Day 1869 in front of over a thousand people. Messrs Brown and Thompson contracted for the building work, which progressed slowly. The first service was held on St Peter's day 1876, though the building was incomplete, and Synod meetings and regular services began in May 1877.

The ladies of the Diocese had raised £1,200 to purchase an organ that was installed in 1877. The first part of the cathedral was consecrated on 1 January 1878. By the time Bishop Short retired in late 1881, £18,000 received from many donors had been spent. Much of the furnishing was also donated including stained glass windows, a marble font, the chancel's tessellated pavement and an altar. Work began again in 1890 during the tenure of Bishop George Wyndham Kennion. Governor the Earl of Kintore laid a foundation stone, of Monartomarker South granite, on 27 September. The ceremony included Masonic Honors as the Governor was Grand Master of the South Australian Freemasons. The congregation raised funds and Woods was again contracted as architect. Over £10,000 was spent beginning the towers and the western part of the nave, and completing the northern porch. Building work ceased in 1894 when funds were exhausted and did not resume for some years.

A £4000 bequest came from Sir Thomas Elder in 1897, this and other smaller amounts from offerings and gifts were added to the building fund. A tender was awarded in 1899 to complete the nave and bring the towers to roof height. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge donated £1000, conditional on completion of work by 1902, and in 1900 Robert Barr Smith donated £10,000 to enable completion of the towers, spires and creation of an apse at the chancel end. The Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary) were present when the nave was consecrated and a Boer War memorial unveiled on 14 July 1901. A dedication ceremony for the towers and spires was held on 7 December 1902, and the last scaffolding removed two months later. The south porch and some temporary vestries were subsequently built. A consecration ceremony was held on 7 April 1904; this marked completion of the cathedral's external structure. Records show that the work from the 1890s to date had cost somewhat over £25,000. A reredos—a decorative structure behind the altar—was installed in 1904. It was finished considerably later and dedicated on 6 March 1910 by Adelaide's Bishop Arthur Nutter Thomas. This structure was built at St Sidwellsmarker in England to a design by J. H. Lyon.


The Cathedral's interior is long of which Lady Chapel occupies and the nave and chancel the remainder. The nave is wide and, at the top of the spire's crosses, the cathedral rises from ground level. Hammer dressed Tea Tree Gully sandstone—from what is now Anstey Hill Recreation Parkmarker— was used in the sanctuary, choir, transepts and part of the nave. Stone used for the quoins is lighter in colour and came from the same area as that used in the Adelaide Town Hallmarker. The buildings base and some of the interior uses stone from Glen Osmondmarker in the Adelaide Hillsmarker. Other parts of the cathedral use stone from New Zealandmarker, Pyrmont, New South Walesmarker and Murray Bridgemarker.

The Reredos, behind the main alter, contains 23 coloured and gilded panels, carved figures and is high. The cathedral has significant, fine-quality stained glass windows. James Powell and Sons made three that were unveiled in the Lady Chapel in November 1900. The Southern transept window is the largest stained glass window in the Cathedral and was dedicated in August 1926. A window representing Saint Cecilia, patron saint of church music, was unveiled in 1876 in the pulpit side of the chancel, though by 1969 it was ironically concealed by the organ. Windows elsewhere were funded and influenced by bequests. Amongst these Charles Beaumont Howard's memory is commemorated by a window in the chancel, Sir Anthony Musgrave's daughter Joyce Harriet by one in the sacristy and churchman Richard Bowen Colley by another window in the chancel.

In the western tower is the cathedral's ring of eight bells, hung for change ringing. Their purchase was funded by a bequest from cathedral warden Frederick Allen Wakeman. They were cast by John Taylor & Comarker of Loughboroughmarker England in 1946 and dedicated on 29 June 1947. With the tenor (largest) bell weighing over they are the heaviest ring of bells in the Southern Hemisphere, and the second heaviest ring of eight in the world after Sherborne Abbeymarker in England.

The cathedral's original organ was built in London, installed in 1877 and dedicated on 1 January 1878. It was used for over fifty years before relocation in 1930 to St. Augustine's Church in Unley, South Australiamarker. The current organ was built by William Hill & Son and Norman and Beard Ltd of Melbourne and London and was dedicated on 29 July 1929. It has an electro-mechanical action, and four manual and fifty speaking stops. It remains largely unaltered, though two minor tonal additions were made in 1989.


  1. Reed, p.48.
  2. Reed, p.6.
  3. Reed, p.8.
  4. Reed, p.9.
  5. Reed, p.11.
  6. Reed, p.14.
  7. Reed, p.15.
  8. Reed, pp.16–17.
  9. Reed, p.19.
  10. Reed, p.20.
  11. Reed, pp.21–22.
  12. Reed, p.24.
  13. Reed, p.26.
  14. Reed, pp.22–23.
  15. Reed, pp.27–31.
  16. Reed pp.33–34.
  17. Reed p.35.


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