Old St Mary’s Cathedralundated

by Norman Carter

This bird’s-eye view is taken from St James’ clock tower, looking over Prince Albert Road and Hyde Park. St Mary’s Cathedral, then at only half the length of its intended cruciform design, is also shown. By 1890 incremental additions saw the nave roof raised directly behind the northern gable; and completion of the square Cardinal’s Tower connecting the four arms of the building.

Further construction from 1913 to 1928 (after this streetscape was painted), saw further extension to the nave, making St Mary’s the longest church in Australia. Many Sydneysiders will also remember the final instalment of twin spires on the cathedral’s the southern facade in 2000.

The work is in its original frame of reversed ogee (s-shaped) timber moulding, with stylised acanthus leaf ornaments composed of chalk and glue. It has a matte Dutch metal finish (imitation gold leaf) and the original surface was retained after conservation treatment.