St John's Cathedral is the mother church of the Diocese of Brisbane, which was created in 1859. It was the vision of Bishop Webber, the 3rd Bishop of Brisbane, to build an Anglican Cathedral here and for this purpose he engaged as architect John Loughborough Pearson (1817—1897). Pearson had already designed Truro Cathedral in Cornwall. St John’s Cathedral emerges as a mixture of French and English Victorian Gothic Revival styles.

All internal walls and ceilings are built of sandstone from Helidon, west of Brisbane. Sandstone from Pyrmont in NSW was used externally for part of the first stage of construction only. The distinctive pink and lavender toned stone used for the external walls is known as ‘Brisbane tuff’. St John’s Cathedral has the distinction of having the only fully stone–vaulted ceiling in Australia.

After the Foundation Stone was laid in 1901, the building work proceeded in three stages: 1906—1910, 1964—1968 and 1989—2009 (as indicated by the colour gradients on the plan). Today the Cathedral houses the Cathedra, the Archbishop’s official seat, and also serves many other functions. It is a Parish Church for the local congregation, a gallery space, a venue for musical performance, an historic building and a space for quiet reflection within a busy capital city.

the west end statuary project

Statues Designed by Dr Rhyl Hinwood AM

The Project:

Inspired by Westminster Abbey which has placed 20th century martyrs in place of the traditional arrangement of statues, The Chapter of St John’s Cathedral has resolved to likewise depart from the traditional arrangement of characters in the west end niches of the cathedral. Instead of the 13 individual characters the niches will house representations of 24 biblical characters who played significant roles in the story of Jesus. The arrangement has been designed to reflect the importance of some of the relationships the bible records: Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany are housed together, as are James and John, the sons of thunder; and Peter and Paul as the twin leaders of the evangelisation. Standing alone are the Christ at the centre, John the Baptiser as the forerunner and Mary Magdalene as the apostle to the apostles.

This project will see St John’s home to a unique collection of statues. It will confirm St John’s place as a significant place of pilgrimage and of interest to tourists.

You are invited to take up the opportunity to be part of this historic project.

It is possible to make a small contribution or to buy a statue outright for $45,000. All donors will be recorded in a high quality ledger. Donations over

$10 000 will also be noted in the tourist ‘statues’ brochure that will be available in the Cathedral.

The Sculptor: Dr Rhyl Hinwood AM

A 1986 Churchill Fellow, Rhyl was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Queensland in 2001 and appointed a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2006 for her service to the arts.

The most significant body of her work consists of hundreds of on-site carvings in the Great Court of the University of Queensland listed on the Registers of the National Estate and Queensland Heritage.

Rhyl has designed and produced over 500 commissions including the Australian Coat of Arms in the House of Representatives in Parliament House Canberra.

Most recently, Rhyl has completed two caricatures for the Benefactors Gallery - Ken Addison and Ailsa Nicholl.

Detail of miniature test sculpture of the Christ figure.

the bells at st john's

St John’s Cathedral is home to 12 bells, housed in the central tower for traditional English style change ringing. The bells are rung for service every Sunday and on special occasions by a voluntary group of ringers. St John’s is only one of two towers in Brisbane to have bells arrayed for change ringing, and only one of three in Queensland.

The bells have a long and interesting history, having first been purchased by public subscription back in 1876. Originally hung for chiming at the Pro-Cathedral in George Street, they were moved to the present Cathedral site in 1910 where they were hung in a temporary wooden tower and chimed for service. It was only in 1988 that the bells were finally hung in the Cathdral proper for full-circle ringing, being dedicated on the 13th March 1988. Learn more about the history of the bells and bell ringing. Find out more about the bells.

The bells have been named after the eleven Deans and one Administrator who have been charged with the responsibility for the Cathedral since 1925 when the role of Dean of Brisbane was separated from that of the Bishop of the Diocese.

Can I become a Bellringer?

Bellringers come in all sizes and ages. Some started at the age of 12 years, others are still ringing at the age of 90. Bell ringing is a community experience, and St John’s Bellringers welcome anyone interested in learning to come along to Monday night practice. Learning Change Ringing is challenging, and can take many years to master. However, it is a very rewarding pastime, and is integral to the life of the Cathedral community. If you are interested in learning to be a bell ringer, or if you would just to see what we do, please get in contact.

Service Ringing: Sunday 8.45am - 9.30am. Call ahead for entry details.

Practice: Monday 7.00pm - 9.00pm. Call ahead if you would like to attend.

Contact: Patrick Johns (Tower Captain): 0404 050 452 or by email to: [email protected]

More info: visit the ANZAB website Qld page

Change Ringing in Queensland:

Here is a link to a recent interview with Patrick about the fascinating subject of bellringing at St John's Cathedral on ABC Radio Brisbane.