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THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL.

The exterior of St. Mary's Cathedral, at Thorndon, has now been completed', and the internal fittings and decorations are now rapidly progressing, so that it is anticipated the building can be opened for Divine Worship on Christmas Day. A description of it may therefore be interesting to our readers. The old building, for which the present cathedral is intended as a substitute, was erected about fifteen years ago on a brick and rubble foundation. It stood the lapse of time remarkably well, and the timber used in its framing was found upon examination at the time when the work of building the new cathedral was begun, to be perfectly sound, and as good as now. Some two years ago the designs were ordered from a well-known architect in Dunedin, who proposed to build gables to the sides of the existing church, in order to strengthen the clear story walls, and also to extend the west end, but it was f'ouud I that no room would be gained by the side gables, and that the cost would exceed the sum estimated. Some time afterwards the drawings were given to another professional gentleman, for him to make such alterations as he deemed best, but nothing seemed to result from his endeavors, and the matter was then referred to Mr Toxward, who proposed to lengthen the building by 33 feet, and to support the whole of the clear story by flying buttresses, to strip the old shingle roof, take down the covering of the walls, demolish the tower, and build a new one on a larger base with buttresses, stating that this course was essentially necessary iv order that the tower might be of sufficiently firm construction and well tied to resist the strong winds to which it is exposed. Mr Toxward, m his design, adopted the early English Gothic, or rather the style which prevailed during the reigns of thefirst three Edwards, and usually termed the decorative, though the term geometrical middle-pointed style has likewise been applied to it. His design was ultimately adopted, and tenders were invited. Mr Lockie's was the lowest — £2645, and was accordingly accepted. The cathedral stands on a commanding position at Thorndon, and lies due east and west. It is in the form of a parallelogram, with a lofty and imposing tower in the southeast corner. It measures 108 feet in length from foot of buttress to buttress, and 58 feet in width. The whole of the outside walls are double framed and two feet thick, carrying out the old walls. The walls of the tower are twelve inches thick. The main entrance is at the west end, and consists of two triple three-quarter cylindrical shafts, with caps and bases, supporting moulded archways over three Gothic traceried and pannelled doors. In the centre and over the doors is a beautifully designed geometrical pointed tracery window, glazed with colored glass, with a bold label mould carried horizontally to the spring of the arch, forming a string course, and terminating at the top in a finial, under which is a treefoil leaf. At the same end ate two pointed windows, with label or hood mouldings, with deep hollows continued between the buttresses as string courses. These windows will give light to the aisles. The buttresses of both ends of the building have three weatherings, finished at the first and third weatherings by small gables, above which rise octagonal turrets, terminating with gilded gothic finials ; the octagonal parts standing clear and free above the coping of the parapets of the gables. The parapets are all perforated and quatrefoiled, the coping on the top being crockets, and they are capped by a five feet high gilded Latin cross. The whole gives the structure a light and graceful appearance. Each of the sides is supported by eight buttresses, each having two weatherings, surmounted by gables extending above the parapet of the aisles. The face is ornamented by pointed sunk panels. Between each of the buttresses is a pointed window, provided with similar hood moulds and string courses as those of the west end. At the top of the aisle walls runs a bold cornice and perforated quatrefoil parapet. On the sides of the clear story and immediately above the lower windows, are double and pointed windows, finished similar to those of the aisles. These are separated by flat buttresses, which have no intermediate weatherings, but terminate by gables over a perforated parapet, similar to those of the aisles. Flying buttresses are introduced to support the clear storey wall ; and the roof is slightly arched towards the wall. There are two gables at the east end, of which that covering the sanctuary is lower than the other, which belongs to the nave. Both have similar perforated parapets, turrets, crockets, and gilded crosses to those of the west end ; but the lighting is provided for by a triple window with a smaller one of a circular form. Both have label moulds and string courses. There are two entrances into the building from this end, one to the robing room, the other to the sacristy. The roofs are all slated-? and the ridges of the nave and sanctuary are provided with a neat cresting. The tower stands at the south-east corner of the building. It is 16 feet square at tho base, and rises to a height of 106 feet, the measurement being taken from the surface of the ground to the top of the cross. It is supported to a height of 68 feet by buttresses, with 6 feet bases. Above are octagonal turrets, finished in a similar manner to those of the gables, the top standing clear above the parapet on each corner of the square part of the tower. At a height of 24 feet from the ground is a frieze ; three feet above which are three double windows lighting the second floor. About one foot above the third floor are four double pointed arched openings, fitted with moveable Louvres. It is intended to place a 'peal of bells in this floor. Tho tower contains four floors in all. At a height of 54 feet, facing east, in a nicho, surmounted by a canopy, with pedimental gables and pinnacles, stands, upon a halfglobe, a beautiful gilded statue of the Madonna, 7 feet 3 inches in height. The figure is of iron, and was made in France. Upon the globe is engraved in Gothic letters :— " This statue was presented and blessed by the Itight Iteverend Philip Joseph Viard, Bishop of Wellington, on the eighth day of September, 1867. Virgo Immaculata. Orapro Nolm. Translated — Virgin Immaculate, pray for us. On each of the other three sides of the tower r on the same level as the statue, is a triangular window, finished similarly to those

already described. Tho walls of tbo tower terminate in four pediments, having deep hollow moulds and coping. The east gable is surmounted by a five pointed star indicating the star seen in the east at the xTativity. On the west gable are the initials interwoven, A. M., "Aye Maria." Facing north and south is a gilded cross. Prom the top of the parapet rises the spire, crowned by a gilded wrought iron Latin cross, six feet in height. The whole of the building stands on a brick foundation, and is built mainly of New Zealand timber, such as totara and red pine. The outside boarding is totara, rebated (or, as it is here wrongly called, " rnsticated") the woodwork is painted and sanded, which has, we believe, been found to be the best mode of protecting wood in these colonies. It is widely adopted in Australia in wooden buildings, with this object, and is not applied for the purpose of imitating stone as is generally supposed. The roof of the cathedral is covered with countess slates, but for the spire of the tower 61b lead has been used, and all the gutters arc laid with 51b lead ; all the sashes throughont have leaden lights. The interior of the building next claims attention. On entering at the west end the visitor will see before him a lofty nave 70 feet in fength, 20 feet wide, and 40 feet high in the centre, the height from the floor to the beginning of the roof being 2f feet. On each side of the nave und divided from it by six piers is an aisle of similar length, by 13 feet in width, and 13 feet in height from the floor to the lower aftle of the roof. The decorations of the nave and aisles are not to be gono on with at present; but it is intended to form the ceiling of the nave into cross vaults, the piers to be formed by four three-quarterclustered columns. The ceiling of each aisle will form an arch. At the end of the nave is the sanctuary 25 feet long and 20 feet wide, and 30 feet high to the crown of the ceiling. The interior is at present in the hands of the workmen, and will be completed by the beginning of this month. The ceiling is to be executed in plaster and in the form of a pointed arch divided into panels by round and hollow diagonal mouldings. At each intersection is a ball flower. The ceiling springs from a cornice and frieze ornamented with leaves and quatrefoils. The walls are plastered to within 6 feet from the floor, and are supported by 14 threequarter columns with ornamented caps and bases. The dado round the walls is 6 feet high of figured varnished red pine gothic panels. At each side is an open archway loading to St. Mary's and St. Joseph's chapels, which adjoin, while a doorway leads to the Sacristy's robing-roora. The triple wiudows in the sanctuary will be furnished with hood mouldings and ball flowers at the spring ; colored and stained glass will be alone used. It is intended to place the figures of two Apostles in the arch between the nave and sanctuary, one on each side ; and also one against each wall in the sanctuary. On the northern side of the sanctuary is the sacristy and St. Mary's chapel, opposite St. Joseph's chapel ; both chapels are vaulted, each having two open arches with clustered columns. A temporary gallery for the choir has been erected at the west end, but for this will be substituted, at some future time, a handsome gallery, decorated with pediinental labels and finials, two arches being left for statues. The cathedral will afford accommodation for about five hundred worshippers. The building, taken as a whole, is one of the finest, if not the finest, ecclesiastical structure in the colony ; and does infinite credit to its architect, who has succeeded in producing a work »t once elegant and durable. Its site has also been singularly well chosen, as it can be seen from all parts of the town and the harbor.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/WI18671207.2.31.8

Bibliographic details

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL., Wellington Independent, Volume XXII, Issue 2606, 7 December 1867, Supplement

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1,828

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL. Wellington Independent, Volume XXII, Issue 2606, 7 December 1867, Supplement

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