Christ Church Cathedral

cathedral-01.jpg (70983 bytes)
Big open square in front of cathedral
cathedral-02.jpg (40039 bytes) cathedral-08.jpg (38532 bytes) cathedral-06.jpg (33253 bytes)
In middle of square
cathedral-07.jpg (39121 bytes) cathedral-03.jpg (38633 bytes)
Main altar
cathedral-04.jpg (52009 bytes)
Stations of the cross
cathedral-05.jpg (52526 bytes)
More stations of the cross

Although Christchurch had become a city in 1856 when the Reverend Henry John Chitty Harper was appointed Anglican Bishop, he still did not have a cathedral to hold services in ten years

Christ Church Cathedral ca 1888
Christ Church Cathedral
ca 1888


The cornerstone had been laid on 16 December 1864, and the foundations had been completed in 1865. But the money had run out, with some people arguing that the Church had more important things to spend its money on. At one point the site was almost sold off.

Bishop Harper managed to get building started again by promising some of his own salary to help costs. Other leading people in the community supported him and building began again in 1873, with Benjamin Mountfort, architect of the Provincial Council buildings and other Gothic-style buildings in Christchurch, as supervising architect.

Mountfort wanted to make some changes of his own, but the Rhodes family, who had put a lot of money towards the project including eight bells and a memorial window, objected, and the original plan was kept. Mountfort was able to make some later changes to the tower and spire, and added some decorative features to the outside.

By 1881 the nave and the tower had been completed and consecrated.  A west porch designed by Mountfort had been added in 1894.  The addition of the chancel and the transepts completed the building in 1904.

The cathedral was built mainly of Canterbury stone. The timber in the roof came from matai (black pine) and totara trees on Banks Peninsula, where it was pit-sawn before being carted to Christchurch.

The nave is about 100 feet long, and the circular stone staircase to the tower has 133 steps. 

The top of the cathedral spire was damaged three times in three different earthquakes. After the last one in 1901, a wooden frame covered by copper sheeting replaced the stonework. The tower is 36 meters high and the spire 27 meters - a total of 63 meters from the ground to the cross at the top.

Home page   |   Christchurch page