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St. Paul's Cathedral

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Address: 228 Stuart St, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
Phone Number:
+64 3-477 2336
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Welcome to St. Paul's Cathedral, at the very heart of Dunedin City. A...

Welcome to St. Paul's Cathedral, at the very heart of Dunedin City. A welcoming, vibrant community coming together to share the Word of God. The Cathedral Church of St Paul occupies a site in the heart of The Octagon near the Dunedin Town Hall and hence Dunedin. The land for St Paul's Church was given by the sealer and whaler Johnny Jones of Waikouaiti.The first parish church of St Paul was built on the site in 1862–1863. It was made of Caversham stone and could accommodate up to 500 people. Unfortunately it wasn't well constructed. The stone weathered badly and the tall spire was removed after just a few years. The man consecrated to be the first Bishop of Dunedin, but never enthroned, Bishop Henry Jenner, visited the Diocese in 1869. He officiated at St Paul’s and gave a lecture on church music illustrated by the St Paul’s choir. He is remembered as the composer of the hymn tune Quam dilecta. In 1871 Samuel Tarratt Nevill was elected Bishop of Dunedin. Initially he made no mention of the need for a cathedral for the diocese and it was not until the 1876 Synod that he broached the subject. The issue was ducked by forming a commission to investigate the whole matter. This commission later recommended that St Paul’s should become the mother church. However, Nevill favoured St. Matthew's Church, Dunedin, and the impasse remained. In the early 1880s the question was revisited, and again no resolution found. However, in 1894, 18 years after the issue was first raised, all sides agreed to the proposal for St Paul’s to become the cathedral. The Cathedral Chapter was formed and took up the responsibility for running the cathedral from 1895. Thomas Whitelock Kempthorne of Kempthorne Prosser Ltd was a generous supporter of the cathedral and a memorial stands inside. In 1904, William Harrop, a prominent Dunedin businessman died and left the bulk of his estate to fund a new Cathedral. However, release of the money was conditional on the Chapter raising £20,000 towards the cost of the building. Nevill threw himself into the effort, but it was not until 1913 that the £20,000 was raised and work could begin. The first in a series of plans and modifications were submitted by Sedding and Wheatly, an architectural company based in England. The author of the final design was Edmund Harold Sedding (1863–1921). The supervising architect in Dunedin was Basil Hooper (1876–1960).On 8 June 1915, the foundation stone of the new cathedral was laid. Huge foundations, large piers and a tremendous vaulted ceiling, the only one in stone in New Zealand, rose from the ground, forming the new Cathedral’s nave. Unfortunately, finances precluded construction of anything more. There was no money for the crossing or the chancel, as originally intended. In the end, it was resolved that a temporary chancel should be constructed, using material saved from the old St Paul’s. The new Cathedral was consecrated by Bishop Nevill on 12 February 1919.During the 1930s the Cathedral began to take up a role as a venue for public services, notably for the state funeral of Sir Frederick Truby King, the founder of the Plunket Society. Social work featured prominently at this time, with the synodsmen, vestry and church leaders all publicly opposed to the government’s Depression policies. The Cathedral administered a food bank and distributed food parcels for the citizens of Dunedin. Shortly after the Second World War, St Paul's suffered the loss of Dean Cruickshank, who moved to the Diocese of Waiapu, and of Professor Victor Galway. The latter, an organist and Professor of Music, had been immensely popular, attracting large crowds to his recitals and performances. He had also regularly broadcast his productions, paving the way for services to be aired on radio. In the 1950s the vestry made the important, though difficult, decision that it wouldn't complete the Cathedral to its original design. The dean suggested that ways be examined to link an extension to the existing structure, and the vestry agreed to investigate the possibilities. In 1966, the decision was made to build a new chancel. The plans had been drawn by Ted McCoy of the firm McCoy and Wixon. Construction began in earnest in December 1969. The old chancel was stripped and demolished and new columns began to rise from the debris. Construction and clearing up finished on Saturday 24 July 1971, and the Cathedral reopened the next day. The new chancel was modernist, as high as the existing vault, with tall windows reaching from the floor almost to the ceiling. The altar was free standing and the furnishings matched the walls. In 2004, the perspex cross was moved temporarily (and initially) to the crypt to accommodate a production of the bi-annual Otago Festival of the Arts. Finally, a decision was reached by the current Dean Trevor James to restore the perspex cross to the sanctuary, and it was returned to its position at the end of 2009. In 1989, the world's attention was on St Paul's when Dr. Penny Jamieson was consecrated and enthroned as Bishop of Dunedin. Bishop Penny was only the second woman bishop in the Anglican Communion and the first woman diocesan bishop in the world.[2] Her appointment had been paved by the hard work of two Cathedral women: Claire Brown, Assistant Priest at St Paul's from 1985 to 1989 and again from 2006 to the present, and Barbara Nicholas, Honorary Priest Assistant.As the world prepared for the change from 1999 to 2000, St Paul's invited people gathered to celebrate in the Octagon to come into the cathedral, have a moment of silence, light a candle and pray for the new year and the millennium. Over the course of a couple of hours thousands came in and lit a candle. People placed their candles in sand arranged in the shapes of alpha and omega in the chancel, reminding those present that Christ is the beginning and the end.St Paul’s Cathedral has an exceptional history of church music. Its globally recognised choir maintains a high standard of performance, and an extremely wide repertoire. Over the last two decades at least eight of its members have pursued professional vocal careers, singing in British cathedral choirs (recent former members currently hold appointments at Ely, Salisbury and St George’s Windsor). Several others – most recently Anna Leese - have gone on to international careers in opera. The choir has also contributed many members to the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir, the National Youth Choir and Voices NZ. The primary focus of the Cathedral Choir is to facilitate worship through its musical leadership, alongside the wider role of outreach within the Diocese and beyond. The Cathedral Choir is an auditioned choir, comprised of twenty-two highly skilled singers. It sings three times per week during the choir season (Candlemas to Christmas Day), and offers many other musical events, such as concerts and tours, throughout the year. Within the past year, the Cathedral Choir has featured on broadcasts for Radio New Zealand, alongside recordings for both national and local television. The choir sings a challenging repertoire from early plainsong to the work of contemporary composers. The Cathedral Choir, and all music at St Paul’s Cathedral, is run by the Director of Music, George Chittenden.The St. Paul's Cathedral organ was built in 1919 by Henry Willis III, in London and was installed the following year. In 1972, it was entirely dismantled and repositioned by the South Island Organ Company of Timaru. There are four manuals — great, swell, choir and solo. The organ of St Paul's has more than 3500 pipes and is often used for civic performances.

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A stunning building....

The cathedral is situated in the heart of the town, just next to the main square. When we went there was a morning recital about to start. It is a lovely building with lots of... read more

5 of 5 bubblesReviewed yesterday
RaJSheffield
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Sheffield, United Kingdom
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112 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 86: English reviews
Sheffield, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
218 reviews
77 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed yesterday NEW

The cathedral is situated in the heart of the town, just next to the main square. When we went there was a morning recital about to start. It is a lovely building with lots of history. Well worth a visit.

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Thank RaJSheffield
Coventry, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
582 reviews
288 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 150 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed yesterday NEW

This cathedral has a very gothic look but I was surprised to see the very modern cross at the altar. Rather than a crucifix, which is the norm, this has a coloured design on an acrylic / perspex sheet. It is very impressive but sort of out of place in such a conventional styled building.

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Thank SteveS1970
Pittsboro, North Carolina
Level Contributor
243 reviews
52 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 119 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

This is a gorgeous church right in the center of town on the octagon. Sadly the crowd was sparse and very old. We found the Anglican service very traditional and well done. The Dean gave an excellent sermon and the choir, while small was very effective. I just hope this church can make it in the future. Even if you... More 

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Thank TopsideMI
Caloundra, Australia
Level Contributor
740 reviews
327 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 220 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

The architecture is stunning both inside and out. We were lucky enough to hear the organ pipes being played and the sound was amazing. Worth a visit to have a look around and marvel at the structure.

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Thank Tryatleastonce
Melbourne
Level Contributor
70 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

For those interested in visiting old churches this one will not disappoint. A large impressive church just off the octagon (I think they would say in the outer octagon) I can understand why it was given the title of cathedral. Not as large or imposing as some of those in Europe but it is well worth a visit.

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1 Thank Sharyn M
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
76 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

It was a bit of trek up a high hill in the pouring rain, but it was worth busing this beautiful catholic church in the city of Dunedin.

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Thank WorldTraveller159
Port Macquarie, Australia
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361 reviews
153 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 134 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

Situated in the octagon is this massive cathedral. Very architecturally beautiful inside and outside. If you like architecture and/or gothic style cathedrals, check out St Paul's. It's all free.

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Thank Young_and_Free_85
Monza, Italy
Level Contributor
186 reviews
117 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 weeks ago

St Paul's Cathedral cannot is the biggest church in Dunedin downtown. It has been built in Gothic style, but the interior is far less gloomy than other Gothic churches. We were invited to enter by a very nice gentlement: a new priest was being consacrated that morning and we participated to part of the cerimony. Unusual experience!!

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Thank BurgerQueen78
Missoula, Montana
Level Contributor
177 reviews
79 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Well worth a visit, especially if you borrow the guide they provide. The special altar covering is outstanding as is the turning bible stand.

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Thank SadieMT
Melbourne, Australia
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461 reviews
227 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 169 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 weeks ago

St Pauls Cathedral is not as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. It is situated on the Octagon in the centre of Dunedin. The oldest part is much more attractive that the more recent addition of the 1970's which completed the building. The main part of the building was completed in 1917 and the chancel and... More 

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1 Thank andream0402

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