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St. Paul's Cathedral

228 Stuart St, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
+64(0)3 4772336
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Ranked #28 of 38 attractions in Dunedin
Owner description: 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... more » Owner description: 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. « less
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English first
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Top Contributor
199 reviews 199 reviews
75 attraction reviews
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2014

You have to go and see what has been done inside. Two quite different architectural styles clash horribly. The history is interesting, the result is quite off-putting.

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Midland, Texas
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
24 attraction reviews
60 helpful votes 60 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 22, 2014

The church is lovely, but parking is a bit tricky, we found a park in a nearby shopping centre and took a stroll around the shops at the Octogon

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Delaware
Top Contributor
174 reviews 174 reviews
51 attraction reviews
132 helpful votes 132 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 5, 2013

You can stop here while walking around Dunedin, it is close to the Octagon. Not much to see really, except for some historic information, which was fairly interesting.

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NZ
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
21 attraction reviews
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 9, 2013

Amazing architecture and history. Loved the little historical room at the back - an insight into some of the earlier families in Dunedin.

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Fort Wayne, Indiana
Top Contributor
175 reviews 175 reviews
78 attraction reviews
91 helpful votes 91 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2013

St. Paul's Cathedral is an Anglican Church originally built in the early 1900s with remodels and addiitons the years. As you walk around the cathedral enjoy the stain glass windows, the price altar chapel, the war memorial window, pulpit and altars. Given the magnificent outside appearance, the interior is actually very simple yet grand in spirit.

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Dunedin, New Zealand
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
18 attraction reviews
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2013

What a beautiful church. If you can see the glass windows at night with the light shining on them then make a point of it.

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New York
Top Contributor
140 reviews 140 reviews
68 attraction reviews
76 helpful votes 76 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 8, 2013

We were on a cruise ship docked at Port Chalmers (the port for Dunedin) and took a shuttle bus into town (there is a less-expensive public bus, but this was a Sunday and it only made three runs all day). We were dropped on the Octagon in front of St. Paul's and noticed that there was a short organ concert... More

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San Diego
Top Contributor
59 reviews 59 reviews
18 attraction reviews
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2013

They had explanatory sheets in a lot of different languages. We were lucky enough to let ourselves in as an organist was practicing several pieces, so our visit was backed up by music. Cute elderly lady was there to answer any of our questions.

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Pewsey, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
26 attraction reviews
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 16, 2013

This is a welcoming place. It claims to have the best organ in the southern hemisphere and the charming director of music often gives free concerts.

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