St Mary's Cathedral, Hobart

St Mary's Cathedral in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, presently the Most Rev. Julian Porteous.

St Mary's Cathedral
St Mary's Cathedral
Location in Hobart
42°53′09″S 147°19′35″E
LocationHobart, Tasmania
Founded12 September 1860 (1860-09-12)
DedicationSacred Heart
Dedicated29 June 1865 (1865-06-29)
rededicated 23 January 1881 (1881-01-23)
Consecrated14 July 1866
Functional statusActive
Architectural typeCathedral
StyleGothic Revival architecture
Years built
  • 1822 (first cathedral)
  • 1866 (nave completed)
  • 1881 (rebuilt)
Length26 metres (84 ft)
Width16 metres (52 ft)
Nave width5.5 metres (18 ft)
Nave height5.8 metres (19 ft)
BellsRing of 10 Bells and two semitones
ArchdioceseArchdiocese of Hobart
ArchbishopJulian Porteous

The Cathedral's origins can be traced back to 1822[1] when the first permanent Tasmanian priest Reverend Philip Conolly (1786-1839) constructed a temporary wooden chapel near the present Cathedral site and dedicated to God, under the invocation of St. Virgilius, an "Irish Saint"

Location and features

St Mary’s Cathedral is located in Harrington Street, Hobart and is place of worship for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hobart.

St Mary's College is located next to the Cathedral. The College celebrates the Catholic liturgical year by attending Mass.


The first cathedral foundation stone was laid in 1860 to a design by William Wardell, a student of Augustus Pugin.[2] The cathedral was consecrated in 1866.[2] The cathedral was built in the Gothic Revival architectural style.[3]

Structural problems caused by faulty construction resulted in the Cathedral being largely dismantled[4] and re-constructed to a new design based on Wardell's initial plans,[4] by Hobart architect Henry Hunter. He laid the new foundation stone in 1878.[5][6]

A Norman-era baptismal font, with connections to Pugin is believed to have been installed in St Mary's Cathedral, Hobart. An historian noted that 'the detail repertoire of this font is characteristic of transitional work of roughly the period 1170 to 1200.'[7]


The first organ at St Mary’s Cathedral was moved to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, New Town. The current organ was built in 1893 by Fincham & Hobday[8] for the International Exhibition of Industry, Science and Art, Queen's Domain, Hobart of 1894 where the organ was awarded the first prize. This organ was installed in the Cathedral in June 1895 in its present location. Subsequent rebuilds and renovations of the organ occurred in 1934 by Hill, Norman & Beard; in 1957 by Keith Davis; in 1966 by George Fincham & Sons; and in 2007-2009 by Wakeley Pipe Organs, when minor additions were made.[8]

Stained glass windows

Dominated by the exquisite Hardman Studio window in the style of a fourteenth century Gothic window; the five lancets depict pivotal scenes from the Gospel and the tracery at the top of the window details heavenly images, from 1869.[9]

The rose window in the west end of the Cathedral (1981), the Pentecost window (1989), and the Heroic and Saintly Women (1995) are other windows specific to the cathedral.[9]


  1. "HOBART CHURCHES St Mary's Cathedral" via Trove; National Library of Australia.
  2. "THE OPENING OF ST. MARY'S CATHEDRAL". Tasmanian Morning Herald. XXVII, (3057). Tasmania, Australia. 5 July 1866. p. 2. Retrieved 17 November 2018 via Trove; National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  3. "Australian Heritage Database". Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  4. "THE PROMINENT ARCHITECT AND THE DODGY CATHEDRAL THAT HAD TO BE...ERR... REBUILT". Old Bishop's Quarters. n.d. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  5. McDonald, D. I., "Hunter, Henry (1832–1892)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, retrieved 1 October 2018
  6. "ST. MARY'S CATHEDRAL". Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954). 11 February 1878. p. 2. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  7. Andrews, Brian (1 February 2007). St Mary’s Cathedral Conservation Management Plan: Baptismal Font Statement of Significance, Version 2.0. unpublished. in Brodie, Nicholas Dean (2013). "Relics of the Tasmanian Gothic: Medieval Artefacts in Medievalist Australia" (PDF). Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies. The Limina Editorial Collective: University of Tasmania. Special. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  8. Maidment, John (April 2010). "St Mary's Catholic Cathedral". Organ Historical Trust of Australia. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  9. "17-10-1868: St Mary's Cathedral, Hobart, Tasmania". Stained Glass Australia. 11 August 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2019.

Further reading

  • Brodie, Nicholas Dean; Doyle, Adrian Leo, 1936-, (writer of foreword.) (2013). Joyful and glorious : building St Mary's Cathedral, Hobart. Forty South Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9874463-1-2.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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