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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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Stunning

I was absolutely rapt to be able to go inside the cathedral and more so to be able to take photos. When looking around there was certainly some wow! moments. The cathedral is... read more

Reviewed 11 April 2017
HinemoaHoney
,
Rotorua, New Zealand
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130 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 102: English reviews
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level Contributor
40 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

We took taxi to the Cathedral for Choral Evensong but on arrival the building was closed with no lights on at all. Rang the Dean's number to find that the choir sometimes takes a break over the holidays/long weekends so no Choral Evensong on the night we visited. We were very disappointed.

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Thank DianeC380
Rotorua, New Zealand
Level Contributor
104 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 April 2017

I was absolutely rapt to be able to go inside the cathedral and more so to be able to take photos. When looking around there was certainly some wow! moments. The cathedral is dripping with history and beauty. I'd be happy to go again.

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1 Thank HinemoaHoney
Brugge, België
Level Contributor
47 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 6 April 2017

Most prestigious historical church of Dunedin (anglican). Beautiful gothic revival style. Not sure if the cathedral is easily accessible for disabled people. I could buy inside a little book of the cathedral; on the contrary in many museums or buildings in NZ (think about the Railway Station in Dunedin) it is, unfortunately, not possible to buy a little book of... More 

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Thank dhonorez
Poulton Le Fylde, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
800 reviews
327 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 289 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 March 2017

Although not church goers, we invariably find ourselves drawn to visit churches in new territory. The architecture is a key interest, but I think it is also what these buildings so often have gathered to themselves about the local people and their history. So it was of particular note that this cathedral conveyed nothing of that sort to me. It... More 

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Thank Lavarcham
Biddulph, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
92 reviews
55 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 March 2017

Quite an impressive Cathedral, but then again we always visit Churches and Cathedrals. A free organ recital was in progress when we were there.

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Thank rojan76
Dunedin, New Zealand
Level Contributor
458 reviews
138 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 128 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 March 2017 via mobile

Lovely visit, right in Dunedin's beautiful octagon. Super popular with the cruise-ship visitors. Do go and look inside too - and perhaps ask what was planned for the two vacant statue plynths at the entrance.

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Thank samandhenry
Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
18 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 16 March 2017

Walking from our hotel to downtown for some shopping came across this beautiful church. Didn't go inside but walked around it and took alot of photos. Great architecture to see if you enjoy that type of thing.

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Thank steve y
Monticello, IL
Level Contributor
265 reviews
119 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 March 2017

What a beautiful church! We were so glad we stopped in to see the beautiful windows. There was a parishioner making and selling little souvenirs so we stopped and talked to her for a little while. They can't afford to heat the entire thing, but they have small heaters attached to the front pews. These pews are also the only... More 

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1 Thank Beachlover1989
Tonbridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
216 reviews
79 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 March 2017 via mobile

We only had 3 hours, so used it to visit the station, the cathedral and cup of coffee at a Perc. Perfect! Cathedral is lovely -mix of gothic and moderns, but beautifully done. The Maori chapel is especially worth a sit and contemplate!

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Thank Andy S
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
87 reviews
61 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 March 2017 via mobile

The cathedral is welcoming and had beautiful stained glass. There was even an organ recital for your ships in port. After that it was time for quiet contemplation before continuing our visit to Dunedin

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Thank Marianne H

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