Last week, we left off with the destruction of the original St Mary’s Cathedral. The Cathedral, complete with Pugin designed additions, had been burned to the ground on June 29, 1865, leaving behind just one building intact, the Chapter Hall which had been built in 1844. Yet this was not the end for St Mary’s Cathedral.
Almost immediately after the destruction of the Cathedral, plans were made to build a new, bigger and grander Cathedral in its place. Later in 1865, Bishop Polding approached William Wardell, an architect and friend of Polding, to design the new building. Wardell had arrived in 1858 and had created a formidable reputation for grand, Gothic revival buildings, and it was this style which he planned to use for the new St Mary’s Cathedral.
The foundation stone was laid on December 8, 1868 and while building was going on mass was held in two temporary timber buildings. In 1869 a brick ‘pro-Cathedral’ was built in place of these temporary timber structures, and then in 1882, with the consecration of the first stage of the Cathedral , services were transferred to St Mary’s itself. The Cathedral continued to be built, in stages, until 1928, when the final southern section was completed. This section included the two towers, whose original design included grand spires. However, these spires were actually only added in 2000 – over 130 years after the building of the grand Cathedral commenced.