Local stories add to Cathedral's grandeur
PUT the words architecture and Clarence Valley together and many fine, old historic buildings come to mind, but the grand old dame must be Grafton's Christ Church Cathedral.
The Anglican diocese icon is one of a number of landmarks indicating Grafton's status once as the premier city of northern New South Wales. While coastal towns have developed rapidly in recent times, Grafton's class and style shines through many connections to its historic grandeur.
The cathedral was designed by John Horbury Hunt and completed in 1884. The grounds around the cathedral are called Cathedral Close and include a number of historical buildings, the oldest being a red brick cottage constructed around 1856 and restored in 1984. It is currently used by the Parish clergy for their offices and is known as the Ministry Centre.
The cottage next to the Ministry Centre is used as the Anglicare Counselling Service was built circa 1891 only a few years after the cathedral. Like its neighbour, it was restored in 1984.
The Hunt Hall, also designed by Horbury Hunt, was completed in 1890. Adjoining the hall is the Cathedral Parish Centre, completed in 1976 and incorporating the parish office, a kitchen area and The Edwards Hall (in lieu of a chapter house). The bell tower was moved from its original site near the first church when the new cathedral was opened in 1884.
The imposing multi-storied Cathedral School was built in 1954 initially as a Youth and Synod Centre. In 1962 an extention was added for the Bishop's Registry.
Of the residences on the close, the Deanery is the oldest being built in 1872. At one time it would have overlooked the original wooden church which was built in 1854, situated closer to the street corner and demolished in 1900.
The Registrar's residence, McWilliam Lodge, built around 1910 and renovated in 1991, was named after the first registrar of the diocese.
Bishopholme is also situated atop the river bank and was completed in 1924. Both houses have sweeping views of the river.
The two timber Californian bungalows on the northern side of Victoria Street which serve as homes for the Parish Clergy were constructed during the 1920s and renovated in the 1980s.
The side of the close facing the Clarence River provides views across to South Grafton and a pleasant walk west along the levee. Indications of flood heights show why the river has been an integral part of the City's and indeed the Church's history from the earliest days.