St. Saviour's Cathedral | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


St. Saviour's Cathedral

Item details

Name of item: St. Saviour's Cathedral
Other name/s: St Saviour's Anglican Cathedral, St Saviour's church, Saint Saviour
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Cathedral
Location: Lat: -34.7531471726 Long: 149.7158905060
Primary address: 170 Bourke Street, Goulburn, NSW 2580
Parish: Goulburn
County: Argyle
Local govt. area: Goulburn Mulwaree
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Pejar
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT2 DP1117219
LOT1 DP721647
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
170 Bourke StreetGoulburnGoulburn MulwareeGoulburnArgylePrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
St Saviour's Catholic Cathedral GoulburnReligious Organisation14 Oct 10

Statement of significance:

Commenced in 1874 and finally dedicated in 1884 St Saviour's Cathedral is of State significance because it is one of the finest designs by the leading colonial ecclesiastical architect, Edmund Thomas Blacket. It reflects the characteristics of a Victorian Gothic style church and has a masterly use of materials, design and detail. Blacket also designed the Parish Hall adjacent to the Cathedral which was used as the Pro-Cathedral before the new Cathedral was finished. The Cathedral has a grand scale with nave, aisles, transepts, chancel, porches and tower; large and elaborate stone traceried windows and an impressive interior with a heavily carved hammer beam roof, clustered columns and foliage capitals, elaborately moulded arcades and chancel arch, and a striking use of figurative roundels in the nave, transepts and chancel. The tower however was not completed until 1988/9.

The Cathedral site is the place from which the Anglican Diocese of Goulburn developed. It also provides physical evidence of the growth and importance of Goulburn as a regional centre in the latter half of the 19th century.
The building has social and spiritual significance for both Anglicans and the broader community as a place of worship. It is the centre of the Diocese; it draws visitors for it's aesthetic value and for the highly significant cultural collection associated with the cathedral.

The Moveable Collection is highly significant.
The Cathedral's moveable collection shows a high degree of consistency between the design of the building and its contents. Two unique features are a pulpit crucifix carved by Blacket in 1842 and, within Australia, the 14 MacIntosh medallions depicting the life of Christ. The Cathedral provides a tangible connection with the Community of the Ascension, the first religious order for men in Australia, through the relocation to the Cathedral precinct of a number of items associated with the members. The Cathedral's twelve bells give it the distinction of being the only Regional Tower in the Southern Hemisphere with such a peal and the thirteenth bell, the Flat 6th, allows for special ringing effects.
Date significance updated: 22 Jan 09
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Edmund Thomas Blacket (1817-1883); Cyril Blacket (1857-1937); Arthur Blacket (1848-1928)
Builder/Maker: R & J Turner, W Duncan, Nelson, LeBreton, Stone and Brigdale, H Langley. AA Marshall&Co, FCW Richard
Construction years: 1874-1884
Physical description: The Cathedral building is made of sandstone from a quarry at Marulan, except for the pillars which are of Pyrmont sandstone. The roof is natural slate. The Cathedral is unmistakably a Blacket church, on a grand scale, with nave, aisles, transepts, chancel, porches and tower. It has large and elaborate stone traceried windows and an impressive interior with a heavily carved hammer beam roof, clustered columns and foliage capitals, elaborately moulded arcades and chancel arch, and a striking use of figurative roundels in the nave, transepts and chancel. (Freeman, 1987)

The stone carving of the medallions depicting the life of Jesus was the first professional commission for William Priestly MacIntosh in 1883, who had trained as a stone carver in Edinburgh before migrating to Australia and studying under Lucien Henry at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts (Tanners, CMP for the Commonwealth Bank Buidling 108-120 Pitt St Sydney, 2009, p65).

The main dimensions of St Saviour's Cathedral are:
Internal length, east-west is 45.7m
Internal widths, Nave & aisles, north to south is 16.4m
Transepts, north to south is 29.2m, east to west is 16.4m

The Parish Hall, originally the Pro-Cathedral opened 1875
The original stone portion of this building was the pro-cathedral and is the portion of the present hall nearest to Bourke Street. In 1913 a stone extension was constructed on the western side to enlarge the hall and in 1923 a brick toilet block was added, again on the western side. In 2008, also on the western side toilet doors and an awning were added and the kitchen was modified.The roof is tiled following the fires of 1925 and 1961.

The Cathedral Office originally the Diocesan Registry, opened 1924.
This is a single storey brick building in the south-west corner of the precinct.

The landscaping of the precinct consisting of the fencing of the property; gardens, trees and shrubs including the topping tree planted after completion of the tower in 1988; terracing and paving; garth wall in the north-west corner; the stone retaining wall in the vicinity of the western end of the Cathedral; and the rock monument celebrating the centenary of the Cathedral and accompanying tree planting on the Cathedral Green.
Two Cedar of Lebanon trees planted by Dame Alice Chisolm. A garden and walkway on the south side of the Cathedral established in 2007 as a memorial to Louise Fell.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Cathedral- Generally the building is in good repair except for some specific problems:
* The Cathedral roof allows water entry.
* The reredos is separating from the eastern wall.
* There are some areas of sandstone deterioration: on the sanctuary wall to the south of the high altar and at the base of the font.
* Several of the stained glass windows require maintenance because of bowing.
* Some floor brickwork either side of the nave altar has subsided.

The Cathedral Parish has records indicating there are burials on the site.
There are apparently a number of burials on the eastern side of the Cathedral.
In the north-east corner :
Bishop Mesac Thomas, died 16 March 1892
Mary Thomas, died 27 November 1898
WH Pownall (dean) died 29 November 1903
Arnold Collingwood King (incumbent and dean) died 19 July 1966
Hazel Enid king died 27 may 1983

In south east corner:
Bishop William Chambers died 13 November 1901
Henrietta Rich Chalmers died 5 June 1936
1996 reinterments of the Community of the Ascension's two former members, Fr Maurice Kelly CA died 8 October 1926 and Br Peter CA (Harold Piditch) died 17 April 1936
Date condition updated:13 Nov 08
Modifications and dates: 1893: Reredos added
c1900: Rood screen, later removed at an unknown date
1903: Bishop Thomas Memorial Chapel
1903: Organ relocated
1916: Original high altar replaced by the larger Bishop Barlow memorial altar
1920: Installation of electric lighting to replace gas lighting
1922: Soldiers' Memorial Chapel installed
1980: Provision of Lady Chapel
1988: Tower constructed
1988-2006: Bells installed
1994: Nave altar installed by extending the chancel westwards
1999: Narthex modified to provide improved entry and welcoming space
1999: Ascension Chapel installed in the western gallery
2006 Organ completed to Blacket's original design
not known: Heating
The spire remains an unfinished work.
Current use: Anglican Cathedral
Former use: Anglican Cathedral


Historical notes: The site on which St Saviour's Cathedral now stands was granted in 1838 and can be seen on the original Goulburn town plan of 1842. The Diocese of Goulburn occupied a large part of New South Wales, extending from the South Coast to the South Australian border and from the Victorian border to latitude 34 degrees south. In 1884, the western portion of the Diocese of Goulburn was excised to form the new Diocese of Riverina.

Even with the provision of a chancel to the Old St Saviour's Church, it was apparent a larger cathedral was necessary. In 1870, Bishop Thomas began raising funds to build the new St Saviour's Cathedral and the cornerstone was finally laid on 14 January 1874.

The funding of the Cathedral proved difficult over the ten years of its construction, 1874-1884, and much support came from graziers and professional people as well as from English sources arising from Bishop Thomas's connections.

As it had been decided to build the new cathedral on the site of the Old St Saviour's, it was resolved on 16 January 1873 to build a "new schoolroom" temporary church (pro-cathedral) facing Bourke Street in the south-east corner of the cathedral precinct. ET Blacket also designed this Pro-cathedral and in January 1873 the cornerstone was laid by Mrs Thomas.

A few months later, on 15 January 1874, two days after the Diocesan Synod, the cornerstone of the new St Saviour's Cathedral was set by Bishop Thomas with over 700 people present.

The Blacket Cathedral was one of the architect's greatest works. It was really the only cathedral he designed unencumbered by distance, financial stringency, and unsympathetic clients. It was a favourite building and Blacket spent much of the last nine years of his life working on it (Tierney, 2007).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Practising Anglicanism-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The St Saviour's Cathedral is historically significant for the important role it played in the growth and consolidation of the Anglican Church in southern NSW. It provides physical evidence of Goulburn as a major ecclesiastical centre in the latter half of the 19th century and the emergence of Goulburn as the main commercial and administrative centre in the region. The Cathedral precinct is historically important as the place from which the Diocese of Goulburn developed. The Anglican Diocese of Goulburn originally comprised 1/3 of NSW and although divided with the Riverina in 1884, when the new Cathedral was opened in 1884 it continued to be the spiritual and administrative centre of a very large Diocese. Although the Bishop relocated his residence and the Diocesan Registry to Canberra in 1950 the cathedral building has remained in use as the Canberra/ Goulburn Diocese Cathedral.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Cathedral was designed by the influential colonial ecclesiastical architect, Edmund Thomas Blacket who dominated ecclesiastical architecture in New South Wales for forty years. Blacket was associated with the place as early as 1843 when he designed the pulpit for the Old St Saviour's Church at a request from Bishop Broughton. He also designed the Parish Hall (originally the Pro-Cathedral which opened in 1875). Edmund Blacket died in 1883 and the Cathedral was completed by his sons, Cyril and Arthur both of whom continued the Blacket architectural practice.

The Cathedral is also associated with the early career of Edmund Cooper Manfred who acted as Blacket's site representative and later went on to be an important architect in Goulburn. Between 1880 and 1914 Manfred designed a large number of houses; ecclesiastical buildings; shops; hotels; the town hall, the hospital and the first swimming pool. His work clearly shows the architectural influence of Blacket.

Well known names with an association with the Cathedral and included in the Australian Dictionary of Biography are the clergy Dean William Sowerby, Bishop Mesac Thomas, Bishop EH Burgmann and landowners such as Campbell, Gibson and Faithfull.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
St Saviour's Cathedral exemplifies the characteristics of a Victorian Gothic style church and has a masterly use of materials, design and detail. The cathedral is one of Edmund Blacket's finest works. The building has a grand scale, with nave, aisles, transepts, chancel, porches and tower; large and elaborate stone traceried windows and an impressive interior with a heavily carved hammer beam roof, clustered columns and foliage capitals, elaborately moulded arcades and chancel arch, and a striking use of figurative roundels in the nave, transepts and chancel. The Cathedral is a landmark building in Goulburn, strategically located to be viewed along the axis of Montague street from Auburn Street (Old Hume Highway) and along Bourke Street. It also has a strong architectural dialogue with the Catholic cathedral of Saint's Peter and Paul further along Bourke Street.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Cathedral plays an important role as a central place of worship and prayer for the Anglican congregation of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn. The cathedral attracts 6,000 visitors per year as a place of worship; for its architectural value; for the culturally significant moveable collection and for the concerts and exhibitions held there. It plays an important role in the annual Goulburn Mulwaree Festival of Heritage and Roses (incorporating Cathedral Week) and is used in tourism promotion of the town.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The burials on the site have the porential to reveal information about persons associated with the Cathedral.
SHR Criteria f)
Does not fulfil this criteria
SHR Criteria g)
The Cathedral is an exceptional example of the work of the influential colonial ecclesiastical architect, Edmund Thomas Blacket. It is a fine example of a Victorian Gothic sandstone cathedral.
Integrity/Intactness: The Cathedral has integrity and is very intact.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions 1. Continuing maintenance, cleaning and repairs of existing fabric and structures, such as stonework and roof slates, where such activities are in accordance with the Standard Exemptions.

2. All activities for temporary change of use where such activities do not alter existing fabric or the setting of the heritage item such as temporary exhibitions and concerts.

3. Minor activities with no adverse impact on heritage significance or significant fabric, where the written endorsement of the Director has been obtained prior to works commencing, and where such activities are in accordance with the Standard Exemptions.

4. Activities for installing and replacing interpretative signage, internally and externally, to provide information on the heritage significance of the item, where such signage is sympathetic with the materials and spaces of the heritage item, is free-standing or is fixed into mortar joints with a minimum number of fixtures.

5. All activities for gardening of existing garden beds where these activities do not impact on or damage existing built structures, such as retaining walls and fences and do not damage trees.

6. Activities for installing and replacing external lighting where these activities do not impact on heritage fabric, fixtures and fittings, are sympathetic to the heritage item.

7. Activities for installing and replacing external signage where these signs do not impact on heritage fabric, are sympathetic to the heritage item and the heritage precinct.

8. Activities for installing and replacing building electrical and lighting services where such activities are sympathetic to and minimise alterations to heritage fabric and spaces. (Site specific)

9. All activities for maintaining and altering the storm water disposal system, such as guttering and downpipes, where such activities do not damage, are sympathetic to and minimise alterations to heritage fabric and spaces.
Apr 20 2009
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for commentCMP submitted for comment/endorsement. Clarified process to confirm process requires official submission for endorsement. Jan 21 2016

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0179820 Apr 09 641780
Referred to local council to consider listing on LEPDraft LEP    
National Trust of Australia register  257605 Apr 76   
Register of the National Estate 00109521 Oct 80   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1984Goulburn Cathedral - A Guide to St Saviour's Cathedral Goulburn
WrittenAlan Tierney - Archivist for Cathedral Parish2007SHR Nomination form
WrittenTierney, Alan2004The Cathedral Church of St.Saviour of Goulburn NSW: Monuments & Memorials

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5060513
File number: H00/00557-001

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