Tour the Cathedral

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The original design for the Cathedral was conceived by Arthur Blackett son of the great Australian architect of the 1880s, Edmund Thomas Blackett, who had St Andrew’s Cathedral amongst the scores of notable buildings to his credit. Arthur Blackett designed many churches and fine buildings in NSW, as well as St George’s Cathedral, Perth.

The designs Blacket submitted in 1885 showed a nave 37 feet wide, with the length of the interior from the back of the chancel to the front of the tower approximately 115 feet long. The transepts were 24 feet wide and it would hold 1000 people. It would cost £24,000. As planned, the cathedral had the traditional church orientation, with the main entrance at the western end and the chancel and sanctuary at the east, with north and south transepts.

By the time the Cathedral was completed in 1959 many changes had been made to the original plans. The completed design was conceived by Louis Williams of Melbourne, a notable Australian ecclesiastical architect, in consultation with the Diocesan architects and the architect of S. Alban’s Diocese in England. Louis Williams was also responsible for the design of Holy Trinity, Ingham and All Saints, Ayr.



The west entrance to Saint James’ Cathedral is an impressive sight with the main entrance reached by a flight of steps – which Blackett designed so that ….”we do not have to cut away so much ground”. But it is not so imposing as was initially planned with his tower at the West End planned to be 9 meters square and 45 meters high. Blackett’s design had a strong Byzantine flavour, with its magnificent pointed arches and the apsidal east end, and at one stage of the design he envisaged having a dome above the nave. Williams, on the other hand favoured Gothic, which was a popular design for churches up to the end of the 1960’s.

Williams’s major casualty of his ‘adequate exercise’ was the Blacket Tower which could have delayed completion by another century! What we have today is a simple tower, about 25 meters high, topped by a spiring cross that adds another 5.5 meters to its height and contains a single bell.



The tower supports a white stone statue of Saint James the Great, erected in 1960 on the completion of the Cathedral. The sculptor was Erwin A. Guth who was born in Saarbrucken, Germany in 1926. He studied at the Berlin Academy of Fine arts during the Second World War (1940-42) and was a teacher of sculpture at the Ministry of Public Worship and Instruction of the Saar from 1950-1953 before migrating to Australia in 1954. His Saint James holds a shepherd’s staff, signifying his vocation as a ‘shepherd of souls’ rather than the traditional pilgrim’s staff, and wears three cockle shells on his left sleeve.



On the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, 27th June 1887, Bishop Stanton laid the original foundation stone. This is the Foundation Stone for the completion of the final stage. The stone was blessed by the Bishop of Coventry and set into this stone is a Cross of Nails made of medieval nails collected from the bombed ruins of St Michael’s Cathedral in Coventry. This was presented by HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent when she visited the Cathedral during construction in 1959. Similar nails have been sent to a number of churches throughout the world. The stone was set by the Primate of Australia in June, 1960.



Above the West Doors is a huge mosaic showing the ecclesiastical arms of the Diocese surmounted by a 6 meter high red cross. The arms show a bishop’s mitre above a shield with the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) carrying the Banner of Victory and three cross crosslets fitched.



As the Mother Church of the Diocese, the Cathedral represents people from all over North Queensland, including those who mine copper in the hills around Duchess, Cloncurry and Mount Isa. The imposing copper-plated West Doors are symbolic of their labours. They were a gift from Mount Isa Mines. The doors are 25 meters wide and 3.5 meters high, in a pattern of square panels each with a boss (or knob) in its centre.



Entry into the fellowship of the Church is through baptism, which significantly takes place in the Baptistry of the Cathedral just to the left of the main doors. Before the Cathedral was completed, the Baptistry was in the back of what is now the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. It was moved to a position in the North aisle when the building was completed in 1959. However in 2008 this was changed to a childrens area and the Font made mobile so that it could be used at the front of the Church according to modern liturgical practice in the knave area and when not in use placed at the entrance inside the West Doors.



In memory of Clifford Logan, Member of No. 73 Sqdn. RAAF, died 1943, Airman, who was posted as missing in action over Germany.



This was formerly called the Warrior’s Chapel. The beautifully carved Altar was the work of Miss Amy Philpott, for many years in charge of the book shop of the old Saint Anne’s School. Miss Amy, as she was known, was a sister of Sister Rosa, one of the founding Sisters of Saint Anne’s School.

The stoneware statue “Mother and Child” is by Margaret Torlach of Collinsville. The presentation cabinet was made by Stan Moses.

Note the wooden posts outside the North door. Upon these were hung gates to keep the goats out of the building.



In memory of William Hohenhouse, died 1964, Archdeacon of North Queensland and Sub-Dean from 1946 to 1964

In memory of June Shevill, died 19.70, wife of Bishop Ian Shevill, Sixth Bishop of N. Queensland. Mrs. Shevill was a medical missionary in New Guinea for many years.



Designed by the late Bishop Ian Shevill. Above the altar reigns Christ the King, surrounded by an attentive band of North Queenslanders – a scholar, two students, a miner, a cane-cutter, and a ringer who represent the major industries of the diocese (cane farming, mining and grazing) and the Diocesan Schools of Saint Anne’s and All Souls and the University of James Cook. These Faith Craft wood carvings were the gift of Australian Estates, Colonial Sugar Refineries, and Mount Isa Mines in the 1960’s. They were all restored by Stan Moses, together with the Rood Cross.

Bishop’s Stall in the Sanctuary was given in memory of Mr. H. A. Nutt, Chorister and worshipper at St. James’, who died on 19th May, 1964.

Sanctuary Lamp — given in memory of Dora Christianne Cue, wife of Canon Cue



The great High Altar is of concrete and marble. The Lamb of St John is made of Italian mosaic tiles designed and installed by Mr. Stan Moses of Atherton.

Beneath the altar are interred the ashes of John Oliver Feetham, Saint of North Queensland (1913-47), Bishop Grosvenor Miles, Assistant Bishop of Madagascar and later North Queensland, Canon Boggo Pilot of the Torres Strait Islander Ministry and Father Alfred Harborn Lampton, faithful priest of the Diocese.



This is behind the Sanctuary and High Altar and is divided into three sections. Moving from North to South is the Flower Room, the Vestry and the St. Augustine Room. Blackett designed the Ambulatory so that each of the vestries would have their own separate external entrances, as well as doors of communication with one another.



The Canons’ stalls and Episcopal throne are all carved out of a huge red cedar tree from the Atherton Tablelands. All of the fine carving was done by hand and fitted together without a nail being used. The stalls are a gift from the Rollinson family of “Nosnillor”, Charters Towers and their name can be seen in the top rail of the tracery work.



The throne bears the inscription “The Throne and Canons’ stalls are dedicated to the Glory of God and in grateful remembrance of John Oliver Feetham, a great spiritual leader, a most generous friend and lover of souls. + RIP”.



Dean’s Stall and Verger’s Stall were given in 1960 in memory of The Reverend Canon J.A. Cue, former Canon and Sub-Dean of St. James’ Cathedral from 1929 to 1939.



This Room was used as Chapel and at one time had been given a seafaring motif as the Cathedral has a strong connection to the Mission to Seafarers which provides a ministry to those who go to the sea in ships.

On the wall near the doorway into St. Augustine’s Room there is a metal Cross set on stone. This Cross is known as the Canterbury Cross. The inscription below the Cross (above which is a photograph of Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury) tells us that a cross exactly like the one on the wall and dating from the Eighth Century was found beneath a street in the City of Canterbury. Replicas of the Cross, mounted on fragments of stone from Canterbury Cathedral itself, have been placed in Cathedrals in all parts of the world where they are valued as links binding them to the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion. Our cross forms just such a link.



Plaque given in 1960 by the Government of Queensland to the Church of England to commemorate 70 years of pioneering work done by the church amongst the Aboriginal people of the state. It was to mark a change within the framework of partnership at Yarrabah Mission.

In memory of E.J. Wareham, died 1909 — Chorister and Lay Canon.

In memory of Francis D. Pritt, died 1903, Priest.

Parishioners of the Cathedral Parish



This is also known as the Chapel of the Resurrection. The altar in this chapel was the original high altar and was moved to the Chapel during the completion of the Cathedral in 1959. The Reredos (behind the altar) were paid for and donated to the Cathedral by the Ladies Guild.



This mosaic by the late Stan Moses depicts the insignia of the apostles and is a memorial to the late Ethel Green.

There are a number of Memorials in the South Transept. The first, in memory of Thomas Halloran, died 1908, Treasurer of the Diocese of North Queensland from 1886 to 1904.

There is also the Vietnam Memorial in the South Transept and in the South Aisle, the WW II Memorial. These pay tribute to those who served and died in these two wars, and were designed by Colonel Hugh Franklin RL, with Stan Moses doing the artistic work.



The Rood Cross hangs above the centre of the chancel. The two-thirds life size figures were carved from English Oak in England by John Bridgeman and the cross and tracery by Fred W. Todd in Sydney. It was installed by the late Bishop Oliver Feetham in memory of the men who gave their lives in the First World War. This rood was sensitively restored and painted by the late Stan Moses.



The cedar pulpit was presented to the Cathedral by “the past and present clergy of the Diocese in memory of the first Bishop of North Queensland, Bishop Stanton.”



The design and construction of the cathedral roof is very interesting, and the result adds greatly to the beauty and effectiveness of the cathedral as a place of worship. It is an open roof (that is, with no ceiling to hide the construction). Pairs of principal rafters, called couples, pitch against each other to meet at a ridge-piece at their apex. The feet of the rafters rest on timbers, called wall plates which lay on the top of the walls.

To stop the roof collapsing, there is a tie beam or collar, about two thirds of the way up. This collar is also called a wind-beam as the major force on a roof, apart from its own weight, is wind. Above the collar beam is a kingpost supported by haunched brackets. Below the collar are a series of braces, struts, beams and wall posts providing more structural support to prevent sagging. This part of the roof is hammer-beam in design – a style that dates from the 14th century.

The principle rafters are connected on each side by four purlins running longitudinally which support the common rafters, which in turn support boarding laid diagonally to provide additional strength. Above these are, presumably, battens to hold the tiles.

The tiles are of rough externit slate, probably imported from Holland or Germany. The guttering is beautifully made in one eighth inch copper which curves around the east end.

The roof is higher above the nave and chancel than above the side chapels as their width is less. Over the altar the rafters are set radially to support a conical roof falling to the semi-circular wall.

In the main body of the church the roof is high, with the hammer beams allowing a lighter, more open appearance which lifts eyes and hearts upwards. The lower roof which covers the aisles is a far simpler lean-to construction, again the underside of wood, but covered in iron instead of slate. The iron has been cold galvanised by painting on galmet.



The original organ, built by Brindley & Foster of Sheffield England, was a gift to the Diocese of North Queensland from Miss M.E. Holland, an English friend of Bishop George Henry Stanton, the first Bishop of North Queensland. It was originally installed in St James’ Church in 1884. This was a two manual (2 keyboards) and pedal instrument of ten stops and it was installed by Mr. T. C. Christmas of Brisbane.

The organ has occupied three different positions inside the Cathedral. It was moved to the present Cathedral in 1892 where it was originally installed in the north choir ambulatory and the two arches fronting the chancel. In 1903 the organ was enlarged to an extra 13 stops by the original builders and the instrument then occupied the North Transept. In 1956-57 Mr. Noel Ferguson, an optometrist from Cairns rebuilt it with twenty-two speaking stops. At this time the action was changed from mechanical to electro-pneumatic and it was moved to the organ loft in 1958.

Woodwork used in the rebuilding was never sealed against the weather, and this caused many unbidden sounds (called ‘ciphers’) that sprang forth unexpectedly. The metal pipework needed a complete overhaul as well as cleaning, revoicing and regulating. Quite a few pipes had suffered from vandalism and ‘souveniring’ and needed to be replaced, and the large wooden pipes on the East Wall (the huge 16 foot bourdon) were water damaged during cyclone Althea in 1971.

It was reconstituted by Brown and Arkley in 1991-92 for the Centenary of St James in 1992 and in its present form represents the vision and dreams of the late Frank Carroll, who was Director of Music in the Cathedral for many years.

This major project which cost in excess of $300,000 saw the instrument enlarged to four manuals and 53 stops and a new gallery was built above the North Transept (Lady Chapel) to accommodate it. The organ was then the largest pipe organ in Queensland, outside metropolitan Brisbane. It was dedicated by the Bishop of North Queensland on the 4th October 1992 as part of the Cathedral’s Centenary Celebrations.



Most of the stained glass windows were designed by two artists, one of whom was Oliver Cowley who was responsible for the windows in the nave. Most of the apostolic windows, which were designed and made by Peter Saunders, are in the sanctuary, choir and south transept. The windows follow two great themes -the life of Jesus Christ and these take us through the significant events from the Conception to the Passion. The other theme is the lives of His Apostles. Some of these were erected when the Cathedral was first built and some were commissioned by The Venerable David Philp when he was Dean of St James and were given as memorials to past members of the Cathedral congregation.

In order from South to North they are:

Michael the Archangel; St Thomas; St Phillip;

St Andrew; St John; Jesus; St James; St Peter (Original Windows)

St Matthew; James the Less; St Bartholomew; Gabriel the Archangel

The memorials are for:

Michael the Archangel – Brigadier Frank North

St Matthew – In memory of Eric and Doris Smith

St Phillip – In memory of King and Wakeford Families

St James the Less — In memory of Helen Isobel Green

St Bartholomew – In memory of William and Mary Hahn, Louisa and Fred Keppel and Jessie and James Ferguson

Gabriel the Archangel – Sisters of the Sacred Advent

Two modern stained glass windows in the North Side of the Chancel, are in memory of Cecil Eric Smith, Registrar of the Diocese of North Queensland from 1926 to 1972. In the first window the Gothic top contains “The two tablets containing the Ten Commandments” while in the main panel may be seen “The sword and scales of justice”. Imposed upon this sword is the Holy Bible, upon which oaths are sworn. Finally, the judicial wig alludes to the traditional office of Chancellor. In the second window the Gothic head panel depicts the owl, symbol of wisdom, and in the main panel may be seen the Early Christian ‘fish” symbols and the Greek letters alpha and omega – the beginning and the end – representing the Almighty. Also included are symbols of the Holy Eucharist and finally the shell, one of the emblems of St. James. The memorial inscription plate, containing the abbreviation A.M.D.G. (to the greater glory of God) may be seen at the base of each of the windows.

The two windows in the South Aisle depict St Anne and St Margaret of Scotland and were given in memory of Elizabeth Fenton

The South Transept windows

St Thomas – In memory of Dorothy and Archdeacon Hohenhouse – Family

St. Barnabas — In memory of Brotherhood of St Barnabas (DIOCESE)

St. Paul — In memory of Ethel Green — Given by Cathedral Chapter

The beautiful window on “Jesus Christ standing at the Door” in the Chapel of the Resurrection is a reproduction of a masterpiece by the 19th Century English artist, Holman Hunt. This picture of Jesus was often to be found as the frontispiece to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and is deeply entrenched in Anglican Devotions. This window which was given in memory of the Castling family is also one of the Original Windows. The second window in the Chapel is somewhat of a mystery as to who is depicted. One theory is that it is Moses – the other that it is St Andrew. Whichever it is it was given in memory of Henry Richard Synge c.1909 and is an Original Window

Further along the South Aisle are Jesus Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, The Last Supper and Feeding the 5000.

The windows in the North transept also depict the life of Christ, consisting of two simple windows by Cowley on Mary (given by the Mothers’ Union for the Lady Chapel) and Joseph (in memory of Henry Richard Synge). Moving West along the North Aisle we find the Annunciation; The Nativity; Jesus being presented in the Temple; Jesus as a child with his earthly father Joseph, the Carpenter; and finally the Baptism of Jesus.



The Doris ay Rollinson Memorial mosaic above the West Door was designed and installed by Stan Moses. The mosaic was a gift from Mrs F. Culley, the sister of Doris May, and depicts the “Flight into Egypt” with attendant angels and the Dove of the Holy Scripture uppermost. The theme reflects the journey into the unknown of the early settlers and commemorates the contribution of pioneer women in the settlement of North Queensland.



St James Cathedral is widely acknowledged as an important building. It is a major landmark on Melton Hill, being seen from many places around the city. It is entered in the Queensland Heritage Register maintained by the Department of Environment, and it is also listed by the National Trust of Queensland, and is entered in the Register of the National Estate maintained by the Australian Heritage Commission.

Obviously the Cathedral has a strong and special association with the Anglican community in Townsville and maintains its role as the centre of the North Queensland diocese. But apart from being used for regular worship, the Cathedral also has a connection with the Townsville community and with the army and the air force that are based in the city.

Church buildings are silent witnesses to the presence of Christ in a particular place, and they are houses of prayer where the followers of Jesus gather together to worship God and sing His praises. They are also silent witnesses to the Christian tradition, and they take us back to those who have gone before. St James’ Cathedral is no exception, and is not only a spiritual home for the Diocese and the Parish, but a house of memories where the visions and dreams of many people through the decades are preserved in art, architecture, wood-carving and music.

Many have left their stamp on the building: bishops, deans, clergy, wardens, canons, choir masters, architects, builders, artists, wood carvers, organ builders, glaziers, and the countless worshippers through the years. They have all brought life and beauty into the building, as future generations will also continue to do. Unlike museums, which are full of lifeless artefacts of the past, our Cathedral is a living, vital place in which the past, present, and future are wonderfully blended into a fitting home for the children of God.

St James

James, often called ‘the Great’, was a Galilean fisherman who, with his brother John, was one of the first apostles to be called by Jesus to follow him. The two brothers were with Jesus at his transfiguration and with him again in the garden at Gethsemane. They annoyed the other followers of Jesus by asking to set one at his left and the other at his right when he came into his glory and they were present for the appearance of Christ after the resurrection. James was put to death by the sword on the order of Herod Agrippa, who hoped in vain that, by disposing of the Christian leaders, he could stem the flow of those hearing the good news and becoming followers of the Way. James’ martyrdom is believed to have taken place in the year 44AD.

Why the Shells

The tradition is that at the martyrdom of St. James, his body was smuggled out of Herod’s land. By ship it was taken to Spain. As the ship approached land a horse and rider were seen on shore. The restless horse plunged into the sea to greet the ship but in a few moments appeared again on shore covered over with white-lined scallop shells. The rider, said to be a bridegroom, went joyfully on to his wedding. And the scallop shell has always since been the emblem for St. James.