|What we have in Sydney today, IMO the grandest church in our City, is the third attempt to construct a home for the city's catholic faithful. Although Australia was conquered, and settled, by Britain in 1788, the foundation stone for the first catholic church was not laid until 1821. Britain was wary of the catholics in the First Fleet as they were overwhelmingly Irish, and had been sent to the ends of the earth for political insurrections. For the first 25 years of the colony, catholics met covertly.|
|Left: Sketch by John Rae, 1840 Right: Sketch by John Rae (1840-1850|
Both inages courtesy Dictionary of Sydney
|Governor Lachlan Macquarie laid the foundation stone for the first St Marys, in October 1821. This was on the same site as the current Cathedral. It ran east-to-west (whereas the current cathedral runs north-to-south). At the same time, Macquarie was involved with the Anglicans. The Church of England was the "established" church and had a life of its own in the colony. However, its cathedral (St Andrews) got off to a spluttery start, with the first foundation stone laid in 1819, the second in 1837, before being consecrated in 1868.|
|Left: After the fire Right: After the fire, c. 1870|
Both images courtesy Dictionary of Sydney
|After a range of alterations, this Macquarie-inspired catholic cathedral was badly-damaged by fire in November, 1865. They rebuilt in stages, with the first service being held in 1882, with more construction work being completed in 1900, 1928, and even as recently as 2000, when the two spires in the original plans, were added. Embiggen the old image on the left to see, that even then, those with drug-addictions made their home in Hyde Park.|
|There is only a miniscule portion remaining of the cathedral that burnt. This is around the back (east) of the cathedral but easily accessible by the public. There is a plaque on this ruin which reads:|
This pillar is all that remains of the original St Mary's Chapel, the Foundation Stone of which was laid by Governor Lachlan Macquarie on 29 October, 1821. Father John Joseph Therry celebrated the first Mass in the partly completed chapel on 5 December, 1833.
This is the southern forecourt of St Marys. It used to be a lawn bowling club at which my father played. It is now a concrete park with a swimming pool and fitness centre below. At my back as I took this phtotgraph is The Australian Museum, which I will cover next week.