31 October, 2018

Old Saint Mary's Cathedral, Sydney : 1

A sketch of Saint Mary's Cathedral precinct, 1836
Image : The National Library of Australia.

Adjacent is a watercolour of Saint Mary's Cathedral precinct around the year 1836. The track running from left to right in the foreground would become Saint Mary's Road, but at that time lead from the city to Woolloomooloo Bay. In the background the largest building is old Saint Mary's, commenced in 1821 and which had become Archbishop Polding's Cathedral in 1835. This view shews the rear of the Cathedral, including one of its transepts, facing north.

Four other buildings are depicted in this watercolour, which were built between 1824 and 1826. At the left is a school, on the right, a residence for clergy. Another residence, with a small verandah,  is in the centre, although it is not clear in which of these buildings the Archbishop lived.

Hiding between the two residences is a two-storey building, which was Saint Joseph's chapel. Because Saint Mary's took so long to build, a temporary chapel was built for the needs of the faithful. Saint Joseph's chapel was opened in January 1830 and continued to be used long after the Cathedral was complete. It is probable that this collection of buildings was demolished when work on the new Cathedral commenced in 1866.

It is interesting that the artist chose not to depict priests or the genteel in his watercolour, but instead a small group of native Australians, walking along the track.  One carries a fearsome spear.


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