Mary, Queen of Apostles Parish

The Old Cathedral Restoration Project

PP-Ext126Our beautiful greenstone cathedral is the only one of its kind in Australia – in fact it’s the only greenstone cathedral in the world!

As everyone who visits us can see,  it is in need of ongoing restoration and maintenance, as part of Australia’s National Estate with National Trust classification.

The Cathedral is constructed from a green stone (diorite porphyrite) and is a significant example of 19th century Gothic ecclesiastical design and craftsmanship. The architect was Italian Andrea Stombuco and this is one of his finest pieces of work.  You can read more about him here.


Our restoration project has a fundraising target of $6.5m.

The Sts Peter and Paul’s Cathedral Restoration Appeal was launched June, 2006, and the Restoration Committee has had a comprehensive fundraising strategy in place. Corporation donations, government grants, sponsorship, donations and bequests have helped our fundraising efforts, however there is a long list of restoration projects to be done.

If you would like to make a donation towards the Restoration or make a bequest in your will, please speak to Father Dermid.

Help us by including this project in your prayers

God, our Father, may our restoration of Sts Peter and Paul’s Old Cathedral give You glory.

Through the intercession of St. Peter and St. Paul,

bless us with many benefactors and willing hands.

May our efforts contribute to the new evangelisation of Australia.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen



Mr David Murray  AO

Hon Tim Fischer AO

Hon Tony Abbott PM

Mr Alby Schultz MP

Hon Johnno Johnson

Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens

Mr Tom Hazell AO


The Goulburn Post provides regular coverage of the Restoration Project:

January 8th 2014                Duo hits New Heights

December 11th 2013         Belissimo – Church’s New Era 

November 29th 2013        Old Cathedral prepares for ‘crowning glory’ 

January 30th 2013             Patently Frustrating

 January 5th 2012                Aspiring to a Spire

And the Restoration Project puts the Old Cathedral on the Heritage tourism trail design


 The Spire Project

EARLY drawings of Goulburn depicted Sts Peter and Paul’s Old Cathedral with a spire and now architect Andrea Stombuco’s 1871 vision for the grand structure is set to become reality. While two designs for the spire were drafted, the Restoration Committee decided on the smaller spire to fit with the historic precinct.

A 10-metre spire weighing about nine tonnes designed by local architect Garry Dutaillis and manufactured by Pearson Engineering, also of Goulburn, is soon to be installed.A lightning rod to protect the cathedral and turret windows, as depicted on Stombuco’s 1871 drawings, will be special features.and, in case the bell needs to be restored again in future, the spire can be easily removed to gain access.

The Restoration Committee has been fundraising for this project. The Spire will be covered in copper tiles which are available for sale at $1000 each.  The cost of the spire will be more than $80,000 and this will mark the completion of Stombuco’s original design for the Cathedral.

February 2014 – the Spire is up!

Click here to watch the amazing video of the spire being put in place.



The  grant from the Federal government has been used to restore and repair stonework, replaces sandstone sections on the western facade and allowed the commencement of works on the northern wall, the roof and the bell tower.


PP-Ext073PP-Ext085PP-Ext048PP-Ext043PP-Ext127cropped-PP-RoofEXT006.jpgPP-Ext035   20 6 14 005






Underpinning the walls and foundations

Significant structural works have been undertaken over many years to underpin the foundations and stabilise the building. Although the greenstone has maintained its strength and solidity, much of the sandstone components are in need of replacement and/or repair.

The northern wall had started to rotate and needed to be underpinned  with steel columns to brace the walls and rafters.  The columns will be covered to match existing columns in the Cathedral.

Damp Control

The biggest challenge  is in controlling the rising damp problem that has existed since the Cathedral was first constructed. The excavation works under the Sanctuary have made a noticeable  difference.  The roof and guttering are also badly in need of repair and replacement and there are areas inside the Cathedral where water damage is very obvious.

The excavation under the Sanctuary floor has taken more than three years to excavate and remove the rubble which was used as fill under the Sanctuary.  .  The excavation has provided a substantial crypt under the Cathedral, fitting for the burial of  both Bishop Lanigan and Bishop Gallagher.


Underpinning of the northern wall is well underway as work continues  to stabilise the Cathedral and carry. out external repairs.


The Bell Tower

Work is currently underway on the bell tower to repair the bell housing. The bell itself has been repaired and is ready to be replaced once the bell tower is restored. The stonework and sandstone will be restored, repaired and replaced as required on the bell tower before the bell is re-installed.














Other restoration works required include removal and repair of the fleche, repairing and cleaning all the stained glass windows, restoring and repainting all internal surfaces and restoring and cleaning all the marble surfaces.

Update of finances 040215

Inside the Cathedral

The Organ

PP-Organ016The Cathedral is widely renowned for its magnificent  pipe organ, manufactured by William Hill and Son of London and is the “little sister” to the Hill and Son organ in the Sydney Town Hall. Both organs were shipped to Australia and installed concurrently.

The organ has but 28 stops in comparison with the 127 of the Sydney Town Hall organ but the general tonal effect is of a high standard.  The organ is installed in a special loft above the northern transept in 1890  and was the gift of Mrs. Dalglish.  The total cost at the time was £1,350 ($2,700).

On the completion of the organ installation a notable organist, Mr. T.W. Best, of Liverpool , England , gave a recital on the 23rd September, 1890.  Mr. Best was brought out especially for the opening of the Sydney Town Hall organ.

The organ was originally powered by hand operated bellows which may still be plainly seen.  Later, it has been said, it was driven by water power which operated a large pair of bellows which are still in existence.  The large bellows appear to have been operated by a type of hydraulic ram with which its valves alternately opened and shut.  Whilst fairly heavy on water consumption it would provide a positive bellows drive. The only evidence of water power left is the large water meter still outside. Later, an electric motor was fitted to drive the bellows.In 1979 a modern silent electric blower was installed next to the organ in the loft.  The old bellows and motor and switch gear on the ground floor were all dismounted and removed.

Several maintenance contractors have been associated with the organ over the years, including John B. Holroyd, Sydney and in 1938 Hill, Norman and Beard (Aust) Pty Ltd.

In 1970-80 the organ was completely restored by John S. Parker of Melbourne and Peter D.G. Jewkes of Sydney. The final paragraph of Mr. Jewkes’ report is quoted:

“At the time of writing, the work remaining involves many adjustments of the organ’s action and re-installing the pipes.  Sounds have already been heard from the gallery.  Once the organ is completed a settling in period of up to twelve months is expected, after which the organ will again rank as one of the finest in Australia, and undoubtedly the best example of a large Romantic Pipe Organ still in original condition, and ideally suited to leading the worship of God in this Parish.”

Some of  the permanent and well known organists of the Cathedral include: George McConnell, Henry F. Caspers, William F. Caspers, Edward Aubrey, Miss de Lauret, Madam Lenebach, Frank Cowburn, Marjorie Hasler and Sister Bernadette (RSM).

The Organ is used regularly for recitals and concerts.

Internal restoration works

Although most of the major restoration work has occurred under and above the Cathedral, there has also been extensive internal work undertaken.  Many  of the brass fittings have been repaired and restored, including  the three tabernacle doors.. The sanctuary lamp  has been returned to its rightful place suspended from the roof. Chalices belonging to Bishop Lanigan and Bishop Gallagher have been cleaned and restored.

Pillars of Grace

The Restoration Committee is fundraising for a new project “The Pillars of Grace” and seeking funding to have the ten columns and arches in the sanctuary restored to their original  condition, to feature the malmsbury bluestone that is the hallmark of architect Stombuco.  This will involve stripping the paint and render from the pillars and arches in a way which will not impede the activities of the cathedral, although scaffolding will need to be in place for this work.  Tank flooring will need to be created around the base of each column, and waterproof curtains erected to ensure that the waste residues are able to be captured and pumped out of the cathedral without damaging the parquetry flooring and carpet.

Investigations are underway as to how best to restore the parquetry floor and to remove the rubber tiles from the aisles.

Stained Glass windows

The Cathedral has many examples of exquisite stained glass  and these feature in the walking tours of the Cathedral.




















Once the stabilisation and major external works have been completed it will be possible to commence work on  repairing and cleaning all the stained glass windows, restoring and repainting all internal surfaces and restoring and cleaning all the marble surfaces.


History of the Cathedral

The first Mass in the Goulburn District was celebrated by Father Therry in 1833 at Matt Healey’s Inn (now called “Riversdale” – a National Trust property).

Archbishop Polding visited Goulburn in 1840 and laid out the site for the first Church.  Other sites were also considered but in 1844 the construction of the Sts Peter & Paul’s Parish Church began on the current site at the corner of Bourke and Verner Streets.  The original brick church was completed in 1848.  Father Richard Walsh was Parish Priest from 1847.  Some of the old church foundations are still visible under the Cathedral floor today.  After the church was opened in 1848 by Archbishop Polding work began on the construction of the presbytery next to the Cathedral on Verner Street.

In 1864 Goulburn was created a Diocese.  Bishop Geoghegan was appointed bishop but died in Ireland before taking up his appointment.  Once Bishop Lanigan was appointed Bishop, he secured the architectural services of Andrea Stombuco and in 1871 the construction of the present Cathedral commenced.

The Cathedral was built in two stages.  The nave of the Cathedral was constructed first under the direct supervision of Mr. Stombuco.  The nave of the old church was demolished and taken out through the western doors of the Cathedral.  The second stage commenced in 1887 and was completed in 1890, under the direction of Mr. Charles Spadaccini, using the original design of Andrea Stombuco.  Prior to construction of the second stage the sanctuary of the old church was still in use.  It was demolished and some of the bricks were used as fill under the sanctuary floor of the Cathedral. It is constructed from a locally quarried greenstone called diorite porphyrite, an igneous rock.  All the sandstone used in the construction  was quarried locally from the Marulan area.  The roof slates were imported from Bangor.

The Bell, which had come from Ireland in 1869, was placed on a wooden tower between the old brick church and the presbytery.  The bell was rehung in the new tower in April, 1890, when the second stage of the Cathedral was completed. All windows, jambs, window sills, arches, coping, triangle caps, buttress caps, quoins and base are made of Wingello stone, from the Marulan areas.

The woodwork in the ceiling throughout is of special interest, panelled with exposed rafters, purlins and principal beam in the nave aisles.  In the nave there are exposed purlin beams and bracketed principal beams, which also appear in the transept and Sanctuary.  The fretwork detail on the brackets under the principal roof beams are a distinct feature of the ceiling.

The pillars inside the Cathedral are of Malmsbury bluestone.  Unfortunately the columns were painted and sanded to look like sandstone in the 1927/28 renovation.  One of the objectives of the restoration is to restore the columns to their original state.

The windows in the Cathedral are particularly fine.  The smaller windows at the back of the nave on the northern and southern sides are of enamelled glass.  Some of the windows installed during the second stage were made by Grosse de Herde, a Belgium company, and are quite distinctive.  All the clerestory windows are by Grosse de Herde  A large window depicting the Transfiguration of Jesus in the southern transept were donated by Bishop Lanigan. The window above the altar on the eastern front was donated by Mrs. Dalglish and was by John Hardman and Company.  Research is currently being undertaken regarding the design and construction of the window in the western wall.

The sanctuary area was renovated extensively during the 1927/28 work.  The main altar was moved back against the eastern wall and the sanctuary floor was raised.  The sanctuary area was lined with marble. There are several brass works based on designs by British Architects August Welby Pugin and his son, Edward Welby Pugin. These pieces have been repaired, cleaned and restored. There were two murals on the eastern wall each side of the main altar but these were painted over.  An attempt has been made to see if it is possible to restore them but they were sanded over prior to painting.

The floor in the Cathedral is a swung concrete floor (constructed in 1927/28 to avoid the damp problem) which was then covered with wooden parquetry.  Rubber tiles on a bitumen base were put down in 1957.  Part of our current project is to remove the tiles and restore the parquetry, if possible.   In the 1927-28 renovation the sanctuary floor was raised, the main altar and reredos were moved back to the eastern wall and the sanctuary was lined with marble.

In 1948, Goulburn was raised to the status of an Archdiocese, thus making Archbishop Maguire the last Bishop of Goulburn and the first Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn.  During the episcopate of Archbishop Eris O’Brien the Archbishop moved to Canberra and St. Christopher’s Cathedral at Manuka became the centre of the Archdiocese.  Sts. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral has been known as the Old Cathedral since that time.











Please Click here