St. George’s Cathedral, Cape Town. In 1827 the Bishop of Calcutta, in whose jurisdiction the Cape then was, visited Cape Town, chose and consecrated a site for a church at the foot of Government Avenue, and called a public meeting in support, but it was not until 23 April 1830 that the foundation tone was laid by the Governor, Sir Lowry Cole, and the church was opened for divine service on 21st December 1834. It was built of plastered brickwork, with a flat roof with a tower modelled on that of St. Pancras’ Church, London. It seated 1200 people.
On the arrival of Bishop Robert Gray in 1848 St. George’s Church became the cathedral of the new diocese of Cape Town. No substantial alterations were made to the original building until H. Baker (later Sir Herbert Baker) was commissioned to design a new cathedral, built of Table Mountain stone in the French Gothic style on the existing site. The eastern portion was erected as a memorial to the officers and men of the British forces who fell in the Second Anglo-Boer War. In 1902 the Duke of Cornwall and York, subsequently King George V, laid the foundation-stone of the new apse. The sanctuary, choir and chapels were completed in 1913 under the supervision of F. K. Kendall, and by 1957 both transepts. In 1952 the bell-tower was demolished because it had become unsafe, and in 1962 the eight bells were sent to England to be recast. It was decided to have two more cast to make up a complete set of ten. The bells, ranging in weight from 255 to 1360 kg, all have names given to them in 1962 by Dr. Joost de Blank, former Archbishop of Cape Town: Good Hope, Redemption, Sacrifice, Patience, Service, Charity, Faith, Peace, Love, Joy. They arrived back in Cape Town on 5 February 1965 and were temporarily suspended from a steel platform constructed outside the west end of the cathedral. In 1965 the nave roof was raised and the Lady Chapel completed, the architect being C. D. St. Leger.
The cathedral has been the scene of many historic occasions in the history of the Anglican Church in South Africa. The consecration of Charles Frederick Mackenzie, first missionary bishop to be consecrated outside England since the Reformation, took place there in 1861. The famous trial of Bishop J. W. Colenso was held in it, and the first provincial synod was constituted within its walls in 1872. The interior contains many interesting features: a fine recumbent figure of Archbishop William West Jones (1872-1908) by C. L. Hartwell; the Archbishop’s throne, made from the oak screen of the organ in Westminster Abbey, a gift of the third Lord Nelson; notable memorials to Lady D’Urban, Lord Hyde and Lord Milner; a wall medallion by the sculptor Anton van Wouw; and some good examples of stained glass, especially the rose-window in the south transept by Frank Spears, erected in 1957, and the clerestory windows by Gabriel Loire completed in 1971. A muniment-room containing many historical documents can be viewed by appointment. The cathedral also houses a fine collection of silver and brass. The rest of the site is occupied by St. George’s Grammar School, founded in 1858, and by the Church House, completed in 1931.
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