The Architecture and Music of St. Peter’s Cathedral

Sitting pretty on one acre of land at the point where Penning Terrace and King William Road meet in Adelaide City, St. Peter’s Cathedral poses an impressive silhouette and a fascinating cultural landmark. Not only is it the seat of the Archbishop of Adelaide, but it is home to an inclusive sacramental community who cherish liturgy, music, and preaching.

From the outside, the cathedral is reminiscent of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, particularly the south-facing architecture, as well as the Church of St Jean-Baptise de Belleville in Paris. It boasts a beautiful rose window above the main entrance, where you can see pictorial stories of South Australia’s role in the Bible.

Architecture of St. Peter’s Cathedral

The plans for the cathedral were originally drawn up by William Butterfield, a British architect, who was asked to step up to the challenge by Augustus Short. Butterfield himself was particularly interested in polychromatic patterns of bricks and stones at the time, and this was the style that was carried forward. You can still see some of this early design style in the Lady Chapel and in the Font near the front door.

Work began on the cathedral in 1869, with the first piece finished and opened in 1877. Inside, you can see where the first part of work ended by the change in colour on the ceiling. The remainder of the nave was finished in 1901, with the towers completed in 1902 and the Lady Chapel and crypt ready to go in 1904. The final section, including the front steps, was finished in 1911.

After years of service, the cathedral needed a lot of restoration which began in the 1990s. During this period, the floor was replaced, new tiles were made in England to match the originals, the roof was replaced, and the pinnacles around the Lady Chapel were removed (and have yet to be reinstated because of funds).

You can see historic photos of the cathedral on the walls of the passage into the sacristy, as well as original plans by Butterfield.

Music at St. Peter’s Cathedral

Music is a huge part of St. Peter’s, and it has long boasted a top musical reputation in the city. The cathedral’s choir has been a permanent fixture for more than 130 years, and it is the only choir made up of adults and children in Adelaide.

At the moment, the choir perform three choral serves each week on Sundays and Wednesdays, as well as regular concert performances for special events.

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