Historical Churches Tour, Brisbane

Historical Churches Tour (Self Guided), Brisbane

Brisbane has an amazing collection of religious buildings. Renowned for their architectural beauty as well as cultural value, they attract a huge number of visitors. Take this self-guided tour to see the best of these stunning masterpieces, which will impress anyone with their architectural beauty and religious devotion.
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Historical Churches Tour Map

Guide Name: Historical Churches Tour
Guide Location: Australia » Brisbane (See other walking tours in Brisbane)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: gene
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • St. John's Cathedral
  • All Saints Church
  • St. Andrews Church
  • City Tabernacle Baptist Church
  • Albert Street Uniting Church
  • Cathedral of St. Stephen
St. John's Cathedral

1) St. John's Cathedral

St. John’s Cathedral is one of the most impressive churches in Brisbane and is used for important Anglican occasions such as the ordination of priests or deacons. In addition, it is an important part of the Brisbane arts scene with its own orchestra that holds many events and concerts throughout the year. It is also home to the largest cathedral pipe organ in Australia and has an acclaimed choir. In the tradition of grand medieval cathedrals in Europe, St. John’s is the only Australian cathedral that has been completed over more than a century with stonemasons, architects and the diocese working together.

The work has resulted in a stunning Gothic revival cathedral designed by one of England’s most prestigious 19th century architects, John Loughborough Pearson. This was to be his final masterpiece and he died just prior to the final plans being approved. The project was taken over by his son Frank. The most recent additions to the cathedral have been the western spires clad in copper, which were hoisted into place in 2008. One of the highlights of the interior of the cathedral are the mosaics brought back from the “Holy Land” by WWI Australian light horsemen: you can see them in front of the cathedral altar.
All Saints Church

2) All Saints Church

Founded in 1862, All Saints Church is the oldest Anglican church in Brisbane and the construction that you see today dates from 1869. It is located on Wickham Terrace, which is one of the most historical streets in the city. The land was acquired to be a sister congregation for St John’s Church of England and construction was led by the Bishop Tufnell, who also selected the church’s name. It was designed in the Gothic Revival style and features sandstone buttressed walls. From its very beginnings the church enjoyed a large and enthusiastic congregation and it is often known as “the Parish Church of the City of Brisbane.”

During its long history it has had high profile parishioners including two state premiers – Sir James Dickson and Sir Robert Ramsey McKenzie. The stained glass windows are the oldest in Queensland and there are significant sculptured art by well known Depression era sculptor Daphne Mayo. The church is now a heritage listed building in recognition of the important role it played in colonial Queensland. There are many scheduled services throughout the week and the church is open to visitors at other times. It is sometimes possible to find a person who can provide an informal tour of the interior and grounds of the church.
St. Andrews Church

3) St. Andrews Church

St. Andrews Church is one of Brisbane’s grandest churches, built in Romanesque style; it is well known for its grand pipe organ. The church was built in 1905 as Presbyterian, but became a Uniting Church when the non-conformist denominations merged in 1977. Originally the congregation met on Wickham Terrace, but when their space was needed for railways a competition was held for the design of the proposed church on the corner of Ann and Creek Streets. It was won by George Payne who presented plans for a Neo-Romanesque style and bagged the 100 pounds reward. Although it was originally viewed with some trepidation by Brisbane residents who were expecting a grand Gothic design, it is now heavily regarded as the finest example of Neo-Romanesque in the Southern Hemisphere.

In the 1920s the St. Andrews underwent extensive renovations with a more ornate entrance from Ann Street into the sanctuary and from Creek Street into the Hall added. In this same period the stunning stained glass windows of the church were finally completed. The church was most recently refurbished in 1999. One of the main features of the façade is the bell tower, which is still used to call the congregation to church on Sundays.
City Tabernacle Baptist Church

4) City Tabernacle Baptist Church

The City Tabernacle Baptist Church was the first Baptist church in the state. The congregation first began to meet in 1859 at a site on Wharf Street, but by 1890 the grand church that you see today had been commissioned and built. The grand church was done in the Romanesque and Venetian styles and features a lovely rose window at the façade. At the southwestern corner of the entrance to the church is a three story bell tower and cupola. It was designed by the well known Brisbane architect Richard Gailey and is one of the finest examples of his designs. Gailey was himself a member of the 400 strong congregation when the building of the church was put forward. His design therefore was a true labor of love and piety. He also designed the surviving church manse, which is located adjacent to the church.

The Whitehouse pipe organ was installed in 1915 and has recently undergone renovation. At the turn of the century Miss Fewings Private School for Girls was located in the church basement and this later became one of Queensland’s best regarded private schools – Somerville House. The building is now heritage listed by the state government.
Albert Street Uniting Church

5) Albert Street Uniting Church

The Albert Street Uniting Church began construction in 1889 and is an excellent example of the Victorian Gothic Revival style that was so popular in the colony at the time. The first Methodist congregation of Brisbane began in 1849 and met at an Albert Street address, but as the church grew it became clear that a larger space was required. A competition to choose the design was established and G H M Addison won for his plans. On August 18, 1888 five foundation stones were laid down by high profile parishioners and the church was completed in 1889. It features a cruciform shape, with a steeply pitched roof and buttressing and a high bell tower and spire.

In the tradition of the Methodist Church there was a heavy emphasis on music and a grand organ was installed. The organ came from England and was enveloped in gold leaf. The design means that the organ and the pulpit are the direct focus of the seated congregation. The church is open Monday to Friday to visitors from 10am to 2pm and you can arrange for tours of the church in advance – it is free, but a small donation is appreciated.
Cathedral of St. Stephen

6) Cathedral of St. Stephen

When Queensland separated from New South Wales in 1859 it was deemed that Brisbane should have its very own grand cathedral. The Catholic diocese set to work and a Gothic Revival cruciform design was approved.

Groundbreaking of the Cathedral of St. Stephen began in 1863. Building of the church was slow and had many issues along the way. The first architect, Benjamin Backhouse, planned a grand cathedral. Those plans were stopped once the foundation was put down and Backhouse was replaced. There were issues with funding.

Richard George Suter was the next architect. He designed the Gothic Revival-style structure that still exists today. He was also eventually replaced by the Hennessy & Hennessy architectural firm. Building of the cathedral would not be completed until 1989.

There are a number of buildings on the cathedral grounds that visitors may find interesting to explore. St. Stephen's Chapel, otherwise known as Old St. Stephen's Church, is the oldest Catholic church in Queensland. Old St. Throughout the cathedral and its grounds there are many notable statues. Stephen's School and the Francis Rush Centre are also nearby.

Inside the church there are many impressive stained windows that came from Munich, Germany, France, England and Ireland. The collection of stained glass is often considered to be the most extensive in Australia.

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