From the Conserving St David’s Cathedral Pamphlet…
St David’s Cathedral is an exceptional Gothic revival church building set in the centre of the civic precinct of Hobart.
It has meaning particularly for its spiritual associations with the life of Hobart and its citizens but also on a wider basis as a symbol of the development of the State of Tasmania and the City of Hobart. It is the spiritual centre of the Anglican Church (former Church of England) in Tasmania and the seat of the bishop. It is the place for civic celebrations and for the outpouring of public grief at times of tragedy and crisis. It is a building and place that is part of the life of the city.
The cathedral has reached a time in its life where substantial work is required both to maintain it – replacing failed materials such as roofing and stonework – and to present it as a vital and contemporary part of the city – upgrading services such as lighting, heating and providing for a wider range of uses of the building.
Over its life work has been undertaken to maintain and improve the building. This has included adding the bell tower and cloister and various changes around the site and within the building. However the building now requires a major works program to ensure that it will continue well into the future as the principal place of Anglican worship in Tasmania and as a key part of the civic life of Hobart. It also needs a regular and ongoing maintenance program to maintain its condition into the future.
The cathedral is the second church on the site and replaced the earlier building that occupied the corner where the tower is now located. The current building was designed by George Frederick Bodley, a noted English architect, in the Gothic revival style and was built in three stages commencing in 1868, being consecrated in 1874 and completed in 1936. This continued the tradition of English cathedrals that were often built over long time periods.
The building is one of the most ‘perfect’ cathedral designs in Australia in terms of its proportion, scale, detail and layout and retains an exceptional setting within the city. It is of State and National significance. Although many new cities in Australia have elevated their church buildings to cathedral status there are only six Anglican Cathedrals that are associated with the capital cities of Australia, five of which are in the Victorian Gothic revival style, they are each different is design and scale. St David’s is the second oldest Anglican cathedral in Australia after St Andrew’s in Sydney.
It is significant not only for the building itself which is of exceptional aesthetic and architectural value but also for many of its separate components such as the very fine set of stained glass windows, many of its fittings and furnishings and its early and rare use of reinforced concrete.
St David’s is listed on the Registers of the Heritage Council of Tasmania, Hobart City Council, and the National Trust of Australia (Tasmania) and was included in the former Register of the National Estate. All of these registers acknowledge that it is a place of high value to the community and of heritage significance.