Sydney, NSW - St Mary's Catholic Cathedral

Year Built: 1869

Denomination: Roman Catholic

Saint: Mary

Address: College Street, Sydney, New South Wales, 2000

Architect: William W Wardell

Architectural Style: Gothic Revival

Traditional Owners: Gadigal people

Last Updated: 21/02/2024

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History and Architecture:

William Wilkinson Wardell was commissioned by Archbishop Polding to design a new St Mary's following the fire of 1865 which ruined the original Cathedral. It was constructed of dressed local sandstone in the "Gothic Revival" style.

There were to be two intermediate stages. A temporary wooden church was constructed, which was also destroyed by fire in the summer of 1869. The third temporary provision was a sturdy brick building on the site, not of the cathedral but of St Mary's School, which it was to serve long after the present structure was in use.

The Foundation stone was laid in 1868.

The customary east-west orientation of cathedrals was abandoned by Wardell due to the fall of the land therefore the Sanctuary of St Mary's is located at the northern end of the plan, with the main faade and principal entrance at the southern end.

The stained-glass windows were crafted in England, at the Hardman studios of Birmingham, from 1881 onwards.

The Cathedral's central edifice, known as the Cardinal's tower, which was named for Cardinal Moran who completed it, houses the bells. These were first rung in the new tower on November 6, 1900.


This list may not contain every serving cleric, past or present, for this church.
Further submissions welcomed.

Years Name Annotation D.o.B D.o.D
1842 - 1877 Archbishop Polding 1794 1877
1877 - 1885 Archbishop Roger Bede Vaughan OSB 1834 1883
1885 - Archbishop Patrick Francis Moran - more details 1830 1911
1911 - Bishop Michael Kelly 1850 1940
1940 - Archbishop Norman Thomas Gilroy 1896 1977
1983 - Archbishop Edward Bede Clancy 1923 2014
2001 - 2013 Cardinal George Pell 1941 2023
2014 - Archbishop Anthony Fisher


Archbishop Polding acquired the first organ for the first St Mary's in 1841. Built by Bevington & Son in London, with a case designed by A.W.N. Pugin. This was a 34 stop, 2 manual and pedal instrument. It was destroyed in the cathedral fire of 1865. The first pipe organ in the present Cathedral was built by C J Jackson of Sydney in 1874 and was demolished in 1959. The organ in the gallery over the main doors is by Whitehouse Brothers of Brisbane, dating from 1942.
For a full description of all the Organs installed over the years, and photos click here.


1. Wikipedia.
2. Organ Historical Trust of Australia with permission.