History of St Paul’s Cathedral Building – well some of it!

Most of this comes from previous history documents, and minutes or AGM reports.

The first Church of St. Paul, Sale, was licensed in 1857.

In 1874, the Rev.  George Wade Watson was appointed as Incumbent of the Parish.  Early in 1875, a desire was expressed to sell the old site, with the view of purchasing one more centrally situated; but, though the consent of the Bishop was obtained, nothing practically resulted.

About that time a desire was expressed to purchase a new site but although the consent of the Bishop was obtained, nothing was done until 1882.

A congregational meeting held in August of that year decided, by 31 votes to one to purchase the present Vicarage and land, for Church and School Purposes, for the sum of £1150.  See Gippsland Times reports for more information.

Plans for a new Church were prepared by Mr. Filling, and it was built by George Wynd with James Swan as clerk of works for the sum of £3389.

The foundation stone for a new church on this site was laid by Bishop Moorhouse on 17th December, 1883, and this second St. Paul's Church, Sale, was opened on 5th November, 1884, with Bishop Moorhouse preaching at both services. This building cost £3,389.

The middle frame depicting Christ as Ascended and Glorified King in the window above the Altar was made originally for the first building and later refitted into the Cathedral. This is in Memory of Dr. Floyd Minter Peck who died in 1863. The two later additions commemorate his Widow Menie Peck (1867) and Edward Crooke (1873). (An additional memorial to Menie Peck is on the North Wall).

The Stone Font dated 1860 was part of the original church building.

The pipe organ, which is older than the church, was bought for £290 and installed in October 1884.. A small boy laboured industriously to keep the organ full of wind.

1902: Diocese of Gippsland Formed In 1902 the  Province of Gippsland was cut off from Melbourne and formed into a diocese. Canon Arthur Wellesley Pain, M.A., of Darlinghurst. Sydney, was appointed its first Bishop. Sale became the See town (where the Bishop resides) and its Parish Church the Pro-Cathedral of the Diocese.

The Bishop's Throne was presented in 1902 to mark the Enthronement of the First Bishop of Gippsland on 10th July.

1903 The block of land in Market Street was purchased and the Vicarage repaired.

1907: Consecration of Church. For many years after the building of the Church the Parish had been heavily encumbered with debt. At one stage the amount of debt was between two and three thou­sand pounds.  After a hard struggle the debt was finally wiped out in May 1907.  A Thanksgiving Service for the liquidation of the debt was held on Sunday June 9th, and on Tuesday October 22nd, 1907 the Church was Consecrated by the Lord Bishop of the Diocese.

1908 New wooden Choir Vestries (Relocated in 2007) were erected near the north east corner of the Church and furnished at a cost of £100, giving the Choir ample accommodation for robing. It was useful for meetings.

1915 New lights were installed

A World War One Honour Board containing the names of those who belonged to the congregation and who had gone to war, was placed in the Church. This was originally where the Projector screen is now.

In 1918 there was the passing of the Cathedral Act by which the Pro-Cathedral became the Cathedral of the Diocese

1920 With the passing of the Cathedral Act the officers of the Cathedral took on new names.  The Rector became 'Canon-in ­residence' and the Churchwardens were called 'Lay Canons.'

1921 The Electric light was installed in the Cathedral in place of gas.

In 1925 the Colours presented by the late King to the 10th Australian Light Horse were handed to the Dean of the Cathedral for safe keeping, by Major Arnott.  It had a permanent place above the Honour board.

1927  A bell was brought by the Bishop from England on his return from the Lambeth Conference and erected on a belfry- somewhere near the new green shed near the tank at the back of the Cathedral.

A beautiful brass Eagle Lectern was also presented to the Cathedral.

1926 A Jubilee and Consolidation  Already under the leadership of Bishop Cranswick, there was a growing desire that a new Cathedral be built, and with this idea in mind two properties on the east side of the Cathedral were purchased by the Diocese at the request of the Cathedral Chapter. The block immediately adjacent became the location of the Croquet Court and Club House in the 1930s and 155 Cunninghame Street has housed a succession of parish and diocesan clergy and lay officers.

Plans for a New Cathedral were explored in 1927 and some delightful plans were forthcoming. One proposal shows the present building as extending to where the new Hall is now as well as the present Chapter House areas. Rising costs and the coming of the depression made it impossible to embark on such an expensive scheme.

1929 The 75th Anniversary of the parish was marked by a new facelift for the Cathedral Interior.

The organ was moved into the area south of the arch and the sanctuary made more spacious.

The space where the organ had been, as well as the Rector's Vestry north of it,(that included a fireplace)  was changed and furnished into a Side Vestry

Many new furnishings were added including a marble pulpit in memory of Bishop Pain, two Clergy Stalls (now used as the Dean and Precentor stalls) and Choir Fronts, a Canon's Stall and a Reredos above the Altar.

Choir Stalls were moved into the Nave, thus opening up the Chancel, enlarging the Sanctuary to suit it for Diocesan purposes.

Choir Vestries were built on each side of the porch way, (If I had been able to find a photo of these I would show you!) and on the inside was incorporated a very beautiful Baptistry. The font sat under the middle archway where our double glass entrance doors are.

At the main entrance to the church a commodious entrance porch was formed, with glass doors either side leading to the Nave. (Standing at the main doorway of the Cathedral, there was a wall in front of you, and the doors either side allowed access to the Cathedral.)

At a later stage the silver Processional Cross was given and dedicated.

These Cathedral renovations cost over £2000.

While these alterations made the actual seating accommodation within the Cathedral very much smaller there is no doubt that they did make a very big difference in the beauty of the Cathedral.

The Cathedral in its new and beautiful form was officially reopened on Friday, 1st November, 1929, All Saints Day, in the presence of the Primate, the Most Reverend J. C. Wright, Archbishop of Sydney, and the gifts were dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Bishop of the Diocese.


Let us recall some of the advantages we have found in the new arrangements this year. We enter into a fine large porch that seems to welcome us at once, and where notices and books can be adequately displayed.

The choir are housed within the main building, and do not have to face rain and wind as they attempt to enter when robed for Service.

Baptism seems more real and dignified, and the place where we receive the children is a place of beauty, instead of an ugly corner.

The Side Chapel is most useful, and is really the most frequently used part of the Church. Daily Services are held there, and week-day Celebrations. We have even had a Confirmation and a Wedding there.

The old Choir is now used by the Clergy and Lay-Canons, and there is plenty of room for all to robe and work.  Rev. Canon Thornton

1930  The original Crosier of the Diocese of Gippsland was dedicated. This is the symbol of the Bishop's pastoral care, and signifies his residence in the See City of Sale. The Staff is inscribed with names of former bishops.

New gifts in 1931 included the Verger's Stall, pigeon holes, notice board in the Porch and an Organ for the Side Chapel.

1940  A polished wood screen to mark off a children’s corner was added. (Not sure where it was located nor how long it remained)

1943 A heating system was installed.

1946  Repairs to the Cathedral roof, alterations in the Clergy vestry.

1947 Addition of two double memorial windows.

1948 saw the concreting of the pathway and the lay-out of the gardens in front of the Cathedral. 

In 1943 Joe Sansom from Leongatha came to be Canon-in-residence and in1949 he was appointed as Dean when the Cathedral Act was changed to create that position.

1949 : A New Cathedral Act  During the Diocesan Synod in May, 1949, a new Cathedral Act was passé. This act, amongst other things gave the Bishop, Lay Canons and Diocesan Nominators the authority to elect a Dean, and also to elect and appoint three Clerical Canons.

 In addition a Greater Cathedral Chapter was formed which comprised of the Dean, Archdeacons, Clerical Canons, Diocesan and Cathedral Lay Canons, all under the direction of His Lordship the Bishop.

1951  The blackwood Memorial Panelling in the Sanctuary was dedicated by the Most Reverend Cyril Garbett, Lord Archbishop of York, on 20th November, 1951. Two Sedilia (clergy stalls) were installed. One was  in memory of Archdeacon Blundell (St Paul’s Incumbent 1935-43) in “keen appreciation of the pastoral work and friendship given by him.”

 The Credence Table was added and dedicated in 1951

Canons and Archdeacons Stalls were dedicated in 1956

In 1950 Dean Clarence Barren Alexander commenced his work in Sale. He had the longest incumbency to date: lasting 23 1/2 years. 

A Brass Plaque set in the floor on the east side of the Altar marks the final resting place for the Ashes of the Second Bishop of Gippsland, Bishop George Harvard Cranswick and his wife - Olive Carr Cranswick.

Bishop Cranswick (1881-1954) was Bishop of Gippsland from 1917-1942.

1955 “The Lady Chapel, used by the Bishop for private Confirmations and by ourselves for Communion Services, will seat only about eight persons.”

1957 A brick fence or concrete curbing in front of the Cathedral was discussed.

The Sanctuary Lamp was presented in 1957

1974 Under the leadership of Dean Ray Elliot, the interior of the Cathedral received a face­lift, and considerable work was done in restoring and renovating the Cathedral.

An ambitious program led by Elizabeth Mackenzie to place tapestry kneelers in St. Paul's met with great success. Intricate designs were stitched by parishioners from all Gippsland parishes, and from interstate. 134 formally arrived in October.

1974 -  The Honour Roll was relocated to above the door on the east side, there were repairs and restorations to Sanctuary windows and the south side of Sanctuary arched wall was redecorated.

1975 The Chapter was advised early 1975 that the moving of the Pulpit would be a major task, “very costly and impractical”, but later they were told the Pulpit could be removed. (as has been proved several times!!)

1977 Alterations were made to the entrance, the two old choir vestries near the main door were removed and a new open 'fellowship area' created.

The Chapel was moved (from the Lady Chapel area) to the open area by the front door (south east end). The former chapel area was converted to a small vestry for Clergy robing and sacristy with a partition in the archway on the east of the Sanctuary.

Apparently the font was moved near to the organ/piano for a while before returning to the back corner, but no photos are available. 

The old wooden vestry was again used by the Choir. According to the minutes, in 1977 a partition was to be erected at the north-end including a door. Then April 1978 the dividing partition was to be removed.  Cupboards for choir robes were to be built in.

One row of choir stalls on each side of the chancel were removed to give greater spaciousness to that area.

1978 The Reredos was changed so you could see through part of it.

1977  Restoration works to repair the deteriorating Window behind the Altar by Mr Handel took place.

The Cathedral was painted and recarpeted and new lighting was installed.

1978 -

The initiatives of the mid-70's were continued and built upon by the next Dean, Edward (Ted)Gibson. A great deal of work was done over the next six years in the preparation for the 1984 Centenary:

1979 The Aumbry was added. (Where the reserved sacrament is kept)

1980 Bishop’s throne lowered and seat reupholstered – (back part fully enclosed)

Over the years many alterations were made to the Cathedral PA including in 1973, 1985, 2001 and 2007 (There were many complaints recorded in AGMs about poor sound in the Cathedral!)

1981 The School Foundation Window was added to Lady Chapel - given by old scholars of (St. Anne’s and Gippsland Grammar School)

A stained glass window was installed in the Chapel of the Cathedral in 1984, as a memorial to the ministry of  Dean Alexander and Mrs Dorothy Alexander. A third window was added to the Chapel area in 1993.

1981 In the Year of the Disabled the concrete side ramp to Cathedral was built.

1978-1984  A total of $140,000 was spent on the buildings and surroundings of St. Paul's, Sale, not including stained glass windows. This was made possible by the 'Hagan Bequest' which brought assets of $51,178 to the parish. However, the bequest was not used to pay expenses on these projects; It was used as collateral for money borrowed and repaid for the work done.

The Cathedral roof was repaired ($9,000); Slate tiles were replaced where needed in the main section, the northern smaller area was completely replaced.

The organ restored ($21,000), (see separate organ history notes). It was returned in June1981.

Pews were replaced by the set from St John's, Yallourn and the old ones sold.

The floor was sanded and polished.

From 1978 – 1983 , the remaining eight windows were installed in stained glass and screens provided for the protection of all windows.

The Reredos was removed from behind the altar, displaying the East windows to greater advantage. It went down the rear of the Cathedral for a while, before going to the Side Chapel in 1992.

Panelling was added in the former Reredos area behind the Altar, this was replaced with matching blackwood panelling in 2008.

For better access the Pulpit was moved slightly, and a rich ruby pulpit fall was hung, matching the carpet.

The Altar was moved out from the wall, enabling the Celebrant to stand behind it and face the congregation at Holy Communion.

The Lady Chapel was renovated before the Centenary and restored to its former position in the N. E. corner of the building.

Some rearrangement of furniture took place, and the Bishop's Throne was moved to the Sanctuary.

1982, The long-awaited Vestries were completed and opened in early 1982.

First planned by Dean Alexander in 1972, the erection of the building had been a Cathedral priority for 10 years. Additions included two vestries, parish office and a walkway linking the Chapter House to the Cathedral. Double glass doors leading from the Cathedral to the columbarium and gates on the north end were added.

A columbarium was installed, and now contains the ashes of former parishioners, including those of the late Dean Alexander and his wife Dorothy. 

The Pulpit was once again moved, a door was added in the Cathedral for access to the new vestries and choir stalls moved.

This project cost $42 527.

Dean Gibson also encouraged his Greater Chapter members to use their gifts in improving the Cathedral surroundings. Diocesan Canons and Archdeacons found themselves land­scaping the grounds, manufacturing flower pedestals and writing historical and explanatory material for the Cathedral.(What I have copied!)

1982 The Cathedral was rewired.

A flagpole was erected on the east side of the front of Cathedral. This was replaced in the early 90s with one where the rope was hidden –an attempt to stop the flag being taken. Unfortunately in 2008 vandals bent the actual pole.

1983  Interior lighting was renewed, 10 brass fittings were hung with 4 extra lights surrounding and matching the ‘original central one ($13,000); 50 light globes then needed to be regularly replaced! The globes were replaced with ‘energy savers’ in 2007

1984 The Bishops Name Board and a new Incumbents Name Board were added.

Mr Handel repaired the Window on the Southern side. Vandalism- a  small object, passing through the stained glass window - caused small, but expensive ($1000) damage to the large Window at the Southern End.  A screen was constructed by Lacey's Engineering of Sale, to protect the window in future. Because of the large size of the window the screen was constructed in sections and erected by scaffolding.

1984 A small sanctuary light was installed in the Lady Chapel.

1985 A tapestry was made and hung behind the Altar in the Side Chapel.  

1987 A new Pastoral Staff for the Bishop was dedicated, replacing the Ornate Crosier…A plaque in the Lady Chapel gives more details.

1984 Most side wall stained glass windows were altered so the lowest part could be opened for ventilation.

1989 The Diocesan AWA Rally in October 1989 saw a fitting tribute to the Deaconesses who served so well in our Diocese. Bishop Colin Sheumack dedicated a memorial Cross which hangs in the entrance archway to the Lady Chapel.  

In the early 90’s the arch way had a window behind the cross added and a dark curtain hung. This was replaced with a cream one in 2008 following vandalism where fire extinguishers were let off in the Cathedral and the chemicals ‘ate’ the velvet.

1991  The whole of the inside of the Cathedral was painted for just the cost of the paint.

1992  More changes to rear area of the Cathedral; they thought they had established a permanent position for the baptismal font, but it only stayed there till 2007!        

Finally the underground drainage work in Cunninghame Street was completed and road remodelled and resurfaced. Car parking was added on each side of the road.

1992 The Chapel was refurbished, the Reredos was remodelled and placed behind the Altar. The tapestry was hung on the east wall beside the Organ.

1996 The World War 2 Honour Board was installed.

2001 Children and Family area wooden wall installed.    PA mixer box added to back of Cathedral.

2006-2007 Some blackwood furniture was commissioned and dedicated. This included a new wooden lectern and extension top, processional candle holders, Christ candle stand and a wooden Processional Cross.

2007 The external organ blower motor was replaced with one fitted inside the compartment of the organ.

In readiness for the new hall, the font was moved halfway down the east side, and the southern half of the pews were moved backwards leaving a space for the font and a walkway into the future hall doorway.

The sanctuary was opened up, all choir stalls removed, and the Dean and Precentors Stalls moved next to the wall near the arch

The pulpit was moved against the east wall and the Eagle ‘shortened’.

 2007-8 Major Cathedral Precinct developments.

The new Delbridge Hall beside the Cathedral was built and the Annie Pain Hall converted into a residence. This cost around $900,000.

There were also changes to the interior of the Cathedral.

A new Audio Visual and Public Address system and hearing loop was installed which included a large motorised screen on the wall behind the pulpit.

The Cathedral was painted throughout and new carpet laid.  The wooden floor below the back pews was polished.

A Chancel Holy Table in memory of Bishop Delbridge 6th Bishop of Gippsland, was dedicated.

The Lady Chapel was enlarged, the Chapel Altar and Reredos/Blackwood screen refurbished.

A new sacristy and robing room was added and the windows from the ‘old’ Lady Chapel were relocated.  

The ‘new’ Delbridge hall, new stained glass Feature Window and other items were dedicated on 29th October 2007

The Vestries were changed with a new front entrance area and landscaping still in progress.

2008  Removable communion rails were added to the lowest step in the Chancel, the middle and a credence table for the Chancel Holy Table and three new flower stands crafted from blackwood were made.  The panelling behind the High Altar was replaced with matching Blackwood.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the Gunaikurnai Nation upon whose land we tread
and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging, as well as Elders from other country who live on this Land.

We are Gippsland Anglicans –Committed in Christ, Connecting in Service, Creative in Spirit.

Our parish is committed to ensuring our centres of worship and outreach are safe places for all,
especially children and vulnerable people. 
We have a duty of care to protect all who participate in the life of the church from abuse.
We have zero tolerance for abuse of any kind.
f you are concerned about your own or somebody else’s safety, or have witnessed behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable you can contact the Deputy Director of Professional Standards in the Gippsland Diocese, Julie Reilly Mobile: 0456 572 589   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.