St Patrick’s Cathedral

On the corner of Albert St and Gisborne St, in East Melbourne, stands one of Melbourne’s grandest churches: the beautiful St Patrick’s Cathedral. This monumental Gothic style Cathedral is a stunning venue for weddings, perfect for couples who desire a traditional Catholic wedding ceremony. Its rich history has earned St Patrick’s a place in Melbourne’s heart. Situated on the fringe of the city grid, close enough to the centre of Melbourne to be a powerful presence, and breathe with a life of its own. Located just a stones throw away from the CBD, St Patrick’s is an inspiring and accommodating location for classic ceremonies. At Serendipity we love the stunning architecture of the cathedral’s exterior. The combination of features such as the carved bluestone walls, large arched windows and spires spanning almost 80 metres, add up to an exceptionally elegant backdrop for wedding day photography. As the bridal party make their way across the front grounds, through the wrought iron gates, and under the soft dappled light of the grand trees, the majestic ambience of the Cathedral will be felt even before you are greeted by the interior. The austere façade gives little hint of the glorious interior with its ethereal golden light of mesmerising beauty.

Inside the cathedral, details such as the exquisite marble floors, hand painted stained glass windows, and selection of historic chapels, offer an overall feeling of harmony and sacredness during service. St Patrick’s which can hold up to 2000 guests, is a wonderful choice for grand scale weddings.

At Serendipity Photography we love the spacious interior of St Patrick’s, whilst atmospheric and regal from the outset, inside the light is natural and ethereal, simply perfection from a photographic perspective. The high ceilings, an abundance of beautiful chapels (for intimately peaceful vignettes) and the way the afternoon light falls through the stained glass windows, means there is much to marvel at with these historic walls. The beauty of St Patrick’s is that the rich history, and gorgeous aesthetic details are not overpowering or boastful, rather they operate as a subtle grounding on your special day. From the exchange of vows, to the couple’s exiting the Cathedral under showers of rose petals and confetti, the photographers at Serendipity will capture each moment expertly. The austere beauty and elegant sophistication of this church is the perfect complement for a truly memorable wedding day. Overlooking Melbourne’s bustling city grid, St. Patrick’s is both a living monument to the faith and generosity of Melbourne Catholics in the boom and bust years of the 19th century, as well as a place of catholic worship, prayer and reflection in today’s busy world. The Cathedral’s proximity to a range of picturesque gardens, gorgeous reception centres and other interesting locations help to make your day truly memorable.

History of St Patrick’s 

The history of this grand Cathedral tells us much about the State’s birth and growth. St Patrick’s dates back to the mid 19th century, where plans were first laid to erect an expansive place of worship. In 1848, the Augustinian friar James Goold was appointed the first bishop of Melbourne, and became the fourth bishop in Australia, after Sydney, Hobart and Adelaide. Negotiations with the colonial government for the grant of five acres of land for a church in the Eastern Hill area began in 1848. On 1 April 1851, only 16 years after the foundation of Melbourne, the Colonial Secretary of Victoria finally granted the site to the Roman Catholic Church. This impressive structure was designed by prominent architect of the time William Wardell. It was the Wardell’s intention that the cathedral should be erected in two stages: the nave and its aisles as soon as possible, with work then proceeding on the realisation of the remainder of the building. Consequently, and in keeping with medieval tradition, there is a change in style between the two clearly defined construction projects. The nave is in the architectural style known as “Early English”, whilst the rest of the building is in that known as “Geometric Decorated” of some two centuries later in the development of Gothic style architecture.

Although plans were conceived for this grand cathedral quite early in Melbourne’s history, the project was delayed when the 1851 Victorian Gold Rush rendered a shortage of labour. Thus, the foundation stone was not laid until 1858. At Serendipity we think it was well worth the wait! Wardell’s vision meant the cathedral was designed in the Gothic style of early Fourteenth Century, based on the great mediæval cathedrals of England, a style at the height of its popularity in the mid 19th century. In every detail, the fabric of St Patrick’s Cathedral conforms with the true principles of Gothic-style architecture and with the standards and interpretation of the masters of the Gothic Revival movement. It has been constructed, rather than built, with attention to its axis and surroundings. Decoration is never for its own sake, but serves as an enrichment of the whole structure, allowing the overall proportions of the interior and exterior to harmonise. The interior ordering and symbolism reflect the mature thinking of one who knew the great works of the Middle Ages, particularly in England, who had read the medieval text books, who had seen the best of the Gothic-Revival in Europe, and who was an acknowledged master in adapting the so-called “true style” or “Christian architecture” to meet the requirements of the age in which he lived.

The first Mass was celebrated on the site in February 1858 in a former partially completed church, some of which was incorporated into the south aisle of the present building. By 1868, the completed nave of the Cathedral first served the needs of the community for regular worship and prayer, and has been a sought after venue for wedding ceremonies since this time.

St Patrick’s Cathedral is one of a handful of Australian buildings of truly world significance. It is one of the greatest buildings erected by the exponents of the Gothic-Revival style. The Melbourne Cathedral is also the largest Church to have been commenced and brought to substantial completion anywhere in the world in the 19th century. These bare details are not only statements of fact, but serve to place the building in its proper context, as a monument to those who projected it, to those who in faith financed it, to Wardell who designed it, and to the builders and craftsmen who erected it.

Melbourne is home to some of Australia’s grandest churches and it’s always a pleasure for us to work in these amazing locations.

Serendipity Photography St Patrick's Cathedral



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