Christ Church Cathedral Grafton Conservation Project
The foundation stone for the Cathedral was laid in June 1874. In May 1878 John Horbury Hunt was commissioned to execute detailed designs for the superstructure. Foundations were laid for four bays of the nave the chancel and side chapel and the north and south vestry transepts in 1880. The first stage of the Cathedral opened in 1884. The second stage—the nave, western portal and baptistry—was completed to Hunt’s design in 1937. The proposed belltower and spire were never completed due to lack of funds. The Cathedral is constructed with hand-made bricks from 100 different moulds laid in old English style. The clay for both stages was sourced from the same local pit and this local clay in part contributes to the tendency to absorb water.
As one looks at the Cathedral building a considerable amount of water damage to the timber structures and brickwork and evidence of leached salt staining the interior brickwork will be seen. Water damage outside is very evident in the powdering and disintegration of bricks in various parts of the building. The Cathedral is listed on the State Heritage Register (No. 01654) so no repairs can be carried out without approval from the Office of Heritage and Environment and considering the magnitude of the work required, the Cathedral Parish is unable to carry out these repairs without considerable financial help.
The Cathedral Chapter had been aware of issues with water penetration into the brickwork and roofs of the Cathedral which is causing staining and fretting of the brickwork. Chapter commissioned a report to consider the problems and suggest solutions to the issues. In 2012 our Heritage Architect, John Oultram, prepared a repair schedule which was used initially in the preparation of a grant application to the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage.
Stage 1: The Baptistry
With the assistance of a Grant for Major Works (2017-2018 WRK2017067) Stage 1 of the repairs was completed in late 2018. The total cost of this work was in excess of $90,000, with the grant providing $45,000.
The scope of works involved removing the Welsh Penryn grey slate tiles and replacing them with new Penryn slate, removing and replacing ridge capping, flashings to the brickwork, redesigning the copper guttering and providing new copper guttering and downpipes to match the heritage profiles.
In the course of these repairs, water-damaged timber under the tiles and the timber roof structure was replaced. When the brickwork is fully dry out, the interior bricks will be cleaned to remove the evidence of salt staining.
A small number of severely damaged bricks were removed one at a time on the outside of the Baptistry area, turned around and reset them in using traditional mortar.