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Report - - Christchurch Cathedral, Christchurch - November 2014 | Other Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Christchurch Cathedral, Christchurch - November 2014


WildBoyz

Is this the future?
28DL Full Member
Christchurch cathedral, a Category I Historic Place, was constructed between 1864 and 1904, and its gothic revival design style is loosely based on Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford (formerly St. Fridewide’s Priory which was itself originally erected between 1160 and 1200). Plans to build Christchurch cathedral date back to 1850 when the Canterbury Association elected to build a city in the Canterbury region. The city was to be formed around the cathedral with the intention that it would stand as the heart of the area, projecting a magnificent and imposing presence. By 1858 the large project had been approved by the diocese and British architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott (the man who also built St. Pancras Station in London and St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh), was commissioned to design the structure. Although Scott created the outline himself, he never visited Christchurch; plans were instead handed to Robert Speechly who was sent there on Scott’s behalf, to oversee construction and progress.

The first cornerstone was laid on 16th December 1864, however, financial and societal difficulties stalled progress and very little work on the structure continued between 1865 and 1873. During this time Christchurch’s population was still in its infancy, and it is rumoured that there were fewer than 500 males in the area. Though, somewhat disproportionately, the female populace was markedly higher. Unsurprisingly, the towns combined wealth was infinitesimal and although donations were offered to support ongoing development, the resources collected were not enough. Towards the end of 1872 many local residents and visitors deemed the cathedral a failure and disenchantment was rife. In 1873, however, a new architect emerged named Benjamin Mountfort, who arrived in New Zealand via the Charlotte Jane – one of the First Four Ships – and he assumed control over construction of the cathedral. From the offset, Mountfort adapted Scott’s original plans and included his own intricate designs by adding decorative features, a porch area and tower balconies. Mountfort also abandoned initial plans to build the cathedral using locally sourced timber, and alternatively found large quantities of good quality stone which was also obtained locally; plans to construct the roof using timber remained unchanged. By 1st November 1881 the 30 metre long nave and the tower were fully completed; the chancel, sanctuary and transepts were not finished until 1904. As with most cathedrals and churches, the tower was modified over subsequent years to include a large spire and bells as various families – generally ones with close ties to parliament – donated the necessary assets. After it was completed the spire was measured to be 63 metres in total length, making it significantly longer than the nave. Various other porches and stained glass windows were added over the years, most as memorials for those of wealthier backgrounds who had passed away. The final major renovation occurred in 2006, when the original roof slates were entirely replaced.

In 2011, on 22nd February, Christchurch cathedral was hit by the 6.3 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks that were felt by many across New Zealand, destroying the tower almost completely; only the lower section remained standing. Initially most of the cathedral remained intact, as the tower debris only desecrated the gable of the west front and part of the roof over the western section of the north aisle. It was rumoured that 20 people were inside the tower at the time of collapse, however, extensive search and rescue efforts found no bodies. Over successive weeks closer inspections revealed that the foundation pillars had also been weakened substantially and doubts over the cathedrals future began to surface. A second earthquake in June of the same year caused further damage as a number of the stained glass windows collapsed; falling into the cathedral itself. This second earthquake also caused a large steel support structure to push through the west wall, completely destroying the top section and a large proportion of the roof. Discussions regarding the buildings future continued and the site was deconsecrated. In December 2011 a third succession of earthquakes hit the building once again, causing a number of already damaged windows to shatter completely. Interestingly, Christchurch Cathedral has endured a number of earthquakes over the years: 1881 – stones were dislodged from the roof; 1888 – stonework fell from the spire; 1901 – the entire top of the spire collapsed compelling builders to use more resilient materials to construct a new one; 1922 – a stone cross fell from the roof; 2010 – inconsequential damaged was caused to parts of the structure and it was closed briefly for thorough inspections.

By 2012 decisions to save or demolish the cathedral proved conclusive and, for the most part, many turned in favour of demolishing the structure. The tower was destroyed later that year by demolition crews. Further destruction of the site has however ceased due to protests and consequential court hearings; despite these efforts though, and a $43 million insurance pay-out, it would seem that even the bishop is in favour of demolition and redevelopment of a new cathedral. In the meantime a temporary cathedral (The Cardboard Cathedral) has been constructed using cardboard tubes, timber and steel, and this has since functioned as a replacement. Many people and groups have endeavoured to save the cathedral including: the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the Restore Christchurch Cathedral group, the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering and even the Wizard of New Zealand.

Having underestimated how much destruction there actually is in Christchurch, we found that there was still a lot to explore. Therefore, that is exactly what we did, and Christchurch cathedral (the main one) was top of the list – the other cathedral can be found here: http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/showthread.php/91793-The-Cathedral-of-the-Blessed-Sacrament-Christchurch-August-2014?highlight.

Anyway, back to the story. Upon arrival the city centre was absolutely heaving, with various bits of entertainment and Christmas themed events occurring across the main square; I even bumped into the Wizard of New Zealand strolling down the tramline. What happened to the chaos and destruction we witnessed last time? As tempted as we were to slip inside there and then, we decided to wait until things calmed down a little – we didn’t want to ruin our chances of getting some snaps after all. It would seem that the cathedral itself has also become something of a tourist attraction with many people flocking into the city to snap a shot from one of the viewing gates/platforms. In my head, it seemed to make sense not to end up in one of their photographs; I didn’t want to end up in a Chinese photo album (I’m not stereotyping, merely presenting the facts). And so, we waited… And we waited some more… Then a little while longer. Eventually we explored something else and didn’t return until the next day, and yet, when we came back it was still busy, with tourists! Somehow, though, despite the swarms of ‘city snappers’ armed with their Nikon DSLR’s around their necks, the several waiting taxis, visitor buses transporting people to the surrounding hotels (the Novotel seems popular), the police booth on the corner, a wizard with powerful magic and construction workers, we managed to get inside. I’d like to say we were undetected, but seconds before I was about to make my move one Maori guy asked me what I was doing, and who the other guy was disappearing into the cathedral grounds. I simply said that I was loitering… alone, and he must have imagined seeing a random guy run around inside the cathedral grounds, because I was after all only loitering... alone. After a pleasant chat and a bit of friendly banter he continued on his way, and I on mine, and eventually I was in.

Compared to the city’s other cathedral, this one immediately presented itself as being far more ravaged, with a gaping hole in the roof and a good inch or more of pigeon shit over the floor. As my eyes adjusted though, and I looked beyond those minor inconveniences the cathedral unveiled its impressive scale and the details inside became much more obvious. Moreover, while the nave appears unstable and chaotic in certain places, there are many other rooms and towers to explore, all of which haven’t been touched very much since the cathedral was abandoned in 2011. For the most part, the structure is generally sound and you can walk around without fear of being crushed to death. It is only towards the west side, with the large rusting scaffold structure, where the building seems hazardous. I’d like to say it’s nothing a bit of gaffa tape won’t fix, but the problem is very real indeed and you can really understand the predicament everyone faces: to rebuild, or not to rebuild, that is the question, and it’s one I certainly couldn’t answer anytime soon. It is a fantastic example of an elaborate cathedral and the inside is striking, together with all of its intricate detail, and as much as I would like to deny that it won’t exist forever, I think that when faced with reality the less favourable outcome should be expected. I would like to continue to describe every detail and the rest of the experience, especially since I had a camera battery crisis inside and came out with fewer photographs than I would have liked, but I’ll allow you to continue on to the bit I know you all came for. I hope you enjoy.

Explored with Urbex Central NZ; Nillskill.

1: Christchurch City Cathedral

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2: Christchurch City Cathedral in 2014

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3: Christchurch Cathedral - West Side

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4: Inside the Nave

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5: The Altar

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6: Black Piano (Works Like a Dream)

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7: The Nave - Looking Towards the Main Damage

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8: Office Rooms

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9: Tomb by the Door

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10: Seating Near the Altar

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11: VIP Seating

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12: The Alter (Closeup)

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13: The West End of the Nave

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14: Structural Damage

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15: Looking Out to Where the Tower Used to Exist

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16: Side Entrance

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17: The Steel Support that Knocked the Cathedral Down

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18: Broken Tablet (Before they went Electronic)

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19: Original Funding Sign (For the Chairs)

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20: The West End

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21: The Cathedral Organ

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22: The Pulpit

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23: Broken Roof Beams

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24: Wall Memorials

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25: The Stone Tomb by the Door

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26: Fiddling with the Torch by the Piano

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27: Books in the Bishops Room

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28: Book and Wine Room

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29: Inside the Small Tower

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30: The Staircase Inside the Small Tower

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slayaaaa

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Re: Christchurch Cathedral - Christchurch - November 2014

Nice one, interesting to see all the stuff from Christchurch. Nice pics, thanks for sharing. :thumb
 

The_Raw

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Re: Christchurch Cathedral - Christchurch - November 2014

Excellent stuff, it's a sad state of affairs but definitely makes for a good report and something again that hasn't been shown on here before. Nice one :thumb
 

Wevsky

A Predisposed Tourist
Regular User
Re: Christchurch Cathedral - Christchurch - November 2014

got some good shots there mate,but im going to have to say it,each shot i find myself looking for the watermark and where its placed first..it is rather large mate
 

The Amateur Wanderer

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Re: Christchurch Cathedral - Christchurch - November 2014

Awesome mate, shame to see the building in such a state, but some top pics as usual! :thumb
 

WildBoyz

Is this the future?
28DL Full Member
Re: Christchurch Cathedral - Christchurch - November 2014

Excellent stuff, it's a sad state of affairs but definitely makes for a good report and something again that hasn't been shown on here before. Nice one :thumb
I agree mate. In my opinion it could have been saved if they'd acted earlier. Three years on though, and lack of care with the scaff they put up... It's a state. Still not too bad inside though. Most of it is sound.
 

WildBoyz

Is this the future?
28DL Full Member
Re: Christchurch Cathedral - Christchurch - November 2014

got some good shots there mate,but im going to have to say it,each shot i find myself looking for the watermark and where its placed first..it is rather large mate
Cheers :) Yeah, I see what you mean. I will fix that for my next report. Cheers for the feedback.
 

kiwitams

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Re: Christchurch Cathedral - Christchurch - November 2014

Thank you so much for sharing these photos. As someone who lives in Christchurch and sees the damage, this is a fascinating look into something we can't see. I can't believe the state they've let it get to. Thank you again.
 

captainweird

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Re: Christchurch Cathedral - Christchurch - November 2014

Like the pictures, shame they took so long to do anything. My local travel agent was in Christchurch when the 'quake happened and described to me in scary detail what it was like!

Phil
 

WildBoyz

Is this the future?
28DL Full Member
Re: Christchurch Cathedral - Christchurch - November 2014

Like the pictures, shame they took so long to do anything. My local travel agent was in Christchurch when the 'quake happened and described to me in scary detail what it was like!

Phil
Cheers :thumb Yeah, I've spoken to quite a few people who were there when it happened, they all said it was surreal. One guy survived because he stepped into subway just as a massive chunk of building landed where he'd been stood moments before apparently; although I'm not sure how exaggerated his story was.
 

WildBoyz

Is this the future?
28DL Full Member
Re: Christchurch Cathedral - Christchurch - November 2014

Thank you so much for sharing these photos. As someone who lives in Christchurch and sees the damage, this is a fascinating look into something we can't see. I can't believe the state they've let it get to. Thank you again.
Not a problem, glad you've finally seen what is inside. It's a shame, it was a fine building (and still is for the most part).
 

ACID- REFLUX

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Re: Christchurch Cathedral - Christchurch - November 2014

Nice ones matey as usual :thumb

Slightly better than the Church in Denholme though :)

You must be on more NZ CCTV footage :)

Always brings questions to mind for me. if the quake was an act of God ? If so when did he destroy so many Religious buildings ?? had someone being naughty :eek: or does it prove there's no really no God at all ? .......and I was right all along damn it lol
 

WildBoyz

Is this the future?
28DL Full Member
Re: Christchurch Cathedral - Christchurch - November 2014

Nice ones matey as usual :thumb

Slightly better than the Church in Denholme though :)

You must be on more NZ CCTV footage :)

Always brings questions to mind for me. if the quake was an act of God ? If so when did he destroy so many Religious buildings ?? had someone being naughty :eek: or does it prove there's no really no God at all ? .......and I was right all along damn it lol
Made it as far as the news mate :P The church branded us 'idiots'. The feeling is mutual mind, considering they believe that a little man (who no-one has seen by the way) created a world in 7 days. Or was it 6 and he had a beer on the 7th? The majority of Christchurch's holy buildings were destroyed; both cathedrals included.
 

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