Arms of the Cathedral of St Michael and St George Anglican Compass Rose

Cathedral of St Michael and St George


Stained Glass Windows of the Grahamstown Cathedral

Clerestory windows in the chancel of the Catehdral

Like most cathedrals across the world, Grahamstown Cathedral has grown out of a much simpler building over a long period of time. The surveyor who laid out the original plan for Graham's Town in 1814, identified the site as being "a very convenient site for a church", but it was not until the arrival of the 1820 Settlers that the Governor, Lord Charles Somerset, sought support from the British Secretary of State for War, Lord Bathurst, for "a British Population of upwards of 3 000 persons (including the Military) totally destitute of any place of worship whatsoever." The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (S.P.G.) and the colonial treasury found the £4,404 15s required to pay for the construction. Plans were drawn by W. Jones of Cape Town, building began in 1824 and St George's Church opened in 1830. At that time, South Africa was served by the Bishop of Calcutta, hence there were no cathedrals in the growing colony. Robert Gray, the first Bishop of Cape Town, whose wife played a major role in designing churches, visited Grahamstown in October 1848, observing, "Church well situated, but miserable in point of architecture." John Armstrong, the first Bishop of Grahamstown described the exterior of the church as "plain and uninteresting in the extreme ... I do trust I may be spared to see a better and worthier structure reared as our cathedral." The establishment of the Diocese of Grahamstown coincided with the Gothic Revival which dominated church architecture for the rest of the century. Sir Gilbert Scott, succeeded by his son John, designed the new Cathedral. To ensure that the lighting in the building conformed to that in English cathedrals, the Gothic windows were made slightly narrower than normal. The spire, for many years the tallest building in the country, was completed in 1879 and, once a major dispute between the Dean and the Bishop was settled, the Cathedral was dedicated to St Michael and St George. The building was completed in its present form in 1952 and extensive repairs to the exterior undertaken in 1986. The stained glass windows are priceless, though valued at R20m. Most have been in position for well over 100 years and their leading has eroded, making them unstable and in need of continuing restoration. Please see details of the 2008 restoration appeal.

West Window

Depicts
The Ascension of Our Lord
Made by
Messrs Clayton and Bell of Newcastle, England
In memory of
Dean William's mother

West End of North Aisle

Depicts
Our Lord and His disciples at the Sea of Galilee
Made by
Messrs Buckeridge and Floyce of London
In memory of
Revd Charles Frederick Overton, Incumbent of St George's after the death of Dean Williams

Above the Lady Chapel Porch

Depicts
The Annunciation
Made by
Messrs James Powell of Whitechapel, London
Given by
The women of the Diocese of Grahamstown

Three Circular Windows

Depicts
The Holy Innocents, the Epiphany and Christus Rex
Made by
Messrs James Powell of Whitechapel, London
In memory of
Edwin Noel Deurden, infant son of Prof. J.E. and Mrs Deurden

Above the Door in the North Aisle

Depicts
The adoration of the shepherds
Made by
Messrs James Powell of Whitechapel, London
In memory of
Henry Reade Woodrooffe

Above the Door to the Chapter House

Depicts
The Epiphany of Our Lord
Made by
Messrs James Powell of Whitechapel, London
In memory of
Robert John Mullins

Clerestory Windows in the Chancel

Depicts
The worhip of heaven. All round the choir may be seen members of the heavenly orchestra. Two-light windows in the sanctuary show the four archangels, Raphael, Uriel, Michael and Gabriel
Made by
Messrs Charles Powell of London
Given by
the person whose names are recorded on the brass plaques below each window

The Great East Window

Depicts
Christ reigning in the midst of His Church. Above and below him are the worshipping angels. At the foot stands St George. In the two middle lights beginning at the top are St Peter with keys and St Paul with a sword, beneath them is St Stephen with a stone representing the diaconate; a priest an archbishop and a bishop. In the outside lights are the Blessed Virgin and St Mary Magdelene and beneath them Moses and St John the Baptist. The words on the scrolls running through the windows are those of the Te Deum
Made by
Messrs Charles Powell of London
In memory of
Revd John Heavyside, Colonial Chaplain; presented by his daughter

South Aisle

The windows as we see them were inserted by Revd Heavyside in the 1850s (restored in the 1980s, and in need of further restoration); these windows were considered to have a papistical appearance when they were put in

West End of South Aisle

Depicts
The Annunciation with figures of David and St Cecilia in the lower panels
Made by
Messrs Charles Powell of London
In memory of
Dr F.A. Saunders' first wife presented by Dr Saunders in 1893

Selected Images from the Great East Window

Some examples of the Cathedral's stained glass windows are shown below.

Christ reigning in the midst of His Church

Angels

Angel

St Peter

St Paul

Moses

St John the Baptist

Bishop

Priest

The Blessed Virgin Mary

St Mary Magdalene

Window Above the Door to the Chapter House

The Epiphany of Our Lord

The Epiphany of Our Lord - detail

Three Circular Windows

The Epiphany

The Holy Innocents

Christus Rex

Our Lord and His disciples at the Sea of Galilee

The Annunciation

A magazine article on the Cathedral stained glass windows written by Graeme Lund is available as a pdf document