JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – St Mary’s Cathedral and Hall. 


The original design was for a church with a hall beside it. The design is described in a booklet by Margaret Barker as

…a hall in the Gothic style with pinnacles and finials…

together with

…a magnificent Gothic parish church with a spire on the northern side…

to stand next to the hall. The hall has aisle passages and narrow galleries in recessed arcades each side, with a large gallery at the west end, and under which were accommodated offices, cloakrooms and more. There were galleries also to house an organ (on the north side) and choir opposite. The elliptical barrel roof was apparently found to be excellent from the point of view of acoustics. There was clearly an ecclesiastical feel to the design of this building, which was in fact used for public worship pending the construction of the church.

When the hall was built it was by no means paid for, and as well as needing to raise money for the intended church, the congregation had to find the cash for the rebuilding of two other churches, buying a vicarage for one of them, finding a home for a religious community, their school, and a training college!

In 1911 Johannesburg became the centre of a new diocese and St. Mary’s was to become the cathedral. However, the rector, who was also the Archdeacon, wanted the hall to be paid for before any further schemes were looked into. He made the suggestion that Fellowes Prynne’s design for the church was not acceptable, and that a simpler building be envisaged. The new cathedral, whose eventual design does seem to reflect some of Fellowes Prynne’s ideas, was dedicated in 1927. St. Mary’s Hall, however, became too expensive to run and, regrettably, it was demolished in 1933.

The illustrations are from the journal Academy Architecture and Architectural Review  (1906 vol. I).