St Paul's Cathedral: the drawings of William Butterfield
The original Architect of St Paul's Cathedral was English gothic revivalist William Butterfield.
Butterfield would not travel to the colony however, and so his drawings, some of them lifesize, contain extremely detailed instructions, for fear that the anitpdoeans might get something wrong.
My name’s Mary Lewis. I spend most of my time cataloguing architectural drawings.
This is a wonderful drawing by William Butterfield of St Paul’s Cathedral. All the drawings for St Paul’s Cathedral had to be sent out from England because Butterfield never visited. He was appointed architect for St Paul’s Cathedral because he was the leading Gothic Revival architect.
But the major problem was that he wasn’t on site and he couldn’t speak to the stonemason site people and so he had to put these very, very detailed instructions all the way along.
“The exact length of the various slate shafts is to be sent to Mr Butterfield as soon as the caps are fixed, in order that the shafts may be ordered and sent out”.
So all sorts of instructions which might have been given verbally, day to day, had to be written down.
Another drawing, which relates to this particular one, which is in very poor condition you can see how thin the paper is. It’s the shafts or the timbers for the roof of the north transept and once again he’s got lots of instructions here, explaining how there are numbers on each piece of timber and that’s going to help the people putting them together…another drawing with a lot of instructions down the middle and references to other drawings.
This is one of the larger drawings by William Butterfield. There are four sheets of paper which have been mounted together to form one whole. Ahm…it’s the east elevation towards Flinders Lane of towers and transepts, but he also did a reduced version. Perhaps it was easier to carry about and use on site but there’s a lot of detail, a lot of trouble has been taken with the drafting of that…and then once again down the centre are many instructions and this time referring to full sized details…full size details of cornice…full size of the mouldings of the arches…full size of different aspects of the building and that brings us to a very interesting feature of the collection, in that we have many full sized drawings of window tracery…for the piers…for different parts of the building.
They’ve been used by the workmen on site and they’ve had rather a hard life. It’s very difficult to unfold them without damaging them so we’re going to send them to our conservation department to unfold them and assess how best to store them.
Butterfield’s relationship with the Melbourne authorities deteriorated and he felt that his instructions and his general intentions were not being carried out to the extent that he finally resigned. The work on the Cathedral was taken over by the firm Reid, Henderson and Smart, Joseph Reid’s firm, and you can see the initials down here R. H. & S. and this is a set of drawings that they did when they’d taken over.
This is a block plan which shows the outline of the building, the Cathedral, on the site…Flinders Street, Swanston Street, Little Flinders Street, now we know it as Flinders Lane. This is a very interesting drawing, one of the set by Reid, Henderson & Smart, because it shows the Butterfield’s original design for the spire and two towers, not three spires, but one spire and two towers. Unfortunately this was not carried out. We also see that there is a little flap that’s been put on here to show an alternative, a little pencil sketch showing an alternative design. And these are more of Reid, Henderson & Smarts set of drawings.
This drawing is stamped Central Board of Health and is dated 1888 and it’s a section through the central part of the building and once again you can see the detail and the specific saddleback towers which were never built. This is a very beautiful rendering of the design for the organ which was sent out from the firm Lyon, Wills and Cottier from London…and this is a very beautifully drafted drawing with lots of interesting detail for decoration of the organ. And another drawing signed Reid, Henderson & Smart, 1885…Rose Window in the South Transept.