The Iconic: The Cathedral
Whether you’re pro-restoration or keen to see something new up in its place, it’s hard to go past the currently deconsecrated church when handing out awards for the city’s most prominent landmark, well known building, and most enduring symbol.
Knocked up over forty years (40!) between 1864 and 1904, it was the initial brainchild of the earnest colonial gentlemen of the Canterbury Association, and designed by the prolific British architect George Gilbert Scott (who, letting his drawings do the talking, never actually set foot in the city). Local legend Benjamin Mountfort also did some tinkering when he began supervising the project in 1873. Earthquakes are nothing new for the building – they took multiple damaging swings at it in 1881, 1888, 1901, 1922 and of course, September 2010, and although the building lost the top of its steeple a couple of times, it soldiered on as a symbol of the city’s English/Anglican heritage, postcard darling and important place of worship, all the while drawing countless thousands of visitors as a crown jewel in the city’s collection of Gothic revival architecture.
It may be looking a bit worse for wear these days, but it’s no less of an icon, although of a new sort; seeing the still-strange sight of birds flying straight into it where the front wall once stood is an instant visual reminder of the moment that divides the ‘New Christchurch’ from the old. Here’s hoping the city can soon find a collective solution to the building’s current state and treats this most Christchurch-y (it’s even in the name!) of symbols with the dignity it deserves.