A FRUITFUL COMMISSION
When Bishop Turner, the second Bishop of Grafton and Armidale, arrived in Sydney in 1869 he met the Canadian-born architect John Horbury Hunt. The Bishop had served four years in the office of a leading London architect. He was impressed with Horbury Hunt the man and with examples of his work. So when by 1872 the Parish of Armidale envisaged a Cathedral to replace the Church of St Peter, built in 1850, the Bishop offered the commission to Hunt, who travelled to Armidale and in collaboration with the Bishop drew up plans and specifications for the building.
Both men agreed on the major features of the Cathedral, which was constructed of brick rather than stone. The ‘Armidale Blue’ bricks used were fashioned from clay from a pit on Saumarez homestead and tinted with their distinctive colour, many being made in the Church precinct. Granite was hauled by bullock-dray from Uralla for the foundations, which were allowed to settle for 18 months before the superstructure was built. The Cathedral was dedicated in 1875. Hunt also built a separate bell-cote, to house the calling-bell, ‘Maud’. This was demolished in 1936 when the bell-tower was being built. In 1891 Hunt was commissioned by the Bishop to build a new parsonage, the present Deanery.
Bishop Turner’s successor, Bishop Green, commissioned John Horbury Hunt to build St John’s Theological College in 1898, across Uralla Road from New England Girls’ (NEGS’) School, which had been built by William Henderson Lee in 1895. The College building now houses NEGS’ St John’s Junior School.