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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:

Date of Construction:

Address :
Cathedral of Christ Church (aka Lisburn Cathedral) 24 Castle Street **See General Comments**


Survey 2:

Date of Listing:

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:

Former Use

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
J2687 6431

Owner Category

Church - RC

Exterior Description And Setting

Free-standing rubble stone and ashlar tower and hall gothic Cathedral, built c.1710. Rectangular on plan, set on an east-west axis with five-stage entrance/belfry tower and spire to west, set within its own grounds behind the terraced buildings of Bridge Street to south, Castle Street to north, with Castle Gardens to the east and opening onto Market Square to the west via tall iron gates and railing. Spire added 1804 and east chancel added 1888. Currently undergoing the first stage of a major restoration project. Pitched natural slate roof, black clay ridge tiles and stone coping to front and rear gables with kneeler stones. Moulded coping stone to east chancel gable with decorative apex stone and gablet to kneeler stone with trefoil panel. Replacement metal rainwater goods to sandstone eaves course on iron drive through brackets, those to chancel on concave moulded sandstone eaves course. Random uncoursed basalt walling to nave and tower with limestone ashlar quoins, chamfered sandstone to projecting rubble plinth course and plain chamfer string course above. Cementitious strap pointing throughout. Double-height basalt buttresses flank window openings to the nave (added c.1890) with sandstone quoins and off-sets. Double-height pointed-arched window openings, formed in sandstone, three to north and four to south, with squared stone voussoirs above hood moulding with decorative label stops and redbrick relieving arch above. Window openings contain paired cusped stone frames with diminutive paired cusped lights above, chamfered sill and surround with some leaded and stained glass glazing fronted with storm glazing. West gable to hall abutted by five-stage rubblestone tower on square plan with octagonal based limestone ashlar spire and four corner pinnacles. Tapered octagonal spire surmounted by copper sphere and weather vane having diminutive lucarnes on two levels with quatrefoil apertures below, to four sides. Deep torus mouldings to base of spire rising from the square-plan tower with a four-sided limestone ashlar pinnacle on pedestal to each corner. Deep moulded stone cornice to all four sides of tower with the walls slightly stepped out at each stage. Pointed-arched stone openings to the upper belfry stage with Y-tracery and timber louvres. Iron clock face to the west elevation of the next stage, with a small round-headed louvred opening to the north and south elevations. A single round-headed window opening to the front elevation of next stage with chamfered limestone surround and figurative label stops to hood moulding and Y-tracery triple-light window with quarry glazing. Pointed-arched door opening to the west elevation formed in carved sandstone with clustered colonettes and compound mouldings containing replacement hardwood gothic-panelled doors and over-panel, opening onto stone flagged area with pair of wrought-iron bootscrapers. Similar pointed-arched door opening to the south side elevation formed in painted render with double chamfered surround and doors as per front elevation. North side elevation is lit by three windows with the two central windows separated by a pedimented Ionic stone tomb, with three buttresses to the wall. Single-storey rubblestone vestry abuts the left bay of the nave with an additional concrete block toilet block attached to the east. East gable abutted by slightly lower gabled chancel, built in rock-faced basalt, uncoursed with fine joints and two double-height buttresses to each side. Large pointed-arched east window with moulded sandstone surround and hood moulding with figurative label stops. Five cusped lights occupy the large geometric tracery window with the continuous string course dropping to accommodate the window. South side elevation to chancel has a single window opening, while the nave has four windows each divided by a buttress. Occupying a slightly raised site to the east of Market Square, the church is positioned behind the terraced buildings of Castle Street and Bridge Street with several stone box-tombs and upstanding grave-markers. Bitmac footpath encircles church with elevated front area opening onto five concrete steps and enclosed to Market Square by tall decorative cast-iron gates and railings to a pair of stone ashlar piers abutting the gable of a terraced building to either side. Roof Natural slate RWG Replacement metal Walling Uncoursed basalt Windows Pointed-arch sandstone


Not Known

Historical Information

The cathedral dates from 1708, with a tower of 1804 and chancel added in 1888. In 1608, Sir Fulke Conway was granted the territory in and around Lisburn and built a church on the site of the present cathedral, the foundation of which was laid in 1623. This church probably functioned as a private chapel to Lisburn Castle and was destroyed by rebels in 1641. It was rebuilt shortly afterwards and in 1662, Lisburn was granted a royal charter by Charles II as a reward for the town’s loyalty during the rebellion. This constituted the church as a cathedral for the dioceses of Down and Connor. (Carmody, Christ Church Cathedral) The cathedral was again destroyed in the fire which consumed the whole town in 1707, although some of the tower structure survived. The decision was made to rebuild the church immediately and on 20th August 1708 the foundations of the new cathedral were laid. Construction continued for several years and was still in progress in 1714. The vestry was added in 1728. The cathedral clock dates from 1796 and it and the bell tower were presented by the Marquis of Hertford, the local landowner. The robing bell was recast in 1746, the two small clock bells cast in 1796 and the large tolling bell or curfew bell recast in Dublin in 1861. The organ, built in 1790, was also presented by the Marquis of Hertford and was moved to its present location in 1834. The present spire was added to the tower between 1804 and 1807, the contractor being David McBlain of Limavady, the son of the builder of the spire of Hillsborough Parish Church. The cost was £1300. (Christ Church Cathedral, Carmody) A gallery was added in 1824 and the original pews remain. The building appears captioned ‘Church’ on the first edition OS map of 1833. However, by the third edition of 1900 it is captioned ‘Cathedral’. The Townland Valuation of 1828-40 lists the ‘established church and schoolhouse’ valued at £44. Dimensions are given for a church, tower, vestry and store. By Griffith’s Valuation of 1856-64 a small chancel has been added to the church of dimensions 7ydsx3ydsx2? storeys. It was designed by William Farrell in 1841 and drawings are in the Representative Church Body Library. However, this chancel appears to have been replaced by a much larger structure in 1888. (Christ Church Cathedral, Carmody) The valuation town plan of 1877 to c1898 shows the chancel drawn onto the plan of the cathedral and it is announced in the Irish Builder of 1888 but without naming an architect. Sir Richard Wallace donated £500 towards the building fund. Further work carried out as this time included buttresses to support the nave and the replacement of the east wall by a gothic arch. Windows were dedicated in memory of Sir Richard Wallace and the Bishops and Rectors and a parochial hall completed. The works continued in the 1890s, choir stalls were located in the chancel and a stone pulpit positioned at the foot of the chancel steps. In 1893 Jones & Willis supplied an oak bishop’s throne in late decorated style, announced in the Irish Builder of that year. (Christ Church Cathedral, Carmody) Further renovations took place in the early 1920s and the nave and chancel were retiled. In 1925 the Irish Builder announced, “The Lord Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore dedicated, on April 26th, the west entrance to Lisburn Cathedral. For many years there was only a narrow passage at this point, and the building was hidden from the street by the surrounding houses. One of these was purchased by the Cathedral authorities and demolished, leaving space for a proper entrance, which has now been made. The old gates, originally erected in 1795, have been renovated and placed in position, along with railings, pilasters, and lamps of a corresponding design...steps have been made leading from the gates up to the door of the building.” After the second world war, in 1950, the east window was presented by Sir John Milne Barbour in memory of his wife Eliza Barbour and his son John Milne Barbour who died in an aviation accident in 1937. (Christ Church Cathedral, Carmody) In 1990 the choir seating was moved from the chancel to a raised area below the pulpit. The communion rail was extended and marble chancel steps were installed. The stone pulpit was replaced. (Christ Church Cathedral, Carmody) The cathedral gates, which had been removed, were again replaced in 2003 and the clock chimes restored. During 2006 the vestry was refurbished and the cathedral was fitted with floodlighting. (Kelly, p.64) Some notable sculptors are associated with memorial tablets in the church. Edward Smyth of Dublin completed the memorial to Lt William Dobbs in 1780 and John Henry Foley, the monument to John Nicholson in 1861. ( At the time of writing a major refurbishment and restoration project has begun. It is intended to repair the spire, replace the weather vane, repoint the stone work, repair the east window and partially replace the roof. Internal renovations will include improvements in sound, vision and lighting and redecoration. (Ulster Star 21st May 2010) References: Primary Sources 1. PRONI OS/6/1/68/1 – First Edition OS Map 1833 2. PRONI OS/6/1/68/2 – Second Edition OS map 1857 3. PRONI OS/6/1/68/3 – Third Edition OS Map c1900 4. PRONI OS/6/1/68/4 – Fourth Edition OS Map 1921 5. PRONI OS/6/1/68/5 – Fifth Edition OS Map 1939 6. PRONI VAL/1/B/168 – Townland Valuation (1828-40) 7. PRONI VAL/2/B/1/61A – Griffith’s Valuation (1856-64) 8. PRONI VAL/12/B/8/9A-T – Annual Revisions (1863-1924) 9. PRONI VAL/12/D/1/68 – Annual Revisions Maps (1863–1924) 10. PRONI VAL/12/E/40/1/ – Annual Revisions Town Plan (1877-c1898) 11. PRONI VAL/12/E/40/2/ – Annual Revisions Town Plan (1898-c1907) 12. PRONI VAL/12/E/40/4 – Annual Revisions Town Plan (1907-c1927) 13. Irish Builder, Vol 30, 15 April 1888, p.114 14. Irish Builder, Vol 35, 15 Nov 1893, p.97 15. Irish Builder, Vol 80, 19 Mar 1925, p.358 16. Ulster Star 21st May 2010 Secondary Sources 1. Brett, C.E.B. “Buildings of County Antrim” Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society and Ulster Historical Foundation, 1996 2. Carmody, W.P., The Very Rev. M.A. “Lisburn Cathedral and its past Rectors” Belfast: Carswell & Son Ltd, 1926 (available at 3. “Christ Church Cathedral Lisburn, A Brief History” Church booklet (1993) (available at 4. Kelly, J A “Lisburn’s Rich Church Heritage, Churches and Places of Worship in the Lisburn City Area” 2009 5. “Lisburn Cathedral” (available at 6. – Dictionary of Irish Architects online

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form H-. Alterations detracting from building H+. Alterations enhancing the building I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting K. Group value

Historic Interest

X. Local Interest Y. Social, Cultural or Economic Importance Z. Rarity


Stone hall and spire type cathedral facing Market Square. Although largely hidden behind the terraces of three streets, this early eighteenth-century cathedral makes its presence felt by its sheer height that punctuates the skyline of Lisburn, visible from all angles. Reputedly containing parts of the seventeenth century church, the tower and early nineteenth-century spire give this cathedral its impressive vertical composition on a slightly elevated site. Retaining much of its nineteenth century interior including the rare pews to the substantial gallery, exposed timber roof and parts of its gothic altar furniture, the setting is particularly attractive with its collection of grave-markers and atmosphere of tranquillity in an urban setting.

General Comments

Please note this record has been renumbered to HB19/16/001 A

Date of Survey

01 June 2010