Early settlers came to the Goulburn region before 1820. The first church of St. Saviour was built in 1839. St Saviour's became the pro-cathedral for the Diocese of Goulburn in April 1864, when Bishop Mesac Thomas arrived to take charge of his diocese. In the Christian tradition, a bishop has an official seat. This seat is called in Greek cathedra, and so the building where it stands is called a cathedral.
Bishop Thomas’s diocese at first comprised nearly one quarter of the State of New South Wales. “At this time there was not a mile of railway or a telegraph post in the whole of the area now comprised of the dioceses of Goulburn and Riverina, yet in his first tour in 1864 the Bishop travelled 2,661 miles”.1
From 1871, as the diocese was beginning to get on its feet, Bishop Thomas began to think positively about a cathedral. Here, and in England, he collected £37,000 of a total of £50,000 needed for the building.
The bricks of the old church now form the floor of the Cathedral.
The building was completed in 1884, though without the spire and bells which Blacket had included in his design. The tower and eight bells were added in 1988, financed by fundraising and a $1 million Bicentennial Grant. The nearby Parish Hall was built in 1874 and extensively renovated in 2003 to 2004 in conjunction with the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium.
For more detailed histories of St. Saviour's, Bishop Thomas, Edmund Blacket, and the Diocese of Goulburn, interested readers may wish to consult the following works:
- Thomas Frame, A Church for a Nation: A History of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Hale & Iremonger, 2000.
- Nick Vine Hall, My Name is Blacket, N.J. Vine Hall, 1983
- Morton Herman, The Blackets: An Era of Australian Architecture, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1977
- Joan Kerr, Edmund Thomas Blacket, National Trust, 1983
- Joseph Kinsela, S.S.M., A Guide to St. Saviour's Anglican Cathedral, Goulburn, NSW, Australia, St Saviour's Cathedral Parish, 1984
- William C. Stegemann, An Ornament to the City: A History of the Cathedral Church of St. Saviour, Goulburn, 1874-1988, The Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, 1989
- Barbara Thorn, Letters from Goulburn: A Selection of Letters from Mesac Thomas First Bishop of Goulburn 1863-1892, Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, 1964
- William Wright, Shepherds in New Country: Bishops in the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn 1837-1993, WE. Wright, 1993
- Ransome T. Wyatt, The History of the Diocese of Goulburn, Edgar Bragg & Sons, 1937