The History of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
The earliest manuscript dates Christ Church Cathedral to its present location around 1030.
Laurence O’Toole acted directly in diplomatic efforts between the Dubliners and the Anglo-Normans including Strongbow (Richard de Clare) following the capture of the city in 1170.
It was due largely to John Cumin, the first Anglo- Norman archbishop, that the Hiberno-Norse cathedral was replaced with the Romanesque and later Gothic cathedral, parts of which survive today.
In 1395 King Richard II sat in state in the cathedral to receive homage from the kings of the four Irish provinces.
In 1487 Lambert Simnel, pretender to the English throne in the reign of Henry VII was crowned’ in Christ Church as Edward VI.
On 22 December 1541 Robert Castle (alias Paynswick), the last prior, became the first dean of Christ Church.
In 1562, the nave roof vaulting collapsed and Strongbow’s tomb was smashed, the current tomb being a contemporary replacement from Drogheda. The cathedral was in ruins and emergency rebuilding took place immediately. This temporary solution lasted until the 1870s!
In 1689 King James attended Mass here and for a brief period, the rites of the pre-Reformation faith were restored.
One year later, returning from the Battle of the Boyne on 6 July 1690, King William III gave thanks for his victory over King James II and presented a set of gold communion plate to the cathedral.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, Christ Church’s crypt was used as a market, a meeting place for business, and at one stage even a pub as a letter of 1633 shows: the vaults from one end of the minster to the other are made into tippling houses for beer, wine and tobacco.
In 1742 the cathedral choir together with the choir of St Patrick’s cathedral sang at the world premiere of Handel’s Messiah in nearby Fishamble Street.
The cathedral as it exists today is heavily Victorianised due to the extensive restorations and renovations carried out by the architect George Edmund Street (between 1871 and 1878) at the expense of a Dublin whiskey distiller, Henry Roe, who gave £230,000 (€35m today!) to save the cathedral. The disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1871 saw further constitutional change and financial disendowment at the cathedral. With members of the laity now responsible for the building’s maintenance it became essential to provide for lay participation in its governance. A cathedral board of laymen (as was the case then) and clergy was formed in addition to the solely clerical chapter.
A two-year restoration of the cathedral roof and stonework was undertaken in 1982. Kenneth Jones of Bray installed a new organ in 1984. Further work since 1997 has included the renewal of the heating and lighting systems and the restoration of the massive 12th century crypt. This last undertaking was to provide the cathedral with a much-need facility for hospitality and to mark the millennium year 2000. It now houses the important Treasures of Christ Church exhibition, together with the superb video of the cathedral history by Louis Marcus. The exhibition features manuscripts and artefacts that give the visitor some impression of nearly one thousand years of worship in the cathedral and nearby churches. Outstanding among the rare church silver is the stunning royal plate given by King William III in 1697 as a thanksgiving for his victory at the battle of the Boyne. Also on display are the conserved tabernacle and the candlesticks used in 1689 under James II when the Latin rites were restored for a three-month period.
Text from Christ Church Cathedral website.