In February 2017, Christ Church Cathedral, Stanley, in the Falkland Islands celebrated the 125th anniversary of its consecration.
Shortly after the capital of the Falkland Islands was moved from Port Louis to Stanley in the mid-1800s, the Exchange Building was erected on the harbour front where the Cathedral now stands. In 1865 the eastern wing was given by government for use as a church and was named Holy Trinity Church, but never consecrated.
On the 21st December 1869 Waite Hockin Stirling was consecrated Bishop of the new Diocese of the Falkland Islands. This was a vast new missionary Diocese which incorporated the whole of South America with the exception of British Guiana. In January 1872 he was enthroned as Bishop of his Diocese in Holy Trinity Church in Stanley.
The Reverend Lowther E. Brandon was appointed Colonial Chaplain to the Islands in 1877 and from the time of his arrival he sensed that Holy Trinity Church was not satisfactory as the cathedral church of this vast new Diocese. In 1882 a church building committee was formed to plan for the building of a new church, and when, in 1886, a peat slip destroyed the Exchange building and, with it, Holy Trinity Church, plans gathered momentum. From that time, Bishop Stirling and Reverend Brandon worked tirelessly for the erection of the Cathedral.
The Falkland Island Government granted the site and the stone of the demolished Exchange building and the right to quarry stone free on Crown lands. Three thousand pounds was raised by Bishop Stirling through an appeal launched in the United Kingdom in November 1888 which was managed by his son-in-law, Mr Robinson. Donations included £30 given by Queen Victoria. The first donation of three sovereigns was given to the appeal fund within the Islands by the captain of a merchant vessel which had foundered off Cape Horn and other skippers followed suit. Fund raising events, and individual, and corporate donations raised sufficient funds to allow the building to go ahead.
The Cathedral is built of local stone with red brick dressing. The building is one hundred and fourteen feet long and just over fifty feet wide.
The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Stirling and Governor Kerr on the 6th March 1890 and work progressed using local labour supervised by a working foreman mason from the United Kingdom. Fundraising continued as the actual cost was around £12,000. (In this 125th Anniversary year fundraising to replace the roof and do other necessary renovation work has totalled over £327,000, all raised within the Falkland Islands).
The consecration of Christ Church Cathedral took place in the forenoon of the 21st February 1892, in the presence of a Congregation of over three hundred. The Captain, Chaplain, and other Officers of H.M.S. “Cleopatra”, with nearly 100 seamen and marines, manifested their interest by assisting on the occasion.
The Falkland Islands Magazine reported on the event in its March edition:
‘A succession of days of beautiful weather preceded the day of opening the church; but the early hours of Feb 21 were wet and stormy, causing some misgiving to the wakeful as to what the riper hours would prove to be. The sun, however, triumphed, and bright skies looked down propitiously upon the solemn ceremonial. We devoutly hope that Christ Church may be a bond of union and a permanent blessing to the Residents of Stanley, and to the Colonists at large. By the Constitution the Church is of course Episcopal, and on the lines of the Mother Church in England. It has a Cathedral dignity, and at the same time is to be used as the People’s Church, under popular management’
The magazine article concluded, ‘We hope to see... Christ Church, Stanley become known far and wide as a monument of Christian Faith, rich in the beauty of holiness, a praise and a joy in the earth’.
As in many churches, the pews are equipped with kneelers in front of the seating bench so that members of the congregation can kneel on them instead of the floor. The kneelers in Christ Church Cathedral have been designed by past and present members of the congregation and depict many interesting aspects of life in the Falklands.
Each sheet of stamps includes two examples of these beautiful kneelers in the central gutters:
31p “The Secretariat” designed by Angela Lee and stitched by Emalina Woodward and “View of Surf Bay” designed and stitched by Carol Cant.
76p “View of Christ Church Cathedral” designed and stitched by Kate Stevens and “View of the Lady Elizabeth Wreck” designed by Nikki Buxton and stitched by Mannie Curd.
£1.01 “Body Creek Bridge” designed by Angela Lee and stitched by Phyllis Jaffray and “Cape Pembroke Lighthouse” designed and stitched by Helen Lindley.
£1.22 “Falkland Islands Crest” charted by Jenny Cox and stitched by Jan Miller and “Rockhopper Penguin” designed by Jenny Cox and stitched by Mrs Norrel.
Designer: Bee Design
Printer: Cartor Security Printing
Process: Stochastic Lithography
Perforation: 13 x 13 ¼ per 2cm
Stamp size: 30.6 x 38mm
Sheet Layout: 20 (2 x 10) with pictorial gutters.
Release date: 18 December, 2017
Production Co-ordination: Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd