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There has been a Christian Church on this site for over 400 years, and while there are many significant and interesting features we hope you will sense that the Cathedral of today is a living church – where part of the Body of Christ meets for worship, prayer and fellowship – not simply another historic building.
About the year 1609, a Welsh officer in the English army, Sir Fluke Conway, settled in Lisnagarvey (as the district was then called) and built, or rebuilt, a castle on the highest point overlooking the river Lagan in what is now Castle Gardens park.
In 1623 he constructed a church dedicated to St Thomas, on the site of the present Cathedral as a chapel-of-ease for the castle. St Thomas’ Church was much smaller than the present cathedral but little is known about its architecture. In 1641 the town was attacked by a rebel army and in protracted battles between October and November St Thomas’ Church was destroyed.
The foundations of the second church were laid in 1642, rebuilding took 23 years. In 1662 Charles 2nd established the church of St Thomas as Christ Church Cathedral.
Jeremy Taylor was Bishop of Connor at the time, in the Parish of Lisure & Lisnagarvie. In this year the name ‘Lisburn’ was used for the first time.
In the more settled period that followed the Williamite wars the district was prospering when, in April 1707, the town of Lisburn and the church and castle were destroyed in a disastrous fire.
There seemed to be no urgency to rebuild the castle for the defence of the town but in the following year, on 20th August 1708, “the foundation of the new Church of Lisburn began to be laid”. Construction of the present building, the third to stand upon the site, continued for several years and was completed in 1719.
Intrigued? … much more to come soon.
Christ Church Cathedral Lisburn, a brief history – by P McKinstry (1993).
Lisburn Cathedral and its past Rectors – by Very Rev. WP Carmody (1925).
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