Chapel of the Conception / First Roman Catholic Cathedral [1843-1886]

Submitted by David on Fri, 02/12/2010 - 16:05
Current condition
Demolished / No longer exists
Date completed
Date closed / demolished

It had two towers, which stood above the surrounding buildings and made it a landmark at the time.

I'm not sure of the dates it was built or demolished either. HFSiu notes that:

According to a book "City of Victoria", the old Roman Catholic Church at Wellington Street was demolished after the new church was opened in 1888. It seems the old church was demolished well before the opening of new church.

He says that because in this photo, the second cathedral is still being built, but the towers of the old one can't be seen.

Here's a clue, saying the old cathedral was sold in 1881, though with the condition the church would continue to use it for some time:

1st R.C. Cathedral sold

[14 Mar 2016 update: adjusted marker to correct location based on 1845 map.]

Photos that show this Place


The original site of the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church, Presbytery and school buildings was located on Inland Lot No. 50 on the eastern side of Pottinger St between Hollywood Rd and Wellington St. The construction of the church commenced in June 1842. On 19 October 1859 the church was extensively damged by fire (Eitel).

It is recorded in the Police Report for 1886 that the Roman Catholic Cathedral was pulled down in the same year and that 'new' buildings in the course of construction were posing a fire risk to the police compound. The towers of the Cathedral were located on the eastern corner of Wellington and Pottinger Streets.

1880s Wellington St near Wyndham St looking west

1880s Wellington St

Map - Inland Lot 50

Inland Lot 50.

There is a nicely landscaped - smoke-free - sitting out area here, a perfect place to have lunch and try and imagine the first Catholic Church on this spot.

View of Lyndhurst Terrace, Wellington Street, and Cochrane Street, Looking West from the Roman Catholic Church

Friend of China 22.6.43 edition

The Roman Catholic church has been completed. It is called the Chapel of the Conception and is located on Wellington Street with its front towards the bay in the middle of our burgeoning town. A college is attached to educate Chinese for the ministry. The church is 112 ft long and 48 ft wide. The first 12 feet is the porch and the last 38 feet is the altar leaving an area of 62’ x 48’ for the congregation There are eight 30" diameter columns supporting the roof, four along either side at 6½' centres from the outer walls. The walls are granite, infilled with brick, the roof is wood. There is a granite walkway from porch to altar but the rest of the floor to either side is wood. The walls are painted white and the roof is light blue making it cheerful inside. Father Feliciani thinks he can house 1,000 persons. The cost was $9,000 of which one third came from mission funds and the rest from donations by residents.

About 100 people attended the first service - Negroes, Bengalis, Madrassis and Chinese. There were soldiers from the 55th Regiment (Connemara), sepoys and native artillerymen as well as Portuguese, Italian and other foreign seamen. The English were in two groups at the sides near the altar. There were 7-8 women present as well. In addition the orchestra numbered about 50 musicians. Father Feliciani reviewed the history of the Catholic church in the East and mentioned Loyola and St Francis Xavier.

Thanks for the date. I've added it in, and updated the title to show that the dates cover the site's use as church then later as cathedral.

When we can find out the date it transitioned from church to cathedral, I'll split it into two Places, one for each.

In 1848 a public appeal was launched to fund the rebuilding of the church. In 1851 the government granted a piece of Land 20 feet wide and 50 feet login to extend the church. Rebuilding was completed in 1852. It extended the church front & back, raised a new alter and added small chapels. 


The Church went through a major renovation starting in 1858 which was almost complete when the church was burnt to the ground in October 1859. The fire did not touch the adjacent Mission House which  was used as a temporary place of worship. The church was rebuilt by March 1860 and cost $26,000 of which $12,000 was raised by the colony (half by protestants), $8,000 in the Philippines and $6,000 in Europe. There were five altars within the church.

The Lot was sold in March 1880 to a wealthy Chinese from Macao.  The church was pulled down by 31 May 1886 (China Mail) Chinese shops & tenements were built on the site

Source: The foundation of the Catholic mission in Hong Kong, 1841-1894 (Xia Qilong 1998 HKU)