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St Brigids Church

  • 600284
  • 78 Musgrave Road, Red Hill


Also known as
St Brigid's Catholic Church
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
21 October 1992
Religion/worship: Church
8.1 Creating social and cultural institutions: Worshipping and religious institutions
Dods, Robert Smith (Robin)
Keenan, Thomas
Construction period
1912–1914, St Brigids Church (1912 - 1914)
Historical period
1900–1914 Early 20th century
Arts & Crafts


78 Musgrave Road, Red Hill
Brisbane City Council
-27.45751393, 153.01043404


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

St Brigids Church is significant as an example of Duhig's efforts to place churches in prominent positions throughout Brisbane and as a symbol of the emerging confidence of Catholicism in Queensland which was dominated by Irish immigrants at the time.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

St Brigids Church is significant as a characteristic part of the inner Brisbane skyline, visible from all directions. Is is an outstanding example, both internally and externally, of the architecture of Robin Dods, a recognised member of the contemporary Arts and Crafts movement in Europe and the United States of America.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

St Brigids Church is significant as a self-conscious townscape composition designed to place an acropolis-like skyline on the axis of George Street and for the impressive quality of the interior which is derived from the carefully considered combination of materials, light and scale.


St Brigids Church was built between 1912 and 1914 by prominent builder Thomas Keenan.

It replaced an earlier stone structure built in 1877. As the parish had grown to be one of the largest in Brisbane, the church was built to accommodate 1000 people.

Its design by Robin S. Dods was inspired by St Ceciles Cathedral at Albi, France, which the parish building committee had chosen as the model for St Brigids. It also reflects the influence of some of the design theories current in Europe during Dods's early career in Edinburgh, in particular the Arts and Crafts use of materials and the picturesque approach to landscape and siting.

The opening ceremony in 1915 was a significant occasion in the life of the Catholic community in Brisbane, attended by Archbishop Mannix of Melbourne and presided over by Archbishop Duhig of Brisbane. The construction of St Brigids was regarded as the coming of age of Catholicism in Brisbane. For Duhig, who was to become renowned as a prolific builder of churches and schools, St Brigids was an auspicious beginning.

The parish was largely composed of poor Irish immigrants so that the church became a focal point of the Irish Catholic cause in Queensland.


The church is prominently situated high on Red Hill, unconventionally oriented north-south, to terminate the vista along George Street (now lost since the construction of the Brisbane Transit Centre).

It is a brick fortress-like building, rectangular, with the chancel, entrance porch and its flanking buttresses semi-octagonal in shape. A single-storeyed vestry protrudes off the west side of the chancel.

Though derived from Albi Cathedral's idiosyncratic style, combining elements of both Romanesque and Gothic traditions, Dods's design owes much to his British Arts and Crafts background and the local climate. Many features of the building, including the high proportions, opening windows with balconies, arches, french doors, and the open chancel area, contribute to a cool environment.

The interior of St Brigids is austere and simple in decoration yet grand in dimensions. The detailing and workmanship in brick, stone, wood, glass and metal are austere but refined. Notable features include the timber ceiling, light fittings, gallery, organ, altars and stained glass. However, the original silky oak and leadlight doors running the length of the nave on the east and west walls, and some other fixed glazing, have been replaced with fully glazed areas which allow excessive light into the interior at floor level.

The original plan included a tower above the chancel but this was not built for lack of funds. LJ Harvey's life size statue of St Brigid above the entrance porch, holds a model of the completed church.

Its hilltop position, close to the city centre, makes it a Brisbane landmark.

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Location of St Brigids Church within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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