Light’s original plan imagined a cathedral in the centre of his main grid, in what became Victoria Square, named for the young British queen who came to the throne in June 1837, just three months after Light completed his survey.
Augustus Short (1802-1883) arrived in Adelaide in 1847 as the first Anglican bishop of Adelaide, taking on a diocese which included all of South Australia and Western Australia. The Governor of the Colony Frederick Robe granted an acre of land in the centre of Victoria Square the following year. When the Bishop sought to take up the land, the Corporation of the City of Adelaide objected and disputed the church’s title. A legal challenge resulted in the Supreme Court declaring the grant of land illegal. Bishop Short and the high Anglican tradition he represented were regarded with mistrust in a colony with a strong ethos of religious diversity including non-conformists such as Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists, as well as Quakers, German Lutherans and Scottish Presbyterians.
Eventually Bishop Short raised the funds to purchase land just north of the Torrens River in 1862. The cathedral was designed in England by William Butterfield, but the plans and construction were managed by local architectural firm Wright, Woods and Hamilton. A foundation stone was laid in 1869. The cathedral was first consecrated in 1878, but building continued for decades, largely depending on donations. It was not until 1904 that the external structures were completed, twenty years after the death of Bishop Short who had begun the work. The centre of Victoria Square remains public park land today.