The first church was built on the site of Christ Church Cathedral in Lisburn in the early 1600s by Sir Fulke Conway as a chapel of ease for his new castle at what was then called Lisnagarvey. It was consecrated in 1623 and dedicated to St Thomas, but was destroyed along with much of the town during the rebellion of 1641.
The church was quickly rebuilt and in 1662 St Thomas's was designated the cathedral church and episcopal seat of the United Diocese of Down and Connor by Charles II and renamed Christ Church Cathedral. Additional gallery seating was introduced in 1674 with access via a bell tower. The cathedral burned down a second time in 1707.
Again it was quickly rebuilt starting in the 1708 and completed 11 years much after in the (1719), retaining the galleries in the nave with access via the tower which had survived the fire. The octagonal spire was added in 1804 and the chancel built and consecrated in 1889. In the year of 2003, the 1796 front gates were replaced and in 2004 the clock chimes refurbished.
On 31 July 1914 protesting Suffragettes bombed the Cathedral. A small explosion blew out one of the oldest stained glass windows. Four women arrested after the attack.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.