Left: Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, looking at the portico at the (ritual) west end from the corner of Cathedral Square. Right: Cathedral looking at the (ritual) east end.

Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Cathedral Square, Gibraltar. The original plans for the cathedral were drawn up in 1740 by Peter Harrison (1716-1775), a Yorkshire-born architect who was particularly known for his colonial architecture (see "Holy Trinity Church/Cathedral"); the style was changed to incorporate Moorish features suitable its context, but the basic plan remained, and it was finally built under the supervision of Colonel Pilkington, Commander of the Royal Engineers, from 1825-32. It was consecrated in 1838, and became a cathedral in 1842, when the Diocese of Gibraltar was created. The diocese covered a huge area, "all Anglican chaplaincies from Portugal to the Caspian Sea" (Ellicott 5). Holy Trinity was inaugurated as the mother church for the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe in 1952.

Interior, looking towards the chancel.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Henry Field writes:

Gibraltar has the honor of being the seat of an English bishop, because of which its modest church bears the stately name of a Cathedral; and here may be seen on a Sunday morning nearly all the officials of the place, from the Governor down; with the officers of the garrison: and probably the soldiers generally follow the example of their officers in attending the service of the Church of England. But they are not compelled to this against their own preferences. The Irish can go to mass, and the Scotch to their simpler worship. In all the churches there is a large display of uniforms, nor could the preachers address more orderly or more attentive listeners. [32-33]

Left: Closer view of the chancel. Right: Looking across the nave, with the Lady Chapel seen on the left.

The brass seen partially here in the chancel floor is a memorial to Bishop William Edward Collins, whose cope is in a display cabinet in the Lady Chapel. His name is the fifth one recorded on the list of bishops (below, right). The window is a replacement for an earlier one lost in 1951 as a result of a terrible explosion in the harbour: a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship blew up when unloading explosives.

Some fixtures. Left to right: (a) Tablet memorialising the Bishops who have served here, with the Diocesan arms above. (b) Memorial to General Sir Lothian Nicholson, a late-Victorian "Governor and Commander-in-Chief of this city and fortress." (c) Model galleon S. S. Trinidad over a doorway, a reminder of the unique position of this house of worship.

The Diocesan coat of arms seen on the memorial tablet includes the lion of England on the Rock of Gibraltar with the Cross of St John above (representing Malta), crossed by the symbolic key of Gibraltar's heraldry (as the key to the Mediterranean), and a pastoral staff. While Holy Trinity is the principal cathedral, there are also two pro-cathedrals within its diocese: St Paul's in Malta, which serves Southern and Western Europe, and Holy Trinity in Brussels, which serves Northern and Western Europe.

Not everyone had approved of using the Moorish style for a church: visiting it in the mid-nineteenth century, the travel-writer William Henry Bartlett (1809-54) had considered it to be a "vulgar attempt to imitate Moorish architecture; an utter and deplorable failure" (166). But since those early years the church has gathered many proud associations, giving it an unequivocally British atmosphere. One such association is with Sir Lothian Nicholson (1827-1893), whose fine marble memorial is also shown above. Sir Lothian had a distinguished career with the Royal Engineers, both in the Crimea and India (the latter during the 1857 rebellion) before taking up his position as Governor and Commander-in-Chief in Gibraltar. "With an intense esprit de corps," he is said to have "combined a wide sympathy with the other branches of the army and supported many philanthropic efforts" (Vetch).

Text and photographs by Jacqueline Banerjee, with many thanks to Canon Ian Tarrant, Dean of Gibraltar, for correcting a date here, and sending in the very interesting information about the original architect. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the images to enlarge them.


Bartlett, William Henry. Gleanings, Pictorial and Antiquarian, On the Overland Route. 2nd ed. London: Hall, Virtue, 1851. Google Books. Free ebook. Web. 17 January 2019.

Ellicott, Dorothy. The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar. 3rd ed. (updated by Bryan Gonzalez, Albert D. Langston and Revd. Michael Combe). Gibraltar: Holy Trinity Church Council, 2012.

Field, Henry Martyn. Gibraltar. London: Chapman & Hall, 1889. Project Gutenberg. Web. 17 January 2019.

Holy Trinity Cathedral Gibraltar (the Cathedral's own website. Please see for visiting times, and for some historic photographs).

Holy Trinity Church/Cathedral. Follow the link at top right to a short biography of Peter Harrison. Historic Architecture: Cataloguing the Work of Colonial Era Architects…. Web. 22 June 2021.

Vetch, R., rev. Robert T. Stearn. "Nicholson, Sir Lothian (1827–1893), army officer." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Web. 17 January 2019.

Last modified 22 June 2021