20-12-1866: The Medieval Court at the 1866 Melbourne Exhibition

The Chancel windows of Christ Church Anglican at Casterton in Western Victoria were displayed at the 1866 Melbourne Exhibition.

The Ferguson & Urie stained glass company created and decorated an entire chancel for the Exhibitions ‘Medieval Court’ display and the stained glass windows were the central exhibit before being installed in the Casterton Church. Who was actually contracted to install them is still a mystery as the first two windows were installed out of sequence with the ‘Passion’ preceding the ‘Nativity’. Also of note is that Joseph does not appear in the Nativity scene.

The coloured photos were taken 8th January 2011.

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The Australian News for Home Readers, Vic, Thursday 20th December 1866, page 8.


“One would scarcely expect to find a Medieval Court in an exhibition of the products, of a new colony; but such a court there is, intended to illustrate portions of ecclesiastical architecture; and it constitutes, perhaps, the most pictorially effective part of the whole building. Messrs Ferguson, Urie and Lyon, glass stainers, Curzon-street, North Melbourne, exhibit a decorated chancel, the ceiling of which has for a centrepiece the Agnus Dei, surrounded with scriptural texts and gothic clouds. The other portion of the ceiling is divided into twelve compartments, having the emblems of the twelve Apostles. The walls are diapered with simple but chaste pattern. It is lighted with five stained glass windows, the subjects of which are the Nativity, Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. These windows are made for the chancel of the church at Casterton, and are exhibited by permission of the Rev. Dr. Russell. At the altar are two richly illuminated tablets of the commandment, Lords prayer and creed; also an illuminated painting of the Last Supper. A considerable quantity of stained glass is exhibited, consisting of ecclesiastical and domestic styles; also, numerous samples of stained and embossed borders and small subjects. On the right hand side of the court is a carved baptismal font in Caen stone, designed and executed by Mr John Young, contractor, Melbourne. It is all colonial workmanship. The upper portion is octagonal, representing the four Evangelists. At the top of the shaft are masses of carved foliage with heads interspersed, while at each angle of the shaft, which is double, are buttresses wreathed and moulded. The outer one has got headed open panels cut entirely through showing the centre shaft of the interior. In the splays of he base are clusters of foliage carved from real flowers and leaves, but Gothicised after the decorated period. The base represents evil spirits in the form of dragons, emblematical of the Sacrament of baptism casting them down. The lid of the font is of carved colonial blackwood, polished, ornamented with wrought iron to suit the general workmanship of the whole. In this department are also some highly ornate water fonts, sculptured by Mr. F. Utyco; a number of figures carved in wood for the internal decoration of St. Patrick’s cathedral, an altar and fittings, some hand rails, and several statues of saints.”

The 1866 Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition was held in a specially built ‘Great Hall’ on a site behind the State Library’s Queens Hall in Swanston Street Melbourne.

Casterton Christ Church 99A

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