1889: St John’s Church of England, Sorrento, Victoria.

St John’s Anglican Church at Sorrento was built of local Limestone in 1874. It was used by the Presbyterian and Anglicans for services and other community functions and later, solely by the Anglican’s. The transepts were built in 1889 by George Morse who was the original architect/builder of the church.

The “Prince Consort” stained glass window, made by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne, was installed in the South Transept at this time. The window was originally installed in St Paul’s Anglican Church on the corner of Swanston and Flinders street Melbourne which was demolished in 1889 to make way for the new St Paul’s Cathedral.  Canon Chase was the original Donor of the stained glass window for St Paul’s and when it was decided that the original stained glass was not applicable for the new Cathedral it was returned to him for his decision to donate it elsewhere as he saw fit. Despite the intimations of the tabloids that it would be installed in the “Working Men’s College”, he eventually chose St John’s Anglican Church at Sorrento where it has resided for the past 125 years.

Australian Heritage database, Place ID: 5797, File: 2/18/021/0004, Registered 21/03/1978.

 “… St John’s Church of England, Nepean Highway, Sorrento, was commenced in 1874, the transepts being added in 1889 and the chancel during 1908-11…”

 “… The transepts were built in 1889, presumably also by Morce. The stained glass windows in the easterly transept were donated by St Paul’s Anglican Church in Melbourne which was demolished in 1889.…”

Photos were taken on 25th September 2010.

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The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil, Melbourne, Monday 27th July 1885, page 115.


“ST. PAUL’S PRO-CATHEDRAL., which is being pulled down to make room for the new cathedral, has an interesting history. It was the third church built in Melbourne, St. James’s and St. Peter’s being the other two older edifices, and the date of it’s inception takes us back to the early days of the colony…”

“…The window in the chancel is a beautiful work of art, illustrative of the ancestry and life of the Prince Consort. The design has been most carefully studied, and every detail is in harmony with and descriptive of some national emblems or traits of Prince Albert, and only that the chancel is in an unsuitable place to disclose the beauties of the window, it would have been far more noted and prized than it is. The window was at first intended to be the gift of the public, and one of the lady members of St. Paul’s Church collected £50 towards paying for it, but the Rev. Canon Chase at that stage presented the window, and at his request the subscriptions were devoted to the general building fund. Now that the church is being pulled down, the Building Committee have placed the window at the disposal of the donor, as the subjects of the windows of the new cathedral have already been chosen; and the Rev. Canon Chase is willing to present his gift to the Working Men’s College, which it is thought it would most appropriately adorn, considering how actively the Prince Consort exerted himself in the cause of social progress. The other memorial window at the east end of the north aisle was erected by the Sunday School of St. Paul’s Church as a mournful token of the esteem in which the wife of the incumbent, the Rev. Canon Chase, was held. There are also decorative windows in the galleries which would have been spared if the ephemeral nature of the career of the church could have foreseen, but no doubt other parishes will be eager to acquire them and replace them in their mullions, which are to be carefully preserved…”

In 1984 Melbourne University Student G. Marie Moore wrote in her thesis;

One of this firm’s better known works is the three-light Albert Memorial window of 1877, now in the south transept of St. John’s church Sorrento. It was originally designed and made by the company for the chancel of the old St. Paul’s church in Swanston Street, together with two smaller windows, depicting. Peter and Paul. The Church of England Messenger described the memorial in glowing terms:

“…the middle portion of the window is filled by three crowned figures under canopies. The central king holds a sceptre. Above his head is the inscription ‘Oh Lord, in Thee have I trusted’. Beneath his feet, ‘Hezekiah Rex’. The Royal figures on his right and left hand hold respectively a harp and the book of the Law. The inscriptions above them are, ‘Praise the Lord’ and ‘In Thy Law is my delight’. Beneath them, ‘David Rex’, ‘Josiah Rex’. The upper portion of the window is divided (in the middle) into four small compartments, containing the emblems of England (lion), Scotland (crown held by a lion), Wales (three feathers), Ireland (harp). An aval on either side displays a cherub holding a scroll lettered in black on a white band, ‘When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice’. The lower portion beneath the kings has three large compartments. That in the centre displays the arms of the late Prince Consort resting on those of the Queen. On the right, the lion of England, in gold on crimson; on the left the unicorn, in silver on crimson. At the foot of the window, lettered in white (mediaeval) on black ground ‘In memory of His Royal Highness, Franc is Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel, Prince Consort, died Dec. 1861. A brass plate under the window is inscribed in old English and carries the inscription:

Fear God, Honour the King”. It is more than likely that David Drape was the artist responsible for this spectacular piece, as Lyon had already left the partnership in 1873 and moved to Sydney. Drape as an architect, was fully aware of the differences of our climate from that of European countries, and this is readily apparent in the brilliant colouring of the glass manipulated to cope with the high lights of our country…”[1]

The Prince Consort window at Sorrento was restored by Geoffrey Wallace’s Stained Glass studios in 2011.

The most recent historical event associated with this stained glass window was celebration of the life of Geoffrey ‘John’ Nathan (1931-2013). John died on the 28th June 2103. and his service was held at  at St John’s Anglican Church at Sorrento on the 12th of July 2013. John was the grandson of ‘James Urie’ of the stained glass firm ‘Ferguson & Urie’ who had originally created the masterpiece in stained glass.

Related posts: 27-07-1885: St Paul’s Pro Cathedral, Flinders St, Melbourne, Victoria.


[1] Antipodean Gothic – Melburne University Thesis 1884, G. Marie Moore.

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