05-03-1881: Brisbane Boys Grammar School, Gregory Terrace, Brisbane, Queensland.

The Queenslander, Brisbane, Saturday 5th March 1881, page 309.

“New Grammar School Windows.”

“THE setting of the stained glass windows in the great hall of the new Grammar School has been completed. These windows which have been supplied by a Melbourne firm, Messrs. Ferguson and Co., at a cost of about £300, are works of really high art, and that rich modulation of the light, which is the peculiarity of stained glass, adds immensely to the interior effect of the fine hall. The windows are of Gothic form, and are 24ft high by 12ft wide. Below the arch they are divided into five compartments for the panes. The window acing Gregory-terrace is of a pattern of gothic tracery, in colours that blend into a rich and harmonious combination. But that at the northern end of the hall is by far the most magnificent and costly of the two. The central compartment of this window is occupied by a life-size representation of the Queen, in a purple robe trimmed with ermine, a scroll in her left hand, and in her right a wreath. Just below her Majesty’s effigy are the arms of Great Britain, and surrounding her are medallions of the famous men who have assisted to shed lustre on the crown she inherited. Statesmen and poets, men of science and warriors, will look down on our Grammar School boys and invite them to emulate their noble deeds. These medallions are a neutral tint like engravings, backed up by some rich dark colour that makes them stand out in clear relief, and the celebrities pourtrayed (sic) are Chaucer, Bacon, Burleigh, Cook, Shakespeare, Milton, Newton, Chatham, Somers, Nelson, Wellington, and Faraday. The circle in the arch of the window represents, in its three counterfoils, the shields of England, Ireland, and Scotland, while the two counterfoils on either side below it contain the arms of Queensland. Along the base of the window the centre of the five panels contains the seal of the school, with the arms of the Prince of Wales and Duke of Edinburgh on either side, and, flanking these, the arms of the city of Brisbane and of the Governor. The excellence of the work reflects great credit on the manufacturers, as also upon those whose taste decided the form it should take. It is very gratifying to find that such work can be done in Australia”.

 In 1868, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, laid the foundation stone of the original building in Roma street Brisbane. Due to the expansion of the Roma street railway yards the school was forced to move to its current location at 24 Gregory Terrace. The building was designed by James Cowlishaw and was built W McFarlane for £12,000 and opened in 1881. The Ferguson & Urie windows are located in the Great Hall.

Images of a  School: Art and Architecture as Symbols of Ideals at Brisbane Grammar School 1869-1989,  Pamela Barnett (published 1989).

“[…] James Cowlishaw presented the designs for the first window to a Trustees’ meeting on 13 February 1880, the decision to obtain the windows through public subscription being made at the next meeting, on 19 March. The second window was not approved until 16 July, when the cost of both windows was estimated at £500 […]”.

“[…] When the windows were finally installed in the Great Hall, they were acclaimed by the Royal visitors to the School in 1881 as ‘some of Australia’s finest stained glass windows. […]

Images: The first two historical photos are from the Queensland State Library collections. The photos following the historical ones have been graciously contributed by Mrs Noelle Nathan, taken 17th Oct 2011. The last image shows a comparison of the completed image of Queen Victoria with the initial pencil design sketch done by the firms senior stained glass artist David Relph Drape (1821-1882)

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Related posts: 26-02-1881

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