21-04-1872: Presbyterian Church, Napier St, Fitzroy, Victoria.

The foundation stone of the first Presbyterian Church in Fitzroy was laid by Rev Ramsay in 1849 on the corner of Gertrude and Napier street. By 1870 the site was deemed too noisy for worship due to the traffic noise coming from Gertrude street and plans were commenced to build a new church on a site about 100 meters further down Napier street. The foundation stone of the new church was laid by Sir James McCulloch on the 13th of November 1871 and the church was opened on Sunday the 21st of April 1872. Amongst the various architectural descriptions of the new church was that of the stained glass windows:

“…The main window of the front gable is large and of open tracery, as are the smaller windows. There is introduced in the back gable over the pulpit a large wheel window. All the widows have been glazed in most elaborate designs, with embossed, stained, and ornamental glass, and were made by Messrs. Urie and Fergusson [sic], of this city…”

Photos (updated), taken 2nd March 2013.

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The windows were crafted by the Colonial North Melbourne stained glass firm Ferguson & Urie. The window facing Napier Street is a five light of geometric patterns with text scrolls in the outer and central light with the following pieces of scripture:

“BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED” (Acts: 16-31)
“BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD WHICH TAKETH AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD” (John: 1-29)
“THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST HIS SON CLEANSETH US FROM ALL SIN” (John: 1-7)

Above the five lights, in the tracery above is a depiction of the ‘Burning Bush’ with the motto of the Presbyterian church:

“NEC TAMEN CONSUMEBATUR” – (Latin: “Yet it was not consumed”). This is the motto of the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) and is in reference to the biblical story of Moses and the burning bush. A stylised depiction of the burning bush is used as the Church’s symbol dating from the 1690s.

At the east end of the church is an ornamental rose or wheel window high up in the gable. The windows on the north side of the nave consist of plain diamond quarries with the red and blue borders that are typical of Ferguson & Urie’s ‘stock’ windows. The south wall of the nave does not have any stained glass. Either side of the west entrance, below the principal five light window, are single light windows with cusped heads. These have the typical borders of the Ferguson & Urie ‘stock’ windows, but are more elaborately filled with diamond quarries of monochrome checkered pattern and yellow and white flowers which give the windows a warm golden glow.

The church has been unoccupied for a number of years and as at July 2012 it was put up for sale and subsequently purchased by Mr Glenn Morris.

The Argus, Melbourne, Tuesday 14th November 1871, page 5.

“The foundation-stone of a new Presbyterian church was laid yesterday afternoon, in Napier-street, Fitzroy, by the Hon, Sir James McCulloch, M.L.A. The new building is to be used by the church and congregation that have heretofore assembled in the Presbyterian Church at the Corner of Gertrude and Napier streets, Fitzroy, which has been found insufficient for the congregation, and also very unsuitable in consequence of the great noise caused by the large amount of traffic passing along Gertrude-street while Divine worship was proceeding. The site of the new church is about 100 yards farther down Napier-street than where the old church stands.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Monday 22 Apr 1872, page 5.

“The new Presbyterian Church in Napier street, Fitzroy, was opened yesterday. The Rev. Dr. Cairns preached in the morning the Rev. J. Watsford in the afternoon, and the Rev. P. S. Menzies in the evening, there being large congregations at each service. The building, which will accommodate 500 worshippers, is of bluestone, with freestone dressings, and has cost about £2,700. The architect was Mr. Geo. Brown, and the contractors Messrs. Sumner and Co”.

Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 21 May 1872, page 115.

“NEW PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH”

“The new Presbyterian church in Napier street, Fitzroy, was formally opened for Divine services on 21st April…”

“…The main window of the front gable is large and of open tracery, as are the smaller windows. There is introduced in the back gable over the pulpit a large wheel window. All the widows have been glazed in most elaborate designs, with embossed, stained, and ornamental glass, and were made by Messrs. Urie and Fergusson [sic], of this city…”

External links:

Walking Melbourne Forum: Glenn Morris buys the Napier Street Church

Acknowledgements:

Thanks to Glenn Morris for inviting me to the church to get the photographs on Saturday 2nd March 2013.

His web site http://churchonnapier.com/ is worth following for the progress on how this historical old church is transformed into residential appartments.

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One comment on “21-04-1872: Presbyterian Church, Napier St, Fitzroy, Victoria.

  1. Hi Ray,
    I am Glenn Morris who purchased the Napier St Church.

    I have just posted you a note on the Walking Melbourne website.

    I look forward to hearing from you whenever you get a chance.

    Regards
    Glenn

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