03-12-1869: Christ Church, Moorabool St, Geelong, Victoria.

The first Ferguson & Urie stained glass window to be erected in Christ Church at Geelong was the five light Chancel window which depicts Christ in the centre light, flanked by the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke & John with their biblical alter egos beneath their figures. This window gained quite a bit of notoriety and comment in the tabloids of the time of its erection. Despite significant vandalism in the past 145 years, the most recent attack being in November 2011, it has somehow survived the test of time and is certainly a significant artifact for Christ Church and should be considered for heritage listing.

The Church of England Messenger, 3rd December 1869, page 7

“CHRIST CHURCH, GEELONG.- A handsome chancel window has recently been put up in this church, at a cost of £120, from the workshops of Messrs. Ferguson, Urie and Lyon, of Curzon-street. The style of architecture is that known as late perpendicular, the complicated mullions and tracery admitting as many as eight-and-twenty lights. Of these, the five principal compartments are thus appropriated:- In the centre, to accord with the designation of the church, the Saviour is represented enthroned, having in his left hand the globe and cross, and elevating the right in the attitude of blessing; whilst the compartments on either hand are occupied with erect figures of the four Evangelists. Those who have examined former efforts of this enterprising firm will be struck by the improved purity and brilliancy of colour displayed. The utmost skill has been shown in the harmony of arrangement”.

Photos taken 24th Oct 2010. (Date of Historical photo unknown).

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Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Wednesday 10th November 1869, page 2.

“A gratifying specimen of colonial art may be seen in the chancel window, recently put up in Christ Church, by Messrs Ferguson, Urie and Lyon, of Melbourne. The window, which is about fourteen feet high by ten feet wide, belongs to the order of Gothic, which architects term late perpendicular. it consists mainly of three rows of light, the lower row containing five openings eight feet and a half in height, the mullions of which rise perpendicularly to the top of the window. The second row contains a continuation of these lights, divided into twelve by narrow mullions, these openings being two feet in height; above these is a row consisting of three pairs, rather higher than the middle row. There remain seven small openings supplementary to the complete design. The great feature of a window of this style, and involving a manifest difficulty with which the glass-stainer has to grapple, is the large proportion of stone in the mullions, probably not less than a third of the entire surface. The designer has in this instance shewn his judgement in not attempting a general subject, which would have been broken by the heavy stone framing, as he has made each opening a complete picture in itself, and to a certain extent, independent of the adjoining ones. At the same time there is not wanting a unity of subject. The five principal lights are appropriated to the glorified Saviour, flanked on either side by two Evangelists. At the foot of each of these five figures, is introduced the corresponding symbol, viz., in the centre the pelican wounding her own breast to feed her young; and the evangelistic symbols, the human head, the lion, the ox, and the eagle, under Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, respectively. The three pairs of lights at the top of the window are appropriately filled up with three cardinal graces and their emblems, viz., faith and the cross, hope and the anchor, charity and the heart. The quatrefoil at the apex of the arch is filled in with the dove. The twelve smaller windows in the middle row remained to exercise the designer’s ingenuity, their small size and large number having occasioned some apparent difficulty. On these we find national emblems, the rose, shamrock, and thistle, besides stars, which may be regarded as generally emblematic of whatsoever things are lovely and of good report. Those who have examined former efforts of this enterprising firm will be struck with the improved purity and brilliancy of colour displayed. The utmost skill has been shown in the harmony of arrangement. The draperies of all the principal figures are particularly well managed, that of the centre being a brilliant mass of ruby red, carried off to the margin in each in each direction by yellows and greens of intermediate warmth terminating at the circumference in cold blue or grey. The effect at the western entrance into the church is a rich flow of light and colour, on which the eye rests with pleasure, and has to complain of no unequal predominance of any one tint. The individual figures are alike bold and dignified in outline, but the execution of the features while in the highest degree creditable, falls short of that depth and sublimity of expression with which the old masters have familiarised us. It is indeed the merit of the whole composition that it attempts the symbolical and heraldic rather than the historical. Its excellences are such as can be best appreciated from a distant point of view. We are told that the entire cost of the window is £120, to meet which collections are to be made on Sunday next.”

Note: The head of Christ in the centre light is not original Ferguson & Urie. This is possibly the third replacement since the window was created in 1869.

Restoration/Conservation:

The east five light window underwent restoration and conservation work in 2004 by Geoffrey Wallace’s stained glass studio.

This window and many others were unfortunately vandalised in November 2013 and will again be in the hands of Geoffrey Wallace for expert repair.

For updated and detailed photos of the full cycle of Ferguson & Urie windows at Christ Church in Geelong, See: http://www.flickr.com/photos/raysalmanac/sets/72157637900257313/

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