St James Church at Drysdale was constructed between 1871-72 with bricks donated, and made locally in Portarlington, by Thomas Henry Widdicombe. The architect was Andrew McWilliams from Geelong
The first stained glass window to be erected in the church by Ferguson & Urie was the three light chancel window in 1872 and subscribed for by the parishioners. Twenty years later, in 1892. the single light memorial window to John Drake and his wife Susannah Tomazin (nee Avery) was erected by their family.
Photos dated: 14th October 2012.
“A handsome little place of worship, designated St. James’s Church, and situated about a quarter of a mile from the township of Drysdale, is to be opened to-morrow by the Right Rev. the Bishop of Melbourne. The building is in the pointed Gothic style, with lancet windows, having a tower on the south-west gable and finished pinnacles. The walls are built of bricks made by Mr. Widdicombe, of Drysdale, and the dressings are of white pressed bricks from the same maker. The chancel and vestry are on the north-east side of the building, the whole presenting the appearance of a fine little country church. In the chancel is placed a beautifully curved stained-glass window, the chief subject presented being the four Mary’s at the tomb. The nave lights are of yellow-tinted cathedral glass. The table, reading-desk, chairs, &c., are of Gothic pattern, and varnished. The platform for the harmonium is elevated, and has a neat painted screen, upon which is painted the words “Let all the earth praise the Lord.” Upon the walls and other parts of the interior are inscribed other appropriate texts from the scriptures. The building was designed by and erected under the supervision of Mr. McWilliams, architect, of Drysdale.”
About fifteen months after the opening of the church another article was penned in the Geelong Advertiser which gave a matching description of the window. The entire transcription of the article specifically mentions the Ferguson & Urie company, but in relation to a window at the Catholic Church window and not the Church of England. For the Church of England window (St. James’s) it wrote:
“…,The stained window in the chancel has the centre piece, the women at the tomb after the Resurrection, and the words “He is not here, He is risen,” underneath. The nave windows are filled with thick cathedral and colored glass. The whole work is tasty and reflects credit on the congregation…”
In 1892 another Ferguson & Urie single light window was erected in the south wall of the nave to the memory of the Drake family:
The Church of England Messenger for Victoria and Ecclesiastical Gazette for the Diocese of Melbourne. No.289 Vol.XXIV Melbourne November 4, 1892, page 191.
“Drysdale. ‘A very handsome stained-glass memorial window has been placed in St. James’ Church, Drysdale. The subject of the window is “The Raising of Lazarus”, and a special service to inaugurate the opening of the window was conducted by the Rev, S.C. Kent on Sunday October 16th. The text on the window (John XI. 43-44) formed the subject of an interesting and instructive sermon. There was a large congregation, both morning and evening. The inscription on the window is –To the Glory of God, and in memory of Mr. and Mrs. John Drake. Erected by their family. The work was executed by Messrs. Ferguson & Urie.”
John Drake (1828-1892) was born in Devonshire, England, to William Drake and Mary Pillar. He married Susannah Tomazin Avery (1827-1887) in Devonshire circa 1852 and they emigrated to Australia sometime between 1852-54. They took up farming on the Bellarine Peninsula near Drysdale and had six known children between 1857 and 1867. Many of their descendants still reside in the area to this day.
Susanna died on the 11th of July 1887 at the age of 60 and John died in at the age of 64 on the 24th April 1892. On October the 16th 1892, the stained glass window by Ferguson & Urie was unveiled to their memory in St James Church in Drysdale by their children.