23-05-1896: Presbyterian Church, Werribee, Victoria.

Thomas Chirnside donated the land for the Presbyterian church in Werribee and on the 5th of February 1884 he laid the foundation stone of the Werribee Presbyterian Church, to be known as St. Thomas the Apostle.

Believing himself to be bankrupt, Thomas Chirnside shot himself in the laundry of Werribee Mansion  1887 and his brother Andrew died in 1890. In August 1895 Andrew’s widow, Mary (nee Begby), commissioned Ferguson & Urie, of Franklin-street Melbourne, to create a three light stained glass window to be erected in their memory at the east end of the church. The window was erected ten months later, in June 1896, and depicts the Last Supper. The Church is now known as the Cross Roads Uniting Church.

Photos dated: 30th December 2010.

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The Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 23rd May 1896, page 4.

“Messrs. Ferguson & Urie have been busy this week placing a handsome stained glass memorial window in the Presbyterian church here. The work was ordered last August by Mrs. Andrew Chirnside, senior, Werribee Park. Further particulars will be given next week.”

The Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 13th June 1896, page 3.

“A memorial window recently placed in the Presbyterian Church at Werribee by Messrs. Ferguson & Urie, of Melbourne, to the order of Mrs. Andrew Chirnside, Werribee Park, is an admirable piece of stained glass art. The pictorial subject chosen – The Lord’s Supper – fills the three panels of the large gable window of the Church. The centre panel contains three figures, our Lord in the central and prominent place, and the two apostles, Peter and John, on His right hand and left hand respectively. Each of the two side panels contains the figures of five apostles, suitably grouped at each end of the table. Above the principal picture, filling the sharp-pointed arches of the three panels, are placed the figures of three cherubs or angels, the two side ones bearing scrolls with the inscription “Alleluia” thereon, while the bottom parts of the three panels contain, as emblems, a few heads of wheat, and bunches of vine leaves and grapes. The scroll work filling the large arch of the window itself is also suitable stained, with a larger cherub of angel in the centre bearing the inscription “Alleluia.”  The whole effect of the window, particularly the principal picture, as seen from the centre of the church, in the soft morning light, is very pleasing, the colouring being at once rich and chaste. The scene of the picture is particularly natural, and the various details thoroughly in keeping with the subject. The picture represents that particular historical moment when our Lord began to institute the supper, and just as Judas, to whom He had said, “That thou doest do quickly,” was leaving the room to arrange for the betrayal. Judas’ vacant seat, containing his discarded robe, is seen at the side of the table, directly opposite where our Lord is seated; while in the background is seen Judas himself making for the door, with the money-bag grasped tightly in his right hand, and with the usual imaginary “nimbus” gradually fading away from his head. The other Apostles grouped round the table have their eyes directed towards our Lord, who has in his left hand a loaf of bread, and is supposed to be saying, as he points to the bread with his right hand. “This is my body, &c.” While John the beloved disciple, is seen with his hand leaning on Jesus’ breast. At the right and left corners of the table respectively are seen Andrew and Thomas (the former indicated by his age, as having been one of the first to follow Jesus, and the latter by the parted forefingers, referring to his expressed intention to test our Lord’s wounds.) According to the perspective of the picture, and the prominent positions assigned to Andrew and Thomas (being nearest the spectator) it is a somewhat remarkable undesigned coincidence that the deceased gentlemen, to whose memory this memorial window has been inserted in the church which they themselves had built, should have born the same names as those of these apostles – namely the late Messrs. Andrew and Thomas Chirnside. When taken into consideration along with the many other benefits which Mrs. Chirnside has so generously bestowed upon the church and congregation during the past year, this handsome memorial window ought to call forth heartfelt appreciation of the Presbyterian community throughout the Werribee district, and this appreciation could best be shown by increased attendance at the services, and increased interest in the work of the church generally.”

Related posts:

1876: Werribee Park Mansion, Werribee, Victoria.

External References:

Biography: Thomas Chirnside (1815-1887), and Andrew Spencer Chirnside (1818-1890).

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