27-07-1885: St Paul’s Pro Cathedral, Flinders St, Melbourne, Victoria.

Stained glass windows were, and still are, extremely expensive to make and in the case where an historical old building is eventually demolished, its reasonable to expect that any significant stained glass windows will most likely find a new home in a new church, mansion or museum. Following and investigating this trail of the historic stained glass over more than a century is a challenge and in this case, presents an interesting story in photographic evidence which I think is amazing.

The history of the Flinders street site of St Paul’s church in Melbourne dates back as far as 1836, but the first bluestone church was not consecrated until 1852. It remained a parish church during the time when the St James’s Church was known as the first Melbourne ‘Cathedral’. St Paul’s was later known as the Pro-Cathedral, until it was demolished in 1885 to officially make way for the construction of the present Cathedral on the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets in Melbourne. The old church was known to have contained many Ferguson & Urie stained glass windows, one of which was the ‘Prince Consort’ window described in the historical article below. The window was not donated to the “Working Mens College” as intimated in the article, but eventually found its home in St John’s Anglican Church at Sorrento in 1889. The window was restored by the Geoffrey Wallace stained glass studio in 2012. Two other single light windows from the old St. Paul’s, depicted ‘St Peter’ and ‘St Paul’, and these were donated to St Paul’s Anglican Church in Warragul, Gippsland, in September 1889 (this church was re-erected in 1908). The window indicated as being a memorial to the wife of the Rev. Canon Chase, and the other “decorative” windows described, have not yet been located. It’s also thought that a memorial window to the wives of a ‘Mr. Stoddart’ and for  ‘Judge Pohlman’, created in 1867 may have also been erected in St. Paul’s (or possibly St Enoch’s Church) and these have not been located to date.

Photos taken: 25th September 2010 to 2012..

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The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil, Melbourne, Monday 27th July 1885, page 115.

“OLD MELBOURNE.
REMOVAL OF ST. PAUL’S PRO-CATHEDRAL”.

“ST. PAUL’S PRO-CATHEDRAL., which is being pulled down to make room for the new cathedral, has an interesting history. It was the third church built in Melbourne, St. James’s and St. Peter’s being the other two older edifices, and the date of it’s inception takes us back to the early days of the colony…”
“…The window in the chancel is a beautiful work of art, illustrative of the ancestry and life of the Prince Consort. The design has been most carefully studied, and every detail is in harmony with and descriptive of some national emblems or traits of Prince Albert, and only that the chancel is in an unsuitable place to disclose the beauties of the window, it would have been far more noted and prized than it is. The window was at first intended to be the gift of the public, and one of the lady members of St. Paul’s Church collected £50 towards paying for it, but the Rev. Canon Chase at that stage presented the window, and at his request the subscriptions were devoted to the general building fund. Now that the church is being pulled down, the Building Committee have placed the window at the disposal of the donor, as the subjects of the windows of the new cathedral have already been chosen; and the Rev. Canon Chase is willing to present his gift to the Working Men’s College, which it is thought it would most appropriately adorn, considering how actively the Prince Consort exerted himself in the cause of social progress. The other memorial window at the east end of the north aisle was erected by the Sunday School of St. Paul’s Church as a mournful token of the esteem in which the wife of the incumbent, the Rev. Canon Chase, was held. There are also decorative windows in the galleries which would have been spared if the ephemeral nature of the career of the church could have foreseen, but no doubt other parishes will be eager to acquire them and replace them in their mullions, which are to be carefully preserved…”

In September 1885 the Church of England Messenger gave the best detailed description of the window I have yet encountered!

The Church of England messenger and Ecclesiastical Gazette for the Diocese of Melbourne and Ballarat, Vic, Wednesday 9th September 1885, page 3.

“THE memorial window recently removed from St. Paul’s Church, Melbourne, and designed to have a place in the new Cathedral, may be regarded as an interesting link between the Royal family of England and one of the most distant portions of the empire. Perhaps in future ages, when Australian federation is an accomplished fact, this record of a good prince, erected sixteen years after his death, may stimulate Australian potentates to a wise and beneficial exercise of power. The incumbent (Rev. Canon Chase) had long desired to honour the memory of the late Prince Consort by such a memorial, but had not found an opportunity of carrying out his wish until the year 1877, when the church was renovated and refurnished. The design is of a chaste simplicity, elegant in itself, and harmonious to the subject. Its working out evidences not only a cultivated taste, but a loving respect which spared no pains to make the work fitting and worthy. It is significant that this loyal testimony has been borne in the most democratic city of the Southern Hemisphere. Whilst viewing the memorial of the sweet psalmist of Israel, it is not unlikely that the prince Consort’s skill as a musician will be also pleasingly called to mind, and the two kings, Hozekia and Josiah, the great reformers of Israel’s race, will set the mind on meditation on the dark ages of the Christian era and the recovery of light by the labours of reformers, among whom was found prominent the ancestors of Albert the Good. This memento of the late Prince Consort may be some day regarded as a proof of loyalty amongst us in the early days of the colony; and it is worthy of remembrance that upon the decease of Prince Leopold the Government furnished the State-schools with tablets drawing the minds of the young to the excellences of the Queen’s youngest son. The window is thus described:-
The middle portion of the window is filled by three crowned figures under canopies. The central king holds a sceptre. Above his head is an inscription, “Oh, Lord, in Thee have I trusted.” Beneath his feet, “Hezekiah Rex.” The Royal figures on his right and left hand hold respectively a harp and the book of the law. The inscriptions above them are, “Praise the Lord” and “In Thy law is my delight.” Beneath them, “David Rex,” “Josiah Rex.” The upper portion of the window is divided (in the middle) into four small compartments, containing the emblems of England (lion), Scotland (crown held by lion), Wales (three feathers), Ireland (harp). An oval on either side displays a cherub holding a scroll lettered in black on white band, “When the righteous are in authority the people rejoyce.” The lower portion beneath the kings has three large compartments. That in the centre displays the arms of the late Prince Consort resting on those of the Queen. On the right the lion of England, in gold on crimson; on the left the unicorn, in silver on crimson. At the foot of the window, lettered in White (medieval) on black ground, the following- In memory of His Royal Highness, Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel, Prince Consort. Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Born August, 1819. Married February, 1840. Died Dec., 1861.
Beneath the window is a broad brass inscribed in old English, “Fear God; Honour the king.”

At the 1866-67 Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition, the Prince Consort window was presented by Ferguson & Urie as an exhibit. The article mentions that the window was intended for St Peters which is incorrect and should obviously have said St Paul’s.

The Ballarat Star, Vic, Thursday 10th January 1867, page 3.

“…Some beautiful patterns for stained-glass windows are exhibited by Messrs Ferguson and Urie, who have also sent in a design for a memorial to the Prince Consort, in the shape of a stained-glass window, proposed to be erected in St Peter’s [sic] Church, Melbourne…”

Related posts:
1889: St John’s Sorrento
03-09-1889: St Paul’s Warragul.
23-07-1883: St James’s Old Cathedral, Melbourne.

External Links:

History of St Paul’s Cathedral

Restoration/Conservation:

The Prince Consort window, now at Sorrento, underwent restoration and conservation work by Geoffrey Wallace stained glass studio in 2012.

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