The foundation stone of St Peter’s was laid by the Superintendent of the Port Phillip district, Charles Joseph La Trobe, on 18 June 1846, on the corner of Albert and Gisborne Streets on the eastern hill of Melbourne. The building was used for services as early as 1847, and was formally opened on the 6th August 1848.
The first stages of the church were designed by architect Charles Laing and the contractors were Ramsden & Brown (Samuel Ramsden – stone mason, and Charles & Henry Brown –bricklayers, contracted for a reported £820) . In 1853-54 the Chancel & Transepts were added to the designs of Charles Vickers.
In June 1876, the chancel of St Peter’s was extended to the designs of architects Terry and Oakden, and the five figurative Ferguson & Urie windows were installed at this time. An engraving showing the new chancel was published in the newspaper on the 5th August 1876 and it shows five single lancet figurative windows surrounding the chancel. The centre window of the five, depicting the “Ascension”, was moved to a small chapel in the south west corner of the church, possibly during further alterations in 1927-29. Other single lancet windows in the nave are of Ferguson & Urie’s simple diamond quarry with stained glass borders.
Originally the chancel windows were installed (left to right) as, The Prophet Elias, St Peter, Christ & The Ascension, St Paul, and The Prophet Moses. The design and artwork of the Ascension window seems to be extremely at odds with that of the other flanking prophets and saints windows. Whether there has been been conservation on this window is not known but it’s design and artwork do not fit within the period equaling the other prophet and saint windows of the time.
Photos taken: 26th September 2010.
“The foundation stone of the new English Episcopal Church on the Eastern Hill was laid yesterday, in due form by his Honor the Superintendent, in the presence of a large concourse of people assembled to witness the ceremonial. The arrangements were presided over by the Rev. A.C. Thomson, Minister of St. James’s Church, who conducted the services, aided by the Rev. Mr. Collins, of Geelong. The inscription on the plate was as follows:- “The Foundation Stone of St. Peter’s Church, In the Town of Melbourne, District of Port Phillip, Colony of New South Wales, Built by Local Subscriptions, Aided by an equal amount from the Colonial Government, Was laid by His Honor Charles Joseph La Trobe, Esquire, Superintendent of Port Phillip, On the 18th day of June, A.D. 1846, And in the Ninth Year of the Reign of Queen Victoria. Adam Compton Thomson, Minister of St. James’ Parish of Melbourne. James Simpson, James Denham Pinnock, Robert Williams Pohlman, Esquires, Trustees. Charles Laing, Architect”
THE INTERIOR OF ST. PETER’S CHURCH, EASTERN-HILL: THE NEW CHANCEL.
The alterations and improvements which have lately been made to St. Peter’s Church (Church of England), Eastern-hill, consist of the extension and completion of the chancel, which now includes an additional space of 31ft. from the east wall of the church. On the north side of this, and communicating with it, a vestry has been built for the use of clergymen and choristers, and at the south side a chamber has been erected for the organ, which formerly stood near the western entrance. The organ has been reconstructed in its chamber by Mr. Fincham, the organ builder, of Bridge-road, and is hidden from the greater part of the congregation. The choir seats are placed within the new chancel. By means of the alterations thus effected a s space is gained which furnishes 80 additional sittings, and in course of time still further room will be made by filling in with seats that part of the western gallery which was formerly blocked by the top of he organ. The addition is a great improvement to the church internally, and will add much to the convenience of the congregation as well as to that of the choir and clergy. The cost of these alterations, which have been carried out on the plans and under the supervision of Messrs. Terry and Oakden, architects, amounts to £920, of which £750 is the expense of the new building; the balance is for removing the organ and furnishing the choir. The opening of he chancel was celebrated on June 29, St. Peter’s Day, and the thirtieth anniversary of the laying of the foundation of the church. Divine service was held, the musical portion of which was under the control of Mr. Summers, and was admirably given.”