1876: All Saints, Church of England, Learmonth, Victoria.

On Monday the 5th of September 1859, the members of the Church of England at Learmonth held a public meeting at the Wesleyan School Room to consider the purchase of land to erect their church[1].

The new Church of England building was erected under the supervision of the Ballarat architect, Henry Richards Caselli (c1816-1885), and was opened on Sunday 20th January 1861 by the first incumbent of the church, the Rev Henry Newton Woollaston[2].

The church was originally known as “Wycliffe Church of England[3], after the Church of England reformer John Wycliffe (1320-1384)[4] but more than ninety years later was consecrated as “All Saints”  in July 1952 by Bishop Johnston[5].

At the liturgical east end of the church, behind the altar, is the oldest window in the church. It is a three light stained glass window crafted by Ferguson & Urie of North Melbourne. Even though the church was opened in 1861, the chancel window was not erected until 1876 when the new chancel was added.

This is confirmed by a couple of newspaper articles in 1876. The first, published in the Ballarat Star in April 1876 chronicled the event of the church Bazaar held on Easter Monday 1876. At the conclusion of the bazaar Mr. James Robertson of Mount Mitchell gave a £20 donation which was later considered by the church committee for use in purchasing a stained glass window.

In August of the same year the tabloids reported on the “Opening Ceremony” at which specific mention was made of the chancel window of stained glass supplied by “Urie & Ferguson”;

“…The whole of these improvements are heightened in their effect by one of Urie & Ferguson’s stained glass windows inserted in the chancel – as pretty, harmoniously pure, and pleasing a little work of art as one could wish to see…”

But despite the previous intimation that Mr Robertson’s £20 donation at the bazaar would be used to purchase the window, the donor was described as being a lady artist from the congregation:

“…This window is, we understand, the gift of a lady of the congregation, as a result of the disposal by art-union of several pictures painted by her for this purpose…” [6]

Photos taken: 2nd January 2013.

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The window is typical of early Ferguson & Urie colouring and geometric designs. The centre light has a scrolling ribbon with the text: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6-51). The flanking windows have the symbols of Alpha and Omega, and stylised geometric designs of the Passion Flower in roundels at the top and bottom of each light. Above the three lights is a quatrefoil window depicting the cross with the intertwined letters “I.H.S.

Foot Notes:

[5] The Chronicle, Newspaper of the Anglican Diocese of Ballarat, Vol 121 No.5, October 2011, p6.

[6] The Ballarat Star, Vic, Tuesday 15th August 1876, page 3.


Acknowledgements:

Thanks to Joy and Norma Whittenbury for their assistance and enthusiasm for the history and for organising access to the church.

 

Short link to this article: http://wp.me/p28nLD-1xI

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