1869: St Katherine’s Church, St Helena, Victoria.

St Katherine’s Church, also known as the “Rose Chapel” and the associated heritage listed cemetery, is located at St Helena, twenty eight kilometres north of Melbourne.

A two light stained glass window in the chancel of St Katherine’s was erected to the memory of Anthony & Katherine Beale and a single light window in the south wall to the memory of Luther Maplestone. These windows were originally created by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of Curzon street North Melbourne circa 1869.

Photos taken 26th May 2013. Historical photos from the State Library,  J. T. CollIins collection, dates, pre 1957.

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St Katherine’s was originally built as a small private chapel by Major Anthony Beale, a retired paymaster of the East India Company who was formerly stationed on the historic island of St Helena in the Atlantic Ocean. The island is infamous as the place that Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was exiled to after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The British Government took over the administration of the Island of St Helena in 1836 and Anthony Beale and his family returned to England for three years, surviving on his yearly £500 pension from the East India Company.

Anthony, Katherine, and ten of their surviving children left London in early 1839 aboard the ‘Cecilia’, arriving at Launceston, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), on the 29th July 1839[1]. Two of the elder sons, Edward and Anthony, remained in England to pursue military and medical careers[2]. Edward Charles Beale (1816-1877) reached the rank of Major-General (posthumously) in the Bombay Army having died aged 61 in London in 1877[3]. Anthony Beale (1817-1880) became Surgeon-Major of the Bengal Army and died aged 63 at Cheltenham, England, in 1880[4].

Two weeks after the Beale’s arrival in Launceston, at about 10 o’clock on the evening of the 14th August 1839, Beale’s eldest son Onesiphorus James Beale left their house and disappeared without a trace.

On the 18th August, in desperation, his father Anthony Beale offered a reward of 50 guineas for his recovery[5]. Nearly a month had passed with no news of his whereabouts and on the 12th September 1839, Anthony Beale and one of his sons (possibly the 15 year old Adam) departed Launceston for Port Philip aboard the “Perseverance” [6]. This may have been an early reconnaissance trip to secure a home near the newly proclaimed (1837) township of Melbourne before returning to collect the remainder of his family from Launceston.

Only a day after his departure for Port Philip, the body of Onesiphorus was found.

Just before 7 a.m. on the 13th of September, a fisherman named John Snailhurst found the body on the left bank of the North Esk River, a month after he had disappeared. An inquest was held on the 14th of September and his sister Catherine, and fellow traveller named Catherine Monk, who came from London with the family on the Cecilia, identified his body via his clothing, a handkerchief and the tattoo of an anchor on the right arm, and two hearts and a dart on the left. It was revealed that he had drowned on the evening of the 14th August 1839[7] whilst attempting to board[8] the ship Cecilia via a dangerously narrow plank, intending to visit Captain Waddell of the Cecilia, who was good friends with the Beal family.

The Beale family departed Launceston, aboard the “Perseverance,” on the 4th   of November 1839 bound for Port Phillip[9]. The eldest daughter, Katherine Ann Sibella Beale (1821-1907), remained in Launceston where she married John Burt, also of the East India Company, at St John’s Church at Launceston in January 1840[10]

Originally settling in the outskirts of Melbourne at New Town (now known as Fitzroy)[11], Anthony Beale later took up land in north east of Victoria near the River Plenty c.1841 where he built his home which he named after the island of St Helena where he was born and had spent 46 years of his life.

His wife Katherine Rose (nee Young) died at the St Helena estate on the 5th August 1856 and in 1858 Beal resolved to build a small private chapel in the garden next to his home in memory of his beloved Katherine. Known as the “Rose Chapel,” it was small one room building with a fire place and made of hand made bricks produced on the estate[12].

After Katherine’s death, his diaries fall into despair and paint him as lonely defeated man who spent much of his time in the tiny chapel he built. He died at St Helena on the 4th of September 1865 and was buried with his wife and other family members in the adjoining Church cemetery.

The chapel was later altered from being a private family chapel to a parish church by Beale’s son in law Charles Maplestone[13].

In 1869 the two light stained glass windows in the apse and a single light window in the centre of the south wall were erected as memorials to the Beal family. These windows were created by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne for a cost of £18/10/ [14].

The Memorial text at the base of the two light Gothic chancel window reads:

“IN MEMORY OF ANTHONY BEALE, WHO BUILT THIS CHURCH DIED 4 SEPT 1865 AGED 75 YRS”

“IN MEMORY OF HIS BELOVED WIFE KATHERINE ROSE. DIED 5 AUG. 1856, AGED 61 YEARS”

Another decorative single light memorial window, also by Ferguson & Urie, was erected in the centre of the south wall in memory of Luther, the son of Charles Maplestone.

The memorial text at the base reads:

“TO THE MEMORY OF LUTHER, THIRD SON OF CHARLES MAPLESTONE OF IVANHOE LODGE, WHO DIED AT ANNISKILLEN, QUEENSLAND, 18TH FEB 1869 AGED 23 YEARS”

Note: Mount ‘Enniskillen’ is between Longreach (in the north) and Charleville (in the south) in the Queensland outback.

A tablet in the church is in memory of Onesiphorus James Beale who drowned at Launceston on the 14th August 1839.

After Anthony Beale’s death, the Rose Chapel was left to the Church of England and was consecrated as “St Katherine’s” by Bishop Thornton of Ballarat on the 16th May 1876[15]. The nearby church of St Margaret’s, at Eltham, was also consecrated by Bishop Thornton on the same day and St Margaret’s has the earliest extant stained glass window by the Ferguson & Urie Company which was created in November 1861.

A century later St Katherine’s Church was destroyed by a bush fire which occurred on the 28th February 1957[16]. The local inhabitants of St Helena resolved to reconstruct their historic church and under the direction of architect Kenneth Crosier it was faithfully restored from old architectural diagrams and photographs and re-dedicated on the 7th November 1957.

Historical black and white photos of the interior of St Katherine’s, taken prior to the 1957 fire, show the Ferguson & Urie chancel window, the window on the south wall, and to the left of the chancel a WW1 memorial window, depicting St Michael, which was created by stained glass artist William Montgomery and unveiled on the 6th December 1919[17].

None of the original windows survived the fire but as part of the reconstruction effort, detailed replicas of the original Ferguson & Urie windows, and the St Michael window by William Montgomery, were re-created in 1957. The most likely firm to have undertaken this work at such high quality may have been the Brooks, Robinson & Co stained glass company of Melbourne. This firm started creating stained glass windows in the late 1870’s and was taken over by Email Pty Ltd in 1963. The company’s stained glass department was closed in 1967.

TRANSCRIPTIONS OF THE HISTORICAL NEWSPAPER ARTICLES.

Launceston Advertiser, Tas, Thursday 22nd August 1839, page 3.

“A FAMILY recently arrived in the Cecilia from London, named BEALE, has been plunged into the greatest affliction by the sudden disappearance of their eldest son, a gentleman of about twenty-four years of age, who left his home about ten o’clock on Wednesday evening, the 14th instant, and has not since been heard of. His absence is the more distressing, as there is reason to fear he has perished by drowning. It is supposed that he left home with the intention of proceeding on board the Cecilia, lying at the wharf, and may have fallen from the stage leading on board that vessel.

            Bills have been posted throughout the town, offering a reward of 50 guineas for the recovery of his body, if he be dead; or for information (if he be alive) which shall lead to his discovery. He is described as about 5 feet 9 inches, and as [sic] wearing a white hat, blue pilot cloth coat, brown and blue stripe trowsers, and colored stockings. We understand he is the eldest of a family of ten children, Mr. and Mrs. BEALE, senior, being advanced in years, which renders the affliction doubly distressing”.

The Cornwall Chronicle, Launceston, Tas, Saturday 31st August 1839, page 3.

FIFTY GUINEAS REWARD.
WHEREAS, about 10 o’clock on Wednesday night, the 14th inst. A young Gentleman, named Onisipherous James Beale, late a passenger by Cecilia, left his father’s house for the purpose, as it is supposed of going on board that vessel, but has never since been heard of, having it is feared fallen from an insecure plank into the River.
This is to give notice, that the above Reward will be paid to any person who will give such authentic information to his afflicted relations, as shall be the means of recovering his body, and upon their obtaining possession of the same. Or, should he be alive, a like reward will be paid to any person who will give me immediate intelligence where he may be found.
ANTHONY BEALE.
His dress when last seen, was a White hat, blue pilot cloth Coat, brown blue-striped Trowsers, coloured Stockings, and shoes. Age 24 years, height about 5 feet 9 inches.
August 18, 1839”.

The Cornwall Chronicle, Launceston, Tas, Saturday 14th September 1839, page 2.

“DEATHS.- …”
On the 14th August, Onisiphirous Beale, aged 24 years”

The Cornwall Chronicle, Launceston, Tas, Saturday 14th September 1839, page 2.

“An Inquest was held this day upon the body of the late Mr. Beale, the report of which reached us too late for insertion. Verdict – Found Drowned”.

The Cornwall Chronicle, Launceston, Tas, Saturday 14th September 1839, page 2.

SEPTEMBER 12.- …” “…Passengers per Perseverance, for Port Philip, A. Beale, Esq., Master Beale…”

 Note: ‘Master Beale’ was his son, possibly being the 15 year old Adam Beale.

 Launceston Advertiser, Tas, Thursday 19th September 1839, page 3.

“On Saturday last, before P. A. Mulgrave, Esq., Coroner, on view of the body of Mr. Onesiphorus James Beale, who it will be remembered was missed from his home, on the evening of the 14th ultimo, and for whose discovery the reward of 50 has subsequently offered. The body was found on Friday morning, by a fisherman, about two miles above Launceston, in the North Esk, and was fully identified by witnesses to whom deceased was known. From the evidence there could be no doubt that the deceased had fallen from a plank, going on board the Cecilia, late at night of the 14th July. The jury returned a verdict of Found Drowned”.

The Cornwall Chronicle, Launceston, Tas, Saturday 21st September 1839, page 1.

An inquest was held on Saturday last, the 14th instant, at the Ferry House, at the Bridge, before P. A. Mulgrave, Esq., Coroner, on the body of Mr. Onesipherus James Beale, a young gentleman who came out in the Cecilia, and has been missing for the last month, and for whom a reward of 50 guineas has been offered by his disconsolate father, who has just left the colony for Port Philip. The following is the evidence adduced:-
Catherine Monk – I came from England in the barque Cecilia, with Mr. Beale’s family; we landed at Launceston on the 29th July. The deceased Onesipherus James Beal was 24 years of age, always in good spirits, and on the best terms with his family; I never heard him express any intention of leaving them. He was quite well an in his usual good spirits on Wednesday, the 14th ult; Captain Wadell, of the Cecilia, spent a part of that evening at his father’s house, he left about 10 o’clock; I saw the deceased about 9 o’clock that evening; he wore the same clothes that are now on the body, as viewed by the inquest; I can speak positively as to the coat and trowsers and I know, by the marks on his arms, viz., an anchor on the right arm, and two hearts and a dart on the left arm, that they are the remains of Onesipherus James Beale; The handkerchief now produced was the property of the deceased, and I know he had it in his pocket on the 14th August last; I know he left his father’s house about a quarter of an hour after Captain Waddell that evening, I supposed he had gone into the gardens; some time afterwards search was made for him, and it was discovered he was absent; we supposed he had followed Captain Waddell, to whom he was much attached, and who he knew purposed leaving the port next morning.

Captain Bateman – I am Harbour master at Launceston. The barque Cecilia was lying alongside the wharf on Wednesday, the 14th ult.; the stage from the wharf to the Cecilia had been taken to pieces preparatory to her sailing next morning, and there was only a plank on the evening of that day from the wharf to the vessel; it was a very narrow plank, and required great caution in passing over it; I came on shore on it after dark that evening. The Cecilia was about a fathom and a half from the wharf; It was low water between 10 and 11 o’clock that night; there was only three feet and a half water between the Cecilia and the wharf; the mud was very soft and deep. Captain Waddell left Launceston about three weeks ago, and before he went the deceased was missing, and he (Captain Waddell) told me that he passed part of the evening of the 14th ult. in company with the deceased at his father’s house, and that he (the deceased) said he should call and see him on board that night, it was a dark night.

            Miss Catherine Beale – I am sister to the deceased Onesipherus James Beale; the last time I saw him was on Wednesday evening, the 14th ult., in my father’s house; he was in very good spirits that evening; captain Waddell spent part of the evening with us; the deceased wished to accompany him on board; Captain Waddell advised him not to do so; about 10 minutes after Captain Waddell left the deceased wished us all good-night; we supposed he had gone to bed; a few minutes afterwards I heard him go out the back door, and shortly after, as he did not return, he was sought for, and it was discovered he had left the house, and had taken his hat with him from his bed room. He had the mark of an anchor on one arm, and two hearts and a dart on the other; he had not had any difference with any person that evening, and was not labouring under any depression of spirits.

            Dr. Pugh – I have examined the body of the deceased Onesipherus James Beale. There is not any mark of violence upon it, and I have no doubt his death was caused by suffocation from drowning; the body appeared to have been lying in the water for a month or upwards.

            John Snailhurst – I am a fisherman; I found the body which has been viewed by the inquest about ten minutes before 7 o’clock yesterday morning, on the left bank of the North Esk river, about two miles from Launceston by water; the head was upon the mud on the bank; the other part of the body was in the water, except the upper part of the back; it was then in the same state as it is now. Joseph Firkin * was with me in the boat when I first saw the body; he was alarmed, and would not allow me to take it into the boat; we immediately returned to Launceston, and reported the circumstance to the Police.

 * This man was called Joseph Dudley by the man Snailhurst, while giving his evidence, but this is merely a bye name which he has, his proper name being Joseph Firkin, in which he was tried and convicted, and by which he is known to the Police.
– REPORTER.

 Joseph Firkin corroborated the former witness, as to finding the body.

 Constable Webster – In consequence of information I received from John Snailhurst, I went yesterday morning up the North Esk river in a boat, and found the body which has been viewed by the inquest in the same place and position as described by the two previous witnesses.

Verdict – Found drowned”.

From the evidence given at the inquest of the death of Onesipherus James Beal, it was identified that his cause of death was drowning, having fallen off the thin plank in the dark[18] leading from the Launceston wharf to the ship Cecilia on the evening of the 14th August 1839.

The Cornwall Chronicle, Launceston, Tas, Saturday 9th November 1839, page 2.

“EXPORTS…” “NOVEMBER 4. – Perseverance, (schooner,) 45 Tons, Dryden, master, for Port Philip…”

“…Passengers per Perseverance, for Port Philip, Anthony Beale, Esq., Mrs. Beale, Miss Isabella Beale, Miss Elizabeth Beale, Miss Rose Beale, Miss Margaret Beale, Master Adam Beale, Master Lindsay Beale, Master Young Beale, Master Haliburton Beale…”

Bryan James;
http://www.ozgenonline.com/~mytwigs/beale_a.html; accessed 29 May 2013.

Passengers are identified as: Anthony Beal Snr 1790-1869, Katherine Rose Beal (nee Young) 1795-1856, Isabella 1822-1840, Elizabeth Maria 1823-1899, Rose Ellinor 1826-1856, Margaret Lindsay 1827-1914, Adam 1829-1909, John Lindsay 1830-1911, James Young 1831-1905, Halliburton 1833-1899

The Cornwall Chronicle, Launceston, Tas, Saturday 18th January 1840, page 2.

“MARRIED – By special licence, by the Revd. Dr. Browne, at St. John’s Church, Launceston, John Burt, Esq., late of the East India Company’s Service, to Katherine, Ann, Sibella, eldest daughter of Anthony Beale, Esq., late Paymaster to the East India Company’s Establishment at St. Helena.”

Note: The Church of St John’s at Launceston has a stained glass window by Ferguson & Urie, but it wasn’t created unntil 1866.

The Australian, Sydney, NSW, Friday 4th November 1842, page 2.

“SEQUESTRATION OF INSOLVENT ESTATES.- The following persons have sequestrated their estates since the 1st of September:-…” “…Anthony Beale, settler, River Plenty…”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 10th December 1852, page 8.

“In the Insolvent Estate of Anthony Beale, of the River Plenty, in the Colony of Victoria, Settler.

NOTICE is hereby given, that Edward Courtney, Esq., of Melbourne, in the Colony of Victoria, has been hereby elected and confirmed a Trustee, for the collection, administration, and distribution of the estates and effects of Anthony Beale, the above-named insolvent, in room of Archibald Cuninghame, Esq., who has been removed from his office of trust on said estate, on account of absence from this colony.

Dated at Melbourne, this 9th day of December, AD, 1852,

FREDERICK WILKINSON,

Chief Commissioner of Insolvent Estate’s”.

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Wednesday 13th August 1856, page 4.

[Katherine Rose Beale (nee Young) 1795-1856]

“On the 5th inst., at St. Helena Farm, River Plenty, Katharine Rose, the beloved wife of Anthony Beale, Esq., aged 61.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Wednesday 6th September 1865, page 4.

[Maj Anthony Beale 1790-1865]

“BEALE.- On the 4th inst., at his residence, St. Helena, River Plenty, Anthony Beale, Esq., of the Hon. E.I.C.S., and formerly Paymaster-General of the Island of St. Helena, aged seventy-five years”.

Note: E.I.C.S – East India Corps Service

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 1st May 1869, page 4.

“MAPLESTONE.- On the 18th February, at Mount Enniskillen, Queensland, Luther, third son of Mr. Charles Maplestone, of Ivanhoe-lodge, and No. 8 Elizabeth-street, Melbourne, aged twenty-four years.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 22nd May 1876, page 5.

“On Tuesday last the churches of St. Margaret’s, Eltham, and St. Katherine’s, St. Helena, both being in the same parochial district, were consecrated by the Right Reverend Dr. Thornton, Bishop of Ballarat, who was assisted by the Vicar-General, Dr. Macartney, and the Revs. Canon Vance and A. J. Pickering. At the former place the rite of confirmation was also administered to 54 persons, being the largest number that had ever assembled together in the district for that purpose. Large congregations were present to witness the ceremonies. A collection, which was made at the two places, realised the sum of £5. 5s. It is worthy of note that the St. Helena church was erected at the sole expense of one individual – the late Mr. Anthony Beale; and that the Eltham church, together with a commodious parsonage (though situated in a very poor district), were, when completed at a cost of over £1,600, entirely free from debt, a circumstance upon which the resident in that locality pride themselves greatly.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 1st March 1878, page 1.

[Major General Edward Charles Beale 1816-1877]

“BEALE.- On the 31st December, 1877, at 66 Lansdown-road, Notting-hill, London, Major-General Edward C. Beale, Bombay Army, aged 61 years, Second son of the late Anthony Beale, Esq., H.E.I.C.S., and of St. Helena, River Plenty.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 21st December 1880, page 1.

[Surgeon-Major Anthony Beale 1817-1880]

“BEALE.- On the 25th ult., at 12 Royal-crescent, Cheltenham, England, Anthony Beale, aged 63, late Surgeon-Major Bengal Army, third son of A. Beale, Esq., H.E.I.C.S., St. Helena, River Plenty”.

Northern Star, Lismore, NSW, Friday 12th December 1924, page 12.

“…There are tablets to the memory of Onsephesoris James, son of Anthony and Katherine Rose Beale, drowned in Tasmania on August 14, 1839[19], and to three of their great grandsons who fell in the Great War. A fine brass tablet, given by the mothers, commemorates the supreme sacrifice made by local soldiers…”

“…There are stained glass memorials to Margaret Lindsay Beale, who was born at St. Helena in 1827 and died in 1914, and to Luther, son of Charles Maplestone, Ivanhoe Lodge, who died in 1869. A nice stained glass window is a tribute to the district’s contribution to the A.I.F…”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 15th March 1926, page 8.

“ST. HELENA

VICTORIA’S LINK WITH NAPOLEON.

By R. H. CROLL

Very far from Australia – a mere speck on the map of the South Atlantic – lies the lonely island of St. Helena, famous for the fact that it served as prison for Napoleon. Close to Melbourne – within the outer-suburban area, in fact – is another St. Helena. It, too, unlikely as the tale may seem, links up directly with the “eagle of Corsica.”
Major Anthony Beale, sometime paymaster-general to the East India Company’s forces in the British possession of St. Helena, supplies the association. Napoleon died in 1821. The East India Company resigned its interests in the island in 1834, and a few years later Major Beale retired on a pension of £500 a year, packed up his household goods, and transported them to Australia. Those were early days in Victorian annals, and when he established a home near where now stand the townships of Eltham and Greensborough he was a pioneer in the wilderness. Later he erected a chapel next to his house. That chapel stands to-day as a place of public worship, and the jubilee of its consecration for general service will be celebrated to-morrow 9Sunday). All values are relative; this shrine represents antiquity to Victoria. No reason has been advanced for Major Beale’s preference in all the wide world for this remote and scarcely known portion of the British dominions. In 1839, the year he arrived in Melbourne, the Port Philip settlement was still in swaddling clothes. The township had had its first land sale. It had escaped with a decent title after being threatened with such names as Bearbrass, Barchurp, Bearburp, Yarrow Yarrow, The Settlement, Glenelg, and Batmania, all of which were in actual use; and though, as Bonwick remarks, its affairs were a source of much merriment to the people of Sydney, the settlement was still a part of New South Wales.
So it was a tiny clearing in the bush that the newcomers saw when they arrived at the spot noted by Batman, four years before, as “the place for a village.” The party had come by way of Van Diemen’s Land, and while waiting in Launceston for a vessel to cross the Straits the eldest son of the Beale’s, Onesiphorus, was drowned in the Tamar. Beale kept a diary – still in the possession of the family – and he records therein his highly unflattering opinion of the land agents of the day, including John Pascoe Fawkner, who were united in their endeavours to unload upon the stranger some undesirable holdings. It is interesting to reflect to-day upon the possible value of even the worst of those old-time properties. Eventually Beale went as far afield as the Plenty River, then hopelessly out in the bush – he mentions being lost where now the City of Collingwood has replaced with houses the scrub and timber and on the brow of a pleasant hill, near where the ancient lava flow failed, he put in the foundations of his home. The house, built of imported weatherboards, with chimneys of hand made bricks, is intact to-day. Beale evidently had an eye for beauty. The outlook is over wooded hills, past Kangaroo Ground and Ringwood, to the blue lift of the high mountains at the back of Healesville.
A patriarchal life began. That was in 1842. The first break occurred when, as shown on a memorial window in the church, his wife died in 1856. The building dedicated to her memory he named Rose Chapel. It is a handsomely proportioned building of Gothic type. Stained glass windows shed delicate tones through the interior, and one reads there, and in the little graveyard without, much of the simple history of the place. The two leadlights beside the altar are in honour of the founder and his wife; at the south end are two more bearing inscriptions relating to the dedication of the chapel and the death of the eldest son. The dwelling-house is close at hand, and the family name is still represented by grandchildren and great grandchildren. In the churchyard, in true old-world fashion, the forefathers of the hamlet are buried.
Since the church building has been handed over to the Church of England for public use it has been renamed “St. Katherine’s,” and the graveyard has been opened as a general burying-place. But as portion remains sacred to the Beale family and its connections, and here may be learned the fact that Anthony Beale was born in 1790 and died in 1865. Here, too, lies a well-remembered identity in Charles Symons Wingrove, who was for 46 years secretary of the shire of Eltham. He died in 1905. In the outer portion lie the remains of Walter Withers, whose “Tranquil Winter” and other pictures in our National Gallery are perpetual delight. He loved this countryside. And it is fitting that this should be his resting place. An outstanding monument – outstanding from the nature of its inscription – is to Graham Webster, once a police magistrate, in Victoria. Born in Essex, England, in 1830 he died at Greensborough, Victoria, in 1903. The epitaph makes a remarkable claim. It reads:- “Here lies Graham Webster, the last of his race, who descended in one unbroken line from father to son for a period of 779 years.” That first forefather possibly saw the Crusaders!  It recalls Gray’s line:- “The paths of glory lead to the grave.”

Note:

England terminated its interest in the island of St Helena in 1836.

The Beale’s returned to England for about three years after leaving St Helena and departed London in 1839, arriving in Launceston 29 July 1839 aboard the ‘Cecilia.’ The family departed Launceston, aboard the “Perseverance,” on the 4th   of November 1839 bound for Port Phillip.

Advertiser, Hurstbridge, Vic, Friday 27th September 1929, page 1.

“A CHAPEL IN THE HILLS.
WHERE EARLY SETTLERS WORSHIPPED

(By E. J. T. Oliver in the “Argus” Camera Supplement)

“A few miles beyond Greensborough, and about 15 miles from Melbourne, on top of a grassy hill, stands a small church known as St. Catherine’s [sic] Chapel. It was built nearly 90 years ago by Major Anthony Beale, a retired paymaster of the East India Company, who had been at St. Helena during part of Napoleon’s exile.
Major Beale set out in a sailing ship in 1835, and by way of what was then Van Diemen’s Land he reached Victoria four years later. After having sought a suitable spot for a residence, he selected this breezy hillside, and here he built a substantial mansion, which still stands there, and which, in memory of his former island home, he called St. Helena. The house has also given its name to the district, which is still but sparsely populated.
Major Beale imported the timber with which to build his house, and it is in admiration and astonishment that visitors look at the stout beams and weatherboards that have withstood storms and defied decay for nearly 90 years. The house is built with the boards laid horizontally instead of upright, and the bricks of the huge chimneys are hand-made. Major Beale built some kind of brick kiln on the estate. The bricks are thin and narrow, and of a different color from that of the machine-made bricks of to-day. The dining-room fireplace is almost the size of a small room, with seats built on either side so that husband and wife might sit opposite to each other on winter nights.
The chapel, which was later added as a private place of worship, is indeed charming, with its gothic windows of stained glass. Through them beams of purple and gold light up the quiet interior. A beautiful little etching of the building hangs in the wall, “a gift from the etcher.” Church of England service is held there weekly, and the folk of the surrounding district file in to fill the old-fashioned pews, where the early settlers worshipped so long ago.
The church is surrounded by a graveyard, after the fashion of the land of Major Beale’s birth. Here lie the pioneers and their sons, and here we may read of one Graham Webster, descended in a direct line for more than 700 years and now sleeping, “the last of his race,” beneath Australian skies. Here also we may see the stone to the memory of Major Beale and his wife and several members of their family.
The roads that lead to this spot of interest are good, and motorists will enjoy the journey through Ivanhoe and Heidelberg. It is a delightful journey for a Saturday afternoon, with a picturesque objective for all who love quiet and beautiful places.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 25th July 1944, page 3.

“ST HELENA PIONEER’S FUNERAL IN FAMILY CHURCHYARD.

“A link with early Melbourne was broken yesterday by the death of Mr Anthony Beale, of St Helena, near Greensborough. Mr Beale, who was 86, was a grandson of Major Anthony Beale, a pioneer settler of Greensborough district, who came with his family to Port Phillip settlement in 1839, from the island of St Helena, where he had been stationed as paymaster-general of the British East India Company for many years, including the period of Napoleon Buonaparte’s exile in captivity on the island. After living for a few years in a home built at New Town (now Fitzroy), the Beale family moved to a selection about 12 miles to the north near the Plenty River, in what is now the Greensborough district, and named their new home St Helena. The major’s wife, Katherine Rose Beale, died in 1856, and to her memory her husband erected the miniature chapel which still stands in a cluster of cypress trees by the St Helena home, a mile or so off the main Greensborough road. Originally it was named the Rose Chapel, but after Major Beale’s death it was given to the Church of England, and became known as St Katherine’s Church. The little churchyard has been used as a private burial ground for members of the Beale family, and it is there that Mr Anthony Beale will be buried on Wednesday after a service conducted in the little church by Rev. A. J. Barford, vicar of Greensborough. The home, from which the casket will be carried, is the fourth house built by the Beale family on the St Helena property.”

Footnotes:

[1] The Cornwall Chronicle, Launceston, Tas, Saturday 21st September 1839, page 1.

[2] Bryan James; http://www.ozgenonline.com/~mytwigs/beale_a.html; accessed 29 May 2013.

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3 comments on “1869: St Katherine’s Church, St Helena, Victoria.

  1. Australian Women’s Weekly, 9th April 1949. Page 25. Reading this item caused me to search for information about the church online which led me to your excellent piece here.

    • Many thanks for your input Steve and for pointing out that there was a difference between NSW and VIC editions of the same magazine (hence the reason for Trove’s missing article). I did not consider that the “Australian” Women’s Weekly would do that. The scanned copy you sent of the original article was fabulous!

      Regards,

      Ray

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