1884: St John’s Anglican Church, Bairnsdale, Victoria.

St John’s Anglican Church in Bairnsdale contains a stained glass window dedicated to the memory of Bairnsdale solicitor, Edward George Gregory Sandford (c.1852-1882), who died of Tuberculosis aged 30 at Albury on the New South Wales Border, 16th of May 1882[1].

The window was erected at the east end of St John’s behind the altar and was presented by his wife Florence (nee Kirkpatrick)[2] in June 1884. St John’s Church was officially opened in the same month, on the feast day of St John the Baptist, 24th of June 1884[3].

The window is attributed to the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne and depicts Christ as “The Good Shepherd” and has the inscription at the base; “In Memoriam – Edward George Gregory Sandford, Obit, May 16th, 1882”. [4]

In 1980 the window was restored (studio unknown) and now an additional memorial also now appears below the original inscription:


Photos taken: 24th April 2011. (historic B/W images from State Library Victoria Collections)

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Edward George Gregory Sandford (1852-1882) was the son of Edward Sandford, a former barrister of the Supreme Court of NSW, and Eliza Catherine Gregory. His parents married in Sydney in 1849[5] and circa 1852 they moved to Newtown (Melbourne’s first suburb, now known as Fitzroy) where Edward was born in 1852, and then later moved to St Kilda. Edward followed his father in the legal profession and on the 20th January 1880 he married Florence Kirkpartick (1855-1945) at All Saints Church in St Kilda[6]. Edward and Florence then returned to Bairnsdale where he had been practicing as a solicitor since circa 1877. A daughter, Mary Maitland, was born at Bairnsdale on the 3rd of November 1880[7], and a son, Edward Herbert, born 3rd January 1882[8]. In circumstance of his failing health from Tuberculosis, they traveled to Albury shortly after his son’s birth, where he died five months later on the 16th of May 1882 aged 30. Florence never remarried and she died on the 8th June 1945[9] aged 90. She was buried with Edward in the St Kilda cemetery[10] 63 years after Edwards death.

Gippsland Times, Vic, Friday 21st December 1883, page 3.

“The foundation stone of the above church was laid on Wednesday last, in the presence of a large concourse of people, by the Rev. W. G. Hindley, Incumbent of the parish. Copies of the local and town papers, current coins, and a parchment document, were placed in the cavity of the stone. During the ceremony W. A. L. Elston, Esq., read a copy of the document as follows:-

In Nomine Dei, Amen.
Colony of Victoria, Australia.
Diocese of Melbourne, Archdeaconry of Melbourne.
Parish of St. John’s, Bairnsdale, County of Tanjil, North Gippsland.
Being the 47th year of the Reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria.
Bishop of Melbourne, Right Rev. J. Moorehouse, D.D.
Archdeacon Very Rev. H. B. Macartney D.D.
Incumbent of St. John’s, Rev. W. G. Hindley.
Board of Guardians:
H. Besley, M. W. Bower, E. Bull, B. Johnson, W. L. A. Elston, H. Goodenough, J. Jackson, J. Tipping.
C. C. Greene, Alex Smith, J. D. Smith.

The first foundation stone of this church was laid by John Davidson Smith on the 8th October, 1866, but the design was never completed, and the building being inadequate for the growth of the district, it was decided to erect the present more commodious structure in its place. Architect, J. Ibler; contractor, W. J. Yates.

The Rev. W. G. Hindley laid the stone and briefly alluded to the history, present position, and future prospects, of the church in Bairnsdale. The old church, which was a monument of their earlier struggles, had been pulled down, and the one of which they had laid the foundation stone would meet the wants of their growing town, and be a memorial of a most prosperous season, and an acknowledgement that God is the giver of all good. He hoped soon to see the church completed and out of debt.

The Rev. Canon Watson congratulated the people of Bairnsdale on their bright church prospects, and said how gratifying it was to see such evidence of success in church and other work. In Sale, he could tell them, they were doing a similar work, and were preaching what he, as a Sale man, hoped would be the Cathedral Church of the future. There was a great deal of rivalry among the towns of Gippsland, and this provided a wholesome emulation in church matters, which was productive of good.

The Rev. J. Hollis followed, and said he was glad the old church had been demolished, it was like our ambition too narrow and too high, he trusted that the new church would be broad in the test, and every sense of the word, but thoroughly evangelical. Referring to what Canon Watson had said he humorously said that the Bairnsdale Church would be finished and paid for before the Sale church.

The Rev. T. Walker spoke of foundations from from [sic]an architectural and spiritual point of view.

About £20, 10s was laid on the stone. The building is cruciform with nave, transepts, chancel, vestry and organ chamber, and will when completed, be an ornament to the town.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 20th January 1880, page 1.

“SANDFORD-KIKPATRICK.- On the 13th inst, at All Saints’ Church, St. Kilda, by the Rev. J. H. Gregory, Edward George Gregory Sandford, of Bairnsdale, solicitor, eldest son of Edward Sandford, of Alma-road, St Kilda, solicitor, examiner of titles, to Florence, only daughter of the late William Maitland Kirkpatrick, formerly of Caulfield, Victoria.”

Bairnsdale Advertiser & Tambo & Omeo Chronicle, Vic Thursday 18th May 1882, page 2.

“The painful news was received in Bairnsdale by wire on Tuesday, stating that Mr. E. G. G. Sandford, who has been practicing in this town between four and five years as a solicitor, had died at Albury that morning. The event was not unexpected, as it was generally known that the deceased gentleman had been ailing from pulmonary consumption for a long time past, and had removed to Albury for the benefit of his health, and the news lately received from him was such as to induce his friends to be prepared at any moment to hear of the sorrowful event of which they were informed on Tuesday. During his residence in Bairnsdale the late Mr. Sandford married Miss Kirkpatrick, and during his sojourn here he took an active part in all social and religious movements, and in public matters, and was respected and esteemed by all. He leaves a widow and two young children to mourn his loss.”

Bairnsdale Advertiser & Tambo & Omeo Chronicle, Vic Thursday 18th May 1882, page 2.

(Before His Honor Judge Nolan.)


When the General Sessions Court was opened, Mr. Kelleher, who was greatly affected, and who spoke very feelingly, observed that he had been requested by his brethren in both branches of the profession, and he spoke for himself, to refer sorrowfully to the absence of a young solicitor who had been practicing before the court during the last four or five years, and whose absence was occasioned by death. He (Mr. Kelleher) knows that the late Mr. Sandford was esteemed by the public of Bairnsdale, and was respected by his brother professionals: he was a good citizen, a good husband, and a good father, and his demise was generally regretted. He (Mr. Kelleher) did not apply to his Honor for an adjournment of the court, but on behalf of the professional gentlemen – and he spoke for himself – he solicited and expression from his Honor touching the painful circumstance.

His Honor feelingly remarked that he had heard a few minutes previously of the death of Mr. Sandford, and he felt very much shocked. The deceased gentleman had practiced before him for years, and his conduct in court had been most exemplary and courteous. He (his Honor) had known of he late Mr. Sandford’s illness some time ago, and had frequently inquired of he deceased gentleman’s father concerning his health. The court expressed deep sorrow at the loss of so esteemed a gentleman who had practiced before it.”

Bairnsdale Advertiser & Tambo & Omeo Chronicle, Vic, Saturday 20th May 1884, p2.

“SANDFORD.- On the 16th inst., at Albury, N.S.W., Edward George Gregory Sandford, of Bairnsdale, solicitor, in his 30th year.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 22nd May 1882, page 1.

“SANDFORD.- On the 16th inst., at Albury, New South Wales, Edward George Gregory Sandford, late of Bairnsdale, solicitor, examiner of titles, in his 30th year.”

Gippsland Times, Vic, Monday 16th June 1884, page 3.

“A handsome In Memoriam window has just been erected in the new Church of England, Bairnsdale. It is the gift of Mrs Sandford, and is in memory of her late husband, formerly a solicitor, practicing in Bairnsdale. The subject is “The Good Shepherd,” representing Christ carrying a lamb in his arms, and is very beautifully finished, reflecting great credit on the firm by whom the order was executed. The window bears the following inscription:-

In Memoriam – Edward George Gregory Sandford, Obit, May 16th, 1882”.

Bairnsdale Advertiser & Tambo & Omeo Chronicle, Vic, Thursday 26th June 1884, p2.


On Tuesday last the new Church of England, which has been erected by the Episcopalians of Bairnsdale, was opened for divine worship, special services being conducted on the occasion. There was a very large congregation both morning and evening, and not withstanding that the edifice has been constructed to seat 400 persons, chairs and forms had to be placed in all available places, in the morning and in the evening every nook and corner of the building was densely crowded, and may persons being desirous of gaining admittance were unable to do so. The guardians of the church had evidently been busy for some days past, as all arrangements for the services were most complete, and the large congregation were seated without the slightest confusion. A musical treat was provided for the occasion, the choir being of unusual strength as their ranks were augmented by several well known amateurs, and Mr. Plaisted, the talented and well-known organist of Melbourne presiding at the organ, the splendid instrument belonging to the Catholic Church having been kindly lent for the occasion by the Rev. Father O’Donohoe. Bridgewater’s morning and evening services were rendered by the choir, the anthem in the morning being “Rejoice in the Lord,” and in the evening “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” both being from the Campbell’s selection of anthems. The solos were contributed by Mrs. Cole and Messrs. Bower and Winkelmann, all of whom are to be complimented on their efforts, as also must be the choir generally, for the musical portion of the service has never been excelled in Bairnsdale. Before, however, proceeding to notice the other features of the opening ceremony, we must refer to the appearance of the church, more especially during the time the rite of confirmation was being administered. The bright sunlight streaming in through the many colored windows, cast a varied tint over the whole edifice, and falling on the white apparel of the ladies presented to the Bishop for confirmation, was most impressive in effect, and when combined with the solemn supplication of his Lordship as each couple took their kneeling positions before the communion rails, could not fail to produce an impression on the congregation present which will last for many a day. The magnificent altar cloth was presented to the church by Mrs. Moorehouse, wife of the bishop, and was much admired by all present, and the stained window facing the east, as has previously been mentioned by us, is the gift of Mrs. Sandford, in memory of the late Mr. E. G. G. Sandford, who during his life in Bairnsdale was a prominent member of the congregation. At the conclusion of each service a collection was taken up in aid of the building fund of the church, the result in the morning being £14,10s,9d. and in the evening £22. At each service the officiating clergymen were the Bishop, Dr. Moorehouse, The Rev. Canon Watson, of sale, and the rev. W. G. Hindley, the incumbent of St. John’s, Mr. H. R. Kelsall, the lay reader, also being present. The opening ceremony was appropriately fixed for the day set apart by the Anglican Church for the feast of St. John the Baptist, to whom the church is dedicated, and this fact was referred to by the young people before proceeding to administer the rite of confirmation, as his Lordship remarked that there some significance in the fact that the church dedicated to St. John should be opened on the feast day of that saint. His lordship referred to the teachings of St. John in the wilderness to the Israelites to repent, and as that saint taught in the olden times, so did the ministers at the present time. He charged them to repent – to change their lives – in order to be prepared to receive the rite of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, and in a most eloquent address, admonished those about to receive the rite of Confirmation that they were to ask themselves whether they were prepared to crucify the lusts of the flesh, to renounce the evil influences of the world. He asked them if they were so prepared, and if so, he invited them to accept the full privilege of the blessings bestowed, and to be constant attendants at the Communion table. The rite of confirmation was administered to over thirty candidates. The evening discourse delivered by the bishop was an earnest and eloquent one, and was listened to with wrapt attention by the large congregation.

The ceremony of Tuesday marks an epoch in the history of Bairnsdale which must have an interest for all in the community, marking as it does the rise and progress of the town. The highly esteemed and much respected incumbent, the rev. W.G. Hindley, has taken a very active and earnest interest in having a church erected adequate to the requirements of the congregation, and being ably supported by the guardians the present building stands as a very substantial proof of their labours. They have taken a great responsibility upon themselves, taking upon their own shoulders the burden of seeing debt on the building paid off, and in this the congregation should join heartly in seeing the building unencumbered. We may be pardoned for throwing out one suggestion, and that is, having a fine edifice in which to assemble for public worship, they should not rest content until all their appointments are complete, and such cannot be the case until they have an organ suitable for the building, for it must be apparent to all that the little musical instrument which has hitherto done service will not be adequate to the requirements of the new church.”

Bairnsdale Advertiser & Tambo & Omeo Chronicle, Vic, Tuesday 1st July 1884, p 2.

“…The building was designed by Mr. J. Ibler, lately and architect practicing in Bairnsdale, and the contract for the erection of eh church was let to Mr. W. J. Yates, builder of Bairnsdale, and it is very evident that he has discharged his duties in a most faithful manner, the entire building being a masterpiece of the builder’s and decorator’s art; and while eulogising Mr. Yates and the workmen engaged by him, we must congratulate the congregation on the substantial and artistic manner in which their church has been erected, and the appreciable addition it forms to the architecture of Bairnsdale.”

Ellen Maria Watts Jones [nee Kemp] (1887-1979)

The east window was restored in 1980 in memory of Ellen Maria Watts Jones.

Ellen was the daughter of Arthur Kemp and Harriet Elizabeth Watts and was born in 1887. She married John Jones (c.1884 – 1961) and she died on the 2nd May 1879 at Clifton Waters Village at Bairnsdale aged 92.

Ellen left a bequest to St John’s church, part of which was used for the restoration of the historic east stained glass window created by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne. The dedication of the restored window and other items purchased via the bequest was planned for 25th May 1980 by Bishop Graham Richard Delbridge.

Records from Parish Council minutes revealed the following information:

4th February 1980:

“A bequest from Mrs Jones, late of C.W.V., is considered being used in part to restore the east window”.

17th February 1980:

“East window which is unique will be restored by bequest for $1,000”

The restoration work on the window was possibly done by Phillip Handel (1931-2009) of Sydney, but this is not confirmed.[11]



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