The foundation stone of St Peter’s Anglican Church was laid on the 1st of May 1866 on the corner of Anne and Bourke streets at Woolloomooloo (now Darlinghurst) by the Governor Sir John Young (1807-1876) and was officially opened on the 25th of July 1867 by the Bishop of Sydney, Frederick Barker (1808-1882).
The great east window of St Peters is a 16ft high triple light window of Gothic design with the centre light taller than the outer two. The window was the gift of the ministers Church Warden and Treasurer of the building fund, James Gordon, to commemorate the installation of the first incumbent of the church, the Rev George Harman Moreton (1826-1902).
The window was made by the “Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon” stained glass company of Melbourne for £182 and was placed on display at the company’s workshops in Curzon-street, North Melbourne. Between the 20th and 22nd of June 1867 the public were invited to view it until 4.p.m on the Saturday before it was to be shipped to Sydney.
St Peter’s was deconsecrated in 1993 and subsequently purchased by the Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School (SCEGGS) and is now known as the “Great Hall” of the School at Darlinghurst.
Photos taken 6th May 2011.
The window is described as follows:
The base of each window bears the following inscriptions:
“PRESENTED BY JAMES GORDON, ST PETERS DAY A.D. 1867”.
“TO BEAUTIFY THE HOUSE OF GOD AND TO COMMEMORATE THE”
“INSTALLATION OF THE REVd G. H. MORETON AS FIRST INCUMBENT OF THIS CHURCH”.
There are nine biblical scenes and three symbols depicted in the windows. Each of the nine figurative scenes has the text reference below it to a chapter and verse from the King James Bible.
“John – 1:42” – “And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.” This refers to Peter, also known as Simon Peter.
“Luke – 9:32” – “But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him”.
The depiction is of the ‘Transfiguration’ which is one of five major milestones in the life of Jesus.
“Matw – 8:25” – “And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.” The scene depicts the disciples pending shipwreck in the rough seas calling for the Lord to save them.
The apex of the centre light window contains the Hexagram symbol, more commonly recognised as the Star of David.
“Matw – 26:36” – “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder”. The scene depicted is commonly recognised as ‘The Agony in the Garden’.
“SALVATOR MUNDI.” – (Meaning, “Saviour of the World”). This is the central image of the centre light and depicts Christ standing and wearing crimson robes. In his left hand is the “Globus Cruciger” (representing the world or earth) which is surmounted by a cross. His right hand depicts the early Byzantine hand gesture of the benediction or blessing.
“P X” – Below Christ is the stylized letters P & X which are the Greek for Christ.
“Mark – 14:22” – “And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.” The scene depicted is commonly recognised as “The Last Supper.”
“IHS” – Below the Last Supper Scene is the letters “IHS”, the 8th century abbreviation for “IHESUS,” the way Christ’s name was spelled in the Middle Ages.
“Matw – 14:29” – “And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.” The image depicts Peter walking on the water towards Jesus who had sent the disciples to the Sea of Galilee, but their ship became caught in a storm. Jesus was seen walking upon the water and gave Peter the courage to walk upon the sea towards him.
“John – 19:26” – “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!” The scene depicted is the Crucifixion where Jesus is nailed to the cross and says to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.”
“John – 21:17” – “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” Christ is depicted as the Good Shepherd with his sheep and Peter is seen kneeling before him with his key.
Significant historical newspaper transcriptions:
“There is now in view at the stained glass manufactory of Messrs. Ferguson, Urie and Lyon, Curzon Street, North Melbourne, a memorial window for St. Peter’s Church, Woolloomooloo. The window has been presented by Mr. James Gordon, on the occasion of the installation of the first incumbent, and bears an inscription to that effect. It represents five episodes in the history of St. Peter, and is designed in the early English style of art, the execution of the figures and the harmony of colours reflecting great credit on the artist employed. The window is divided into three lights, and is 16ft by 7ft in size, the middle division containing a well executed figure of our Saviour, with the motto, “Salvatore mundi”. The public will be admitted until Saturday next.”
“NOTICE – The STAINED GLASS CHANCEL WINDOW for St. Peter’s Church, Woolloomooloo, will be ON VIEW, at the premises of Ferguson, Urie and Lyon, Curzon-street, North Melbourne, from Wednesday, the 19th, until Saturday, the 22nd inst, at 4 p.m. All interested in stained glass and church decorations are invited to inspect it.”
“CHANCEL WINDOW IN ST. PETER’S CHURCH, WOOLLOOMOOLOO – A beautiful stained window has just been erected over the chancel at the eastern end of St Peter’s Church, Ann-street, Wooloomooloo. This window is the gift of Mr. James Gordon. It is the workmanship of Messrs. Ferguson and Urie, glass stainers, Melbourne. The colouring is rich and the general effect striking. In the centre of the window is a large figure of the saviour, with the robes and insignia of royalty, and underneath the inscription “Salvator Mundi”. At the top is the agony in Gethsemane, and at the foot the Lord’s Supper. The other lights represent scenes in which St. Peter had part. On the left hand, at the top, is the calling of St. Peter and St. Andrew; and under it, the Transfiguration and the storm on the Lake of Gennesaret. On the right hand, at the top, is represented Christ walking on the water and rescuing St. Peter from the waves; below this is the Crucifixion, and then, under, the delivery of the keys to St. Peter. Along the foot of the window is the inscription:-“Presented by James Gordon, on St. Peter’s Day 1867, to beautify the House of God, and to commemorate the installation of the Rev. G. H. Moreton as first incumbent of this Church”.
“…Mr. JAMES GORDON, the minister’s churchwarden, then rose, as the treasurer of the building fund, to make a statement of the moneys received for and expended on the building…”
“…the chancel window, which cost £182…”
“THE LATE CANON MORETON”
Here passed away shortly before midnight on Thursday the venerable Canon George Harman Moreton, one of the early ministers of the Church of England in this State. The late Canon was born at Highway Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, in 1826, and his early history as a minister was one of indomitable perseverance and zeal. At the age of 17 Mr. Moreton announced to his guardian that he desired to enter the ministry. His intention was thwarted at every turn, and at last the youth left home and walked to London. He presented himself to the London City Mission, but his youth was considered a bar to his engagement. Young Moreton however, asked that he might be allowed to enter for the examinations, and after some time his request was granted. The youth passed the examinations with great credit, and was one of the youngest missionaries accepted. He received an appointment in the eastern mission field, and after his marriage went to Loo Choo, on the island of Lapa, Japan, in 1853. He laboured there three years, and was invalided home after a paralytic seizure. While at Japan, Mr. Moreton received new of British success in the Crimea from a Russian man-of-war. Mr. Moreton was ordained deacon at Trinity Church, Shanghai, by the first Bishop of Victoria, on October 9, 1853, and raised to the priesthood at the Chapel Royal, Whitehall, by Bishop Tait, of London, on December 20, 1857. He became curate of Pertenhall, Ely, in 1857, and in that year received an invitation from Bishop Barker to visit Australia. The long voyage of six months to Australia restored the young clergyman’s health, and Sydney was reached in 1858. Mr. Moreton preached in St. Philip’s Church the evening after he landed in Sydney, and was then appointed curate at St. James’ under Canon Allwood. This position he held till 1867 when he was asked by the late Mr. Charles Kemp to start a Church at Woolloomooloo. Mr. Moreton immediately set to work to found the Church of St. Peter’s, and in a short time the church, schools, and parsonage were built. In 1878 Mr. Moreton was elected a canon of St. Andrew’s Cathedral. The duties of the parish being rather heavy Canon Moreton left St. Peter’s in 1882, and went to St. Like’s, Burwood, which was then vacant. The debt on St. Luke’s was at that time 600, but in a little time this incubus was wiped out and a parsonage was built. With the aid of Miss Fadith [sic?] Walker a parish hall was built and an organ was placed in the church. During Canon Moreton’s incumbency at St. Luke’s two district churches connected with the parish were built. These were St Mary’s, Mortlake, and St. Peter’s Croydon, and they were erected free of debt. In 1897 Canon Moreton resigned his position at St. Luke’s, failing health having weakened his mental vigour. Canon Moreton was a ripe scholar, particularly in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. On Thursday night the Canon succumbed to an apoplectic seizure at his residence, Holchester, Burwood-street, Burwood. He had been confined to his room for many months. To-day shortly after 1 o’clock a funeral service is to be conducted by the Rev. A. E. Bellingham at St. Luke’s, Burwood, after which the body will be conveyed to Rookwood by rail when the Rev. H. Bryant will conduct the burial service. Mrs. Moreton died in 1896. Mr. P. H. Moreton is the only son of the late canon.”
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