1872: St John’s Anglican Church, Raymond Terrace, New South Wales.

In late November 1872 a magnificent three-light stained-glass window was unveiled in St John’s Anglican Church at Raymond Terrace in New South Wales.

“…It is due to the firm of Messrs Furgusson [sic], Urie, and Lyon, of Melbourne, to say that the window is regarded as a beautiful specimen of Australian art, which will favourably compare with works of a similar character executed in England…” [1].

The window was crafted by the North Melbourne stained-glass firm ‘Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon’ for £80 and was erected in the chancel in memory of the district pioneer and geologist William Keene.

Photos were taken October 2013 and have been kindly contributed by Michaela Sorensen. The historic photo of the chancel and window was taken by the Rector of St John’s, the Rev Norman Alfred Pullin (1913-1983), during his incumbency of St John’s circa 1949-52 [2].

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St John’s Anglican Church is located at Raymond Terrace, 167km North of Sydney and 26km North of Newcastle in New South Wales.

The church was built on land formerly owned by the Cafferay[3] family and was constructed of locally quarried stone to the designs of architect Edmund Blacket for £1500. It was consecrated by the Bishop of Newcastle, William Tyrell, on Thursday the 25th September 1862[4] and the first incumbent was the Rev John Roe Blomfield.

After the death of William Keene in 1872 it was resolved that a memorial stained-glass window should be erected to his memory in St John’s. One of the lead organisers of the creation of the window was Henry Bayes Cotton (1820-1906)[5], a well-known and respected manager of the National Bank of New South Wales at nearby Newcastle.

The craftsmanship of the window was entrusted to the Ferguson, Urie and Lyon[6] Stained-glass Company of North Melbourne in Victoria. The biblical theme represented in the window being, in the centre light, the Nativity, Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The flanking side lights had the inscription beneath each figure being, ‘Teach the Ignorant,’ and ‘Help the Helpless.’

The window was erected in the chancel of St John’s and was unveiled in late November 1872. The ‘Maitland Mercury’ of the 3rd December 1872 provided a detailed description of the historic window;

“…Commencing at the foot of the light, there is the scene of our Saviour’s birth. In the centre of the light is represented the Crucifixion, and this is again surmounted by the Resurrection. These subjects are all taken from the old masters, and are beautifully executed. The intermediate spaces are occupied with chaste and varied medallions, and the sacred monograms, I.H.S. In the right side light there is an admirably designed and well finished group, representing a venerable teacher engaged in instructing those around him; the countenances of this group are peculiarly pleasing. In the left side light is likewise a corresponding group, consisting of a benevolent person, and a female figure of benign aspect, engaged in receiving orphan children…”
“…The inscription at the base of the memorial is, “To the Glory of God, and in memory of William Keene, 1872”
[7]

Just over a century later the chancel of St John’s had to be demolished and the window, now more than a century old, was considered to be in a fragile condition and was subsequently removed and stored in the rectory of St John’s. The repairs to the sanctuary and extensions to the chapel and vestry were completed in 1975 [8] and, later, at the instigation of William Keene’s great granddaughter, Annette Keene Holloway, funds were raised from family members and parishioners of St John’s to repair and re-erect the windows. Because there was no longer a position in the chancel for the windows to be re-erected in their original configuration, they were refashioned into five single lights and re-installed along the south wall of the nave.

“A stained glass window depicting the nativity, Life and Crucifiction [sic] was erected in St. John’s Church in memory of Great Grandfather William Keene. Later I heard it had been removed and the opening cemented up. I wrote to the Rev. Sores and he replied that the window had been in bad repair and in danger of being broken. Raymond Terrace was a poor parish without the money to restore the damage so the windows were stored in the Rectory. I wrote to my cousins who sent money. Other parishioners did too and the windows were re-installed on the side wall of the church where they can still be admired as a link with early colonial days.”[9]

Mr Don Denham, Parish Secretary of St Johns, Raymond Terrace, provides further insight as to the time line of the historical windows:

“In the late 1960’s the original sanctuary/ chancel of the church was demolished and in the 1970’s a new sanctuary/ chancel and side chapel were constructed of modern design. In the new construction there was no east window to house the windows and so they were placed in the five small lancet windows of the southern side of the nave”.

“… the complete east window fitted perfectly into the nave windows and the completed affect is quite pleasing…”

“…The windows have been recently restored and we are planning the rededication service for 20 October this year”.[10]

The most recent conservation work on the windows was carried out in 2011 by Ron Jensen, of Heritage Stained Glass at New Lambton in New South Wales. Only two of the five windows required attention, being the one at the south west corner titled “Teach the ignorant” and the centre window of the five titled “Death” which depicts the Crucifixion.

The five individual windows, from left to right along the south wall are;

“Help the Helpless”, “Birth” (Nativity), “Death” (Crucifixion), “Resurrection” and “Teach the Ignorant.”

Each of the reconstructed windows retains the original 1872 Ferguson & Urie figurative stained glass work depicting the five biblical scenes. Each scene has two of the original decorative quatrefoils below it. These quatrefoils are of varying colours with gothic floral designs of yellow and white flowers in the centre, surrounded by a stylized depiction of the passion flower with the stamen in each of the four lobes.

The background quarries of glass surrounding the figurative scenes and quatrefoils are no-longer original and are now of varying sized rectangular and diamond shapes in soft pastel colours. The monogram described as containing the letters “I.H.S” originally appeared between the nativity and Crucifixion scenes in the centre light of the window but this no longer exists. The memorial inscription at the base of the window now has the year ‘1872’ in the far left light which in its original configuration appeared immediately after William Keene’s name (To the Glory of God, and in memory of William Keene, 1872”).

There are many cases of our historic stained-glass artefacts that no longer exist after more than a century and a half. Some of the historic churches have met their demise by fire, demolition, or have been sold to private enterprise over the last 150 years and in many cases their original artefacts and stained-glass windows have been lost. St John’s church at Raymond Terrace represents a rare example of the dedication of the parishioners and Keene family descendants to save the historic windows so they still have a reminder of their pioneer heritage.

In September 2012 St John’s celebrated its 150 year anniversary and the re-dedication of the Keene memorial stained-glass windows will occur at St John’s on the 20th October 2013.

William Keene (1798 – 1872)

William Keene was born at Bath, in Somersetshire, England, c.1798. His English ancestry associates him with ‘The Bath Journal’ of London, founded in 1742. The tabloid was later known as ‘Keene’s Bath Journal’ circa 1822 which remained in the Keene family until c.1916 before being absorbed by the ‘Bath Herald’.

William Keene initially trained in the medical profession but his interests in geology were his passion and he changed his career to become a geologist and mining and civil engineer. Circa 1822 he left for France where he gained a prestigious appointment with the French government;

“…in connection with some salt mines in the Pyrenees. His services, highly esteemed by that government, brought him an order and a pecuniary grant…[11]

Keene later became a ‘Fellow of the Geological Society’ in London[12] which entitled him to the prestigious post nominal of ‘F.G.S’. On the 13th August 1822 William was married to Sarah Charles Evans (1804-1867) at the British Embassy Chapel in Paris[13] by the Chaplain Edward Forster. The Keene’s had a long association with France where many of their children were born. During their time in France William gained a passion for the French style of wine making which would become an interest for the rest of his life. At the beginning of the French Revolution in 1848 they returned to England[14].

Circa 1852 William migrated to Australia with his family and on the 12th December 1854 he was appointed as Government Examiner of Coal Fields in New South Wales[15] and in 1856 promoted to Government Geologist[16]. His geological interests allowed him to amass a significant collection of mineral specimens and fossils which he displayed in 1858[17] and in August 1859 the collection was on public display at the military barracks in Newcastle[18].

In 1861 William Keene’s extraordinary collection of geological specimens was singled out for particular attention at the Sydney Industrial and Art Exhibition;

“To the collection of Mr. W. Keene, Government examiner of coal fields and mines, it is desirable to invite particular attention. It is on the north side of the upper gallery, and consists of some valuable specimens from our gold, copper, lead, iron, and coal fields, and some remarkable fossils, the whole having been collected by himself, and chiefly in the counties of Hunter and Argyle…”[19]

Over a twenty year period William Keene wrote several papers on the subject of fossils and authored a significant number of Government reports on Colonial mineral wealth and mining.

William Keene was a staunch supporter of the Church of England and in his position as the first acting Registrar of St John’s he read the petition for the consecration of the church, which he had the honour to perform shortly after 11am on Thursday the 25th September 1862[20].

William Keene was a member of the Newcastle Church Diocese, Local School Board, and Founder and Treasurer of the Clergy Widows and Orphan’s Fund[21]. He was elected President of the Newcastle School of Arts in 1869[22] and he laid the foundation stone of that school on the 8th April 1870[23].

Aside from his geological interests he was renowned in the Hunter River area as a viticulturist and vintner, who passionately advocated the French style of vine-growing in the district. He was also an active member of the Hunter River Vineyard Association, of which he was president in 1865-66[24], and also a member of the Agricultural Association[25]. His experience in this field often saw him called upon to act as a wine-judge at the regional exhibitions[26].

William Keene died at his home, ‘Kingsmead House’, in Raymond Terrace on the 2nd February 1872[27] and was buried in the Raymond Terrace Cemetery. His wife Sarah predeceased him on the 2nd of July 1867[28].

Henry Bayes Cotton (1820-1906)

Henry Bayes Cotton is recognised as one of the principal promoters in having the Keen memorial window erected in St John’s in 1872.

“…It cannot fail to give great pleasure to H. B. Cotton, Esq., of Newcastle, who has taken a large amount of trouble and interest in accomplishing the work; and the friends of the deceased must be greatly gratified and comforted when they gaze upon this tribute of respect and affection to their departed relative…”[29]

Henry Bayes Cotton arrived in the Colony circa 1839 and was appointed as the first manager of the Bank of New South Wales at Geelong circa 1854 and in 1863-64, appointed as first manager of the Newcastle branch[30] in New South Wales where he remained until his retirement in early 1888.[31] Although retired he maintained an interest in financial affairs and in 1893 he was appointed a director of the New South Wales ‘de Piété Deposit and Investment Company.’[32]

Like William Keene, he was a staunch supporter of the Church of England and was also for many years a lay reader and active member of the Synod[33].

The association or friendship between Keene and Cotton is not specifically known but it is reasonable to assume that they knew each other well as Cotton was also involved in the establishment of the Newcastle School of Arts[34] with William Keene, who had laid the foundation stone of that school in 1862 and both were parishioners of St John’s at Raymond Terrace with Cotton actively involved in the choir of St. John’s.

Henry Bayes Cotton left Newcastle and retired to the Sydney suburb of Hunters Hill where he died aged 86 at his residence ‘Fig Tree’ on the 15th January 1906[35]. His wife Rachel predeceased him, 18th April 1903, aged 78[36].

The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River Advertiser, NSW, Tuesday 3rd December 1872, page 3.

“MEMORIAL STAINED GLASS WINDOW IN ST. JOHN’S CHURCH, RAYMOND TERRACE, TO THE LATE WILLIAM KEENE, ESQ.- This window was placed in St. John’s Church, Raymond Terrace, Raymond Terrace, last week, and as it is the admiration of all who have viewed it, a short description may be interesting to your readers, whilst it is due to those kind friends who contributed towards the window. It may be as well to state in the first place, that the Church of St. John is a Gothic edifice, pleasantly situated on a spot which affords a view of the Hunter River and of the rich alluvial farms spreading for miles on the opposite side; the churchyard is neatly kept, having been tastefully laid out and planted with choice evergreen trees about six years ago. The east window of the church consists of three lancet lights; the central light is eleven feet high, being admirably adapted for the style and subjects which have been chosen. Commencing at the foot of the light, there is the scene of our Saviour’s birth. In the centre of the light is represented the Crucifixion, and this is again surmounted by the Resurrection. These subjects are all taken from the old masters, and are beautifully executed. The intermediate spaces are occupied with chaste and varied medallions, and the sacred monograms, I.H.S. In the right side light there is an admirably designed and well finished group, representing a venerable teacher engaged in instructing those around him; the countenances of this group are peculiarly pleasing. In the left side light is likewise a corresponding group, consisting of a benevolent person, and a female figure of benign aspect, engaged in receiving orphan children. It is scarcely necessary to say that these subjects are intended to perpetuate the memory of the offices which the deceased gentleman so long and faithfully filled in the Church of the Diocese, as a member of the Local School Board, and Founder and Treasurer of the Clergy Widows’ and Orphans’ Fund. The inscription under these subjects respectively is, ‘Teach the Ignorant,’ ‘Help the Helpless.’ The window adds much to the beauty of the chancel and the church generally. It cannot fail to give great pleasure to H. B. Cotton, Esq., of Newcastle, who has taken a large amount of trouble and interest in accomplishing the work; and the friends of the deceased must be greatly gratified and comforted when they gaze upon this tribute of respect and affection to their departed relative. It is due to the firm of Messrs Furgusson [sic], Urie, and Lyon, of Melbourne, to say that the window is regarded as a beautiful specimen of Australian art, which will favourably compare with works of a similar character executed in England. The cost of the window, with transmission and erection, has been £80. The inscription at the base of the memorial is, “To the Glory of God, and in memory of William Keene, 1872,” –Newcastle Pilot, Nov. 30.”

A comprehensive eleven page document of all the significant historical newspaper transcriptions can be viewed here Raymond_Terrace_St John’s_Transcriptions This document is well worth reading as it gives a more in depth perspective to the history and has much more detail than I have attempted to sumarise in the above article.

Acknowledgements:

Thanks to Don Denham, Jock Keene and Carolyn Wulff, for their much appreciated correspondence and contributions to this article and to Michaela Sorensen for the current photos of the stained glass windows.

Foot notes:

[2] Historic photograph contributed with thanks to Rev Pullin’s daughter, Carolyn Wulff (email 28th Sept 2013)

[6] Stained Glass artist John Lamb Lyon (1835-1916) was and employee of the firm from 1862 and a partner from 1866 to 1873.

[8] newcastleanglican.org, Mission Statement, St John’s, Raymond Terrace, parish profile, page 3. (accessed 18 Sept 2013).

[9] Holloway, Annette Keene, “The Keene family of Raymond Terrace”, Raymond Terrace and District Historical Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 3, June, 1982, p. 119-122.

[10] Mr Don Denham, Parish Secretary, St John’s Raymond Terrace NSW, email 16th Sept 2013.

[13] Marriages Solemnized in the house of his Excellency, the British Ambassador (Lord Sir Charles Stuart) at the Court of France in the year 1822.

[14] Australian Dictionary of Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/keene-william-3931/text6183, accessed 17 September 2013.

[17] David F. Branagan, Geology and Coal Mining in the Hunter Valley, 1791-1861 (Newcastle 1972), p. 72.

[24] Australian Dictionary of Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/keene-william-3931/text6183,, accessed 17 September 2013.

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