1864: St Enoch’s Presbyterian Church, Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria.

St Enoch’s United Presbyterian Church was built c.1850 to the design’s of architects James Blackburn (Jnr) and Arthur Newson at the east end of Collins Street in Melbourne. The church opened on the 30th March 1851 with the Rev Andrew Mitchell Ramsay as the first incumbent.

Extensive renovations and extensions were conducted in 1864 by William Ireland to the designs of architect Charles Webb and it was re-opened on the 31st of July 1864. Part of these renovations in 1864 included the installation of decorative stained glass windows by Ferguson & Urie of North Melbourne.

“…Over the entrance at the tower end is a large circular window, with plaster moulding finished with crisps, and containing a cinquefoil of Bath stone, which is filled in with a stained glass representation of the “Burning Bush,” and motto “Nec Tamen Consumebatur” – the crest and motto of the Church of Scotland. All the windows have been filled in with beautifully stained glass, and have a very fine appearance, as seen from the interior of the church during the day. This portion of the decorations is the work of Messrs Ferguson and Urie, North Melbourne, who have acquired considerable reputation for artistic productions of this description…”[1]

My reasonable assumption is that the Burning Bush window was probably the only figurative stained glass window in St Enoch’s and all the other decorative windows were most likely typical of Ferguson & Urie’s simple stained glass bordered windows of alternating red and blue glass divided by a yellow or white flower. The central diamond shaped glass quarries in these windows would have been either plain glass, or filled with the ‘Fleur De Lys’ or similar Gothic patterns.

Under increasing financial pressure and a dwindling congregation, St Enoch’s was sold in August 1870 to the Presbyterian Church of Victoria for £4,400 who intended to convert it into the Presbyterian Assembly Hall.  The modifications were completed in less than a month and on the 12th September 1870 it was officially opened by Sir James McCulloch. [2]

Unfortunately St Enoch’s no longer exists. The church was demolished in early 1911[3] and on its site was built the Auditorium Building (Kurrajong House, 175 Collins Street)[4].

In 1915 the new Presbyterian Assembly Hall was opened on the opposite side of Collins Street, next to Scots Church, but there is no evidence of any Ferguson & Urie windows that may have been transferred to it.

Nothing is known as to the fate of any of the original Ferguson & Urie stained glass windows from St Enoch’s.

The slideshow photos depict various historic images of St Enoch’s Church between 1864-1911 as well as indicative examples of other ‘Burning Bush’ windows by the Ferguson & Urie company that still exist in other Presbyterian Churches in Victoria.

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Significant tabloid transcriptions:

The Argus, Melbourne, Saturday 30th July 1864, page 5.

“The additions to the United Presbyterian Church in Collins-street east having been completed the edifice will be re-opened for public worship tomorrow…”

“… The tower, which forms a central feature, is fifteen feet and a half square. On either side of it is a two-light window with appropriate tracery, filled – as are other windows in the new portion of the building – with ornamental glass, executed by Messrs. Ferguson and Urie, of North Melbourne.”

The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 1st August 1864, page 5.

“ST. ENOCH’S UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.

St. Enoch’s church, the name adopted by the Rev. Mr Ramsay’s congregation for their place of worship, in Collins street, was re-opened yesterday, having been closed for several weeks pending extensive alterations and improvements…”

“…The chief alteration that has been made on the building consists in the erection of a handsome stone front with a tower and spire in the decorative gothic style, and to this extent it is the second finest specimen of ecclesiastical architecture yet completed in this city. The total width of the front of the building, at the base, is 66 feet. The width of the church is 48 feet, and the remainder of the space is occupied by the manager’s office and gateway approach to the manse. The principal feature is, of course, the tower and spire, which together rise to the height of 110 feet, the spire being about 50[??] feet high. The base of the tower is about twenty feet in front by about seventeen feet in depth to the church. At the front, the sides and outer angles of the tower are supported by buttresses which stand at right angles to each other and are continued to the base of the spire, but are broken at intervals by gablets, water tables, &c. The tower consists of three divisions. The front of the lower division is occupied by an ornamental recessed doorway, enclosed between the front buttresses. The recesses of the doorway are filled in with deeply cut mouldings and pillars, with finely carved foliated capitals. The arch is similarly recessed and ornamented, and covered by a weather moulding with carved bosses. The doorway is crowned by a high gable filled up with quatrefoil and angular trefoil tracery, and surmounted by an encircled stone cross-crosslet standing about two feet in relief from the face of the tower. In a line with the base of the gable, the front and side buttresses on either side are ornamented with gablets, terminated with carved bosses and surmounted with foliated finials. The second division commences with a string-course, and contains in front a small window with a trefoil head, and at the sides quatrefoil windows with trefoil mouldings. The upper divisions, where the course is broken by weatherings, rises above the ridge of the church, and the four sides of the tower are here similarly ornamented, each with two one-light windows with trefoil heads. These windows are connected by moulded labels, and the moulding is also continued round the tower.

            The tower terminates with a cornixe [sic], enriched with ball flowers, and the buttresses are here surmounted by gablets, with foliated finials and carved bosses. The spire falls from the buttresses into an octagonal form. In the lower portion provision is made for a clock. A little above this, on four alternate sides, are one light windows, filled in with louvre slating. These windows are also ornamented with gables containing a trefoil, and the gables themselves are surmounted by foliated finials, and terminated with carved bosses. Above these, on alternate sides, are ornamental trefoil openings, with carved bosses and weatherings. The spire is then carried to a point without further embellishment, and terminates with a moulded apex, which is surmounted by a gilded encircled cross-crosslet, above which extends a lightning conductor.

            The angles of the church are supported by two buttresses, standing at right angles to each other. These are broken at the middle by water tables and are surmounted by gablets, from which spring octagonal pinnacles with foliated terminations. In the front of the church, on either side of the tower, is a two-light window with trefoil heads and a quatrefoil centering. These are further decorated by labels with carved bosses and surmounted by foliated finials.

            The manager’s office, which is built against the east side of the church, is, so far, a separate structure. It occupies part of a gable which is pierced by an arched gateway that leads to the office door in the side, the minister’s residence, class rooms, &c. The office is lighted by an ornamental on-light window, filled with stained glass, over which is a stone trefoil, while the gable is surmounted by a stone cross-crosslet similar to that over the church door.

            The front of the church and the tower are constructed of bluestone, but the ornamental portions, dressings and quoins are of Bath freestone. The spire is of Point Ventenet freestone, with Bath stone dressings. This Bath stone was imported by Messrs Miles, Kingston and Co. in the expectation that it might be chosen for the front of the Parliament Houses. That expectation, however, was not realised, and about twelve months ago a portion of the lot was purchased by Mr Adam Anderson, a member of Mr Ramsay’s congregation, and by him presented to the church for the purpose to which it has been applied.

            Internally the church has undergone a thorough renovation, and is fitted up with polished cedar pews. Over the entrance at the tower end is a large circular window, with plaster moulding finished with crisps, and containing a cinquefoil of Bath stone, which is filled in with a stained glass representation of the “Burning Bush,” and motto “Nec Tamen Consumebatur” – the crest and motto of the Church of Scotland. All the windows have been filled in with beautifully stained glass, and have a very fine appearance, as seen from the interior of the church during the day. This portion of the decorations is the work of Messrs Ferguson and Urie, North Melbourne, who have acquired considerable reputation for artistic productions of this description.

            The building stands considerably back from the street on an elevation about ten feet high, which slopes to within five or six feet of the front of the tower, and thus leaves a level platform which extends across the embankment. This platform is reached by a broad flight of stone steps opposite the main entrance, and from it a few steps within the doorway conduct to the vestibule, which at night is lighted with a beautifully stained glass lamp. The ground is enclosed in a line with the adjacent buildings by a low bluestone wall, with an elegant massive iron railing and gateway with open square pillars. These, which have a correspondence in style with that of the church, were cast at Laughton and Wilson’s (Vulcan) foundry, from designs specially furnished by Mr Webb, the architect of the building. The whole of the work has been completed in a way that affords the highest satisfaction, and reflects the utmost credit upon the builder, Mr William Ireland. The stone carving, which was executed by Mr William Allen, commands the highest admiration, as regards the capitals, bosses, and foliated ornaments, which in some cases are capable of being interlaced with a thread.

            An addition has been made to the building in the rear, which provides a commodious classroom on the ground floor, and a comfortable study in the second floor.”

The Australian News for Home Readers, Vic, Thursday 25th August 1864, page 12.

“ST ENOCHS UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH”

“St. Enoch’s church, the name adopted by the Rev. Mr Ramsay’s congregation for their place of worship, in Collins street, was re-opened on 31st ult, having been closed for several weeks pending extensive alterations and improvements…”

“… The office is lighted by an ornamental one-light window, filled with stained glass, over which is a stone trefoil, while the gable is surmounted by a stone crosslet similar to that over the church door…”

“…Over the entrance at the tower end is a large circular window, and containing a cinquefoil of bath stone, which is filled in with a stained glass representation of the “Burning Bush,” and the motto “Nec Tamen Consumebatur”[5] – the crest and motto of the Church of Scotland. All the windows have been filled in with beautifully stained glass, and have a very fine appearance, as seen from the interior of the church during the day. This portion of the decorations is the work of Messrs Ferguson and Urie, North Melbourne, who have acquired considerable reputation for artistic productions of this description…”

“…the vestibule, which at night is lighted with a beautifully stained glass lamp…”

Geelong Advertiser, Vic, Wednesday 10th August 1870, page 3.

“St. Enoch’s Church, in Collins-streets Melbourne, has now been handed over to the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, by which body it will be used as an Assembly Hall. The price was £4400, which is to be paid before the 1st of July of next year. The necessary alterations of the building are about to be proceeded with to adapt it to its new use.”

The Bacchus Marsh Express, Vic, Saturday 13th August 1870, page 4.

“THE Telegraph reports that the Church of St. Enoch, in Collins street east, has been purchased by the Presbyterian Church of Victoria as an assembly hall. The price given is £4,400. There is a mortgage of £1,700 on the property. The terms of the arrangement are that the balance of the price amounting to £2,700, and expenses should be paid on or before the 1st July, 1871. It is proposed to turn the building to several uses. Amongst these are primarily as assembly hall. Provision can also be made for committee-rooms, for the custody of the records of the church, for offices of the church, and for a theological library. Accommodation for ministers and elders visiting Melbourne for a day or two, it is suggested, should be provided; and the building can be used to hold meetings of young men’s societies, missionary meetings, &c., which may be expected to bring revenue to the church.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 13th September 1870, page 5.

“Last night the Presbyterian Assembly Hall, Collins-street east, which was formerly St Enoch’s Church, was opened by a tea and public meeting, at which Sir James McCulloch presided. About 400 persons sat down to tea, and more than that number took part in the subsequent proceedings.”

Table Talk, Melbourne, Vic, Thursday 20th April 1911, page 4.

Brief article summary – In mid 1911 the Presbyterian Assembly Hall (formerly St Enoch’s United Presbyterian Church) is to be pulled down to make way for a public amusement hall.

The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 18th May 1915, page 11.

“The Governor, attended by Mr. Victor Hood, was present last night at the opening of the New Assembly Hall of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, in Collins-street.”

(The new Hall was built on the opposite side of Collins Street to the left of Scot’s Church.)

Footnotes:

[1] The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 1st August 1864, page 5.

[2] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 13th September 1870, page 5.

[3] Table Talk, Melbourne, Vic, Thursday 20th April 1911, page 4.

[4] http://175collinsstreet.com.au/history.htm

[5] The motto of the Church of Scotland is ‘Nec Tamen Consumebatur’ (Latin) – ‘Yet it was not consumed’, an allusion to Exodus 3:2 and the Burning Bush.

 

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