1864: St Mary’s Anglican Church, Bulla, Victoria

Thirty kilometres north of Melbourne and eleven kilometres east of Sunbury is the township of Bulla which derives its name from the aboriginal word ‘Bulla-Bulla’ and means ‘two round low hills’ or ‘the two breasts.’[1] Most Victorians today probably know the name Bulla for its famous “Bulla Ice cream,” made by the Bulla Dairy Company since 1910.

In late 1842, Royal Navy Officer William Pomeroy Greene arrived in the Bulla area with his wife Anne and their seven children and a portable pre-fabricated house they brought out from England. They settled at ‘Woodlands,’ which is a few kilometres east of the town of Bulla and just north of the Tullamarine airport runway. The “Woodlands Historic Park” and restored homestead is now administered by Parks Victoria and is open to the public. It’s also home of the “Living Legends” which is the International Home of Rest for Champion Horses.

Anne Greene (nee Griffith) donated the land for St Mary’s Anglican Church at Bulla and in the presence of Bishop Charles Perry she laid its foundation stone on Friday 23rd July 1858.[2] The church was consecrated on the 2nd September 1864[3] at which time the new chancel was added and the liturgical east tripartite stained glass window by the North Melbourne firm Ferguson & Urie had been installed. This window was the gift of Anne’s sister in-law, Jane Catherine Griffith, the wife of her late brother Charles James Griffith.

St Mary’s Church was originally located on the corner of Oaklands and Bulla Roads, a few kilometres east of the town of Bulla and a short distance south of Woodlands, but more than a century later the church was in the path of the expanding Tullamarine airport runway. The introduction of the Jumbo jets, 24 hour airport operations, and the extensions to the runway was deemed a significant structural threat to the church and so it had to be moved.

On the 22nd January 1971 the final wedding ceremony was held in St Mary’s before it was dismantled and moved to its present site in the township of Bulla[4]. The church was reopened in its new location on the 24th November 1974 and was consecrated by Rev. Frank Woods in the presence of the Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Arthur Winneke.

St Mary’s is no longer used for religious services and has been returned to the control of the Anglican Diocese property management. Its unknown what the future holds for the old church or what will become of the historic stained glass windows.

Photos taken: 17th April 2015.

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The stained glass window is an easily recognised work by the Ferguson & Urie company. The apex of the centre light depicts the descending Dove. The centre contains a crimson floriated cross with an azure blue background containing passion flowers and vine leaves. A  scrolling ribbon which flows around the cross contains the words: “I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVETH Job 19-25.” The scene in the bottom third of the window depicts the three Mary’s at the empty tomb with an angel proclaiming, as written in the text below the scene, “HE IS NOT HERE”. At the very base of this window is the dedicatory text: “Presented by Mrs Charles Griffith 1864.” The flanking side lights contain identical Gothic floral designs with diamond quarries filled with the Fleur-de-lys pattern. The centre design of these lights is the monogram “I.H.S.” in blue on a crimson background and incorporates the crown of majesty.


Anne Greene (nee Griffith 1795-1865).

Anne Greene laid the foundation stone of St Mary’s at Bulla in 1858 on land that she had donated for the church. Anne was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1795, the daughter of Richard Griffith and Mary Hussey Burgh. She married former Royal Navy Officer William Pomeroy Greene (c.1797-1845) in Ireland on the 31st March 1826. For the sake of William’s health they emigrated to Australia and arrived at Port Phillip aboard the barque Sarah on the 5th December 1842 accompanied by their seven children and a prefabricated portable house which would be erected at “Woodlands” near Sunbury. William died at Woodlands on the 5th March 1845.

Anne was the sister of Sir Richard Griffith (1784-1878) and Charles James Griffith (1808-1863). Anne died aged 69, on the 13th March 1865 at ‘d’Estaville,’ the residence of Sir William Stawell, at Barry Street Kew, Victoria.

Charles James Griffith (1808-1863):

Jane Catherine Griffith (nee Magee), the wife of Charles James Griffith, was the donor of the Ferguson & Urie stained glass window for the new chancel of St Mary’s Anglican Church at Bulla in 1864[5].

Her husband Charles was born in Millicent, Kildare, Ireland, in 1808, the sixth son of Richard Griffith and Mary Hussey Burgh and was educated in the legal profession at Trinity College Dublin and was admitted to the Irish bar circa 1831. On arrival in Australia in 1840 he settled at ‘Glenmore’ near Bacchus Marsh as a sheep farmer and never practiced in the legal profession in the colony. On a return visit to Ireland in the 1840’s he married Jane Catherine Magee in Dublin on the 16th December 1846. On their return to Australia he began his political career after nominations by Charles La Trobe in the early 1850’s. In 1854 Bishop Charles Perry appointed him Chancellor of the Melbourne Diocese and until the time of his death he was an active member of the Acclimatisation Society[6].

Charles Griffith died at his home ‘Tempe,’ Dandenong Road Prahran, on the 31st July 1863 aged 55[7]. They had no children.

At 11 o’clock on the 4th August 1863 his funeral service moved from St James’s Old Cathedral[8] to his place of interment at the Melbourne General Cemetery. The portion of the Griffith and Greene family headstone at the Melbourne General Cemetery that contains his epitaph reads:

“Sacred to the memory of Charles James GRIFFITH Esq who departed this life on 31 Jul 1863 age 56 years. This headstone is erected by Jane C. GRIFFITH as a tribute of love and affection to her beloved husband for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. Thess. iv. IHS.” [9]

His will, dated 2nd Dec 1861, provided modest sums to his wife Jane and other family members as well as a sizeable sum to Bishop Perry for the Church of England;

“…To the Bishop of Melbourne for the time being, one thousand pounds to be applied according to his discretion to the general purposes of the Church of England in the diocese of Melbourne…”[10]

Significant tabloid transcriptions:

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Wednesday 28th July 1858, page 5.

“CHURCH OF ENGLAND, BULLA BULLA.- The foundation-stone of the new Episcopal church at Bulla Bulla was laid by Mrs. Greene (the donor of the land which the building is to be erected) on Friday last. Bishop Perry presided at the ceremony. The Church is to have a nave, transept, and chancel, in the early English period of architecture, with a tower and spire at the north-west angle, which will form the principal entrance to the building. The portions at present in course of erection are the nave, tower, and spire, and the whole is being executed in blue stone procured in the neighborhood, and carted to the site free of charge by the settlers in the district.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 3rd August 1863, page 5.

“We regret to have to announce the death of Mr. C. J. Griffiths [sic], a gentleman who for many years past has taken an active part in the public affairs of the colony, and has also been connected with it in various official capacities. Mr. Griffiths had been ailing for a considerable period, and within the last ten days his complaint, which his medical advisers, Dr. Pugh and Mr. Rudall, decided to be aneurism, assumed a formidable aspect. The death took place at Mr. Griffith’s residence, Dandenong-road, on Friday evening last.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 4th August 1863, page 5.


Yesterday, we recorded the death of Mr. Charles James Griffith. The removal – sudden and unlooked for – of one of the first settlers of the colony, a gentleman who, privately, was widely known and highly esteemed, and whose public career was neither brief nor unimportant, demands more than passing notice.

            Mr. Griffith was the sixth son of Richard Griffith , Esq., M.P., of Millicent, Kildare, by Mary, daughter of Lord Chief Baron Hussey Burgh. He was born August, 1808; graduated as M.A. at Trinity College, Dublin; and was called to the bar about 1831. In 1840, Mr. Griffith arrived at Port Philip, and settled at Glenmore, near Bacchus Marsh as a sheep farmer. On the separation of the colony of Victoria from New South Wales, Mr. Griffith was appointed by the Superintendent (Mr. La Trobe) one of the nominee members of the Legislative Council, and afterwards he was elected to Parliament by the constituency of Dundas and Follet. In 1853 he was appointed President of the Board of Commissioners of Water Supply and Sewerage. Under his presidency the board, in the face of continued violent opposition and adverse criticism, carried out the Yan Yean scheme; but after surmounting all the difficulties of the undertaking, Mr. Griffith resigned his office. The ministry of the day conceived they had a right to command the votes of all members of Parliament who were connected with the public service, and Mr. Griffith declined to sacrifice his independence. Upon the new Constitution coming into operation, Mr. Griffith’s friends decided to propose him for the Speakership of the Legislative Assembly. The present Speaker was also nominated, and succeeded in securing the votes of a majority of the House. Continued private and public exertions weakening Mr. Griffith’s health, he paid a visit to Europe, in 1858 and did not return to Victoria until April, 1862. Lately he was a candidate for the seat in the Legislative Council for North-Western Province to which Mr. Jenner was elected, and at the time of his decease he held the appointments of Chairman of the Board of Education and Commissioner under the Real Property Act. Mr. Griffith always took a prominent part in the affairs of the Church of England. From the time of its creation, he filled the office of chancellor of the diocese, and he was an active member of the Church Assembly from the period of the formation of that body. Mr Griffith married in the colony [sic], and leaves a widow without family. Although his health has been declining for some time past, it is but the other day that he was engaged in the active discharge of his duties, and until less than a week of his decease, the fatal termination of the attack which confined him to his chamber was not anticipated.”

The Age, Vic, Wednesday 5th August 1863, page 5.

“The Council of the Acclimatisation Society met yesterday, as usual, and the following resolution was unanimously passed:- “The council of the Acclimatisation Society hereby express their deep regret at the death of C. J. Griffith, Esq., their highly valued colleague, and unanimously resolve that the council do now adjourn, in order thereby to testify their respect for the memory of the departed gentleman; and further, that the minute be entered on the records of the council.” The council adjourned accordingly.”

Bendigo Advertiser, Vic, Thursday 6th August 1863, page 3.



The funerals of two old and highly respected colonists took place on Tuesday, and both were numerously attended. The funeral of the late Mr. C. J. Griffith, Chancellor of the Diocese, took place in the morning. A special service was performed at St. James’s Cathedral, at eleven o’clock, at which the very Rev the Dean of Melbourne officiated, assisted by the Rev S. L. Chase, and the Rev M. H. Becher, incumbent. The Rev C. T. Perks, and the Rev D. Seddon, were also present. The coffin was then borne to the hearse, the following gentlemen acting as pall-bearers:- Sir W. F. Stawell, the hon W. H. Mitchell, M.L.C.; Captain McMahon, M.L.A; hon T. T. A’Beckett, M.L.C; and Sir Redmond Barry. The cortege consisted of four mourning coaches, and about twenty private carriages, including his Excellency the Governor’s, which was closed. The funeral was attended by a large number of the members of both houses of Parliament, and many gentlemen with whom the deceased had been so long associated, and by them held in high esteem. The procession proceeded from the Cathedral along Collins and Swanston streets to the new cemetery, were [sic] the last rites were performed by the Dean.”

Portland Guardian, Vic, Monday 10th August 1863, page 3.


(From the “Herald” of 4th inst.)

Mr. Charles James Griffith, who expired suddenly, on Saturday last from aneurism of the aorta, was a very old colonist. He was a member of the bar, but never practiced his profession in the colony, but was principally engaged in pastoral pursuits; and at the time of his death held, in conjunction with Mr. Molesworth Greene, one of the largest stations in the country. Mr. Griffith has also taken a very active part in public affairs. He was a nominee member of the old Legislative Council, and took a prominent part in debates. When the new Parliament was called into existence Mr. Griffith was chosen as the representative of Dundas and Follet; and on the 21st of Nov., 1856, was nominated for the office of speaker, in opposition to Sir Francis Murphy, who was elected. At that time Mr. Griffith occupied the position of President of the Board of Sewerage and Water Supply, and he continued to fulfil the duties appertaining to the office until the completion of the Yan Yean works. Mr. Griffiths supported the Haines administration, and manifested a great interest in the various questions which came before the House in that session, including the Electoral Bill, the Land Bill, and the bill for the formation of a trunk line of railway. Mr. Griffith long held the appointment of chancellor of the diocese of Melbourne, and was for some time a Member of the Council of the University. About three years since, he visited England, and returned about nine months ago. On the composition of the new Education Board, Mr. Griffith was chosen as one of the members as representing the Church of England interest. On March last he unsuccessfully contested the South-Western Province with Mr. Jenner. Mr. Griffith has, at all times exhibited a warm interest in the cause of Education, and in all matters appertaining to the church of which he was a member. In 1845, he published a short work giving a history of the colony; and while he held the office of President of water supply, he wrote a pamphlet in answer to the many quibbles and objections that were raised at the time in reference to the scheme. Mr. Griffith was highly respected by all classes of colonists. He was connected, by marriage, with the families of Sir W. F. Stawell, the Dean of Melbourne, and Mr. R. F. Greene.

            The Argus says the deceased Mr. Griffith was the sixth son of Richard Griffith, Esq., M.P. of Millicent, Kildare, by Mary, daughter of Lord Chief Baron Hussey Burgh. He was born August, 1808; graduated as M.A. at Trinity College, Dublin; and was called to the bar abut 1831.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Tuesday 14th March 1865, page 4.

“GREENE.- On the 13th inst., at D’Eastaville, Anne Greene, widow of the late William Pomeroy Greene, Esq., R.N., of Woodlands.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 22 July 1939, page 9.

Bulla Anniversary

St Mary’s Church of England, Bulla, a link with the pioneers, will celebrate its 81st anniversary at a special service at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 30. The anniversary service is invariably the occasion for a reunion among families and descendants of families who have been associated with the church. Before the church was erected services were held in the barn at Woodlands, then the property of the late Mr. Rawdon Greene. The church was founded by Mrs. Greene and was built on land which was formerly part of the Woodlands Estate, the foundation-stone being laid on Friday, July 23, 1858, by Bishop Perry. The church was officially licensed on September 2, 1864, when the beautiful east window was presented by the late Mr. Charles Griffiths [sic]. In 1922 a complete set of memorial windows for the nave of the church was given by the prominent families.
Excepting the floor, the church is in excellent condition. Since the Rev. A. G. Mee has been in charge of the parish of Broadmeadows funds have been raised for repairs to the church. The preacher on July 30 will be the Rev. C. Hedly Raymond, vicar of St. Thomas’s, Essendon, and Rural Dean of Melbourne North. The choir of St. Paul’s Church, Ascotvale, will assist.”

External Links:


My thanks to Diedre from the Melbourne Anglican Diocese for arranging access and for her valuable time and patience.


[1] Sunbury News, Vic, Saturday 4th July 1910, page 2.

[2] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Wednesday 28th July 1858, page 5.

[3] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 22 July 1939, page 9.

[4] The Canberra Times, Friday 22nd January 1971, page 3.

[5] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 22 July 1939, page 9.

[6] The Age, Vic, Wednesday 5th August 1863, page 5.

[7] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 3rd August 1863, page 4.

[8] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 4th August 1863, page 8.

[9] Melbourne General Cemetery [CofE, Compartment O, grave 93]

[10] Public Records Office, Vic, Probate file 4/448


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