1886: St Barnabas Anglican Church, Balwyn, Victoria.

The latest Ferguson & Urie stained glass window discovery is located at St Barnabas Anglican Church in the Melbourne suburb of Balwyn. The original part of this church was dedicated nearly a century and a half ago on the 22nd of December, 1872.

I was recently sent a small booklet about the stained glass windows of this church titled “Windows within Worship at St Barnabas” that was produced circa 1985. [1] There is barely any information about the artists or makers of the windows in the booklet, but on page five was the unmistakeable image of a Ferguson & Urie stained glass window.

Photos taken: 15th July 2015.

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The pioneer this window was dedicated to, a local Solicitor named George Henry Taylor, seemed vaguely familiar to me and further research reveals a remarkable coincidence to a tragic event that occurred 100 kilometres from Balwyn in 1866.

George Henry Taylor was a native of England and arrived in Melbourne with his wife Maria (nee O’Brien)[2] and their children aboard the “Blackwall” in September 1858. George established himself as a Solicitor in the Boroondarra area north of Melbourne and purchased land in the vicinity of Camberwell Junction. Circa 1865 he built his family home named “Mountfield” which fronted Burke and Mont Albert Road. The house still exists and has heritage listing.

In June 2012 I posted an article about a Ferguson & Urie stained glass window located at St Luke’s Anglican Church at Yea and this is the connection to the window at St Barnabas in Balwyn. The window at Yea is dedicated to an unfortunate boy named Edmund George Taylor who accidentally shot himself dead on the road to Yea in 1866. The George Henry Taylor mentioned in the window at St Barnabas at Balwyn turns out to be the boy’s father!

It’s a curious coincidence, and so is the design in the two windows. The central design in each window being a blue floriated cross on a crimson background. The Gothic geometric patterns and other design elements surrounding the cross in each window are different but there is an obvious similarity between them which makes you wonder whether it was deliberate or just purely coincidental.

The township of Yea is about 100km north of Balwyn and in 1866 the distance would probably seem like it was in another country. Finding two stained glass windows that far apart in Victoria with similar designs, one dedicated to a father and the other to his son, made twenty years apart is an unusual find.

A century and a half ago, on the 14th of December 1866, thirteen year old Edmund George Taylor accidentally shot himself whilst riding on a bullock dray near Yea. The bullock driver, John McCessey, and Edmunds older brother Charles were with him at the time but neither saw the gun go off. Unfortunately they witnessed his death almost immediately after Edmunds last words “Oh, Lord, I am shot.” The subsequent inquest returned the verdict of accidental death. Edmunds body was returned to his fathers home “Mountfield” at Upper Hawthorn and he was buried at the Kew, Boroondarra Cemetery on the 17th December.

Circa 1869, St Luke’s Anglican Church at Yea was only just being erected and presumably Edmunds father commissioned the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of Melbourne to create his sons memorial window for St Luke’s at Yea.

Twenty years later, the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company were commissioned to create another stained glass window of similar design to be dedicated to Edmunds father, George Henry Taylor, and it would be erected at St Barnabas Anglican Church at Balwyn.

St Barnabas’ was dedicated on the 22nd of December 1872 and one of the main instigators for its erection was Herbert Edward Taylor, another son of George, who was studying for the ministry, collected £200 towards the church building fund. Herbert was later the minister of St Barnabas between 1883 and 1889.

George Henry Taylor died at his residence “Mountfield” on the 10th October 1886 aged 66 [3]. He was buried with his son Edmund and other family members at the Kew, Boroondarra Cemetery.[4] The grave stone still exists but is crumbling and barely readable.

As George’s son Herbert was the minister of St Barnabas at the time of his death, it’s probably fair to assume that Herbert would have been the instigator for the erection of the stained glass to be dedicated to his father.

On either side of the cross in the window is a piece of scripture from the King James Bible from Isaiah 26-3;

“Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace”

At the base of the window is the memorial text;

“In Memoriam George Henry Taylor, Oct 10th 1886”.

Below the window a small brass plaque is affixed to the wall which reads; “Also in Memory of Maria, wife of the above, at rest 1912”

George’s other sons were well educated and became respected members of the community. His son Arthur Bertram Taylor 1857-1938 [5], was educated at Scotch College and founded the “Camberwell Grammar” School in February 1886, ten months before his father’s death. Charles Frederick Taylor 1849-1896 was educated at Scotch College and Melbourne University. He became a Barrister and was admitted to the Bar in 1871. He was also a prolific tabloid writer, a Captain in the militia, and represented Hawthorn in the Legislative Assembly 1889-1894.[6]

After a century and a half it’s unlikely that there would be anyone who would know of the connection between these two historic stained glass windows at Yea and Balwyn. The windows may be 100km apart in different towns but they are the last remaining historic artefacts connecting a father and his son.

Related posts:

The Edmund George Taylor window at St Lukes’ Anglican Church, Yea, Victoria.


[1] Thanks to Marilyn Kenny from the Essendon Historical Society for the St Barnabas Church Booklet.
[2] Camberwell Historical Society, Newsletter 4, March 2011, P3.
[3] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 11th Oct 1886, page 1
Kew Cemetery CofE C-1288: Edmund George Taylor, aged 14, interred 17th Dec 1886. Henry Michael Taylor, aged 35, interred 1st June 1881, George Henry Taylor, aged 65, interred 11th Oct 1886.
[5] The Argus, Melbourne Vic, Saturday 22nd October 1938, page 2
Web site; parliament.vic.gov.au, accessed 7 Jul 2015.

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2 comments on “1886: St Barnabas Anglican Church, Balwyn, Victoria.

  1. Thank you so much for this post! George Henry Taylor is my great-great-great grandfather – there is even a portrait of his wife Maria hanging in our hallway. As far as I know, nobody in our family was aware of these windows. As I live fairly close to Balwyn I think I may go see it in person.

    • Glad you found some of your family history here Stephanie. A visit to St Luke’s Anglican church at Yea is well worth the visit to see Edmunds window too.


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