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 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. 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.)


[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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1880: The Kernot window from ‘Firenze’, Sydney Rd, Parkville.

In 1880 Professor William Charles Kernot had his two story home “Firenze” built in Royal Parade (Sydney Road) at Parkville[1] and commissioned the Ferguson & Urie Stained Glass Company of North Melbourne to create a window for the west wall above the landing of the staircase.

The arch shaped window contains Gothic floral designs with Acanthus leaves and Passion flowers. The centre roundel of the window contains the intertwined initials “WCK” (William Charles Kernot).

Kernot originally named his two storey house Firenze after the Italian name for the city of Florence in Italy and between c.1916 and c.1950 the house was known as ‘Quamby’ and owned by classical ballet teachers, Jennie and Eileen Brennan.

In 1950 Quamby was purchased by the Government for use by the CSIRO[2] but was demolished circa 1990’s[3]. Fortunately the stained glass window was removed before the demolition and gifted to the University by the CSIRO.

Conservation and restoration work on the window was carried out in 2007 by the Universitys’ Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation by Senior Objects Conservator Ms Holly Jones-Amin and her colleagues Jordi Casasayas and Raaf Ishak[4].

In 2006 the University established the Kernot Fellowship and the central design from the stained glass window with Kernot’s initials are featured on silk scarves especially made for donors to the Fellowship[5].

The Kernot window was unveiled on Kernot Fellowship Day, 19th April 2007 by Mr James Minifie, a descendant of Professor Kernot[6].

As at 2013 the window is now installed in the conference room of old Engineering Building with artificial back-lighting.

Photos taken: 6th September 2013.

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Professor William Charles Kernot (1845-1909)

William Charles Kernot was born at Rochford, Essex in 1845 and arrived with his parents Charles Kernot[7] and Mary Wright[8] and younger sister Mary Jane[9] aboard the ‘Duke of Wellington’ in February 1851[10]. His father, Charles Kernot (1820-1882), was a Chemist and Stationer in Moorabool street Geelong[11] and in 1864 was elected Mayor[12].

William was educated at Geelong Grammar and later matriculated at Melbourne University in 1861 with three Arts degrees and circa 1863 a certificate in Civil Engineering.

After a number of Government posts he began lecturing in Engineering at Melbourne University circa 1869 and in 1883 was appointed the first professor of engineering at the Melbourne University, a position which he held until his death in 1909. Over the course of his career he had donated thousands of pounds to the University for the establishment of scholarships and purchase of equipment and since 1926 the prestigious “Kernot” memorial medal is awarded at the University for distinguished Engineering achievement[13].

Detailed accounts of his career achievements, philanthropy, obituary and biographies were published in the Argus in 1909[14] and the Australian Dictionary of Biography in 1974[15]

Two of his younger brothers, Wilfred Noyce Kernot (1868-1945) and Maurice Edwin Kernot (1852-1934) also became distinguished engineers and professors in Engineering at the University.

William Charles Kernot was unmarried and lived at “Firenze” in Sydney Road Parkville with his younger siblings until his death on the 14th March 1909. He was buried at the Kew Boroondarra cemetery on the 16th  March [16].

His sister Mary and brother Wilfred were interred with him at the Kew Boroondarra Cemetery in 1932 and 1945.

The Kernot gravestone at the Kew cemetery reads;




Significant tabloid Transcriptions:

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 16th March 1909, page 1.

“KERNOT.- On the 14th March, at his residence, “Firenze,” Royal-park, William Charles Kernot, M.A., M.I.C.E., professor of engineering, Melbourne University, aged 63 years.”

“KERNOT.- The Friends of the late WILLIAM CHARLES KERNOT, M.A., are respectfully invited to follow his remains to the place of interment, Boroondara Cemetery, Kew. The funeral will leave his residence, “Firenze,” Royal-park, THIS DAY (Tuesday, March 16, 1909), at 11 o’clock, arriving at cemetery about a quarter past 12. JOSIAH HOLDSWORTH, Funeral Director, 380 Lygon-street, Carlton; and 659 Nicholson-street, North Carlton. Phone 1192.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 16th March 1909, page 5.


Eloquent tributes to the worth of the late Professor Kernot and the late Mr. W. W. Cornwall were paid by the Chancellor of the university at the meeting of the University Council yesterday. Sir John Madden said that in their late registrar the University had a man of a rare type…”

“…As to the late Professor Kernot, who had also passed from their service, who was there who did not know his immense worth, his great learning, his great skill, his patriotism, his total disregard of all selfish interests, and the work that he had done for education and for his fellow countrymen? Of a kindly and generous disposition he worked for the University persistently and enthusiastically and well. Whenever he had money to spare he spent it in the interests of the University, and for the encouragement of those who were to follow him. He left nothing undone to make the institution one of glory and advantage to the country in which he lived and which he was educated. Sir Henry Wrixon (Vice-Chancellor) added a few words to the appreciation of the deceased officers. The members of the council requested the Chancellor to convey the sympathy of the council to the families of the late Professor Kernot and the late Mr. Cornwall”. The funeral of Professor Kernot will proceed from “Firenze,” Royal-park, to the Boroondara Cemetery this morning. It has been arranged that members of the University shall meet in academic dress at the corner of Studley-park road and High-street, Kew, at 20 minutes to 12, in order to walk in procession to the cemetery. A train leaves Flinders-street for Kew at 13 minutes past 11. The Institute of Engineers, the Institute of Surveyors, and the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Geelong College, the Working Men’s College, and other institutions will also be represented at the funeral. No lectures will be given at the University before 1 o’clock, and the Working Men’s College will be closed from 9 o’clock until 1.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 15th March 1909, page 7.



 Widespread regret will be felt at the death of Professor Kernot, which occurred at his residence, “Firenze,” Royal-parade, Parkville, yesterday morning. His illness was of brief duration. About a fortnight ago Professor Kernot complained of feeling unwell, but his illness was not regarded as serious. Two days later he worked at some University examination papers, but on the following day he was confined to his bed. His medical adviser (Dr. Hobill Cole) attended him regularly, and last week, on his suggestion, Dr. Stawell was called into consultation. The patient was advised not to start work with the University term, but to take six months’ rest. On Saturday afternoon Professor Kernot had a slight paralytic stroke. This seizure, supervening upon internal troubles, was the cause of death at 20 minutes to 1 o’clock on Sunday morning. Mr. W. N. Kernot, who was with his brother at the last, mentions, as a coincidence, that the tramway cables which run past the door of Professor Kernot’s residence, stopped just as the end came.

With the death of Professor William Charles Kernot, who for the past 26 years has been professor of engineering at the Melbourne University, a remarkable and distinguished career has closed. He was born at Rochford, Essex, in 1845, and when six years of age he was brought to Australia. His father, the late Charles Kernot, practised as a pharmaceutical chemist at Geelong, and was afterwards in Parliament. Professor Kernot’s early education was received at the National Grammar School at Geelong. He matriculated at the Melbourne University in 1861, obtained the degree of master of arts in 1864, and received his certificate in civil engineering two years later. After being engaged in connection with the Geelong and Coliban waterworks, he entered the Victorian Mining department in 1865. Two years later he became associated with the Water Supply department, in which he remained until 1875. While in that position, however, he succeeded Mr. James Griffith as lecturer on surveying at the Melbourne University. In 1869 he began lecturing on engineering at the University, and in January, 1883, was appointed professor of engineering, a position he held until his death. In 1874 he was chief of the photo-heliograph party which made investigations from the Melbourne University in connection with the transit of Venus. In 1876 he was associated with Mr. Louis Brennan in the work of developing the Brennan fish torpedo, which was afterwards purchased by the British Government for over £100,000. In addition he was chairman of the two principal juries on machinery at the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1881, and was a member of the Royal Commission on Bridges in New South Wales in 1886. Subsequently he reported on the Derwent Valley railway bridges in Tasmania, and on a proposed underground telephone-wire service for Melbourne.

            Amongst the papers most prized by the late Professor Kernot was a letter which he received from His Majesty the King (then Prince of Wales) in 1881. The manuscript, now faded and worn, at the folds, bears the signature of His Majesty.

            As a jubilee gift Professor Kernot presented to the University, in 1887, the sum of 2,000 to endow scholarships in physics and chemistry. With Mr. Francis Ormond he assisted in the development of the Working Men’s College, and made various gifts to the institution. He was president of the Institute of Engineers for six years, including the term 1906-1907. For some time he occupied the position of chairman of directors of the new Australia Electric Company, which supplied electric light in Melbourne from 1882 until 1890. An interesting incident in his career was his experience on the occasion of the railway strike. At that time he voluntarily undertook the task of instructing new drivers in the use of locomotives. His services were recognised by the Railway department, whose commissioners presented him with a gold medal set with diamonds. Last year, when the circumstances of the Sunshine railway disaster were being investigated, he rendered valuable assistance by superintending the brake tests. In addition to being a member of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Society, he was a prominent member and office bearer of the Albert-street Baptist Church, and officiated at the ceremonies of laying the foundation-stones of the Elsternwick and Camberwell churches.

            On one of his trips abroad Professor Kernot happened to reach South Africa at the time of the Boer war, and while travelling through the country was for a while held as prisoner of war. His best known publication was ‘Some Common Errors in Bridge Building.” Professor Kernot, who was 63 years of age, was unmarried. His four brothers are Mr. Maurice E. Kernot, engineer in chief of the railway construction branch of the Board of land and Works; Mr. F. A. Kernot, dentist; Mr. P. W. Kernot (Messrs. Campbell and Kernot), architects; and Mr. W. N. Kernot, who is in charge of the engineering department of the Working Men’s College. One sister resided with Professor Kernot, another is married to Mr. C. E. Oliver, engineer-in-chief of the Metropolitan Board of Works, while a third sister is the wife of Mr. E. Cooke.

            The funeral will take place at 11 o’clock on Tuesday morning. It will be attended by University students, who will march from Kew to the Boorondara [sic] Cemetery.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 6th July 1945, page 15.

“WILLIAM CHARLES KERNOT, late of “Firenze,” Sydney Road, Parkville, Professor of Engineering, Deceased, Intestate.- After fourteen days Charles Home Kernot, of No. 2 Sidwell avenue, St. Kilda, civil engineer, one of the legal representatives of Maurice Edwin Kernot, formerly of the Victorian Railways, chief engineer for construction, late of “Ardoch,” Dandenong road, East St. Kilda, civil engineer, deceased, a brother of the said William Charles Kernot, deceased, will APPLY to the Supreme Court for LETTERS of ADMINISTRATION of the estate of the said William Charles Kernot, left unadministered by Mary Jane Kernot, of “Firenze,” Sydney road, Parkville aforesaid, spinster, deceased, and Wilfrid Noyce Kernot, late of 10 Princes avenue, Caulfield, professor of engineering, deceased, the legal representatives of the said William Charles Kernot, deceased, may be granted to the said Charles Home Kernot, as such legal representatives of the said Maurice Edwin Kernot, deceased. Dated this sixth day of July, 1945. HOME, WILKINSON, & LOWRY. 100 Queen street, Melbourne, proctors for the said Charles Home Kernot.”

External links:

Melbourne School of Engineering:


[2] Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (originally formed in 1926 under its present title).

[3] The History of the CSIRO Laboratory at 343 Royal Parade; Rivett, Ward & Belkin; CSIRO Publishing 1996.

[5] Annual Report 2006, The Melbourne University Engineering Foundation, Page 3-4

[6] University of Melbourne Heritage Society Newsletter, June 2007, page 1.

[9] Mary Jane Kernot (1847-1932). Spinster.

[13] Wikipedia: The Kernot Memorial Medal (accessed 1 Sept 2013)

[16] The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Tuesday 16th March 1909, page 1.


My thanks to Michelle Mackay and her time and to the University of Melbourne for inviting me to see the window.

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05-08-1876: St Peters, Eastern Hill, Melbourne, Victoria.

The foundation stone of St Peter’s was laid by the Superintendent of the Port Phillip district, Charles Joseph La Trobe[1], on 18 June 1846[2], on the corner of Albert and Gisborne Streets on the eastern hill of Melbourne. The building was used for services as early as 1847, and was formally opened on the 6th August 1848[3].

The first stages of the church were designed by architect Charles Laing and the contractors were Ramsden & Brown (Samuel Ramsden – stone mason, and Charles & Henry Brown –bricklayers, contracted for a reported £820) [4]. In 1853-54 the Chancel & Transepts were added to the designs of Charles Vickers.

In June 1876, the chancel of St Peter’s was extended to the designs of architects Terry and Oakden, and the five figurative Ferguson & Urie windows were installed[5] at this time. An engraving showing the new chancel was published in the newspaper on the 5th August 1876[6] and it shows five single lancet figurative windows surrounding the chancel. The centre window of the five, depicting the “Ascension”, was moved to a small chapel in the south west corner of the church, possibly during further alterations in 1927-29[7]. Other single lancet windows in the nave are of Ferguson & Urie’s simple diamond quarry with stained glass borders.

Originally the chancel windows were installed (left to right) as, The Prophet Elias, St Peter, Christ & The Ascension, St Paul, and The Prophet Moses. The design and artwork of the Ascension window seems to be extremely at odds with that of the other flanking prophets and saints windows. Whether there has been been conservation on this window is not known but it’s design and artwork do not fit within the period equaling the other prophet and saint windows of the time.

Photos taken: 26th September 2010.

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The Melbourne Argus, Vic, Friday 19th June 1846, page 2.

“The foundation stone of the new English Episcopal Church on the Eastern Hill was laid yesterday, in due form by his Honor the Superintendent, in the presence of a large concourse of people assembled to witness the ceremonial. The arrangements were presided over by the Rev. A.C. Thomson, Minister of St. James’s Church, who conducted the services, aided by the Rev. Mr. Collins, of Geelong. The inscription on the plate was as follows:- “The Foundation Stone of St. Peter’s Church, In the Town of Melbourne, District of Port Phillip, Colony of New South Wales, Built by Local Subscriptions, Aided by an equal amount from the Colonial Government, Was laid by His Honor Charles Joseph La Trobe, Esquire, Superintendent of Port Phillip, On the 18th day of June, A.D. 1846, And in the Ninth Year of the Reign of Queen Victoria. Adam Compton Thomson, Minister of St. James’ Parish of Melbourne. James Simpson, James Denham Pinnock, Robert Williams Pohlman, Esquires, Trustees. Charles Laing, Architect”

The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 5th August 1876, page 70.


The alterations and improvements which have lately been made to St. Peter’s Church (Church of England), Eastern-hill, consist of the extension and completion of the chancel, which now includes an additional space of 31ft. from the east wall of the church. On the north side of this, and communicating with it, a vestry has been built for the use of clergymen and choristers, and at the south side a chamber has been erected for the organ, which formerly stood near the western entrance. The organ has been reconstructed in its chamber by Mr. Fincham, the organ builder, of Bridge-road, and is hidden from the greater part of the congregation. The choir seats are placed within the new chancel. By means of the alterations thus effected a s space is gained which furnishes 80 additional sittings, and in course of time still further room will be made by filling in with seats that part of the western gallery which was formerly blocked by the top of he organ. The addition is a great improvement to the church internally, and will add much to the convenience of the congregation as well as to that of the choir and clergy. The cost of these alterations, which have been carried out on the plans and under the supervision of Messrs. Terry and Oakden, architects, amounts to £920, of which £750 is the expense of the new building; the balance is for removing the organ and furnishing the choir. The opening of he chancel was celebrated on June 29, St. Peter’s Day, and the thirtieth anniversary of the laying of the foundation of the church. Divine service was held, the musical portion of which was under the control of Mr. Summers, and was admirably given.”

1895: Apsley House, Armadale, Melbourne, Victoria.

Apsley House in Armadale contains a magnificent Ferguson & Urie stained glass window in the stairwell. The window depicts the Patron Saint of England, St George, on horseback and in full armour, slaying the legendary dragon. Below the figure of St George is the “Order of the Garter” with the Latin text “Honi soit qui mal y pense” (loosely translated to “Shame on him who thinks evil of it”). [1] Conservation work on the window was completed in 2012 by Bruce Hutton of Almond Glass, Oakleigh [2].

Photos taken: 10th November 2012.

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An early colonial owner of “Apsley” house  in the 1890’s was the accountant William Crellin, who was the founding member, and first president of the Incorporated Institute of Accountants (the IIAV, now known as CPA[3] Australia).

William Crellin arrived in Australia in the 1850’s and married Margaret Anne Fisher in Melbourne in 1856[4]. They began their family in Brunswick, first residing at “Parkside-Cottage,” [5] and later at 24 Peel-street, Windsor[6]. Between 1857 and 1870 they had seven children but only three boys, William, John, and Edward, survived to adulthood and all followed in their father’s footsteps to become accountants with William and John in their own business partnership[7].

During Crellin’s residency in Brunswick, he was both the council secretary[8] and auditor[9] and on the 8th of March 1870, J. W. Fleming, the Brunswick Mayor, declared that William Crellin was the only candidate nominated to fill a council vacancy created by the resignation of Councillor Thomas Clarke, and was subsequently elected to fill the vacancy[10], a position which he held until his resignation in March 1872 [11]

William Crellin lived and breathed his profession as an accountant and took great pride in his mathematical abilities. On numerous occasions he felt the necessity to prove a point and was quite prolific at submitting “letters to the editor” of the tabloids, where he would refute the dubious calculations and claims of others in matters of accountancy. Apart from his role as the president of the IIAV, he held many positions among which were; Honorary Auditor to the Alfred Hospital [12], Honorary Treasurer of the Australian Health Society [13], and Secretary of the Australian Fresh Meat Company [14] and many other voluntary and paid positions. He had business premises at 46 Elizabeth street Melbourne and was regularly appointed as the trustee in many insolvency cases[15].

William Crellin died on Sunday the 17th February 1895 at “Apsley” house in his 74th year [16]. He left an estate valued at £3,763 [17] which he left entirely to his wife Margaret .

It’s not known if William Crellin was the original owner of “Apsley”, or whether it was he who had commissioned Ferguson & Urie to create the St. George stained glass window. Crellin’s probate documents filed in March 1895 indicate that he was “formerly of “Lansmere,” Alma Road St Kilda in the colony of Victoria but late of “Apsley” Malvern Road Armadale,”[18]  indicating that he had possibly not resided in “Apsley” very long before his death in February 1895.

One of his sons, William Langdon Crellin, took up residence in “Apsley” after his wedding to Maggie Wauchope in September 1896 [19].

William Crellin’s wife, Margaret died on the 4th Oct 1915 in her 89th year [20]. They are both buried in the St Kilda Cemetery [21].

Circa 1915, “Apsley” house was then used exclusively as “Nurse Thomas’s” Private Nursing Home [22].

In 1925 “Apsley” was either owned, or resided in, by the actor Arthur Styan, famous for his roles as “the moustache-twirling villain”[23] who had a 25 year career as a stage actor until his death on Christmas day in 1925 [24].

 In 1947 a Mrs Clarice Evelyn Herring resided at Apsley [25].

[3] “Certified Practicing Accountants”.

[4] Vic BDM: 2899/1856 Marriage; William Crellin & Margaret Anne Fisher.

[14] Vic Probate Record File: 106/177 in the estate of William Crellin 27th Mar 1895.

[18] Vic Probate Record File: 106/177 in the estate of William Crellin 27th Mar 1895.

[21] St Kilda Cemetery, Independent Monumental, Compartment A, Grave 9A.

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24-10-1866: Guide to the Intercolonial Exhibition of 1866, Melbourne, Victoria.

The Ferguson & Urie stained glass company displayed examples of their workmanship at many exhibitions over a forty year period from 1853.

The 1866 exhibition stands out as the most unique in the company history as being the one that gave them their greatest exposure on the eastern side of Australia and even into New Zealand.

An entire “Medieval Court” was constructed at the 1866 exhibition which included a detailed reconstruction of a church chancel decorated by Ferguson & Urie which was complete with stained glass windows. The idea for the medieval court was based on Augustus Welby Pugin’s Medieval Court, which was first shown at London’s International Exhibition of 1851 and then at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, between 1852 and 1866. This medieval court reconstruction at the 1866 Melbourne exhibition was the first of its kind seen in the Australian colony and drew and extraordinary crowd.

The most remarkable of the historical artifacts in the medieval court were Ferguson & Urie’s set of five single light stained glass windows depicting the Nativity, Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. After the exhibition these windows were installed in the chancel of Christ Church at Casterton in Western Victoria and are still in place to this day, although there is a small mysterious anomaly as the the order the windows were installed!



“ON entering this hall from Latrobe-street, visitors who put themselves under our guidance will find, by turning immediately to the left before arriving at the fur trophy, which faces them, that they have come upon perhaps the last thing one might expect to encounter in an exhibition of the products and manufactures of a new colony – to wit, a Mediaeval Court, the whole of the decorations and contents of which are the work of two Melbourne houses, the one that of Mr. John Young, contractor, and the other that of Messrs. Ferguson, Urie and Lyon, glass-stainers, &c. The excellence of this court consists not more in the beauty of the various articles it contains than in the admirable tone of all the decorations, giving to the place that “dim, religious light” befitting the character it assumes. The stained-glass windows let into the partitions surrounding the court are mainly instrumental in producing this effect. The court is filled with statuary, fonts, and elaborately-ornamented wrought-iron articles, suitable for mediaeval church purposes. One of the statues represents the Madonna and Child; others personify St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Theresa. Attached to the walls near the roof are several of the quaintly-carved figures which catch the eye in old churches. These are intended for St. Patrick’s Cathedral, now in course of erection on the Eastern Hill. To complete the ingenious effect of this court as a complete work of art, Messrs. Ferguson, Urie and Lyon have constructed at the side opposite the entrance a recess representing an early English chancel, the decorations of which are most complete. The furniture of the chancel consists of an altar table, an illuminated oil painting of the last Supper, and illuminated tablets of the commandments, creed, and Lord’s Prayer. The light admitted to the chancel pours through five stained-glass windows, representing respectively the nativity, Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension. These are designed for the Episcopalian Church at Casterton. The walls are also artistically decorated, and altogether this chancel, with the court leading to it, make up one of the most remarkable objects of the Exhibition”.

Related posts: 10-06-1867 > 25-10-1865 > 03-11-1866 > 20-12-1866

27-07-1885: St Paul’s Pro Cathedral, Flinders St, Melbourne, Victoria.

Stained glass windows were, and still are, extremely expensive to make and in the case where an historical old building is eventually demolished, its reasonable to expect that any significant stained glass windows will most likely find a new home in a new church, mansion or museum. Following and investigating this trail of the historic stained glass over more than a century is a challenge and in this case, presents an interesting story in photographic evidence which I think is amazing.

The history of the Flinders street site of St Paul’s church in Melbourne dates back as far as 1836, but the first bluestone church was not consecrated until 1852. It remained a parish church during the time when the St James’s Church was known as the first Melbourne ‘Cathedral’. St Paul’s was later known as the Pro-Cathedral, until it was demolished in 1885 to officially make way for the construction of the present Cathedral on the corner of Flinders and Swanston streets in Melbourne. The old church was known to have contained many Ferguson & Urie stained glass windows, one of which was the ‘Prince Consort’ window described in the historical article below. The window was not donated to the “Working Mens College” as intimated in the article, but eventually found its home in St John’s Anglican Church at Sorrento in 1889. The window was restored by the Geoffrey Wallace stained glass studio in 2012. Two other single light windows from the old St. Paul’s, depicted ‘St Peter’ and ‘St Paul’, and these were donated to St Paul’s Anglican Church in Warragul, Gippsland, in September 1889 (this church was re-erected in 1908). The window indicated as being a memorial to the wife of the Rev. Canon Chase, and the other “decorative” windows described, have not yet been located. It’s also thought that a memorial window to the wives of a ‘Mr. Stoddart’ and for  ‘Judge Pohlman’, created in 1867 may have also been erected in St. Paul’s (or possibly St Enoch’s Church) and these have not been located to date.

Photos taken: 25th September 2010 to 2012.

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The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil, Melbourne, Monday 27th July 1885, page 115.


“ST. PAUL’S PRO-CATHEDRAL., which is being pulled down to make room for the new cathedral, has an interesting history. It was the third church built in Melbourne, St. James’s and St. Peter’s being the other two older edifices, and the date of it’s inception takes us back to the early days of the colony…”
“…The window in the chancel is a beautiful work of art, illustrative of the ancestry and life of the Prince Consort. The design has been most carefully studied, and every detail is in harmony with and descriptive of some national emblems or traits of Prince Albert, and only that the chancel is in an unsuitable place to disclose the beauties of the window, it would have been far more noted and prized than it is. The window was at first intended to be the gift of the public, and one of the lady members of St. Paul’s Church collected £50 towards paying for it, but the Rev. Canon Chase at that stage presented the window, and at his request the subscriptions were devoted to the general building fund. Now that the church is being pulled down, the Building Committee have placed the window at the disposal of the donor, as the subjects of the windows of the new cathedral have already been chosen; and the Rev. Canon Chase is willing to present his gift to the Working Men’s College, which it is thought it would most appropriately adorn, considering how actively the Prince Consort exerted himself in the cause of social progress. The other memorial window at the east end of the north aisle was erected by the Sunday School of St. Paul’s Church as a mournful token of the esteem in which the wife of the incumbent, the Rev. Canon Chase, was held. There are also decorative windows in the galleries which would have been spared if the ephemeral nature of the career of the church could have foreseen, but no doubt other parishes will be eager to acquire them and replace them in their mullions, which are to be carefully preserved…”

In September 1885 the Church of England Messenger gave the best detailed description of the window I have yet encountered!

The Church of England messenger and Ecclesiastical Gazette for the Diocese of Melbourne and Ballarat, Vic, Wednesday 9th September 1885, page 3.

“THE memorial window recently removed from St. Paul’s Church, Melbourne, and designed to have a place in the new Cathedral, may be regarded as an interesting link between the Royal family of England and one of the most distant portions of the empire. Perhaps in future ages, when Australian federation is an accomplished fact, this record of a good prince, erected sixteen years after his death, may stimulate Australian potentates to a wise and beneficial exercise of power. The incumbent (Rev. Canon Chase) had long desired to honour the memory of the late Prince Consort by such a memorial, but had not found an opportunity of carrying out his wish until the year 1877, when the church was renovated and refurnished. The design is of a chaste simplicity, elegant in itself, and harmonious to the subject. Its working out evidences not only a cultivated taste, but a loving respect which spared no pains to make the work fitting and worthy. It is significant that this loyal testimony has been borne in the most democratic city of the Southern Hemisphere. Whilst viewing the memorial of the sweet psalmist of Israel, it is not unlikely that the prince Consort’s skill as a musician will be also pleasingly called to mind, and the two kings, Hozekia and Josiah, the great reformers of Israel’s race, will set the mind on meditation on the dark ages of the Christian era and the recovery of light by the labours of reformers, among whom was found prominent the ancestors of Albert the Good. This memento of the late Prince Consort may be some day regarded as a proof of loyalty amongst us in the early days of the colony; and it is worthy of remembrance that upon the decease of Prince Leopold the Government furnished the State-schools with tablets drawing the minds of the young to the excellences of the Queen’s youngest son. The window is thus described:-
The middle portion of the window is filled by three crowned figures under canopies. The central king holds a sceptre. Above his head is an inscription, “Oh, Lord, in Thee have I trusted.” Beneath his feet, “Hezekiah Rex.” The Royal figures on his right and left hand hold respectively a harp and the book of the law. The inscriptions above them are, “Praise the Lord” and “In Thy law is my delight.” Beneath them, “David Rex,” “Josiah Rex.” The upper portion of the window is divided (in the middle) into four small compartments, containing the emblems of England (lion), Scotland (crown held by lion), Wales (three feathers), Ireland (harp). An oval on either side displays a cherub holding a scroll lettered in black on white band, “When the righteous are in authority the people rejoyce.” The lower portion beneath the kings has three large compartments. That in the centre displays the arms of the late Prince Consort resting on those of the Queen. On the right the lion of England, in gold on crimson; on the left the unicorn, in silver on crimson. At the foot of the window, lettered in White (medieval) on black ground, the following- In memory of His Royal Highness, Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel, Prince Consort. Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Born August, 1819. Married February, 1840. Died Dec., 1861.
Beneath the window is a broad brass inscribed in old English, “Fear God; Honour the king.”

At the 1866-67 Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition, the Prince Consort window was presented by Ferguson & Urie as an exhibit. The article mentions that the window was intended for St Peters which is incorrect and should obviously have said St Paul’s.

The Ballarat Star, Vic, Thursday 10th January 1867, page 3.

“…Some beautiful patterns for stained-glass windows are exhibited by Messrs Ferguson and Urie, who have also sent in a design for a memorial to the Prince Consort, in the shape of a stained-glass window, proposed to be erected in St Peter’s [sic] Church, Melbourne…”

Related posts:

1889: St John’s Sorrento
03-09-1889: St Paul’s Warragul.
23-07-1883: St James’s Old Cathedral, Melbourne.

External Links:

History of St Paul’s Cathedral


The Prince Consort window, now at Sorrento, underwent restoration and conservation work by Geoffrey Wallace stained glass studio in 2012.


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27-01-1868: Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

The Victorian Asylum and School for the Blind was formed at a public meeting in Prahran, Melbourne on 21 August 1866. Less than two years later, on the 25th of January 1868 the Hon. George Harker laid the foundation stone for the new building to be erected on St Kilda road. The architects chosen for the asylums design were Crouch & Wilson.

In 1891 the Asylums name was formally changed to the “Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind” (RVIB) and as at 2012,  the original building now hosts a Belgian Beer Hall and Restaurant.

The most historical, and striking feature, is the original Ferguson & Urie stained glass window in the stairwell.

Photos kindly contributed by Mrs Noelle Nathan, taken 16th July 2012.

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The Argus Melbourne, Monday 27th January 1868, page 6.


“On Saturday the memorial stone of the Asylum and School for the Blind – a building now being erected on the St. Kilda road was laid by the Hon. G. Harker. It had been originally intended that the ceremony should be performed some weeks ago by Prince Alfred, and we are informed that a promise to that effect was made by the Royal Reception Commission; but shortly before His Royal Highness’s departure a communication was received to the effect that it would be impossible for him to fulfill the promise…”

“…This institution was started about eighteen months since, but it is only about a year since it was brought to working order…”

Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers, Melbourne, Tuesday 3rd March 1868, page 4.

“…The third storey will be devoted to paying pupils, and the staircase window is to be of stained glass…”

The Argus, Melbourne, Saturday 1st August 1891, page 5

“… PROPOSED CHANGE OF TITLE. Mr. Alston moved that the title of the institution be changed to “The Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind: subject to the consent of Her Majesty to the use of the prefix. It had been felt that under its present title some misapprehension existed in regard to the objects of the institution, which were primarily to supply an education of a scholastic, musical, and industrial character to its inmates. Mr. Crews seconded the motion, which was carried…”

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09-08-1881: Christ Church, South Yarra, Melbourne, Australia.

 The Argus, Melbourne, Tuesday 9th August 1881, page 5

“An effort is being made by the vestry of Christ Church, South Yarra, to take advantage of the present renovation of the church to place a stained glass window in the south transept, as a tribute to the memory of the late Mr. Justice Fellows, and we are requested to draw attention to the advertisement, which appears in another column, inviting subscriptions. We understand that the window to be replaced is not one interfered with by the alterations now in progress, but the vestry consider the present a very fitting opportunity for carrying their praiseworthy object into effect”.

Photos dated: 25th March 2012.

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The memorial stained glass window in Christ Church, South Yarra was created by Ferguson & Urie.

Justice Thomas Howard Fellows died at Queenscliff on the 8th April 1878. He had also donated the chancel window and the twelve apostle windows in the nave for St George’s Church in Queenscliff.

Related posts:

07-04-1882: St George’s Church, Queenscliff, Victoria.
04-10-1881: Christ Church South Yarra, Melbourne, Victoria.
17-03-1882: Christ Church, South Yarra. Melbourne, Victoria.

YouTube: My basic 360 degree internal view of Christ Church taken with an iPhone 3GS.

External links:

Biography: Thomas Howard Fellows (1822-1878)

Obituary: Justice Fellows. The Argus, 9th April 1878, page 5

1890: Curzon Street, Ferguson & Urie Employees circa 1890.

This is a magnificent historical photo of James Ferguson and five of the Ferguson & Urie employees circa 1890. I would guess this photo may have been taken at the rear of the Curzon street workshops North Melbourne which was their first workshops when they started business in 1853. They advertised from the site as early as 1853 but the workshop building wasn’t erected until after 1858 as indicated in the diaries of stained glass artist David Relph Drape. The building still exists as at 2012 but the interior has been converted to individual apartments and only the shell and facade remain as it appeared in the Ferguson & Urie employee photos of June 1887.

The only two positively identified men in the photo are, James Urie Jnr,  James Ferguson Snr and James Ferguson Jnr. The other identifications are based on a likeness from the 1887 employees photos that were taken for the company dinner held on the 22nd January 1887.

CURZON Street Photos 01a

1.D. Morris, 2. unknown, 3. James Urie Jnr (1870-1896), 4. James Ferguson Snr (1818-1894), 5. J. M. Gilligan, 6. James Ferguson Jnr (1861-1945). Photo kindly contributed by my 3rd cousin Errol Vincent from New Zealand 2010.

CURZON Street Photos 02a

The Curzon Street workshop building as it appeared in June 1887 and photo taken 2012.

When the building was being converted to apartments in 2012 the sales brochures indicated that the building had been “remodeled circa 1875 to become the North Melbourne Masonic Lodge”. This incorrect. Ferguson & Urie retained the building as their workshops until the company demise in 1899.


In May 1899 an advertisement was placed in the Melbourne Age advertising the auction of their stained glass workshops at 42 Curzon Street would occur at 3p.m. on the 9th of May 1899.

The first tabloid article indicating the building had become the North Melbourne Masonic Lodge appeared in the North Melbourne Courier & West Melbourne Advertiser in September 1902 and it remained in their possession until 2008 when it was put up for auction and sold for $1.3m.

20081014 Curzon

Related posts:

1887 Ferguson & Urie Company Dinner

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23-07-1883: St James’s Old Cathedral, Melbourne.

The foundation stone of St Jame’s was originally laid in 1839 by the newly appointed Superintendent of the Port Phillip District, Charles La Trobe, later to be Governor of the Colony of Victoria. The Church was opened in 1842 and the first Bishop, Charles Perry, installed in 1848.

In 1883 the church underwent extensive renovations and one of the alterations was the replacement of the plain chancel window with a handsome stained glass window, enriched with scripture textswhich was made by Ferguson & Urie of North Melbourne.

In 1891 St James’s status changed back to that of a Parish church when St Paul’s Cathedral opened in Swanston Street. When the church was condemned in 1913 there were concerns that the parish could not afford the repairs or rebuilding of St James’s on the current site. Considerable funds were subsequently realised for the sale of the land which enabled the church to be dismantled and moved to a new location. Whelan the Wrecker was contracted to perform the move in 1913 and so it was relocated stone by stone to its present site on the corner of King and Batman streets under the direction of Messrs Thomas Watts and Son, architects. The church was re-consecrated by Archbishop Lowther Clark, and opened on the19th of April 1914.

A close inspection of the stained glass window in the chancel clearly shows that it had been shortened from its original height and this would have most likely occurred as a result of the ceiling height being reduced when the church was reconstructed in 1914.

Photos taken 21st August 2010.


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The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 23rd July 1883, page 5.

“St. James’s Church, which has recently undergone extensive repairs, was re-opened yesterday morning by the Bishop of Melbourne, assisted by the Dean. There was a very large congregation. The bishop preached the sermon. One of the alterations is the substitution of a handsome stained glass window, enriched with scripture texts, for the plain coloured glass window that was formerly in the chancel. There is also a new altar cloth, in red velvet, beautifully decorated by some young ladies of the congregation, and the drapery of the reading-desk and pulpit is likewise new and of the same material. The bishop’s throne has been re-covered and the chancel has been re-carpeted, and the whole interior of the church has been brightened up. In the renovations the organ has not been neglected. A tablet in memory of the late Rev. M. H. Becher, who was incumbent of the church for 22 years, has been affixed tot he walls by parishioners. A very interesting relic in this church is the marble font which was formerly in St. Catherine’s Church, London, but was secured by the late Governor Latrobe when that church was pulled down in order to make room for docks, and presented to St. James’s. The age of the vessel is not known, but it has been in use in St. James’s for 35 years.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Wednesday 21st May 1913, page 12.



Those citizens of Melbourne who are interested in the historic landmarks of the city in the shape of old buildings, will regret to hear that St James’s Old Cathedral, situated between William and King streets, in Little Collins street, Melbourne, is marked for destruction. The information was made public by the incumbent of St James’s, the Ven. Archdeacon Hindley, vicar-general of the diocese, during the course of his sermon on Sunday. The Archdeacon stated that the building had been condemned as unsafe, and that the conduct of services therein would have to be discontinued. It appears that recent rains had left pronounced damp stains on the walls of the chancel, and the trouble became so aggravated that an expert architect’s advice was sought. A close inspection of the building disclosed the fact that the chancel was in imminent danger of collapse. The chancel arch was discovered to be not an arch at all, but a lath and plaster screen covering the stone wall, and resting for support upon an Oregon pine girder. This girder in turn was found to rest upon a layer of mortar, which is crumbling away. The girder itself is badly affected with dry rot, and the whole position was found to be so unsatisfactory that the church wardens decided to suspend worship in the church rather than run any risk of accident. The foundation stone of St James’s Church was laid on November 9, 1839, by Governor C. J. Latrobe, and the church at one time filled a very prominent place in the religious life of the city. However, the residential population which might provide a congregation for St James’s has long since ebbed far out from its area. The question of the reconstruction or demolition of St. James’s church is one for the council of the diocese to settle, and that body will probably consider the matter at its next meeting on June 7. It is certain that the present casual congregation could not raise the funds necessary either for the repair or rebuilding of the church. When speaking on the subject yesterday afternoon, the chancellor of the diocese, Mr. McLennan, said that for a long time past a great city mission, under the aegis of the Anglican Church had been talked of, and this projected movement might influence the determinations with regards to St. James’s. He did not speak officially, but his own views were that the St. James’s site might be found of great value in relation to such a scheme, while the church, as a place of worship, was admittedly very near the Cathedral for rebuilding. In any case, great interest attaches to the fate of the historic edifice”.

 Annear, Robyn. 2005: A City Lost & Found: Whelan the Wreckers Melbourne; Black Inc Publisher, Melbourne, pages 21-22.

 “It was Jim Whelan’s task to dismantle the church and cart it in pieces to the new site, less than a mile away. The solid stones of the outer wall were kept – each one carefully numbered for re-erection – but the inner walls, of compacted shells and rubble, were replaced on the new site with reinforced concrete. Changes were made, too, in the old cathedral’s design. The ceiling was lowered, supporting columns omitted, and the tower altered once more, this time to improve the peal of the bells – it was a long time since it had been safe to ring them.

One stone that didn’t make it to the new site was the foundation stone of the old St James’. Charles La Trobe, newly landed Superintendent of the Port Phillip District, had laid the stone in 1839. There being no monumental mason in the town at that time, the foundation stone had gone unmarked. The words that ought to have been inscribed theron were read aloud by La Trobe from a parchment which, along with a few coins, was poked into a bottle and thence into a niche in the foundation stone. Seventy-five years later, neither bottle nor foundation stone came to light. It was supposed that, being unmarked, the stone had simply escaped notice in the course of relocation and its contents lost – or else, that both had been missing since 1850 when the original foundations were replaced. In 1929, however, the then-minister of St James’s claimed to have discovered the truth of the matter.

‘I found that the carter who transferred the material to the new site was responsible for destroying the foundation stone. He accidentally broke it and then threw the parts on the rubbish heap and gave the contents to his friends, keeping the most valuable himself’.

Had the carter unburdened himself, I wonder, or been unburdened on?. Aside from his fee, Jim Whelan didn’t carry much away from the St James’ job. The only lasting trace would be an in-house joke, that ran like this – One of Whelan’s men wrote to his folks in Ireland: “Australia’s a great country. Back home we wreck Protestant churches for nothing; here, they pay you to do it.” Years later, an alleged relic would occupy pride of place at Whelan the Wrecker headquarters. It was a wrecker’s bar with the inscription: “Used for wrecking Protestant churches.”

Related posts:

27-07-1885: St Paul’s Pro Cathedral, Flinders St, Melbourne, Victoria.

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