After 1894, finding extant stained-glass windows created by the historic stained-glass firm Ferguson & Urie of North Melbourne is rare. A mention of one of their windows at St Mary’s Anglican Church in the tiny township of Balmoral is a significant bonus for my research of the company.
Balmoral is a tiny town 73km northeast of Casterton and 80km South of Horsham in Western Victoria. It was settled in the early 1850s and today its population is under 300.
Caroline Armytage, the wife of Charles Henry Armytage laid the foundation stone of St Mary’s Anglican Church at Balmoral on the 27th of September 1894  and the Bishop of Ballarat officially opened it on the 24th of January 1895. An account of the church furnishings and fittings was chronicled in detail but there was only a brief mention of the stained-glass window in the chancel;
“… a chancel in early English style, with handsome triple east window (presented by the Armytage family in memory of the late C. Armytage, Esq., of Fulham), by Ferguson and Urie…”
There was no indication of what the window depicted so that just left me a mystery and enough curiosity to undertake a 260-kilometer trip to see if it still existed and if so, what was in it?
The date of the tabloid article indicates the window was likely made in late 1894. The Ferguson & Urie company closed in late December 1899, so finding extant examples of their stained glass in this period their final decade is rare.
At the time the Balmoral window was made, the original founders of the company had died. James Urie, in 1890 and James Ferguson, in 1894. The company was then in the hands of their sons, James Ferguson Jnr and William Urie. Neither founders nor their sons were stained-glass artists in the company, so at this late stage in the company’s history, identifying which of the firm’s remaining stained-glass artists who may have had a hand in the design and painting of the windows becomes vague.
We visited Balmoral in August 2017 to see the window at St Mary’s. The three-light window is the only stained glass in the church, others are generic lead-light.
The window depicts St Peter, Christ, and St Andrew from left to right. There is no doubt it was a Ferguson & Urie window, but the figurative depictions of St Peter, Christ, and St Andrew were very different.
The company’s early figurative style is easily recognisable in the period of their first two stained-glass artists with the company, John Lamb Lyon  (from 1861 to 1873), and David Relph Drape  (from 1863 until his death 1882). Windows made after Drape’s death in 1882 leave some mystery as to who the artists may have been.
Dr. Bronwyn Hughes OAM proposed that the Balmoral window could be the work of stained glass artist Herbert Moesbury Smyrk .
Whilst many parts of the window are typical of Ferguson & Urie’s company style, the figurative work in the faces of St Peter, Christ, and St Andrew are quite different. Smyrk’s painting style is very delicate and he was quite prolific at using the traditional silver stain to create varying shades from light yellow to deep gold. Some parts of his figurative images let through a lot of light which wasn’t prevalent in early Ferguson & Urie windows created in the Lyon and Drape era. A further study of my photo collection of stained glass windows in this same period has now revealed more of Smyrk’s style under the guise of Ferguson & Urie, and many other windows created during his time with Ferguson & Urie are now attributed to him.
Positive evidence of Smyrk’s association with Ferguson & Urie is revealed in February 1896 when a memorial stained-glass window, dedicated to Councillor William Ievers MLA, was erected in St George’s church (now part of Corpus Christie) at Carlton. The window was executed by Ferguson & Urie and Smyrk was named as the designer . The church was gutted by fire in 1924 and none of the original windows survived 
An obscure article in May 1896 provides further evidence of Smyrk’s connection to Ferguson & Urie when he writes to the editor of The Herald about the rules of Cricket. He signs off as; “H. Smyrk. 100 Franklin Street, 2nd May”. That address was the Ferguson & Urie Franklin Street Warehouse which they occupied in mid-1891.
The window at St Mary’s, Balmoral has no memorial inscription on it but a nearby brass plaque records that it is dedicated to Charles Henry Armytage:
“In Loving Memory of Charles Henry Armytage, Died 26th April 1876”.
The Armytage family name is probably more well known to Melburnians for their period of ownership of the heritage-listed “Como House” in South Yarra where Charles died in 1876 . It’s likely that his wife Caroline would have been the instigator for the erection of the stained-glass window at St Mary’s at Balmoral. It was also the first church to be built in the district.
Charles’ estate of £120,000 was left to his wife Caroline with other complex divisions and trusts for his children. As was usual of the time, his will included archaic conditions that if Caroline remarried, her future husband could have no control of any of her estate, and nor would Caroline be liable for any future husband’s debts.
Stained Glass Artists – Herbert Moesbury Smyrk 1861-1947:
Smyrk, seems to have passed through nearly every major Stained glass company in Australia between 1884 and 1947. His prolific association with so many companies makes attribution to his work very difficult.
Smyrk was born in Guildford, Surrey, England. At the age of fourteen was selected from hundreds of art students to be apprenticed to Powell and Shellard as a stained glass artist and designer. 
On completion of his apprenticeship circa 1881, Smyrk stowed away on the ship “Queen” at St Catherine’s docks in London which was bound for America. There he began designing and painting windows for firms in New York and San Francisco. In 1884 he came out to Australia where he joined Brooks, Robinson & Co., in Melbourne.
By March 1886 he was a partner of the Smyrk & Rogers stained glass company in Melbourne with Charles Rogers. That partnership was dissolved in September 1888  and he returned to London to work with William Morris & Co.
In later years, between many trips back to England, America, and some years living a nomadic life in Tahiti, he returned to Australia where he designed and painted for Australian firms such as Ferguson & Urie in North Melbourne, E. F. Troy in Adelaide, Barnett Bros in Perth, R. S. Exton in Brisbane, James Sandy & Co in Sydney, and Frank G. O’Brien Ltd., at Waterloo in Sydney.
Herbert Moesbury Smyrk died at Woollahra, Sydney, in 1947 at the age of 85.
I have a more extensive biography of Herbert Moesbury Smyrk in progress.
My thanks to Helen Curkpatrick, the human history dynamo from the Wimmera National Trust, Ross & Pam from Longerenong, Denize Raggatt from the Balmoral Historical Society, Bronwyn & David Hughes for joining me on the Hamilton & Balmoral trip, and ABC Radio Horsham.
 Caroline Morrell (nee Tuckwell), whom he married in 1856.
James Ferguson Williams (1877-1959), Stained Glass Artist and former member of the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne circa 1891-1898.
James Ferguson Williams is recognised as a member of the historic Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne circa 1891 – 1898.
In my early research of South Australian stained glass I had seen many references to a stained-glass artist named “J. F. Williams” in relation to the H. L. Vosz and later the Clarkson Ltd stained-glass company, but it never occurred to me at the time that he was the grandson of James Ferguson (1918-1894) from the historic North Melbourne stained-glass firm Ferguson & Urie.
The key to this family history revelation was found by pure chance in the guest book of St George’s Anglican Church at Queenscliff in Victoria. I had taken an Aunt & Uncle there to see the magnificent cycle of stained glass windows by our ancestor James Ferguson of the Colonial Victorian stained glass company Ferguson & Urie 1853-1899.
I had been to St Georges many times, and also signed the guest book. On this occasion, my aunt had been looking at the names further back in the book and found a vital clue. On the 13th of March 2014 there was an entry by visitors named Marion Ferguson Cullen and Gavin MacSwiney from London:
“…we were tracing James Ferguson my great-great grandfathers’ history, knowing about his stained glass window business & were incredibly fortunate that Wendy gave us access to this magnificent church with the best exposition if his windows. Stunning beauty – & wonderful to have this link with my g-g-gfa. Marion F. Cullen”
My first question was, who is this? I have been researching the family tree for more than a decade and this name hadn’t been revealed to me in any branch. Could this visitor hold some more clues to the Ferguson & Urie company?
A snail mail address was supplied in the guest book but no email and so I began the long slow process of written communication via the traditional post. By the time I had packaged up my parcel for the UK it was quite an epistle.
Nearly a year passed before I received a reply. Marion & Gavin had been traveling the world and their mail had been piling up at their home in London.
Amongst Marion’s first correspondence was this significant clue as to where James Ferguson Williams gained his experience in the stained-glass business:
“I had known about the stained-glass business from an early age as my mother had told me family stories, although some of them were a little vague or inaccurate as family memories passed on tend to be. I was unaware that there was a partner Urie, until some years later. Although James Ferguson was my Gt Gt Grandfather, he always seemed a familiar person to me as my maternal grandfather James Williams had moved to live with him when his father, Edward Williams, died. Edward’s widow, Marion (nee Ferguson), who lived in Royal Parade Parkville, was left fairly destitute and the story we were told was that the lawyers handling the estate disappeared with all the money. She and all her six children moved to live with her father in “Ayr Cottage” Parkville. I was told there were other cousins also living there but don’t know any more about this. I am not sure how old my Grandfather was when he moved, as currently I don’t have the date of death of his father Edward, but he spoke warmly of being there, and developed a life- long interest in stained glass. He studied at the Melbourne School of Art and specialised in design and stained glass in particular. For most of his career he worked as a designer and then a director for Clarkson, a specialist leadlight company in Adelaide.” 
On the 20th March 1889 Edward Williams died at Inglewood Victoria leaving his wife Marion with no further financial means. Marion’s six children were Edward Sydney (c.1875-1946), James Ferguson (1877-1859), Jane Grant, (1872-1908), Annie (1873-1948), Elsie Marion (1882-1966), and Percy Alexander (1883-1952). A seventh child, Francis died in infancy in 1884.
Edward was buried in the family plot at the Melbourne General Cemetery. His wife Marion and the children moved back to Melbourne to live with their grandfather James Ferguson at his home “Ayr Cottage” at Leonard Street in Parkville.
The two eldest Williams boys, Edward and James, were apprenticed to their grand-fathers stained glass firm, Ferguson & Urie. James had the artistic talent to become a stained-glass artist in the firm. His elder brother Edward’s trade in the company is not known at this stage but in later years in Adelaide he was specified as “Glass Estimator”.
In 1894 their grandfather James Ferguson had died and it was now increasingly obvious that the Ferguson & Urie Stained Glass company was in decline. In mid-1898 Edward and James Williams left Melbourne and headed for Adelaide in South Australia.
James enrolled as a student at the Adelaide School of Design to continue his art education.
At the Students Exhibition in September 1898, attended by the Governor of South Australia, he received accolades in the Figure Detail and Anatomy section as well as the Charcoal art section. He was also mentioned alongside another, soon-to-be-famous, art student named Hans Heyson. 
Adelaide’s “Century Exhibition”, held in March 1899, gives the first indication that James, and presumably his brother Edward, had joined the H. L. Vosz firm in Adelaide.
“…The first two entries in the catalogue – embossed glass, and painted and fired glass, by Mr. J. F. Williams, are to be found in Mr. H. L. Vosz’s stand. From point of merit they justify the position they take in the catalogue, and they do much to make Mr. Vosz’s stand the artistic exhibit that it is. A portion of the wall has been removed to show the stained glass and lead lights off to advantage, and one cannot but notice the fine effect that has been produced. The large leadlight window that has been formed is most brilliantly coloured. The principal panel represents a figure on horseback, clad in ancient picturesque costume, leaving his home, with two hounds running alongside the horse. For a bright piece of work the colours chosen are most suitable, and these, as well as the designing and drawing, reflect great credit on the taste and ability of Mr. Williams, the firm’s artist. Below this is a picture of St. Patrick driving snakes out of Ireland, a cathedral showing in the distance. Two other excellent panels are charming landscape pictures, and show to what a high degree the art of glass-staining has been brought…”
A tabloid article published in August 1915 indicates the year 1898 is likely to be the accurate year as to when the Williams brothers were engaged by the Vosz company. James is credited with starting up the new stained-glass department of the business where he became the chief designer and glass painter. Given the very close timeframe from when they left Melbourne and joined H. L. Vosz, it seems likely that they may have arranged their employment via correspondence with the firm before they left Melbourne.
James was still studying art at the Adelaide School of Design whilst simultaneously running the stained-glass department for H. L. Vosz. In April 1899 one of his stained-glass window designs was selected as the best in the art section. 
In April 1900, James was awarded a Silver Medal for his “stained glass, painted and fired glass, and Lead Lights”. Controversially, one of the judges in this section at the exhibition was E. F. Troy, an Adelaide artist, and decorator with his own firm producing stained-glass windows in competition with H. L. Vosz. 
Two months later In June the H. L. Vosz company took advantage of their accolades and prizes awarded at the Century Exhibition by shining a light on the skills of the employees;
“My Employes Secured Three First and Three Second Prizes at the late Century Exhibition for LEADED LIGHTS AND STAINED GLASS, also First and Second Prize for BEVELLED GLASS…” 
These accolades were the kickstart the Stained-Glass department required, and the business began receiving significant commissions. The stained glass designs of J. F. Williams began appearing in Churches and private homes all over South Australia.
At the age of 28 James married Nellie Clark Burgess on the 25th of March 1905 at the Pirie-street Methodist Church in Adelaide. They had three children, Jack Corbin in 1906, Jean Ferguson in 1908, and Marion Ruth in 1913. Jean was the one that had artistic talents like her father and her daughter Marion recalled:
“…She won a scholarship to the Adelaide School of Art…She did not pursue a career in art for very long, although she told me she spent some time in stained glass window design…She completed nursing training and spent 6 years abroad with the Australian nursing forces in WW2, and later in life returned to her first love of painting and drawing” 
Nothing more is known about Jean’s return to her love of painting and drawing after WW2.
Some of the significant windows in South Australia by J. F. Williams during the H. L. Vosz period include:
1903:Adelaide School of Mines. Depicts the Armorial bearings of Sir Langton Bonython, the Marquis of Linlithgow (Earl of Hopetown), Lord Tennyson, and the Lieut-Governor (Sir Samuel Way). Other depict the images of Watt, Newton, Stephenson Bessemer, Lord Kelvin, Faraday and Wren. H. L. Vosz Ltd by J. F. Williams.
Under increasing anti-German sentiment in the lead-up to WW1 it was decided to change the name of the Vosz company. In August 1915 an Extraordinary General Meeting was held and it was resolved to change the company name to that of the Managing Director, Mr. Alfred Ernest Clarkson, and trade under the name Clarkson Ltd.
“BRITISH NAME PREFERRED. CLARKSON INSTEAD OF VOSZ… A smoke social was held at Bricknell’s Cafe on Friday night to celebrate the changing of the name of the firm to H. L. Vosz, Limited, to Clarkson, limited. There was a large gathering of shareholders and employees, and the chairman of directors (Mr Alfred Wilkinson) presided… Mr. J. F. Williams, an employee of the firm for 17 years. also spoke to the toast…” 
From circa September 1915, all the stained-glass windows produced by the Vosz company would then be recognised under the name of Clarkson Ltd.
Some of the stained-glass windows made under the Clarkson Ltd company name include:
Outside of the stained-glass business, James was a keen Lawn Bowler like his brother Edward. A few months after the company name changed to Clarkson Ltd, the Governor of South Australia and his select team played bowls at the Sturt club against a team Captained by J. F. Williams. The Governor’s crack team supposedly gave them a thorough flogging on the rink 
James was still the head of the stained-glass department in 1915 and in 1922 another change in the company structure occurred which meant a significant promotion for James:
“In a recent re-adjustment of the directorate of Clarkson, Limited, Mr. J. F. Williams, of the Wallpaper and leaded light departments, was appointed to the board, which now comprises Messrs, A. E. Clarkson (Chairman), W. Douglas Ure, Robert Weymiss, and J. F. Williams.”
The following year, in January 1923 Clarkson Ltd celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the firm:
“The directors of Clarkson, Limited, of Adelaide, entertained employees and other guests at the Arcadia Cafe on Friday night in a celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the firm…” 
In the first quarter of 1924 James and A. E. Clarkson did a world tour to discover the emerging trends in decoration, wallpapers, and stained glass;
“Mr. A. E. Clarkson and Mr. J. F. Williams, who are on a world tour, had an exceptionally good time in America, and were overwhelmed with invitations to dinners and receptions. They are now touring England.”
In September 1927 James was appointed to the Industrial Board for Glass Workers. Less than a decade later, on the 26th April 1936, tragedy struck the Clarkson family and in turn everyone at Clarkson Ltd;
“Mr. A. E. Clarkson, managing director of Clarkson Ltd., disappeared from the deck of the motor ship Moonta in the early hours of yesterday morning while the vessel was at sea on its way to Port Lincoln…”
Albert Clarkson’s cruise was supposed to be a convalescent holiday voyage to recover from a recent bout of double pneumonia. Two weeks earlier he had celebrated his 60th birthday. At 04:30am on April 26th, 1936, he was last seen on the deck of the ship Moonta in his dressing gown and afterward never seen again.
Two months after the tragedy the Clarkson board convened;
“Sir Wallace Bruce was appointed chairman of directors of Clarkson Limited, and Mr. L. S. Clarkson has been made managing director in succession to his late father (Mr. A. E. Clarkson). Other directors are Messrs W. D. Ure, J. F. Williams, and Robert Wemyss.”
On the 27th of May 1946, James’ brother Edward died. Edward had been in a car accident on the 22nd of April and suffered a significant but not life-threatening injury to his leg (at the time). His cause of death a month later was later specified as heart failure. His role in his department at Clarkson was “Glass Estimator” but his original trade when at Ferguson & Urie is not known.
In 1948 Clarkson’s celebrated their Centenary Year. In the photo below, James Ferguson Williams sits prominently in the center of the photo in the lighter grey suit.
Strangely enough the famous cricketer Sir Donald Bradman was a director of the firm in 1952.
On the 24th of July 1959, James Ferguson Williams died of a heart attack whilst visiting his daughter Jean at Glen Iris in Victoria. He was 82 years old.
James was cremated, and his ashes were interred at the Adelaide Centennial Park cemetery in South Australia  next to his wife Nellie Clarke (nee Burgess) who pre-deceased him a year earlier in 1958.
It’s quite remarkable to think that James Ferguson Williams began his career in stained-glass with his grandfather’s historical firm, Ferguson & Urie, in North Melbourne.
Ferguson & Urie was the oldest recorded commercial stained-glass company in Australia. James took his skills with him to South Australia and continued his art education and started up the Stained-Glass department of H. L. Vosz which later evolved into Clarkson Ltd where he became a director.
James was not only an enthusiastic pioneer in his stained-glass craft, he can rightly be attributed with paving the way for women to enter the medieval craft. A young aspiring artist named Nora Burden (1908-1992) was one of the earliest South Australian female artists to have been accepted into the field of stained-glass at Clarkson’s. In turn, Nora mentored Vanessa Rose Smith 1907-2005 (nee Lambe) as an artist at Clarkson. This may never have occurred if not for James Ferguson Williams.
Clarkson Ltd closed in 1960.
 Guest Book, St George’s Anglican Church, Queenscliff, Victoria, 13th March 2014
 In reference to James Urie of the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne.
In 1863 the first wooden Anglican church was built at Corowa and dedicated as St John’s. The land was donated by John Foord. Circa 1859 the area was known as North Wahgunyah and later changed to Corowa to differentiate it from Wahgunyah on the south side of the river in Victoria.
On the 25th of January 1884, a brief article appeared in the Corowa Free Press about a stained glass window being delivered for the new brick building of St John’s.
“…The memorial window for St. John’s Church, presented by the Misses Hume, has been delivered at Corowa, and its erection will be proceeded with shortly..” 
A week later the same tabloid reported that the window had been installed in the church but there were errors in the article:
“MEMORIAL WINDOW.- The window presented to St. John’s Church, in memory of Elizabeth and Andrew E. [sic] Hume, has this week been put into its place by Messrs. Armstrong and Johnson – free of cost. It is a very beautiful piece of workmanship, and was executed to the order of the Misses Hume, by Messrs. Ferguson and Wise [sic], of Melbourne.”
Slide show: Images were taken in March 2014:
The window was dedicated to Andrew Hamilton Hume (1828-1859) and his mother Elizabeth (nee O’Neill 1802-1864). Andrew’s father was John Kennedy Hume (1800-1840) who was shot by bushrangers at Gunning, NSW, 20th Jan 1840 
The newspaper incorrectly named the stained glass company as ‘Ferguson & Wise’. There was no stained glass company of that name anywhere in Australia. The window is accurately attributed to the ‘Ferguson & Urie’ stained glass company of North Melbourne. This company started out as a plumbing, slating, and glazing business, in Curzon Street North Melbourne in 1853 by two Scots, James Ferguson & James Urie. In 1861 they transformed the company towards commercial glazing and stained glass production and for the next thirty-nine years, they made ecclesiastical and secular stained-glass windows.
After confirming with Rev Canon Rex Everet at St John’s in March 2014 that the window still existed, A trip to Corowa was next on my ‘To Do’ list.
A tabloid report in August 1896 gives an account of the Church and mentions stained glass windows by other studios from New South Wales:
“…The older portion of the building was erected about twenty-five years ago by Mrs. Bladen Neill in memory of her husband, Lieutenant-Colonel Neill; the newer parts of the structure dating from some eleven years back. The church is cruciform in shape, and has a highly ornamental interior. The roof is of Murray pine diagonally laid, the massive worked principals supporting the same resting on artistically designed corbels. The stained glass windows, mostly presents from various residents, and costing over £250, largely enhanced the solemn beauty of the interior. The windows on each side of the altar, representing four scenes of the resurrection, are from designs supplied by the vicar, the Rev. William Clark Hose, and admirably executed by Messrs. Asher [sic] and Falconer, of Sydney. The three-light east window is in memory of Elizabeth and A. H. Hume, old and esteemed residents of the district. In the transept is a large three-light window in memory of Mr. Ross Ramsay, of Narrow Plains Station. Of the four lesser windows, one was presented by the late Bishop Linton; another by the Rev. W. Swindlehurst, of West Maitland, in memory of his deceased wife; and the remaining two by the Sunday School children…”
The Ferguson & Urie window in the chancel follows the company’s decorative style from their 1870s period of geometric patterns and scrolling ribbons with text from the bible. This window wasn’t made by the company’s first two pioneering stained glass artists. The artist who joined the firm in 1861, John Lamb Lyon, had left Ferguson & Urie in 1873 to form the Lyon & Cottier company in Sydney, and David Relph Drape died in 1882. This leaves two of the company’s earliest apprentice glass painters, Charles William Hardess and Frank Clifford Lording as the likely suspects who had a significant role in the window. There is no figurative work depicting any human form in the window, it has been copied faithfully from variations of their catalogue of designs over the previous twenty years, which Hardess and Lording would have been very familiar with producing.
At the top of the window above the three lancets is a window with the letters “I.H.S”, a monogram symbolizing Jesus Christ. Below this are two windows with the Greek Lettering for “A” and “O” representing Alpha and Omega and meaning the Beginning and the End.
The centre light in the window contains a beautiful gothic decorated crimson cross on a sapphire blue background. The cross and the backgrounds have finely detailed sgraffito work picked out to reveal tiny stars. A ribbon scrolling around the cross has the words “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”. The left light contains a crimson pointed ellipse with leaves and fronds with a scrolling ribbon with the words “God is Love”. The right light is the same design but has the words on the ribbon “Love one Another”.
The memorial text at the base of the window states: “IN MEMORY OF ELIZABETH HUME AND A.H. HUME”.
The Hume memorial window in the chancel is the only Ferguson & Urie window in the church. The windows flanking it in the chancel were made by the Sydney firm of Ashwin & Falconer and are a distinctively different style. , but in the nave, there are other windows that would trick you into believing they are also Ferguson & Urie windows. They’re not, and the reason these are similar-looking windows is that they are the work of Lyon & Cottier of Sydney. Lyon, mentioned earlier, was the Ferguson & Urie glass painter at North Melbourne between 1861 and 1873.
Andrew Hamilton Hume died at his station, Hume River, at age 30, on the 27th of July 1859. His mother, Elizabeth (nee O’Neil 1802-1964) died 4th July 1864 at Yarrawonga in Victoria. Andrew and his mother are buried at the Corowa cemetery.
St John’s has an extraordinarily diverse range of stained glass windows by different artists and studios spanning nearly a century and a half. The windows from the late 1800s and early into the 1900s are by Ferguson & Urie, Ashwin & Falconer, and Lyon & Cottier. The modern-styled windows are by artists such as Bowers & Wilkins and Leonie Le Cornu.
James Fry (1821-1903) is credited as the donor of the historic stained glass windows in the chancel of St Peters Anglican Church in Ballarat.
The windows were made by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne in 1877 at the time when extensions and renovations were being made to St Peter’s. Amongst these improvements was the addition of a new chancel complete with the stained glass windows. James Fry donated £500 towards the chancel and windows on the provision that the church raise the additional funds for a parsonage and a new organ and chamber. 
We mentioned recently that some extensive improvements were being made at ST. Peter’s Church, and the approaching completion of the works warrants their being noticed. The church as it stands at present has in use a nave, and on the western side a transept, the original design being for another transept on the east, and an apse at the rear. As regards the apse, Mr Oakden (of Terry and Oakden), Melbourne, altered the design when he was drawing the plans for the western transept, and a chancel was projected instead of the apse. The requirements of the church have now necessitated this plan being carried out, and the work will soon be completed. Messrs James and Creber are superintending the work, and Messrs Llewellyn and Roberts are the contractors. The chancel is built of bluestone, to correspond with body of the church, and the inside measurements are:- Width, 18 feet; depth, 12 feet 6 inches; height of side walls, 20 feet 6 inches. The chancel window is a fine specimen of the stonemason’s art, the tracery being done in Waurn Ponds freestone. Stained glass is now being prepared in Melbourne to fill the window. There will be a small window on each side of the chancel, and a door on the east leads to the vestry. From the floor of the church there will be a step upwards before the chancel arch, and two others within it leading to the altar. An organ chamber is also being built, which will form part of the future eastern transept. The amount of Messrs Llewellyn and Roberts’ contract is about £480, but this amount will be considerably augmented before all the work is done in fitting up the chancel, &c. Mr Fincham, of Melbourne, is building the organ, whose largest pipe will be 16 feet, and the cost of the organ, we understand, will be about £500, so that it will be seen that the church authorities have launched into an expenditure of over £1000, towards which sum, as we mentioned a short time since, Mr. James Fry has contributed the handsome donation of £500. It is expected that all the new works will be finished, and the organ erected, in a little over a month’s time from the present.”
In early August 1877 the three light stained glass window had arrived from the workshops of the renowned Melbourne stained glass firm of Ferguson & Urie and was erected in the chancel. The Church of England Messenger published a very detailed description of the window:
“The stained-glass window for the chancel of St. Peter’s Church has arrived in Ballaarat, and was placed in position. It is a very good specimen of Messrs. Ferguson and Urie’s art, and it is a matter of congratulation that such excellent workmanship can be produced in the colony. The window is divided into three lights, surmounted by tracery pierced with trefoils. These trefoils are filled with richly-coloured glass, bearing upon a starry background the three emblems of faith, hope, and charity; the heart with the sacred monogram, the cross with the crown of thorns, the anchor with the dove and olive branch. The subject of the central light is the “Ecce Homo.” The side lights, having reference to the pious and charitable lives of the ladies in whose memory the chancel was erected. are illustrations of Mark XIV, 8 (“She hath done what she could’) and Matthew XXV. 40 (“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me”). In the central light the Saviour stands forth a solemn and mournful figure. Pilate and a Roman soldier occupying the background. Underneath there is a panel with asmall but exceedingly well-drawn picture of Christ’s charge to Peter – “Feed my Sheep.” In the apex of the window is the emblem of the Holy Spirit, the dove, descending with rays of light. The right hand picture of Mary wiping the Saviour’s feet with her hair is remarkable for the beauty of the Saviour’s countenance and the grace of His gesture. In the light upon the left-hand side a female figure is casting a garment around an aged man and a child at her feet. The background of both of these pictures is of a similar character – a low wall decorated with scroll-work, overtopped with trees and flowers, the sky space being filled in with ruby glass in irregular lead-work. Underneath are the old church emblems – the Agnus Dei and the Pelican; and above are the Alpha and Omega. The side window, which can be seen only upon entering the chancel, is the more special memorial window, having the upper part a scroll with the text – “Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord;” and at the bottom, a panel with the memorial inscription. The quarries of which the rest of the window is composed are ornamented with fleurs-de-lys, and the effect of the whole is highly satisfactory. The organ has been inspected on behalf of the church authorities, and is pronounced a first-class instrument. No time will now be lost in erecting it in the church.”
The new chancel of St Peter’s was consecrated on Sunday 12th August 1877 
Whilst there were significant descriptions of the three light chancel window in the tabloids, there was only a minor mention of the smaller single light memorial window erected in the liturgical south wall.
“…The side window, which can be seen only upon entering the chancel, is the more special memorial window, having the upper part a scroll with the text – “Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord;” and at the bottom, a panel with the memorial inscription…”
The memorial text on the lower panel of the window provides the historic clues about the donor, James Fry, and his generosity to the church and the dates of death of his first two wives, Mary & Williamina.. As stated in 1877, unless you are standing in the chancel of St Peter’s you would not know the window was there. The Gothic design is recognisable as the work of Ferguson & Urie which includes a central scrolling ribbon design containing a piece of scripture from the King James Bible, Revelations Chapter 14, verse 13;
“WRITE BLESSED ARE THE DEAD WHICH DIE IN THE LORD”
Unfortunately, the memorial text at the bottom of the window no longer has back lighting from outside so it can only be read when artificially illuminated from behind. I managed to do that via the simple trick of utilising the smart-phone flashlight function and dangling it down the back of the vent which was sufficient to highlight the text enough to be read. There are many unfortunate paint splatters on the window and the fact that the memorial text cannot be read at all unless illuminated from behind gives the impression that it probably hasn’t been seen or known for many years. Probably not known for longer than I have been alive!
“THIS CHANCEL WAS ERECTED BY
TO THE GLORY OF GOD
AND IN AFFECTIONATE REMEMBRANCE OF
MARY FRY, DIED MAY 14th 1863 &
WILLIAMINA FRY DIED APRIL 13th 1876”
James Fry (1821-1903) was a native of Somersetshire in England and he can be credited as a colonial pioneer of Victoria’s grain growing and flour milling in western districts of Victoria.
His official biography records that he came to Australia with his wife Mary in 1854 aboard the ‘Brilliant’ but there is no record of their names on the passenger list.
After successfully pioneering as a grain grower in the Wimmera region in the late 1850’s, he began his own flour milling operations and entered in partnership with Thomas Creed in the Ascot Flour Mills north of Ballarat. In May of 1857 they dissolved their partnership by mutual consent and James became the sole owner. The mill was known for many years as “Fry’s Ascot Mills” and he expanded it in 1860 by erecting a massive five storey bluestone building to the designs of Ballarat architect Henry Richards Caselli.
In 1857 the first family tragedy struck when his infant daughter, Mary Grimstead Fry, died on the 2nd of July. James obtained a family grave site at the Miners Rest ‘Dowling Forrest’ cemetery, 10km North West of Ballarat, where his daughter was interred. An imposing monument was later erected on the site which would provide an historic record of the family’s tragedies and history.
By the early 1860’s James’s milling empire was expanding. In September 1864 he purchased a flour mill at Ballarat opposite Lake Wendouree from “Hassell & Monckton” for £4500 . He expanded the business further via leasing or purchasing mills all over the western districts at Ararat, Donald, St. Arnaud, Horsham, Nhill, Kaniva, Dimboola, and Natimuk. His favoured estate, Sutton Park, at Newlyn near the Ascot mill remained a central hub to all his operations.
Fry’s prize winning ‘Ascot Mills’ flour was exhibited at the International Exhibition in London of 1862 and by the 1880’s it became a household staple throughout the colony known as Fry’s “Five Stars Flour”.
On the 14th May 1863 his first wife Mary, nee Gear, died at his Sutton Park estate near the Ascot Mills. She was only 45 years old and was interred in the family vault at Miners Rest with their infant daughter Mary Grimstead.
Being a widower was not a part of James’s future plans and he wasted little time in finding a new companion. On the 21st April 1864, at Brompton Cottage in Brighton, Victoria, he married Williamina Smith (nee Hay), the widow of Mungo Park Smith, Engineer and city surveyor of Melbourne.
James’s generosity was not just confined to the church. In October 1864 he and Williamina hosted a luncheon for his employees and their families. About 60 people were transported to Lake Burrumbeet in four decorated wagons where the best part of the day was taken up by games and; “At noon, a sumptuous dinner was spread and was partaken of with the best of appetites.” Wine and Spirits were supplied in generous quantities and later in the day, as heavy rain set in, the whole party returned to the Ascot mill where singing and dancing continued to a late hour. This was undoubtedly one of the many occasions that James displayed his generosity towards his employees. Some of them would later join him as partners in his milling operations for many years.
On the 12th of July 1869 a tragic accident occurred at the Wendouree flour mill. On the Monday at about 7:30am a massive 36ft long boiler exploded at the mill. The sound of the explosion could be heard over three miles away and a huge plume of steam and debris could be seen in the air above the mill for many miles around. James’s nephew, Albert Hill, who was acting superintendent at the time, was unfortunately standing next to the boiler when it exploded. Albert was killed instantly. His mangled near naked and disembowelled body was blown more than one hundred yards away and landed in the Swamp on the other side of Wendouree Parade.
“…The clothing was torn into shreds, while the skull was completely smashed in. Both legs were broken, and besides several other terrible wounds, the body was almost disembowelled…”
When his body was recovered it was taken to Fry’s residence near the mill. Williamina was so traumatised by the horrific scene that she became seriously ill. The inquest on Albert’s body was held the following day at the Wendouree Parade Hotel, where, coincidentally, some small portions of brick had been thrown a few hundred yards from the explosion and had landed in the bar. Albert’s funeral was held on the 14th and he was interred with James’s first wife Mary and their infant daughter Mary Grimstead at the Miners Rest Cemetery.
“The procession started from Mrs Fry’s residence, Wendouree-parade, and consisted of about thirty well-filled mourning coaches, buggies, &c, and several horsemen.”
James’s second wife, Williamina died at his Sutton Park estate on the 13th April 1876. Coincidentally she was also only 45 years of age. Williamina was interred with James’s first wife and his nephew Albert at Miners Rest. Whether by coincidence or design, some scriptural text from Revelations 14:13 which appears on their memorial stained glass window at St Peter’s in Ballarat is from the same chapter and verse as that on their monument at Miners Rest:
“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord: even you saith the Spirit that they may rest from their labours.” Rev. XIV:13″
In June of 1877, the year following Williamina’s death, James Fry donated £500 to St Peter’s Church for the construction of a new chancel and the stained glass windows. Shortly after this he departed Victoria aboard the ‘Northumberland’ for London. James had been back to the old country a number of times before but this venture would secure his third wife.
At St. Mary’s, Stoke Newington, London, on the 27th December 1877 he married Louisa Anne Coles, the widow of Edward Coles. James and Louisa returned to Melbourne aboard the ‘Chimborazo’ in March the following year and she would be his companion for the next twenty three years.
On the 8th November 1901 Louisa died at Sutton Park aged 75. James had now outlived three wives. Louisa was interred at the Mount Prospect cemetery north of Ballarat and a marble casket type grave-stone was erected over the grave. After more than a century most of the lead letters in the inscription have gone and it’s now almost unreadable:
“In Memory Of, LOUISA ANN, Who for 23 years was the faithful and beloved wife of, JAMES FRY of Sutton Park, who died November 8th 1901, aged 75 years. Beloved by all who knew her.”
James was now in his early eighties and had not taken an active interest in the flour milling operations since he floated the company on the stock exchange in 1884. He devoted his time to agricultural pursuits at his estate near Newlyn. On Friday the 14th August 1903 James died there at the age of 82 and was buried with his third wife Louisa at Mount Prospect.
One of the earliest pioneers of the grain trade in Victoria, Mr James Fry, died on Friday at Sutton Park, Newlyn, at the advanced age of 82. Deceased was a native of Somersetshire, and came to the colony in 1854 in the ship Brilliant, settling first at Geelong with his wife and family, where he purchased a property. After various experiences on the Ballarat goldfields, in 1856 he purchased a property at Ascot, and shortly after secured a flour mill near Geelong, which he removed to that point, as the Talbot shire was fast becoming the centre of a large agricultural district. Beginning in a small way, he built up a very extensive business among the various mining townships, and erected plant and machinery at that time considered to be as complete an establishment as then existed in Australia. In 1865 he purchased a mill near Lake Wendouree, Ballarat, from Messrs Hassell and Monkton, and went there to reside. In 1868 he acquired a freehold property in the Wimmera, situatedbetween Glenorchy and Banyena. He was the first to grow wheat to any extent on the Wimmera Plains, and demonstrate that it could be cultivated there at a profit. From Ballarat, as his centre, he followed up the settlement of the selectors on the land, first around Ararat, and then on to Stawell, having business relations with both places. When growers commenced to select on an extensive scale in the Wimmera, he opened at Horsham, in anticipation of the railway line being continued from Stawell to that centre, and intimately to the border, and as the movement spread, extended his operations till they gradually embraced all the centres in that far-reaching territory. In addition to the large grain business, Mr Fry erected, brought or leased flour mills at Ballarat, Ararat, Donald, St. Arnaud, Horsham, Nhill, Kaniva, Dimboola, and Natimuk. In 1884 the grain and milling business having reached large dimensions, with its head office in Melbourne, and branches in all the leading grain growing districts of the Wimmera and other parts of the colony, he decided to float it into a limited company, which wassuccessfully accomplished, and shortly afterwards retired from the active management, devoting most of his time thenceforth to grazing and agricultural pursuits.
At St. Peter’s Church yesterday, notice was taken of the death of Mr Fry. Mr Fry gave the land on which St. Peter’s Vicarage stands; the chancel, with a stained glass window; the tower and the bells, to St. Peter’s Church. The flag was flown at half-mast throughout the day, and muffled peals were rang on the bells. Before the service in the morning, the rev. Dr Pritchard alluded to the sad event. He reminded the congregation of all the late Mr Fry’s generous gifts, and said that he was a regular and frequent worshipper at ST. Peter’s when resident in the parish. Such a good example of generous help to the house of God should cause his name to be ever held in honored remembrance at St. Peter’s and they should pray that others might emulate such generous deeds. At the evening service similar reference was made, and special music was sung at the offertory. Mr L. Richardson played Mendelssohn’s Funeral March at the close of service.”
On the opposite side of the gravestone to Louisa’s memorial words are his;
“IN LOVING REMEMBRANCE OF JAMES FRY, WHO DIED ON AUG 14th 1903, AT SUTTON PARK NEWLYN, AGED 82 YEARS AND 6ms. I HAVE GIVEN YOU AN EXAMPLE THAT YE SHOULD DO AS I HAVE DONE TO YOU. 1 JOHN 13-15”
James Fry’s total estate was valued at £128,400 and it was distributed to many family members in Australia and England. It included provisions for his daughter, step daughters, step granddaughters, the Ballarat Church of England, and his surviving son, James Rood Fry.
The Sutton Park Estate was left to his son James but by 1918 it was under control of the government for soldier settlement purposes.
Today, on a lonely dirt intersection amongst the farmland at Newlyn, you will find the original gates that once framed the entrance to Sutton Park. They now form part of an historic memorial of the district and nearby a stone cairn holds a plaque showing how the estate was divided for soldier settlement.
The gravesites at Miners rest and Mount Prospect, some of the old crumbling mill buildings around the district, the old gates to Sutton Park, and the stained glass windows at St Peter’s Church in Ballarat are the last physical reminders of a Colonial Pioneer and his family who shaped the western district of 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.  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.
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) 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 . He was buried with his son Edmund and other family members at the Kew, Boroondarra Cemetery. 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 , 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.
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.
The Presbyterians of Melton had previously held their services in a wooden building known as the “Union Church.” which was used by all of Melton’s Christian denominations until they had erected their own.
The foundation stone of the Presbyterian church was laid on the 27th December 1865but it would be nearly two years before it would open for services and the proposed tower and spire in the original designs never eventuated
The stone for the church was quarried free of charge from the nearby property of a “Mr. Corr”, who was the first headmaster of the Melton Common School, secretary and treasurer of the Melton Cemetery Trust, Treasurer of the Wesleyan Church and Deputy Registrar of births deaths and marriages.
The Presbyterians held their annual Soiree in the old Union church on the 8th October 1867 and later proceeded to the new incomplete church. Of the windows it was reported;
“…The windows of the church are particularly elegant, especially the principal one at the back of the pulpit, which is fitted with stained glass of a very rich description…”
A month later the Age newspaper published an article specifically mentioning the Ferguson & Urie company of North Melbourne as the makers of the stained glass window in the liturgical east end;
“THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT MELTON is nearly completed, the glaziers being engaged with the windows. The Bacchus Marsh Express praises the stained glass, the design and colors being beautiful. “Messrs Ferguson and Urie, of North Melbourne, are entitled to great commendation for their workmanship in this respect…”
The window is of four lights with smaller tracery windows above to complete the design and is a typical design by Ferguson & Urie from that period. The two centre lights have the ribbons/scrolls in the centre with the following two pieces of scripture:
“Christ is all and in all” – (Colossians 3:11) “Worship God in the Spirit” – (Philippians 3:3)
The original bluestone nave of the church now sits sandwiched between two newer buildings with doorways to each at the ends. The single light windows in the nave are works of art by the Brooks, Robinson & Co stained glass company from the early 1900’s and later. These windows were originally likely to have been Ferguson & Urie’s simple stained glass bordered designs that have been replaced over more than a century and a half. The historic Ferguson & Urie stained glass window at the east end still lights the nave of the old church building the same as it has since 1867 and creates an amazing kaleidoscope of coloured patterns over the floor when the sunlight strikes it at the right time
“THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT MELTON is nearly completed, the glaziers being engaged with the windows. The Bacchus Marsh Express praises the stained glass, the design and colors being beautiful. “Messrs Ferguson and Urie, of North Melbourne, are entitled to great commendation for their workmanship in this respect. It is expected the church will be opened in a month for public worship. The cost is £1000, of which only £100 has to remain as a debt on the building. This speaks well for the Presbyterians of Melton.”
THE Presbyterians of Melton district have for some years back held divine service in a wooden building known as the Union Church, owing to it having been erected and afterwards used by all denominations. On Sunday last, however, the Presbyterian congregation took possession of their own Church, when the Rev. H. Darling, of Emerald Hill, and the Rev. James Lambie, pastor of the congregation, conducted the services. The former preached in the absence of the Rev. T. McKenzie Frazer, who had been announced to do so. The Wesleyans, who used to use the Union Church, have now a building of their own, and the Church of England congregation have also completed the erection of a handsome Church, with the exception of the windows and seats, so that in a short time the Union Church will be devoted to school purposes only.
The annual soire of the congregation was celebrated in the building known as the Union Church, and after the eatables had been disposed of, the partakers proceeded to the new Church, a short distance away, where the Rev. James Lambie, pastor of the congregation, took the chair. Of the building itself we are not disposed to give elaborate particulars which are perhaps well known to those interested in the matter. Its dimensions are stated to be 50ft. [unreadable characters…] It is apparent to any observer, however that the new Melton Presbyterian Church, both externally and internally, would be a credit to any community; and although it is not yet finished, as a steeple is intended to be erected, yet the absence of this ornament is scarcely noticeable. The windows of the church are particularly elegant, especially the principal one at the back of the pulpit, which is fitted with stained glass of a very rich description. The building is entirely of bluestone, with a slate roof, and the ceiling is a groined one, thereby affording the greatest possible loftiness for ventilation, besides adding to the general ecclesiastical appearance of the interior. The pulpit and platform surrounding it is of a massive kind, having nothing paltry in its appearance, although the usual amount of French polish has not yet been applied. The seats, too, for the congregation are strong roomy ones, made upon a good pattern; and altogether the Church bears evidence that what has been attempted has been done in the best manner, and so far from there being any reason for surprise that the Church has been two years in course of construction, the wonder is that such thorough progress has been made in the time. These preliminary remarks may well be concluded by the addition of a word of praise to the efforts of the choir upon the occasion of the soire, as their performances were really enjoyable.
The CHAIRMAN remarked that while congratulating those assembled, he did not intend to specially address them; he would leave that to his brethren on the platform. It was two years last month since they commenced to built the Church. They had proceeded slowly, but surely. He submitted a statement of the Building Fund.
The subscriptions had amounted to £470. 7s. 4½d.; bazaars, £265.17s.7d.; grant from Assembly , £189.7s.9d.; foundation stone collection, £32. 10s.; loan from Bank, £100. He had little to say further than that the subscriptions had been raised almost entirely from members and adherents of the Church. He did not mention this boastingly. The ladies had purchased the lamps, and the children furnished the precentor’s desk. There had been expended £1049. 11s. 8d., leaving a balance of £11. 0s. 8½.
Mr. BLACKWOOD then read the treasurer’s report for the past year, from which it appeared that the receipts had been £126. 2s. 11d., and the expenditure £124. 0s.5½d., leaving a balance of £2. 2s. 5½d. The speaker referred to the lotting of the seats, and that accommodation would be made for those who did not rent seats. He wished some of the reverend gentlemen to take up the question of whether the congregation should stand or sit at singing. He wished to see uniformity.
The CHAIRMAN intimated that some of the reverend gentlemen who had been invited were absent. They were the Revs. J. Clarke, A McNicol, W. A. Lind, and J. C. Sabine. [Mr. Sabine had desired us to mention that he intended to be present, but the heat of the day prevented him, and he delayed sending an apology hoping that it would moderate].
The Rev. R. HENDERSON was the next speaker. He said that although several gentlemen were absent, he felt assured there would be no lack of speakers. They had Mr. Inglis, who was a host in himself. He would take his cue from Mr. Blackwood, and endeavour to comply with his desire that those learned in Church matters should enlighten them regarding the posture in worship. He believed it had been the practice of their Church for 300 years to sit during singing; but the General Assembly allowed congregations to make their own rules in regard to such matters. If they were unanimous in resolving to stand at singing, there was nothing to prevent them. So far as he was concerned, he preferred to see the congregation standing during singing, as it enabled them to execute their psalmody in a better manner than while sitting. The rev. gentleman then commented upon the necessity of improving the psalmody as much as possible, and was favourable to the use of a harmonium. Many congregations had introduced them, and others were merely putting off the consideration of the question. He agreed with all the encomiums upon their Church bestowed by the Rev. H. Darling, and suggested that all Presbyteries should adopt some definite system in regard to architectural style. He recommended the congregation to assume a reverential demeanour upon entering their Church, and exhorted them also to realise that, although Christians were divided into seats, yet they all had one heaven to receive them. Before sitting down, he must congratulate Mr. Lambie upon his success in raising money to build this Church. As a co-presbyter with him, he desired publicly to acknowledge his earnest and inudable endeavours in this matter. He rejoiced in being present this evening, and wished them God speed in their endeavours.
The Rev. J. W. INGLIS commenced by some humorous remarks, depreciatory of the laudatory manner in which the previous speaker had referred to him, and said that the expectation of the assemblage had been unduly raised. It was twelve years ago since he had attended his first tea meeting at Melton, and there were only five persons present. In fact, he had boiled his billy on the bank of the creek. His next meeting was with their present pastor, and now once again he had the pleasure of meeting them under prosperous circumstances, in their own Church. The Union Church had answered its purpose well, but now Melton possessed three substantial Churches, which they must all rejoice at. Their Church was certainly a handsome one, but no doubt no handsomer than they thought it to be; and he might say that Presbyteries were only beginning to pay proper attention to architectural effect; still they must never forget the higher object of their Church buildings. The speaker exhorted the congregation to take special interest in all that appertained to their Church, and to guard against the deadness which would fall upon a congregation which did not regularly attend at worship every Sabbath. He was more than pleased to hear that they had contributed to all the funds for which the Assembly sought their aid, and he trusted that they would always recollect the claims of such objects. Although a Presbyterian, he was no sectarian, and did not wish his sympathies to remain with that Church only; for there was but one Shepherd, one fold, one House of many mansions, and they should remember that this building was God’s house – not theirs – but dedicated to the God of Zion. Let them enter it as the gate of heaven, thinking of God’s words, “Come to me, all ye that are heavy laden;” and there was nothing which would cheer the adversities of this life but seeking the house of God every Sabbath, where they could have communion with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and feel that there was a place prepared for them where the inhabitants know no tears, and which was the land of everlasting bliss. If they did this, truly this place would be a blessed place. He had but one word to say, in regard to their indebtedness to God for all they had. If they realised this, and were honest in their religious convictions, neither he nor any other minister would have occasion to ask them to give of their substance to the purposes of God’s worship. He hoped that for many years they would worship here, and may the faith they had imbibed enable them to enter into the joy of the kingdom of their Lord. A collection was then taken up, during which the choir sang “How Beautiful upon the Mountain.” They also sang at the conclusion of each speech.
The Rev. J. MEEK would simply make a few remarks in his own way. He had watched their progress as a congregation with considerable satisfaction, and he was here to confess that the career of this congregation had taught him one or two useful lessons. He had at one time serious misgivings as to the success of the effort to establish this congregation, but their prosperity had rebuked him, and taught him to remember that it was right to do one’s duty, and leave the results to God. We at Gisborne would not feel flattered by being compared to Melton; yet they worshipped in a temporary wooden building. He hoped their success in Melton would induce the Gisborne congregation to at least consider the matter of beginning to do likewise. He looked upon this Church as a testimony to the zeal and devotedness of their minister, and as a monument of their liberality; and he trusted most earnestly that on the great day of accounts, their minister might have many from among them as a crown of glory.
The Rev. J. SCOTT had been admonished by the departure of many that the patience of the audience was well-nigh exhausted. He had not come with any desire of speaking, but rather to hear others. However, he must join his congratulations with those of the speakers who had preceded him. Their minister had done what few of his brethren would have attempted. He felt that they had done great things in the past, and he believed it would be an incentive for them to buckle with a will to attend with zeal to all those observances which proved them a Christian people. The rev. gentleman urged the congregation to train their children to build up Christ’s cause in this young country, and concluded by hoping that they and their pastor would enjoy many such meetings as the present.
The CHAIRMAN announced the collection to be £5. 18s. 4d., making upwards of £20 with the collection of the previous day, for which the committee gave their hearty thanks.
Mr. BUCHANAN proposed a vote of thanks to the ladies, and made one of the best speeches of the evening. Carried by acclamation. Mr. BLACKWOOD proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Corr, for having allowed the Committee to take the stone for building the Church from his property, free of charge. The vote was carried, and ordered to be conveyed to Mr. Corr. The vote of thanks to the visitors was also proposed by Mr. Blackwood.
The Rev. J. W. INGLIS, the Rev. R. HENDERSON, and the Rev. H. DARLING replied. The latter remarked that he was in favour of the congregation standing during singing and sitting during prayer, with the head upon the book board, as the attention was not then distracted as when standing. His congregation followed this practice.
Mr. MACINTOSH replied to a vote of thanks to the trustees. He was delighted to see what had been done, and he hoped that they would all recollect what had been said respecting regular attendance at Church. He was of opinion that the congregation should agree for the future to sit at prayer and stand at singing.
Mr. McPHERSON paid some deserved compliments to the choir in proposing a vote of thanks to them and their leader, Mr. Merchant.
The CHAIRMAN here presented Mr. Oldershaw, a member of the choir, a splendidly-bound edition of Cassell’s Illustrated Bible, as a testimony from the committee of their appreciation of his services.
Mr. OLDERSHAW expressed his thanks in a feeling manner, but was scarcely audible enough. The Rev. J. MEEK proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman, which was briefly responded to, and the rev. gentleman remarked that henceforth he would be able to give more time to the spiritual wants of the congregation than hitherto.
The proceedings were closed by the choir singing a hymn. The proceeds of the sale of tickets amount to £16.”
The former St John’s Wesleyan Church at Nelson represents the seventh location in New Zealand found to contain extant historic stained glass windows by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Two single-light stained glass windows were erected in St John’s between 1890 and 1893 are both are very recognisable scriptural designs by the firm that were popular throughout the company’s stained glass production period between 1861-1899.
The first window was erected during the construction of St John’s in 1889/90 and is dedicated to the memory of Mary Webber Cock (nee Chigwidden), who died in 1881.
The scriptural verse in this window comes from Psalms 100-4;
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving”
Beside the window is a brass plaque dedicating the window to the memory of Mary Webber Cock:
“In Loving Memory of Mary Webber
Wife of John H. Cock
Who died 20th August 1881, aged 25 years.”
The second window was erected in March 1893 and is dedicated to the memory of Mary’s husband, John Honeycomb Cock who died in November 1892.
The verse in this window comes from is Psalms 84-1;
“How amiable are thy tabernacles, O. Lord of Hosts.”
The memorial brass plaque near the window reads:
“In Loving Memory of John Honeycomb Cock
Husband of Mary Webber.
Died 7th November 1892, aged 44 years.”
Photos of the windows at St John’s are courtesy of Eelco Boswijk, Nelson, New Zealand, 2015.
John Honeycomb Cock was the son of Joseph Cock and Mary Anne Honeycomb and arrived in New Zealand with his father aboard the barque “Violet” from London on the 5th July 1864. His father, a mining Captain, had been sent out to report on the “Dun Mountain” chromite and copper mining property near Nelson.
Around the age of sixteen John was employed as a junior clerk at Nelson by the New Zealand coastal shipping company “Nathaniel Edwards & Co”. By his early 20’s his abilities and shrewd business acumen was so highly regarded by the company that he was sent back to England in 1871 to take position as the company’s London manager
At West London, on the 20th May 1875, John married Mary Webber Chigwidden at the Wesleyan Chapel on Denbigh Road at Bayswater. The couple later returned to Nelson where John resumed the General Manager position with Nathaniel Edwards & Co. He also engaged in joint shipping company ventures with his brother Joseph Henry and later was General Manager of the “The Anchor Steam Shipping Company.” John and Mary were also active members of the Wesleyan Church congregation and he held positions as the Wesleyan Circuit Steward and a Trustee of St John’s.
The couple made their home at the Port of Nelson and in June of 1879 Mary placed an advertisement for a general servant to assist her with household duties in anticipation of the arrival of their baby. In October she gave birth to a son named John Scantlebury Cock. Sadly the infant only survived two days and died on the 21st October 1879.
Two years later Mary died on the 20th August 1881 at the age of 25. As a mark of respect the Wesleyan Church was draped in black and at the Port of Nelson the flags on ships and shore establishments were all lowered to half-mast. Mary was buried with her infant son John in the Wesleyan section of the Wakapuaka Cemetery at Nelson
The couple never had any surviving children. John never remarried and immersed himself into his shipping business ventures and his appointments within the Wesleyan Church.
The Wesleyans have a long history in Nelson which dates back to the establishment of the settlement in 1841. The foundation stone of their first chapel was laid by a Mr. Tucket in June 1843 on the corner of Bridge Street and Waimea Road. This church would only last about fourteen years.
The foundation stone of the second church was laid on a new site in Hardy Street by Donald Sinclair, Esq., former speaker of the Provincial Council, on the 17th November 1857. By the late 1880’s this second church had also outgrown the congregation and was deemed uneconomical to maintain and so they decided to remove the old building and build a new one on the same site.
The foundation stone of the current church was laid on the 24th September 1889 by the Governor of New Zealand, Lord Onslow. The occasion was deemed such an historic event that the afternoon was observed as a holiday for the people of Nelson. Thousands attended the ceremony and the streets were decorated with bunting and flags along the route that the Governor and Lady Onslow would arrive by. Remarkably, an historic photo of the occasion still exists which shows the immense crowd surrounding the foundation site. Eighty-six year old Mr Foy and Ben Crisp, two of Nelson’s most revered senior Colonists, were given prominent seats near the dais. Both had witnessed the laying of the second church foundation stone in 1857.
Amongst the many customary artifacts that were placed beneath the new foundation stone were some of the items salvaged from the previous time capsule;
“In a cavity of the foundation stone was placed a glass jar containing the following coins, papers, &c:- Half a sovereign, half a crown, a florin, a shilling, a sixpence, a penny, two half-pence; minutes of the New Zealand Wesleyan Conference, 1889; New Zealand Gazette, Sept 19. 1889; Nelson and Richmond Circuit plan of services, and balance sheet of quarter to June 30, 1889; copies of EVENING MAIL of July 18 and September 23; copy of colonist of September 24; parchment statement re foundation stone; and from the old bottle, newspapers, including copies of the Colonist of 32 years ago, and coins…”
The Governor was presented with a handsomely handcrafted wooden casket containing a decorated silver trowel and other tools, all of which were manufactured by craftsmen from Nelson. A silver shield on the casket bore the words:-
“Presented by the Trustees to His Excellency Earl of Onslow, Governor of New Zealand, on laying the foundation stone of St. John’s Church, Nelson, Sept. 1889.” 
After difficulties with the first building contract, Fitzwilliams, Doidge, and Stringer took over the construction of the church to the designs of architect ‘Dugelly’ of Napier for a reported £1039. 6s.
John Honeycomb Cock was a liberal financial donor to the church building fund and had also financed the church’s first stained glass window dedicated to the memory of his wife Mary. When the church was opened in March 1890, amongst the descriptions of the fittings and furnishings was the window which was created by the North Melbourne firm of Ferguson & Urie. The New Zealand Colonist tabloid of 16th April 1893 reported:-
“…The side windows, eight in all, are of similar design, but on the east side the fourth window, that naarest [sic] the south end, is a handsome stained glass memorial window of floral design, erected by Mr John Cock in memory of his late wife, and the words “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving” form part of the design…”
This single-light window is an unmistakable piece of workmanship by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne and was a popular design produced by the firm from their stained glass production period from 1861 to 1899. Similar examples of this design can be found throughout Victoria and Tasmania in Australia. The window contains Gothic floral and geometric patterns with a central ribbon design containing a piece of bible scripture. The portion of verse in this window comes from Psalms 100-4; “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving”
Beside the window is a brass plaque dedicating the window to the memory of Mary Webber Cock: “In Loving Memory of Mary Webber, Wife of John H. Cock, Who died 20th August 1881, aged 25 years.”
John Honeycomb Cock died of heart disease on the 7th November 1892 aged 44. The tabloid obituaries described him as a kind, generous and self-sacrificing man who “did good by stealth”. He was highly regarded by the Wesleyan’s and the people of Nelson. Amongst the numerous public and private appointments he held were; Wesleyan Circuit Steward and Trustee of St John’s and had he been appointed lay treasurer of the Wesley Home Mission Fund in 1879. He had a long association with Nathaniel Edwards & Co where he started his career as a sixteen year old. He was a Chairman of the Wellington Harbour Board, General Manager of the Anchor Steam Shipping Company and in 1883 had been appointed a Justice of the Peace. For many years he was also in partnership with his brother Joseph Henry as “John H. Cock & Co” which was taken over by his brother in January 1886.
In February 1893, the Honorary Secretary of St John’s, MrWilliam Afleck Bethwaite, received instruction from the Wellington architects, Turnbull & Sons, to have a new stained glass window erected in St John’s to the memory of J. H. Cock, at which time it was stated that he; “…hopes to have the window finished by the anniversary of the church, which will be held next month…”
Just over a month later, on the 25th March 1893, New Zealand’s “Colonist” tabloid reported:-
“MEMORIAL WINDOW.- There has just been erected in St. John’s Wesleyan Church a stained glass window, with inscription, intimating that it has been placed in the Church by many friends to the memory of the late Mr J. H. Cock. The window in question has been placed opposite to one, similar in design, which was erected by the more recently deceased to the memory of his wife who predeceased him.”
The portion of verse in this window comes from is Psalms 84-1; “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O. Lord of Hosts.”. The memorial brass plaque beneath the window reads:
“In Loving Memory of John Honeycomb Cock Husband of Mary Webber. Died 7th November 1892, aged 44 years.”
At St John’s anniversary services held on the 26th March 1893 the Reverend F. W. Isitt took the subject of his sermon from the scripture on this window.
St Johns is no longer a consecrated church. In 2011 the church was put up for sale and subsequently purchased by the Boswijk family who have since preserved its Heritage and renovated it to become a highly successful function and performance venue.
These two historic stained glass windows in St John’s not only represent excellent examples colonial stained glass by the Ferguson & Urie Company, but as a link to the colonists and history of Nelson.
Thanks to the eagle eye of my Kiwi cousin Janice Ball for identifying and bringing these windows to my attention and for sending some of the great research leads from New Zealand.
Thanks to Eelco Boswijk, owner of St John’s, for contributing the photos.
The Clarke’s were wealthy Colonial pastoralists who were well acquainted with the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company’s workmanship.
In the ten year period between 1875 and 1885 William and Joseph Clarke engaged the company a number of times to create ecclesiastical windows, dedicated to family members and friends, as well as secular windows to decorate their magnificent mansions at Sunbury and Toorak.
In 1875-76,Sir William John Clarkecommissioned Ferguson & Urie to create the great cycle of secular stained glass windows for his mansion “Rupertswood” at Sunbury, North East of Melbourne. In 1880 he again engaged the company for a three light memorial window to be dedicated to his infant daughter Agnes for the chancel ofSt Mary’s Anglican Churchat Sunbury. Circa 1884, a two light window in the liturgical west wall of the same church was dedicated to his friend, the politicianJ. G. Francis. His brother,Joseph Clarke, also commissioned Ferguson & Urie to create the windows for his mansion “Mandeville Hall” at Toorak circa 1876.
In 1878 William and Joseph’s mother Elizabeth had died and they engaged Ferguson & Urie in late 1879 to create her memorial window for the new chancel of Holy Trinity Church at East Melbourne.
Unlike all the other historic stained glass windows the Clarke brothers had commissioned Ferguson & Urie to create, this one would only survive a quarter of a century.
Photos taken 5th November 2012. Other historic images are from the State Library of Victoria collections and National Library.
“This building, which is at present used for the purposes of Divine services by the parishioners of East Melbourne, will ultimately constitute the chapter house and library of the Melbourne Cathedral, being built upon the reserve set apart for that purpose, and so constructed as to harmonise with the whole structure when completed. It was opened a short time ago by the Bishop of Melbourne, as a temporary place of worship, and named Trinity Church. The officiating minister is the Rev. H. N. Wollaston, who has a large and increasing congregation. The building is constructed in a substantial manner, the walls being of bluestone, and the windows of Geelong freestone. The roof is supported by strong open woodwork, embellished with ornamental carving, which gives to the interior of the church a bold and lofty appearance. The dimensions of the building are considerable, its length internally being 88 feet, and its width 38 feet, and it will furnish accommodation for about four hundred persons.”
At this point there was no mention of any decorative stained glass windows erected in the church, but thirteen years later, extensions were being made by the addition of a new chancel. The contractor for these extensions was Thomas Dalleyand was erected to the designs of architectsTerry&Oakdenat a cost of £1200. During these alterations, the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company erected the new chancel window to the memory of “Mrs William John Turner Clarke”, (Elizabeth ‘Eliza’, nee Dowling), the mother of William and Joseph Clarke.
On the 3rd of December 1879 the “Church of England Messenger” made specific mention of the Ferguson & Urie company erecting the window in the chancel:-
“MELBOURNE: TRINITY.- The new chancel which is being added to the eastern end of Trinity Church is now almost completed and is expected to be out of the contractors hands at the close of the present month. It is 32ft. long by 22ft. wide, the walls being of stone, and in keeping with the design of the old building. On the eastern wall there is a five light window, with decorated tracery, executed in Waurn Ponds freestone, the glass for which is to be of a handsomely-coloured character, and will be fitted in by Messrs. Ferguson and Urie. The arch of the chancel is pointed, and of the Gothic order, with corbels of red granite and freestone. At the south side provision has been made for an organ chamber, which, if found necessary, can be erected at any future time. Two porches have also been added at the north and south entrances of the building, each of them being 11ft. square. Messrs. Terry and Oakden were architects, and Mr. T. Dalley the contractor. The whole of the improvements have been effected at a cost of £1200”.
In late September the Argus newspaper reported that William and Joseph Clarke were the donors of the window in memory of their late mother:-
“A large congregation assembled at Trinity Church, East Melbourne, last evening, to witness the opening of the new chancel recently added to the church. The Right Rev. the Bishop of Melbourne preached an eloquent sermon in celebration of the opening, taking for his text Matt, i, 21. The chancel, which is constructed of bluestone, is situated at the eastern end of the building and was erected at a cost of £1,200. The interior measures 30ft. by 22ft., and has been handsomely fitted up with communion table and railing. A large memorial window has been placed in the chancel by Messrs W. J. and Joseph Clarke, in memory of their deceased mother, Mrs. W. J. T. Clarke. The work, which has been carried out under the supervision of Messrs Terry and Oakden architects, is a great improvement to the interior of the church, as well as adding materially to its outward appearance. During the service a sum of £18 was collected, which will be devoted to the chancel fund.”
Twenty six years later, on New Years day in 1905, Holy Trinity was completely gutted by fire, leaving only the shell its four walls.
None of the historic stained glass windows by Ferguson & Urie survived:-
“THE FIRE AT HOLY TRINITY CHURCH.
Melbourne, 2nd January.
The origin of the fire which occurred at Holy Trinity Church, East Melbourne, yesterday afternoon has not been, and apparently is not likely to be, discovered. Only the four walls of the church are now standing, all the woodwork, which was very old, having been burnt away. The most plausible theory as to the cause of the outbreak is that a match was carelessly dropped on a pile of rubbish under the west gallery. The members of the congregation are almost unanimously of the opinion that the church should be rebuilt, and very probably large contributions will be forthcoming, in addition to the £2000 which will be received from the insurance offices.”
The Holy Trinity congregation wasted no time in the erection of a new church. It was subsequently built on the opposite end of the block where the old church stood. It was opened by the Archbishop of Melbourne on Saturday 28th April 1906 and consecrated the following year in October 1907:-
“The Incumbent (Rev. Mr. Newport White) and vestry of Holy Trinity Church, East Melbourne, have issued invitations, to the congregation and their friends, for the opening of the new church, corner of Clarendon and Hotham streets, replacing the building destroyed by fire on New Year’s Day, 1905. The opening ceremony will be performed by the Archbishop of Melbourne to-day (April 28), at a quarter to 3 p.m. After the ceremony, the adjoining school-hall will be opened, for a supplementary sale of gifts and refreshments. On Sunday, 29th inst., there will be special services in the church, and the one which is to begin at half-past 3 p.m. will be conducted by the Ven. Archdeacon Crossley.”
The current Holy Trinity church now contains figurative stained glass windows by Alan Sumner in the nave and Derek Pearse in the liturgical east end. The most recent window to be erected was created by the Geoffrey Wallace stained glass studio at Caulfield and was designed in the Alan Sumner style to complement the other Sumner windows in the nave.
James Urie was not only a much respected public figure as a Councillor, Mayor of Flemington and a principal partner of the Ferguson & Urie stained glass firm; he is also credited with being one of the lead instigators for the erection of the Flemington and Kensington Presbyterian Church.
On the afternoon of Monday 25th June 1888 he was bestowed with the honour of laying the foundation stone of the new church in Norwood Street. The ceremony was reported as a grand affair and prior to him laying the foundation stone there was a procession by the Sunday school children after which he generously presented each one of them with a specially struck medallion as a memento of the historic occasion;
“…Prior to the commencement of the ceremony, about 450 Sabbath School children, nicely dressed, and with flags flying marched in procession from the new hall to the ground in Norwood street. Before leaving the mayor presented each child with a neat medal with a design of the church on one side commemorative of the event…”
– Images from private collections, the Melbourne Museum and the State Library of Victoria.
The medal included a picture of the proposed church on one side with the words:
“FLEMINGTON AND KENSINGTON PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.”
On the reverse are the words:
“TO COMEMORATE THE LAYING OF THE FOUNDATION STONE. 25 JUNE 1888. BY JAS. URIE ESQ. J.P. MAYOR OF THE BOROUGH.”
An example of one these historical medallions can be seen at the Melbourne Museum in Carlton.The Downies Numismatic Auction House also sold one of the medals at auction 308, item 945 for $200 circa 2012.
The Presbyterians originally intended to erect a smaller church costing only £1,400 but James Urie was adamant that it was worth the cost and effort to construct a more substantial building that would serve the congregation for many years;
“…Mr. Duguid, the architect for the building, stated in a brief speech that originally it was intended to erect a church costing only £1400 but Mr. Urie was so desirous of seeing a really good building worthy of the district put up, that at length it was agreed to adopt his advice, with the result that eventually the present design was accepted….”
“…Mr Thomson introduced the Mayor (Cr. Urie), who had been connected from the first with the church in the district, and had done all in his power for its advancement. He presented Mr. Urie amidst applause with a very handsome silver trowel, and invited him to lay the foundation stone of the church he had always advocated should be erected…”
“…He always believed in building a good church when they did build one, as it would serve all requirements for a long time to come, which a smaller one would not do. The design, he thought was most appropriate and suitable in every respect, and when completed they would have a church to be proud of. The height from the ground would be 10 feet to the spire, and with the seating the church would cost £2,500. He expressed his thanks for the silver trowel presented to him, and it would be a fitting souvenir of the important ceremony he was about to perform…”
James Urie exhibited the time capsule box, containing the newspapers of the day and undoubtedly many other artifacts. He then placed the box beneath the stone and declared the foundation stone “…to be well and truly laid amidst loud applause…”
His subsequent speech referred to their need to pay off the building as quickly as possible so they could be free of debt. He pointed out the collection plate and once again, as he done so liberally over the years, displayed his generosity;
“He set a most excellent example by placing what looked like two ten pound notes into the plate, and invited those present to follow suit…”
It could be reasonable assumed that the windows for the church would be manufactured by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company. It’s probably even reasonable to suggest that the designs for the windows would have been the suggestion of James Urie himself and that, as he’d so generously demonstrated in his contribution to the collection plate during the foundation stone ceremony, the windows were probably donated by the firm without cost.
The only obscure clues as to the stained glass windows were published in the North Melbourne Advertiser on the 7th July 1888 where it was stated;
“…The church will be lighted by ten double-light stained glass windows in the side walls, besides a large gable window…”
On Monday the 10thof March 1889 the church was officially opened but very little detail was recorded in the tabloids about the occasion, except for the mention that they had purchased a – ‘”powerful’ bell, whose tones will no doubt remind the people of the borough of the ‘decent church that tops the neighbouring hill’.”.
The Presbyterian Church in Norwood Street Flemington was only a short walk around the corner from James Urie’s house “Glencairn” in Wellington Street. Undoubtedly he would have been proud of the church they had constructed but he would not share long in its history.
James Urie died seventeen months later, on the 21st of July 1890 aged 62. His funeral was recorded as being one of the most imposing ever seen in the Borough of Flemington and Kensington;
“…The employės of Messrs Ferguson & Urie marched in front of the hearse, then came four mourning coaches and upward of fifty vehicles. Immediately following the mourning coaches came a hansom, in which the Hon Alfred Deakin was seated, then next in order a buggy containing the deceased gentleman’s council colleagues…”
Alfred Deakin, later to be Prime Minister of Australia, also played a part as a pall bearer at the grave site.
The last known mention of additional stained glass windows occurred in 1924 when the congregation decided to erect a memorial to the fallen WW1 soldiers from the parish. If the memorial window was actually created as intended then it would most likely have been created by the Brooks, Robinson & Co., stained glass company of Melbourne.
The church survived 81 years before unfortunately being destroyed by fire on the 24th April 1970. It’s not known if any significant historical artifacts survived the fire and there is nothing further known of the stained glass windows.
The whereabouts of the silver trowel presented to James Urie to lay the foundation stone remains a mystery. It was Willed to his daughter Maria as indicated in her mother Grace’s Will of 1899. Maria died a spinster in 1915 but the research trail has ended there and nothing further is known.
The foundation stone of the new Presbyterian Church, at Flemington, of which the above drawing is an excellent representation, was laid on Monday afternoon, by the Mayor (Councillor James Urie), in the presence of a very large assemblage of residents and visitors amongst whom were the Rev. G. D. Buchanan. S. Robinson and James; Professors MacDonald and Rentoul, and other prominent divines. Prior to the commencement of the ceremony, about 450 Sabbath School children, nicely dressed, and with flags flying marched in procession from the new hall to the ground in Norwood street. Before leaving the mayor presented each child with a neat medal with a design of the church on one side commemorative of the event. The proceedings were commenced by the choir singing the hymn “Brightly gleams our Banner,” and afterwards the Rev. John Thomson offered up an earnest prayer for the success of the undertaking.
Professor Rentoul, who was briefly introduced by the Rev. John Thomson, said it gave him very great pleasure to be present at the laying of the foundation stone of such a magnificent church, but especially so because he had the deepest regard for their worthy pastor, the Rev John Thomson, whom he had known years ago as a most earnest worker in the ministry in England. It was a great blessing to a congregation to have such a good and able pastor who took so deep an interest in the welfare of his flock, and it was also a boon to have a good church. Referring to the past career of the Presbyterian Church, Professor Rentoul pointed out that it had never been afraid to stand up for God’s truth when necessity arose, as history proved. It was the church of the people, as it was free to all and fell in more with their ideas of Christianity. Dr. Martineau had even advised his Unitarian congregation in England to embrace the Presbyterian form of Church government, and, in fact, he (Professor Rentoul) considered the Presbyterian Church of Scotland came nearest the beau ideal of what a Christian church ought to be. The grand old German Emperor who so recently passed away was a Presbyterian, and from the rapid manner in which the church was everywhere progressing, it would be, he thought, the church of the future. The foundation stone they were about to lay, was he was glad to say, a proof of the advancement of the Presbyterian cause in the district of Flemington and Kensington. He eulogised the efforts and liberality of the congregation in subscribing toward the erection of such a beautiful church, and referred particularly to Mr. Urie, as being worthy of special thanks for the part he had taken in the movement. He urged all to continue their exertions, and no doubt they would soon succeed in clearing off the remaining portion of the cost. If it had been the proper place, he should have felt impelled to call for three cheers for Mr and Mrs Thomson, and also for Mr. Urie who had been mainly instrumental in having such a splendid edifice built, but as at the present time he could not do this, he would conclude by congratulating the congregation on the success already attained, and urge them all to work in harmony for the good of the church.
Mr Thomson introduced the Mayor (Cr. Urie), who had been connected from the first with the church in the district, and had done all in his power for its advancement. He presented Mr. Urie amidst applause with a very handsome silver trowel, and invited him to lay the foundation stone of the church he had always advocated should be erected. Cr. Urie, who was well received, said that about five years ago the Presbyterians agreed to hold their services in the Flemington and Kensington Hall. They had been exceedingly fortunate in securing the services of their respected pastor, the Rev. John Thomson, and through his excellent capabilities and energy n the cause, the congregation became so numerous that it was thought advisable to take steps for the erection of a suitable church. The congregation were not at all backward in coming forward with donations, and the present site was accordingly purchased at £6 per foot. He always believed in building a good church when they did build one, as it would serve all requirements for a long time to come, which a smaller one would not do. The design, he thought was most appropriate and suitable in every respect, and when completed they would have a church to be proud of. The height from the ground would be 10 feet to the spire, and with the seating the church would cost £2,500. He expressed his thanks for the silver trowel presented to him, and it would be a fitting souvenir of the important ceremony he was about to perform. He then proceeded to mix the mortar, and after exhibiting a box, in which he had stated the periodicals of the day were encased, placed it under the stone, which he then, with great care and in a most workmanlike manner, declared to be well and truly laid amidst loud applause. The Mayor next drew attention to the collection plate, pointing out that paper money, sovereigns or silver would be thankfully received in aid of the building fund, which it was most desirable to pay off as quickly as possible so as to be perfectly free and clear from any encumbrance. He set a most excellent example by placing what looked like two ten pound notes into the plate, and invited those present to follow suit, with the result that for the next few minutes there was a decided rush of well wishers of the church and the Sunday school scholars were very conspicuous with their offerings, in fact it was pleasing to see the eagerness of some of the children to part with their money. At length the funds of the onlookers ‘having been well and truly laid,’ the Rev. John Thomson announced that several gentlemen would like to make a few remarks.
Duguid, the architect for the building, stated in a brief speech that originally it was intended to erect a church costing only £1400 but Mr. Urie was so desirous of seeing a really good building worthy of the district put up, that at length it was agreed to adopt his advice, with the result that eventually the present design was accepted. The land on which the church was to be erected was 80 feet by 180, and had been purchased at £6 per foot. The building would cost £2500, of which sum £900 had been subscribed, and another £150 was promised, provided that an additional £50 was collected by six months.
The Rev. Samuel Robinson, of St. Kilda, said he was pleased to say he been present at the initiation of the movement for the erection of the church, and he could assure them that Mr. Urie deserved the greatest credit for the interest he had taken in the matter throughout, while the Misses Urie, by their exertions in aid of the funds, were entitled to equal praise. Both Mr. and Mrs. Thomson had also by their untiring efforts brought the church to its present state of prosperity, and were deserving of the most hearty thanks of the congregation. He earnestly hoped all would continue to work together without and heartburnings, not only for the erection of the church, but for its after prosperity.
Professor McDonald expressed his pleasure at being present on such an eventful occasion, as it proved that Mr. Thomson had not laboured in vain for the district. The congregation were most fortunate in having Mr. Thomson as their pastor, as there were few superior or more devoted and earnest men in the service of God and man. His thought and scholarly attainments were well-known and appreciated, in fact, he possessed qualifications that entitled him to seek higher places, but he had chosen instead to cast his lot with them. He was truly happy to see that Mr. Thomson’s labours had been so successful and borne such good fruit.
TEA AND PUBLIC MEETING.
In the evening a very successful tea meeting was held in the New Hall, and was followed by a public meting and concert, at which there was a very large attendance. The Mayor (Cr. Urie) presided, and on the platform were the Revs. Alex Marshall, Buchanan, Burchett, James and Smith. The meeting having opened with prayer.
The chairman gave an interesting address, in which he described the past history of the Presbyterian Church at Kensington, and the difficulties that at first had to be contended with. Five years ago the congregation commenced to hold services in the new hall, and after some time the Rev. John Thomson was persuaded to cast in his lot with them, and accept a call to the church. The congregation largely increased under his ministration and it was then decided to make an offer to purchase a block of land on which to erect a suitable church. Subscriptions came in the most liberal manner, and a very successful cake fair was also held which materially increased the funds, and with other donations, they were at length in a position to purchase a valuable site in Norwood street at a cost of £520. Designs were then invited for a church to cost about £1400, but the congregation ultimately decided to erect a more imposing building, and the present design by Mr. Duguid was accepted. He believed in erecting a good church while they were about it, as the extra cost, he thought, would be subscribed without very much difficulty, and it was far better to have a building with which they would all be quite satisfied instead of a smaller one, which would not so well answer requirements. He thought if they all did their best the balance of the building fund would soon be collected and then they would have a church free of debt of their own, which they could be proud of (Applause.) The choir then sang the anthem ‘Then wilt thou show’ with excellent affect and Mr. Boreham followed with ‘Nil Desperandum.’ G. D. Buchanan next gave a spirited address, and congratulated the congregation on being able to erect such a splendid church, which proved that they appreciated the efforts of their worthy pastor, who was entitled to their hearty thanks for the energetic manner he had worked to bring the church in the district to its present prosperous state. He urged them all to stick together and do their best to pay off the remaining debt on the church, and if they remained united there was no doubt they would succeed in surmounting all difficulties, and become a strong congregation.
The Rev. Alexander Marshall, of Scot’s Church, the Rev. Jas. Burchett and James also addressed the meeting, and wished the congregation success in their undertaking.
The singing of the choir under the able conductorship of Mr. Townsend was much appreciated, the anthems – ‘Arise and shine’ and ‘I will wash my hands’ being particularly well rendered. A trio – ‘Thou shalt love the Lord’ by Miss Clayton and Messrs. Clayton and Townshend was very nicely given, and a song ‘Calvery,’ by Miss Gray was most successfully rendered. The meeting, which was most enjoyable and successful, closed with the benediction.”
The following is a description of the above building. The church when finished will form a handsome and conspicuous addition to the architecture of the borough. In plan it is an amphitheatre in form; the pews radiating from the pulpit in five blocks, and providing accommodation for 360 worshipers. The extreme internal dimensions are 54 ft. wide, 48 ft. long. The width is arranged in a central nave 36 ft. wide, and side aisles 9 ft wide for three fourths of the length. The roof of the nave is supported on cast iron columns, and consist of four massive curved principals, giving a clear height of 28 ft. from floor to ceiling. Running along the top of the columns are heavily moulded beams, supported by curved gothic brackets springing from the caps of the columns, and similar beams and brackets run from the columns to the walls, to carry the roof of the side aisles. The whole of the ceiling will be finished in stained and varnished kauri pine, and the side walls will have a dado of same all round. The principal entrance are by the tower door on the right hand side, and a similar door in a porch on the left, these being connected by a commodious vestibule outside the main building. Besides these doors, there are four others intended more as a means of egress, and those arrangements have met with the fullest approval of Central Board of Health. The church will be lighted by ten double-light stained glass windows in the side walls, besides a large gable window. The main feature of the design externally is, of course, the spire, which rises in graceful proportions to the height of 100 ft. above the floor level, the upper part being slated and surmounted by a handsome cast iron finial. The main gable rises to a height of about 45 feet, and contains the large window before referred to. It is well balanced in effect by a flanking buttress carrying a small pinnacle, and the apex is filled in by coloured tiles. The back gable is filled in with wood and lath and plaster at present, to permit of future extensions, but the rest of the walls are all of brick, tuck-pointed, and having bands, arches, &c., of coloured bricks. It is no discredit to the other churches in the neighbourhood to say that when finished it will be beyond question the most handsome church in the borough, and reflects great credit on the skill and economical planning of the architect that a building of such proportions and style could have been undertaken for the very modest sum of £2150, which is the amount of the contract. The sum does not include fittings, but it includes an ornamental front fence, and a good deal of asphalting in the grounds.”
“In connection with the Flemington and Kensington Presbyterian Church, it has been decided to substitute Victorian patent stone for timber and seating in the erection of the spire of the above building. This will add greatly to the appearance, and also to the durability of the structure. In spite of the scarcety of bricks the erection of the building is making good progress, and it is intended to open it about the middle of December.”
Summary – On the evening of Thursday the 31st January 1889, the wife of the minister, Mrs. J. Thompson was entertained on the eve of her intended journey to return temporarily to the old country for the benefit of her health. The going away party was organised by the Flemington congregation at which time she was presented with a small token of sovereigns. After some refreshments many songs were sung, including James Urie’s rendition of ‘Oh, steer my bark.’
“It has been decided that the opening services in connection with the new Presbyterian Church at Flemington will take place on Monday 10th March. The denomination has purchased a ‘powerful’ bell, whose tones will no doubt remind the people of the borough of the ‘decent church that tops the neighbouring hill’.
The John Rendall Morris (1820-1872) Memorial Window.
In October 1872 the committee of Christ Church in Moorabool Street, Geelong, requested the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of North Melbourne to provide some designs for a memorial window to be erected in the liturgical north transept.
“Members of almost every denomination have contributed to the memorial window which it is proposed to place in Christ Church to the memory of the late Mr. J. R. Morris, the total amount received to date being about £112. About £40 more will be required, but, as several friends of the deceased have not sent in their subscription, and as others have intimated their willingness to increase their subscriptions, if found necessary to do so, the committee have requested Messrs Urie and Ferguson to furnish two designs, which are expected to arrive shortly.”
The window was to be a memorial the memory of their much respected Church Warden and Trustee, John Rendall Morris who died aged 53 on the 15th September 1872.
An extraordinary list of prominent citizens of Geelong, including the Mayor, Sir Charles Sladen, was formed as the committee for the erection of the window.
By the end of November 1872 a total of £145 had been subscribed for the window of its reported total cost of £160 and by early December a design by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company was on public display at the establishment of Henry Franks, stationer and book seller, of Malop Street in Geelong:
“The coloured design for the stained glass window to be placed in the north transept of Christ Church as a memorial of the late Mr J. R. Morris is now being exhibited at Mr Franks’s. In the centre of the design there is a representation of the Transfiguration of our Saviour, Moses and Elias being on either side, and Peter, James, and John underneath as witnesses. In the tracery there are figures of Abraham, Joshua, and David – representative characters of the patriarchs, judges, and kings of Israel. Next are busts of the twelve minor prophets, and on the outer side lights there are figures of the four greater prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.”
On the 23rd of December 1872 a meeting of the subscribers was held at the Market-Square offices of Geelong accountant, George Bowes Fraser (1810-1881) , for the purpose of approving Ferguson & Urie’s proposed design.
The extremely ambitious and complex design contains the figures of twenty six prophets and saints and has the memorial text at the base;
“TO THE GLORY OF GOD – AND IN MEMORY OF – JOHN RENDALL MORRIS – CHURCHWARDEN & TRUSTEE – WHO DIED SEPTR 15 1872”
Exactly when the window was erected or dedicated in early 1873 has not yet been determined but 140 years later, in November 2013, mindless vandals managed to smash the lower centre area of this window and many others with bricks.
The Caulfield stained glass studio of Geoffrey Wallace is undertaking the repair and conservation work.
John Rendall Morris was born 23rd January 1820, Islington, Middlesex, England, the son of John Morris and Jane Frances Watkins.
As a young man in his early 20’s he immigrated to Australia where, on the 6th of April 1843, he married Annie Wesley Morris nee Howe (c.1824-1866), daughter of a founder of the Sydney Gazette, Robert Howe, at St Lawrence Church, in Sydney.
Circa 1852 they moved to Geelong where he was appointed manager of the Bank of Australasia. He was very active in community and church circles and in 1860, 1862 and 1869 he held appointments as Territorial Magistrate for Geelong. In 1861 he was a member of the Committee of Management for the Geelong Infirmary and Benevolent Asylum but known to be involved in some capacity with that institution as early as 1858. He was also a well-respected member of the Anglican Church community and held the position of Trustee and Warden of Christ Church Geelong where his memorial window is located.
On the 5th June 1866 his wife Annie died at the age of 42 and two years later he married Priscilla Emily Ryland at Christ Church Geelong, on the 12th November 1868.
John Rendall Morris died on the 15th September 1872 aged 53. He was buried at the Geelong Eastern cemetery on the 17th with his first wife Annie, who died in 1866 and second wife Priscilla, who died in 1891. He is not known to have had any children by either marriage.
“It is proposed to place a large stained glass window in the north transept of Christ Church, in memory of the late Mr J. R. Morris, who was a constant attendant at the church, and an indefatigable office-bearer. That the window will be a valuable one may be judged from the fact that the following influential committee has been formed to carry out the object in view, and will receive subscriptions in its aid, viz:- The Hon. C. Sladen, the mayor of Geelong, and Messrs D. C. Macarthur, J. Bell, M. Elliott, E. Morrah, F. G. Smith, J. Galletly, J. Simpson, A. Buchanan, S. V. Buckland, S. A. Bryant, F. Shaw, M.D., J. B. Wilson, M.A., G. F. Belcher, T. C. Harwood, A. Douglass, C. Ibbotson, T. Roadnight, H. Franks, and G. A. Stephen. Mr A. S. Park, of the Colonial Bank, has been appointed treasurer, and Mr. G. Fraser, hon. secretary of the committee.”
“Members of almost every denomination have contributed to the memorial window which it is proposed to place in Christ Church to the memory of the late Mr. J. R. Morris, the total amount received to date being about £112. About £40 more will be required, but, as several friends of the deceased have not sent in their subscription, and as others have intimated their willingness to increase their subscriptions, if found necessary to do so, the committee have requested Messrs Urie and Ferguson to furnish two designs, which are expected to arrive shortly.”
“A MEETING of Subscribers to the Memorial Window to be placed in Christ Church, in memory of the late Mr. J. R. Morris, will be held at the office of Mr. G. B. Fraser, Market-Square, on Monday, 23rd instant, at 4 o’clock, to approve of the design. A. STEELE PARK, Hon. Treasurer.”
Other historic Ferguson & Urie windows in Christ Church: