Project Canterbury

All Saints' Church, Brisbane 1862-1937

By D. L. Kissick, B.A.

Brisbane: Published by All Saints' Parish, 1937.

The Year of Rebuilding

1869 was again a year of financial depression and in this may be found the reason that the Rev. T. Jones departed from his fixed intention of having only direct giving and allowed a bazaar to be arranged for May while, at various times, concerts were held in aid of the organ fund.

During this year Father Mackonochie was forbidden to use candles, to kneel at the Consecration, to elevate the Chalice and to mix the Chalice, a decision which of course had its repercussions in Queensland and Judge Blakeney again attacked the Rev. T. Jones in Synod.

The last wedding in the old church was celebrated on 27th January, 1869, being that of W. Russell to Fanny Bright, the Bishop of Brisbane officiating, the church being designated the Wickham Terrace District Church.

The new west wall being completed, the contractors proceeded to demolish the original west wall and to jack up the roof ready for heightening the walls but, this being done, the architect discovered that the foundations and walls of the old building were not substantial enough to carry the additional weight of the proposed improvements as the foundations had been endangered by the surface drainage of Wickham Terrace. A meeting having been called and these facts placed before it, it was decided to pull down the old church and to build a new one, retaining for economic reasons the same floor area as would have been given by the intended additions. It was arranged that drains should be constructed to prevent any such accumulation of water around the new foundations. The new west wall having been completed before it was discovered that it would be necessary to rebuild made it impossible in any way to change the style of the building except for the addition of a chancel, a vestry and a north porch. Provision was made for a baptistry or large western porch to be added later by the inclusion of an archway in the masonry of the west wall but that plan has never been put into execution.

The Bishop chose "All Saints" for the dedication of the new church and its foundation stone was laid on April 5th, 1869, by His Excellency Sir Samuel Wensley Blackall, Governor of Queensland.

The "Courier" of that day stated that on the north face of the foundation stone was the inscription: "In the Name of the Blessed and Undivided Trinity this stone was laid April 5, 1869, by His Excellency Samuel Wensley Blackall, Governor of Queensland, in dedication of the Church to "All Saints," and on the east face, "Except the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it." "Edward Wyndham Tufnell, D.D., Lord Bishop of Brisbane, April 5, 1869." Either the "Courier" anticipated the inscription or else it has worn off with time, for to-day the foundation stone which is to be found between the north porch and the vestry door is bare except for a cross at the top centre of the north face.

The weather was unpropitious for the laying of the foundation stone but, nevertheless, there was a large attendance of about 300, the rain which had been coming down heavily all the afternoon ceased just before the ceremony and held off throughout it. The Governor, the Bishop and the Rev. T. Jones, J. Matthews, J. Mosely and J. Sutton took part in the ceremony which was at 4.30 p.m. The official party was received by the Hon. J. Douglas (trustee), F. Bryant and J. R. Dickson (church wardens), Mr. R. G. Suter (architect), and a number of members of the congregation. The Rev. T. Jones read an address of welcome to the Governor and, after he had replied, the 84th psalm was sung. The Governor, the Bishop, the clergy, the trustee, the church wardens, the architect, the builders and three others then signed a document stating that the stone had been laid; this together with a photograph of the old building, a copy of the "Brisbane Courier" and the "Queensland Express," and the coins of the realm were sealed in a bottle and placed in a hollow in the stone. After the stone had been dropped in three successive falls of one foot each, and tested with level and plumb, the Governor gave it three successive knocks with the maul and pronounced it "level, upright and duly laid" adding: "In the Faith of Jesus Christ we place this foundation stone, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen." A short service followed and the Bishop gave an address on the previous history of the building ending with the hope that the debt would soon be paid in order that the church could be consecrated. He then gave the blessing. The collection which was placed on the stone amounted to £22.

The work of rebuilding progressed rapidly and, as it proceeded, several gifts for the interior were received. The architect gave the stone sedilia in the chancel, Dr. Hugh Bell and the children of the late Mr. T. S. Warry gave the stone pulpit in his memory, a carpet for the chancel was given by Mr. Tout and a case of indigenous wood was given for the organ. It was not found possible to obtain a new font or new seats owing to limited funds. The original flooring and roofing were retained, but for the rest of the building new stone from Mr. Petrie's quarries was used, the walls being made twenty inches thick. The altar was raised by four steps, texts being inscribed on the risers and, at the west end, the organ and choir seats were also slightly raised above floor level.

The opening services were held on Wednesday, September 8th 1869, at 8 a.m., 11 a.m., and 7.30 p.m., the Rev. T. Jones, J. Matthews, J. Mosely, J. Sutton, W. T. Hart, and T. Donkin officiating. At the 11 a.m. service, the clergymen and wardens were met at the porch by the Hon. J. Douglas who presented the following address: "To the clergyman and wardens of All Saints' Church, Brisbane. Reverend Sir and Gentlemen, On behalf of the trustees I beg to hand over a reconstructed building which, I hope will be found suitable for the celebration of the Divine Service in accordance with the usages of this branch of the United Church of England and Ireland. The total cost of the building you are now about to enter has been £1864/9/10, exclusive of the architect's commission which has not yet been paid and, when the final settlement was made with the contractors, it was necessary that the trustees should become personally responsible for the payment of £158/10/- I think we may hope to possess an edifice, substantial in its structure, and simple in its arrangements yet not unworthy of the solemn service to which it will henceforth be dedicated. I now hand to you the keys of the west door in token of delivery." The Rev. J. Sutton preached from 1 Kings vii., 38-39, and the choir rendered the cathedral anthem from "Solomon's Dedication of the Temple," the "Te Deum" and the "Jubilate."

Rev. J. Mosely conducted the evening services, the anthem being "I Will Lift up Mine Eyes," and Dr. Whitfield's "Magnificat" and "Nunc Dimittus" were sung. Both the services were opened with the 100th psalm. The collections for the day amounted to £40. The services were repeated on the following Sunday.

Before the end of the month the Hon. J. Douglas left for England, having been appointed Agent-General for Emigration. A farewell address from the congregation read: "In the new church recently erected we have a substantial and not unworthy memorial of your love for, and fidelity to, the branch of the Church of England planted in this colony and of your especial attachment to the congregation of All Saints'." It was signed by J. R. Dickson, warden, and T. Jones, incumbent. The church also lost Sir Robert Mackenzie during this year as he returned to Scotland to live.

At the Easter meeting of 1869, there were 180 members on the roll, the offertories amounted to £359, there was a debt of about £190 in addition to the money owing on the new church building. A special fund was opened to provide for the interest upon the building fund debt. The bazaar in aid of the building fund was held in Synod week during May and netted between £500 and £600. There were both morning and afternoon Sunday schools held in the parish at this time, the children being marched from Leichhardt St. Church Schools (where All Saints' Sunday School was held) across the creek and through the paddocks to the morning service at All Saints' Church. The first marriage in the new church took place the day after the opening, being that of Henry Donkin to Margaret Cumming Raff, the officiating clergyman being the Rev. T. Donkin. It is deposed that it took place at "Wickham Terrace District Church (All Saints')." The next wedding took place over a month later and was performed by the Rev. T. Jones, the church being named the "Parish Church of All Saints'." At the next wedding it was merely called the "Church of All Saints" and, soon after, "the rites and ceremonies of the Anglican Church" replaced the old formula.

Thus ended perhaps the most eventful year in the history of the parish; during it the parish had been given its name by the Lord Bishop of Brisbane, the old church had been found likely to tumble about the congregation's ears, the foundation stone had been laid and the new church built, opened and dedicated.

Project Canterbury