...about Christ Church

 

We at Christ Church acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and in particular the Wauthaurong people, as the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which this Church and its buildings now stand; and we acknowledge our gratitude that we share this land today, our sorrow for the costs of that sharing, and our hope that we can move towards a place of justice and partnership together.

a brief History of Christ Church

Christ Church is the oldest Anglican Church in Victoria in continuous use on its original site, and the parish pre-dates the Diocese of Melbourne. From 1841 a group of laymen led by Henry Tyssen and later Sir Charles Sladen, first Treasurer of the Victorian Colony, strove to found a church in the Geelong region.

The parish was founded on 7 October 1843 when the Bishop of Australia, William Grant Broughton, laid the foundation stone at the north east corner of the present nave. A parsonage and schoolhouse, serving as a temporary church, were built in 1843 but it was not until 1846 that the first Vicar, The Revd. Ebenezer Collins, was appointed. The Church was opened and dedicated on 27 June 1847 and the enlarged church was consecrated on 25 October 1859.

Believed to be the only extant example of a Victorian church commissioned by Bishop Broughton (the then Bishop of Australia), it is the only one in Victoria designed by the celebrated colonial architect E.T.Blacket. It was enlarged in 1855 by the addition of the transepts and sanctuary, whilst the organ chamber (1925) and the vestries (1970) were later exterior additions. In 2011 the North Vestry was altered to provide internal toilets for the church building. The church exterior is of Barrabool sandstone, beautifiul to look at but very liable to deteriorate, and in 1879 the top 4.5 metres of the bell tower were replaced. More than a century later restoration of the exterior stonework continues to be urgent! From 1844-72, the Parish had its own primary school, sections of which remain on the site. In 1869, The Geelong School of Design, a precursor of the Gordon Institute, began in the School Room. The parish primary school later came under the auspice of Geelong Grammar as Bostock House, thus completing the considerable contribution of the parish to eduction in Geelong. During this time Geelong Grammar School was established and used Christ Church for its chapel until moving to Corio in 1914. Remnants of the school can still be seen behind the Admiralty Motel (in McKillop Street).

Christ Church has been given an A Classification by the National Trust, is classified by the Historic Buildings Council of Victoria, and is listed on both the Victorian Heritage register and Commonwealth Register of the National Estate. Christ Church is aesthetically significant for its stained glass windows, particularly those by Ferguson and Urie (Melbourne), which demonstrate the early development of Australian stained glass design. Christian Waller (wife of artist Napier Waller) designed one window and also in 1942 completed a large mural on the west wall of the Church (at right), one of only two of her recorded murals. The striking and highly distinctive interior stained glass windows are described on the Victorian Heritage Register as being of “immeasurable historic significance.”

Christ Church Archival records - Christ Church holds archival records of baptisms, weddings and funerals (and other parochial records) dating from its foundation in the 1840s to the present day, and these represent a unique picture of the contribution of Christ Church to the development of community life and Anglicanism in Geelong. These records and details can be important parts of personal and family history.

For details of the history and significance of the records collection, and of what is held in the Christ Church archives, click on the Archives link in the navigation bar to the left.

The Parish Archivist is available to assist with searching and locating personal or family records from the Christ Church Archives. A fee for searching is charged - enquiries are welcome, preferably in writing, addressed to the Archivist at the Parish mailing address, or via the Parish Office. See the Contact Us link in the navigation bar on the left.

Restoration and Maintenance

Due to deterioration of the external stonework, restoration work continues to be urgent. The heavy cost of maintaining an old building is borne by the freewill offerings of members of the congregation and by donations from well-wishers. Your help, too, would be appreciated. If you would like to contribute to the cost of maintaining this historic church, please contact the Vicar via the Parish Office. Contact Us via the link in the navigation bar to the left.

 

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