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A SHORT HISTORY OF ST STE PHEN'S CHURCH FROM 1869 TO THE PRESENT DAY. Hoefore entering into an account of the Guild's activities, the following short history of the building of the church may be of some interest to l'rthland residents: From the minute book of the committee appointed to take in hand the building of a church at Portland in 1854 the following history has been compiled. On October 6, 1854, a meeting of members of the church was held in the school house, the following being present: Rev. J. Y. Wilson, Messrs. Henty, Criffen, Must, Scott, M. Smith, Clarke, Coldham, Tones, F. Tlenty, Laphanm, Somerville, Moon, Foggan, Alexander, H. Smith and many more. In connection with the proposal to erect a church, the Lord Bishop of Melbourne offered to obtain an iron church capable of containing 1,000 persons for the sum of £1,800 delivered at wharf, Melbourne. This did not commend itself to those present and it was decided to build a stone church. The treasurer (Mr. Griffen) stated he had a receipt for £1,000 placed to the credit of the committee in the Union Dank. Mr. S. G.Henty here offered that if £750 in addition to the sum first mentioned was collected, he would make up the amount to £1400, which he apparently did. After calling tenders for the vari ous works the following were accep ted:-. Masons' work, including supply of stone: John Jones, £2,400. Carpenters' work: R. Gow, £860. Plumbing and slating: Dlwell and Dunbar, £322. No record appears showing cost of -painting, staining etc, nor for supply of seating, etc. The foundation stone was laid by Archdeacon Beamish on March 20th, 1855. The building-was- completed and opened in December, 1806. In the fol qwling year Mr S. G, Henty presen ted the church with a beautiful bell, ,which still summons the church peo ple to worship. The incumbent, Rev. J. Y. Wilson, who was the first clergyman of the church, resigned about 1869, and the Rev. J. C. P. Allnutt (afterwards Archdeacon of the Loddon), was ap pointed in his place. Mr. Allnutt appears to have lost no time in effecting improvements to ithe Sunday school accommodation, as in 1870 the building committee received a plan and specifications of a pro posed addition to the schoolroom and, whilst offering no objection to the -proposed work, the committee strongly
Impressed upon Mr. Allnutt that it could not undertake the "slightest re sponsibillty for the payment of any portion of the expense incurred." The Archdeacon and Mrs. Allnutt were not dismayed at the situation and at once made an earnest appeal to the parents and also to the scholars to make every effort to secure the neces sary funds for the proposed work. A fancy dress fair was suggested and taken up with enthusiasm. Miss A. Levett, who remembers the. incident, states that "the children On a special evening brought their gifts which were held afolt by Mrs. Allnutt for all to see and a great deal of clapping went on. One gift brought by one little girl was a white tulle bonnet with green ribbons for strings, such as was worn by young women in those days." The fair was held in the assembly room of the Club Hotel, which was packed. The result of the fair and other efforts were so successful that the necessary funds were raised and the stone addition in which the Ladies Guild now meets,. was completed. From this time onward, whilst the Archdeacon held office, a number of the ladies of ihe congregation; under the name of St. Stephen's Vor'l Party, continued to raise funds by holding tea meetings, fetes, etc Among the first members of the Work P'arty were: Mesdames L. Clarke, T. Must, Geo, Day, Findlay, W. OS bourne, senr. the Misses McLeod and M-rs. Oswell. Later: :Miss A. Levett, Mrs. S. Drew, Mrs. T. S. C, Henry, MrS. Jowe, Mrs. Lyne, Mrs. A. Os hourne, Mr. 11. . Osbourne, Mrs. VW. Osbourne, Mrs. J. H. Row, Misses Smith, and Miss S. J. Wadmore. As years rolled by, newcomers to the town Joined In the efforts of the Work l'arty, and thus the combination proved of the utmost value to the church generally. The entertainments were carried at at first in the schoolroom and In the church grounds--later in the Free Li trary hall and afterwards a monster fete was held annually in Henty Park, where the uorough Council had cre ated permanent stalls etc. Other de nominations held like gatherings, the whole forming a distinct feature in the town's church life. The Archdeacon, having a natural bent for architectural work, made good use of the funds supplied by the Work l'art.y and his efforts have mlproved the church and grounds in many ways. A great deal of carved work was car ried out by Mr. Pinner, an artist in this class of work. The choir stalls were originally near the south entrance of the church and were divided from the congregation by a hbalse screen, Later, upon the erec tlon of a gallery at the eastern end of tihe church (built to acconmodlate Increased co,ngregations) the choir was housed beside a small pi,pe organ Iplac:ed in front of the gallery. Upon thle purchase of the present large .pI)ile organ, the organ chamber was erected by Mrs. Edward itenty In memory of her husband, and the pre sent choir stalls were placed very much as they are now. The first organist appointed was. a Mrs. Glover, who was followed by Mr. Nmle3urnie and others including Mllss Walker, Miss M. Day, Mrs. 11. Gold smith, Miss Allnutt. Miss Jarrett, Miss Mclee and Miss Sharpe, who still holds the position. An important addition to the church was the Baptistry erected by M.irs. it. Vine to the memory of her husband. The brass Lectern (eagle) was the gift of Mr. Francis Ilenty in memory of his wife. The electrolier ind fittings were the gift of the Osbourne Bros. In memory of Willlttn Osboturne serm'., and his sons, Alfred and W\Vlliam. The church Is indeed rich in its possessions of many mementos of past generations. A large triple light stained window is a memorial of Stephen George Henty. A similar window adorns the south Wall of the church in taemory of Ed ward Henty and is a beautiful speci men of artistic woutk. Other stained windows in comma moration of past parishioners include those of Rev. J. Y. Wilson, Phillip Scott, '. T MuSt and his wife, V. Jones, 0. Day, wife and sons, W. Cornoy, F. E. Levett anld wife. The reredos and railing were erec ted in memory of Archdeacon Alluntt, and the screen of the organ in memory or Henry Day. Many tablets adorn, the walls of the sacre,, buildlng, the whole con tributing 'to mark St. Stephen's Church as one of the prettiest churches in Victoria. About 1897 it was decided to have a surpliced choir and a very strong one,'consisting of five gentlemen and fifteen.ladles and ten small boys, was the result, An enlarged photo ofi the combination is oni view in the hall now. Mrs; T. E. C.' Henry (one oflthe choir) was honored *with the first choral wedding service. During all these years the WTVork Party carried out its self-appointed work and upon. the retirement of ATrchdieacon Allnutt after a pastorate of 37. Years, Canon Carmichael took ofirlc and h'eld it for-twelve years. Slhortly'after the Canon's apploiit ment, the vestry decided that :the funds collected lay the TVork Party: should be paid into the general church account, and although the. change was not. acceptable to the whole of dithe members, it was duly carried out :and 100 was handed over .to the vestry to be expended upon the purchase and ereetion of the .Dresent ornamental ahurch gates--f£75 being spent upon hat object. Canon Carmichael havling resigned n lif, was followed by Rev. Still
well, and during his ministry the Work Party was renamed St. Sto phen's Ladies' Guild and carried on as before under its new title, Air. Stillwell, who marked his con nection with Portland by becoming a member of the Borough Council, re mained the vicar of St. Stephen's until 1923, when he left for West Aus tralia, where he lived for some years. Our present vicar-Rev. Canon F. W. Coupe-followed Mr, Stillwell in September, 1923. During Canon Coupe's occupation of the church, the ornamental stone and railing wails on the Percy and Julia streets frontages were erected and added much to the church's sur roundings. This somewhat disjointed history. would not be complete without men tioning the names of the present mem bers of the Guild that has so long' carried out a self-imposed and self denying task and thereby earned the gratitude of the parishioners of St. Stephen's Church. The following ladies 'are active members of the,.Guild at the present time: (President, Mrs. T. Day; vice president, Mrs.= H. Day; secretary,. Mrs. W. T. Beinett; treasurer, Mrs. Gebbie. Members: Mesdames Andrews, Baldwin, Beglen, Brown,, Carthew, S. B. Clarke, Coupe,R Harcoan, Howell, Longthorn, Millard, Neale, A. E. Os bourne, W. Osbourne,. Pitman, Red fern, Row, R. Salmon, Segal, Wright: Whitburn. Misses _Henry; -L. French and A. Levett.