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16 corrections, most recently by inkywhiteghost - Show corrections

Sub-Lieutenant O. S. Gillam  

(NEWCASTLE)        

One of the Officers of the: N.S.W. Naval Con-

tingent for China.              

(Photo. by Creelman.)"      

Restoration of St, James's

Church, Sydney.      

For the second time in ten years attention has been drawn to this oldest of Sydney Anglican Churches by the restoration of such portions of it as have, by the passing of time, become worn or

out of date.          

In 1894 it was principally the outside of the     building that was renovated. In the present case the alteration will affect the interior, a change-al- most more important, inasmuch as it relates more directly to those who are most concerned in the matter-the churchgoers themselves. At present   many of the pews are of the old family box shape, in which the occupants sit facing one another       with a row of hassocks down the centre. There are no desks to support the books, while the seats   are narrow and occasionally placed at the oddest and most uncomfortable angles. The smaller   pews, like the large ones, are isolated by doors, which also tend to give a curious, exclusive ap-   pearance, as if in former days each family was   desperately afraid of contact with any other. Again, the woodwork looks as if ready to fall apart; many of the seats are so placed as to for- bid any view of the preacher, while others are blocked by immense wooden pillars painted to re- semble marble, and now in no way ornamental.     Nevertheless, every stick, every stone in this oldest of Sydney churches is reminiscent, and   there are people, even in these utilitarian days who gladly, cherish their reminiscences at the ex pense, of their comfort.              

Perhaps, there is no portion of the church, more interesting than the pulpit. At one time it     stood in the middle of the building; then it was removed to its present position at the side. A   wooden box covered with red-drapery, which has seen better days; this pulpit; in its present state, is neither useful nor ornamental. It is quite a journey to reach the top, and the stairs by which you ascend are so ricketty that only on very special occasions does the preacher venture to make the ascent. At other times, the old reading desk is fixed upon as a more conveni   ent pulpit. But the fact that some of the most noted Anglican clergymen of the colonies   have there delivered their divine message suf- fices to make these old boards sacred. There   preached Bishops Pattison, Selwyn, Broughton, Barker, and Barry. There the first sermon was   delivered by the Rev. S. Marsden, chaplain of   the colony, when in 1822 the building was open ed for divine service. Consequently, there is a     happy touch in the present suggestion that while the outside of the pulpit is beautified with an adornment of rich carving, the old pulpit shall still be retained as a lining, and thus, though unseen, remain part of the sacred building.       If the majority of the congregation were des-       cendants of the old families who first worship-   ped at St. James's, the changes that are pro- posed would. be more severely felt. However,   this is not the case. In the congregation are   represented many types, many classes. Here we find rich and poor, old and new, the Governor and the Domain loafer, the passing visitor, and the grandchildren of those whose memorial tab lets testify to a long connection with the church. As the present clergyman, the Rev. Carr-Smith, observes, this makes the congregation a difficult   one to handle. Referring to the discussions res- pecting the present alterations, he trenchantly

says: "If it was decided to leave the church as it is, we might just as well turn it into a mu- seum at once, and charge 6d a head admission   but if we want a church for its legitimate pur pose, as a place of worship, we must study the     convenience of the worshippers. Many persons desire to watch the preacher's delivery, and na-     turally see no reason why for all time they should have to sit with their backs to the pul- pit. However, nothing of any personal or his-  

toric interest will be lost, and wherever possible the original material will be re-used.    

This is advantageous, not merely           from sentimental and historical stand- point. Strange as it may seem, the bricks     made by convict labor, the well-seasoned timber; and carefully chiselled stones (all marked with the Government broad arrow) are still in a per- fectly sound condition, testifying to the fact that the workmanship of the past excelled much of the shoddy labor of the present day." Mr Henry Williams, who had been associated with St James's for sixty years, and who is one of the conservative party desirous of keeping the build- ing untouched, has had a tablet made from some of the old copper which originally covered the spire. The curious broad arrow mark is notice- able on every two or three inches, and is an evi-

dence, of the Government's care of their own pro- perty, even when its high altitude would seem     to have placed it beyond the reach of the light- fingered gentry.                

This love of the antique sometimes carries its devotees to curious lengths. In 1894, when the exterior alterations were effected, great dislike was expressed for the bright look of the new copper covering of the spire. A certain well-       known local chemist was asked how the old green tint might be made to appear in the new metal. "Pour a barrel of colonial beer over it," was the succinct suggestion. This, however, did not strike the churchwardens as being altogether consistent with religious reverence, so they re-

turned to ask if there were no substitute. "Well, if that doesn't suit, pour over it plenty of water from the Sydney Harbor; it will do just as well!"           The most valuable records of Australian history are preserved in the tablets which, adorn the         early churches of the colonies, and St. James's has a very interesting collection. These, of       course, will endure so long as the church re mains. In the eastern transept there is a me-     morial of the first clergyman, the Rev. Richard   Hill, who ministered for seventeen years to a congregation who evidently had a high opinion of his efforts, judging from the appreciative tablet

that they placed to his memory. Here, in some what quaintly worded phraseology, we read a laudation of his disregard of personal ease, his   peculiar ability in managing children, and "his fearless reproof of the sinner." A special inter- est must have been attached to this memorial,  

inasmuch as the preacher died in the church it-

self, or rather in the vestry, quite suddenly.  

Canon Allwood and his wife, Rebecca, are here commemorated; here also the Macleay family and the Laidleys, and also a Mrs. Hordern, who no doubt was one of the foundresses of the family now so numerous. Dr. Nathan, whom many people will remember as a leading medical man,  

is also memorialised with his wife. Lord Ber-   trand Gordon, the young son of the Marquis of Huntly, who died in Sydney many years ago, far away from his ancestral home, finds his memory perpetuated in this colonial church. An inter- esting tablet is that of Sir Robert Duff. The   family custom is for this memorial to be placed over the entrance of his house for six months after the death, and then for it to be removed to the parish church and placed over the family pew. Another noteworthy tablet appertains to     Lieutenant-General Sir Maurice Charles O'Con-

nell, who in his day was such a staunch church man, that when he was Lieutenant Governor of the colony, 1810 to 1814; he is said by Mr. Went- worth to have banished a missionary of the name of Crook because he preached dissent, and he also   opposed the progress of a school in Sydney which a few people had opened to teach the children of the poor. He even modestly begged the Gov-   ernment to send the founders out of the colony, because he affirmed their religious teaching was not orthodox.      

The wreck of the Dunbar is kept in memory by a mural ornament to Captain Greene; also that   of the explorer and surveyor, Kennedy, who was   slain by the aboriginals after much privation and suffering, along with his companions; whose names are also given. At the moment when public attention has been drawn to aboriginal ferocity, it is interesting to notice   that an Australian black is thus immortalised on the same tablet as the surveying party. "Jacky-Jacky, who, himself wounded, tended his leader (Kennedy) with courage and devotion worthy of remembrance; supporting him in his last moments, and making his grave on the spot

where he fell."  

One of the changes projected is the removal of the galleries; which are not only ugly but in summer cause the church to be very hot. The   windows over the galleries are of an unusual     curious lozenge shape; and, though rather pic-

turesque; are certainly not conducive to light - and air. The vaults under the church are now used as living rooms for the verger and his family. In early days, when the necessity for plenty of light and air was hardly as much re cognised as now, these vault-like rooms were used as a male and female infants' school. Up till the renovations of 1894, there still remained the stone staircase of the convicts, made narrow so that they could walk only in single file up to their special gallery. There only a limited view of the rest of the congregation could be obtained,

and early colonists have spoken of watching the unhappy men peering down as far as they could to catch glimpses of the happier world below. "Here," says an old writer, "if anywhere, their hearts must be touched when joining with the mass of the people in that beautiful prayer for all 'prisoners and captives.' "

The two objects of special veneration, which   it is desired should be left untouched, are the baptismal font and the circular communion rails. These, though possessing an old-fash- ioned appearance, are by no means unsightly.   At this font have been christened thousands of Australia's present sons and daughters; at these communion rails have knelt generations at the Lord's Supper; while nearly all of the early marriages (in the days when churches were rare) were solemnised here. Of late years, St. James's has held the position of being the most

fashionable church for weddings, and Sir Her-   cules' Robinson's daughter was among the num- ber of those wedded in this church.

St. James's dates from 1819, being the second  

oldest church of the colony. St. Phillip's was   the first, having been built in 1793; but the origi- nal St. Phillip's is now demolished altogether, none of the old church remaining. St. James's   was established by Governor Macquarie and the first sermon was preached in it by the Rev. Sam   uel Marsden in 1822, and the church consecrated in 1824: The Right Rev. William Grant Brough- ton arrived in the colony in 1829 as Archdeacon, and paid a visit to England when he returned   June 22, 1836, with the title and authority of   Bishop of Australia, St. James's being made pro- Cathedral. Until then, Australia was under the  

See of Calcutta. He found the bishopric in- cluded in the country from Moreton Bay to Port land Bay, which was altogether too much for one man to manage with any credit to himself. He, therefore, offered to resign £2500, half of his   professional income, to support a second See. "This was an instance of self-devotion," says a contemporary writer, "with scarcely a parallel." But it is recorded that the Government accepted only £500 a year from him.          

In those days of few churches and still fewer schools, the St. James's Grammar School; pre-

sided over by the Rev. C. Kemp, was of inestim- able value to the then youth of the colony, and   many of our leading statesmen owe to this in- stitute the foundations of their learning. The   direction of its affairs was under the Bishop and leading clergy, and the teaching is said to have

been very thorough, if of an elementary nature.

Mr. Richard Burton says: "In 1836 the want of churches was most urgent, not in distant parts only; but in the County of Cumberland, and even in the neighborhood of Sydney. The want of church accommodation in the town itself obliged many people who wished to attend service, to go to the dissenting chapels, as there was no room for them in the only two churches, St. James's and.St. Phillip's, which held no more than two thousand three hundred people."    

During the fifty years vicarship of the Rev. Canon Allwood, whose name is held in rever- ential memory by Sydney church people, a num- ber of notable clergymen were associated with him and the church--the Rev. George Macarthur, Priddle, Moreton, Bode, and others.

Reverting once more to the past, for the first five years of colonial life, there was no church   building of any kind, services being held in the open air. It was then very difficult to get the convicts to attend, and it was found necessary to stop a quantity of flour from the rations as a penalty to those who refused to be present. After temporary buildings had been used for some  

time, the first church built, was a wooden struc-   ture in Bligh-street, which was paid for out of the chaplain's (Mr. Johnson's) private purse, and cost £67 12s 11½d. This, however, was sub scribed gradually by collections of wheat, flour, tobacco, coffee, etc, and Mr. Johnson got back most of what he advanced. It was preached in for the first time on Sunday, August 25, 1793. It held 500 people, but was quite inadequate for the numbers who desired to attend. That the Sab- bath was not very closely observed in these early colonial days may be gathered from the remarks made by Mr. Wentworth, that even Mr. Mars- den permitted a windmill of his, "which stands  

in full view of the sanctuary where he officiates, not to suspend its profitable gyrations, even through church time," and the clergyman turn- ed the tables by objecting to the convicts ab- senting themselves from service, and the sound of their pickaxes disturbing him during his Sab-   bath ministrations in St. James. Another re- miniscence of the early days of St. James's Church is the well-known story of Archdeacon Scott, who, in retaliation for some annoyance     caused by one of his parishioners, banished him from his own pew to a cold and draughty one at   the back, actually calling in the aid of policemen when the obstreperous gentleman insisted on         climbing back into what he considered his own     domain, till the clergyman had gone so far as to wall up the contested portion of the sacred build ing, the law was at last appealed to, and the       case decided against the archdeacon.

The very rapid expansion of the colony dur-       ing the seventy-eight years of the church's his- tory, has naturally caused an edifice, which was considered very noble and grand, when contrast

ed, with the weatherboard , and smaller brick   buildings that surrounded it, to become inade- quate to the requirements of the present time. There is plenty of money available for the re-   novation, and it is proposed that several thou-  

sand pounds shall be devoted to the purpose. The proposal is that, besides the alterations that have been mentioned, open seats shall be placed throughout the building, all facing the same way; a beautiful tesselated floor be put in place of the old stones - so many worn quite hollow with the footfall of generations. The windows   are likely to be beautified; and organ stalls for the choir will probably replace the gallery. In      

every restoration, however, a conservative spi-     rit is intended to be displayed; and not a relic of the past which it is possible to preserve is to   be effaced.    

It will be interesting to those who love the old church, but are no longer able to attend, by   reason of removal to other parts, to know that   some of the members of the old families still attend. Miss Burdett-Smith still has the pew   where her brother and she sat for so many   years. Lady Macleay, though now in England,   attends when in the colony. Her sisters, Mrs.

Willie Campbell and Miss Deas-Thompson, are     also regular attendants; so also are Mrs. Syd ney Burdekin and her family, Miss Martin; Mrs. J. M. Wright, Mr. T. Docker and his family, Mr.  

Young and family.  

Mr. Coburn (the verger) and his wife have been connected with the church for over forty     years; and one of the curates lately ministering in the church bears the time-honored name of   Abbott; and another is Mr. Marsden, a descen dant of the Rev. Samuel Marsden, who preached the sermon on the day when St. James's was    

first opened for public worship.      

CLYDE WRIGHT.  

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