Home Banyule Heidelberg The two heritage listed St John’s churches of Heidelberg

The two heritage listed St John’s churches of Heidelberg

St John’s Anglican Church

Address: 1 Burgundy Street, Heidelberg

The river valley of Heidelberg (Then Warringal) reminded the early settlers of an English Village with its pristine beauty. In its early years mostly the wealthy settled in Heidelberg establishing large estates but along with it came people of all kinds calling Heidelberg their home.

St. John’s Anglican Church is one of the earliest churches in Melbourne. Construction of the church began in 1849 and the foundation stone that was laid in 1850 is one of the oldest engraved stones in Melbourne.

In 1849, in consultation with Rev. Francis Hales, Mr D.C Mc Arthur, who was known as father of Victorian banking, a resident of Heidelberg, decided that a church should be built in the area and people at once supported him. McArthur obtained the site from the Government as well as a grant. With public subscription and the grant, the church was erected at a cost of £1343,

 The first trustees of the church included: D.C Mcarthur; Joseph Hawdon who built Banyule homestead and Dr Robert Martin, JP., squatter and overlander.  The architect was Mr G.R. Cox and the contractors, snowball and Atchison. The building was completed by April 1851. In 1886, a parish hall was erected and two rooms were added by the Heidelberg Lodge of Freemasons. This building was removed later to Hawdon Street. During 1965, the Church underwent a complete restoration with the addition of the side chapel, vestries, porches, gallery and extensive alterations to the interior design of the building.

In the early days the parish extended as far as Lilydale, Healesville and Warburton.

The church has a Sunday service at 10am

St John’s Roman Catholic Church and Presbytery

Address: 52 Yarra Street, Heidelberg

St John’s Roman Catholic Church was designed by William Wardell, who was also behind St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne and St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney. The building is of quarry faced bluestone construction with sandstone dressings to window and doors surrounds, and a steeply pitched slated roof.

In 1851, a Catholic School was established on site next to the land reserved for the church. Heidelberg was a tiny village at that time with a not so affluent catholic population.

Bishop Willson of Hobart was supposed to lay the first stone on 3rd July 1858, but stormy weather prevented any ceremony and the Bishop merely said mass and preached. The stone was finally laid by Dean Fitzpatrick on 6th March 1859. In 14th April 1861, the  church of St John was solemnly blessed by Bishop O’ Quinn, then delayed in Melbourne on his way to take over as the Bishop of Brisbane. The construction of the church was not fully finished at the time of the ceremony.

For the benefit of our readers, to have a peak at the history of the church, here is a news clipping from “The Argus” – Courtesy: State Library of Victoria

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) Sat 5 Nov 1932 Page 6 Two Churches of St. John

This was in 1860. Father Hoyne is still remembered in Ballarat, where, for many years, he was vicar-general. The foundation-stone was laid by Dr. O’Quinn, who was then Bishop of Brisbane. This was not the present church which was built later at a cost of £2,000. Father Hoyne was followed by the Rev.William Finn, the author of several books and the builder of the present presbytery. The Rev. John Horan followed, and the Rev D.F O’Callaghan, who was next in order, left on record the statement that at one period “portions of the fence were tied up with wisps of hay ” He was a kindly, saintly man His successor, Father Parker was made of stem stuff. He insisted that substantial improvements should be made to the presbytery. He added to the size of the church and he purchased for £1000 the site upon which the convent now stands.

Under the rule of Father F. McKenna and Father Power an exceptionally well equipped, modern school came into existence. It now stands side by side with the old fashioned bluestone church which speaks of the “tender grace of a day that is dead.” Formerly the church and the presbytery were in different enclosures, the presbytery being surrounded by an old orchard. Father Norris, abolished the dividing fence, withdrew from horticultural pursuits and laid united grounds out in lawns and flowerbeds. There were some who signed when the old orchard went down before the axe; but as frequently happens, the view of constituted authority proved to be correct. The grounds at present add much to the beauty of the historic church.