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Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Bacchus Marsh

Captain William Bacchus was one of the first settlers of the district. He came in 1838, occupying a large area of land part of which became known as Bacchus’s Marsh. In 1846 – 47 Bacchus built a grand home which became known as the Manor House. It is located at No 28 Manor Street. Captain Bacchus was a prominent personality in the early life of Port Phillip District.  Before he died Captain Bacchus, ensured that he got buried at his own land, which he hoped would become a church cemetery.

The grave of Captain Bacchus still stands in the church grounds where this early cemetery was established.

In 1849, Reverend William Hall was appointed as the first Anglican Minister in the Bacchus Marsh District based in Ballan, he travelled on horseback over difficult roads to provide service. By 1858 Bacchus Marsh became a separate parish.

Iron Church was opened for worship on 4th July 1855 by the Dean of Melbourne, Dean Hussey Macartney. The iron church which cost around 1,000 pounds could hold between 150 to 200 persons. The first Bishop of Melbourne, Bishop Perry consecrated the church on July 28, 1861.

The grave of Captain Bacchus

Among the early lay ministers of the church was Andrew Scott who preached here from July to December 1868. Scott was described by one minister as a “young warrior who now has a firm grip on the sword of righteousness”. Soon after leaving Bacchus Marsh, Scott has attained notoriety as the bushranger ‘’Captain Moonlite’’ robbing the Egerton Bank in May 1869. Scott was ultimately executed in 1880.

As the condition of the Iron church became worse, it became necessary to build a permanent structure. The Bishop in Council allowed a grant of £400 for a new church in Bacchus Marsh. The Grant would have lapsed into general funds for diocese if not claimed by July 1876. As a condition, by 30th June 1867,  £800 worth of work has to be done in order to claim the £400 building grant from the Church of England General Assembly.

The memorial Plaques of early settlers

Rev. A. J. M’Causland, the incumbent of the church at that time mentioned the matter to some members of the Church. A prominent Melton personality Samuel Staughton, of Eynesbury Estate first gave encouragement that the £400 could be claimed by handing over a cheque for £100. Rev.  M’Causland next obtained a donation of £100 from Mr. Moles worth Greene of Bacchus Marsh, and a third £100 was obtained from Mr. W. J. Clarke. The movement to erect a church gained momentum and a bazar held brought in £240.

Church Building Committee gave the contract for erecting the present church to Jonathan Coulson, of Ballarat, who undertook the whole work, except for the seating. The church was designed by   Melbourne architect Frederick Wyatt.

The Bacchus Marsh Express ( On publication from 1866 to 1945) reported on 9th June 1877 in a news article about the opening of the church)

“As the foundation stone laid by Bishop Perry had been placed upon what was subsequently found to be land granted by the late Captain Bacchus for parsonage purposes, it was deemed expedient to re-lay the stone upon church lands, also granted by Captain Bacchus, and as the Melbourne diocese was, at this time last year, without a Bishop, the Building Committee resolved to invite Dr. Thornton, the Bishop of Ballarat, to re-lay the stone, which he did on the 20th of May last.”

The church was built on top of part of cemetery and was officially opened on 5th June 1877.

The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Thornton of Ballarat on May 20, 1876. Bishop James Moorhouse of Melbourne opened the Church on June 5, 1877, after a special welcome by parishioners.

In 1972, The Bacchus Marsh and District Historical Society restored the grave of the district’s pioneer, Captain William Henry Bacchus with its original railings and gate. The memorial is located at the Church grounds. Memorial plaque to other early settlers who were buried here also can be seen.

References

The Bacchus Marsh Express (Vic. : 1866 – 1945) Sat 9 Jun 1877 Page 2 “OPENING OF TRINITY CHURCH, BACCHUS MARSH” . Accessed on 15th June 2020.

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