• Vivamus lobortis
  • Ut porttitor urna ut pretium
  • Phasellus convallis tincidunt enim.

The Spirit of St Kilda

Places of Worship in St Kilda

Janette Bomford

To view book click here

ISBN: 978-0-9804534-1-6 (Online)

Editor: Vida Horn

Layout & Website: John Hulskamp

Date of Publication: 10 August 2003

Web Layout Re-designed: May 2005

To order a copy of the publication as a book, or CD-ROM, click on the order button at left.




Anglican Churches

Christ Church
All Saints’ Church
Holy Trinity Church
St Bede’s Church

Roman Catholic Churches

St Mary’s Catholic Church
Sacred Heart Church
St Colman’s Church
St Columba’s Church
Our Lady of Dolours

Presbyterian Churches

St Kilda Presbyterian Church
Free Presbyterian Church (former)
St George’s East St Kilda Uniting Church (formerly St George’s Presbyterian Church)
Scots Presbyterian Church Elwood

Methodist Churches

The St Kilda Uniting Church (former) (formerly the Wesleyan [Methodist] Church)
St Kilda Parish Mission Uniting Church (formerly the Wesleyan Church)
United Free Methodists Church (former)
Methodist Church Elwood (demolished)

Congregationalist Churches

Independent (Congregational) Church (demolished)
East St Kilda Uniting Church (former) (formerly East St Kilda Congregational Church)

Baptist Churches

Particular Baptist Church (former)
Baptist Church

Salvation Army

Balaclava Corps Hall (former)

Life Christian Church

Originally the Church of the Rock, later St Kilda Port Phillip Community Church (Assembly of God)

Parish of Sacred Assumption of Holy Virgin

(Autocephalic Orthodox Church)

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jewish Congregations

St Kilda Hebrew Congregation / Sassoon Yehuda Sephardi Synagogue
Elwood Talmud Torah Congregation
Temple Beth Israel 
Adass Israel Congregation


Further Reading



The following people assisted with the research for this project and their kindness is appreciated.
Yossi Aron and Max Singer, Elwood Talmud Torah Hebrew Congregation Robert Belcher, Elwood Presbyterian Church
The Reverend John Bottomley, St George’s East St Kilda Uniting Church
Bernie Clifford, St Bede’s Church, Elsternwick
Rosemary Clencie,
St George’s East St Kilda Uniting Church
Pastor Digby Hannah, St Kilda Elsternwick Baptist Church
The Reverend Terry Kean and Christine White, St Columba’s Parish, Elwood
Glenda Levy, St Kilda Hebrew Congregation
Rachel Landsdown, MDHC, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.
Rhonda Nirens,
Temple Beth Israel
The Reverend Bob Thomas, St Kilda Presbyterian Church
The Reverend Ramsay Williams, All Saints’ Church, St Kilda
Lindsay Cox and Andrew Middleton, The Salvation Army Territorial Archives & Museum, Melbourne

I also wish to thank the Committee of Management of the St Kilda Historical Society for their assistance and in particular: John Hulskamp, Peter Johnson, Pearl Donald, Tom Ingram, Melanie Eagle, Vida Horn for editing the work and Meyer Eidelson for checking the copy.


Dedicated to Ada Jackson, a long time member and supporter of the St Kilda Historical Society.  Ada was born in 1910 and spent most of her life in St Kilda, attending the Baptist Church in Pakington Street with her family since 1916. She was married in the Baptist Church in 1935 but was widowed and raised her three young children alone. In the 1970s she was heartbroken at the thought the church would close and watched its rejuvenation of the 1980s by the Costellos with enthusiasm. Having vowed never to leave St Kilda, she collapsed and died there on 26 June 1992. Our Community life is built on the love, labours and loyalty of volunteers like Ada.

Publication Data

Copyright St Kilda Historical Society Inc.

ISBN: 0-9751060-0-7
ISBN: 978-0-9804534-1-6 (Online)

Published by the St Kilda Historical Society © 2003 ABN: 25 188 646 275
P.O. Box 177 Balaclava 3183 AUSTRALIA

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web Site: www.vicnet.net.au/~hsosk

Author: Janette Bomford
Layout & Website: John Hulskamp
Editor: Vida Horn
Publishing Coordinator: Meyer Eidelson
Printed by Inklink

Publication of this title has been assisted by the City of Port Phillip through its Cultural Development Fund




In introducing this study of the history of places of worship in St Kilda it must be recognised that for  many tens of thousands of years before white settlement there was a rich spiritual life among the indigenous people. The Melbourne area was originally inhabited by the people of the Kulin Nation. It was divided into a number of language groups, one of which, the Bunurong, inhabited the Mornington Peninsula, the catchment area of Westernport Bay and the coastal strip of Port Phillip Bay as far as the Werribee River. The area encompassing modern-day St Kilda was the estate of traditional owners from one of the six Bunurong clans, the Yalukit-willam.[1]

The land has profound totemic or religious significance for Aboriginal people. In the ‘dreamtime’ creative beings, neither human or animal but with attributes of both, formed the physical features of the land and the flora and fauna, including humans.[2] A Kulin story is that Bunjil, the ancestral creator, placed rocks in the area now known as St Kilda to stop the sea after it broke through the heads, thereby forming Port Phillip Bay.[3] For Aborigines the land represents the home of their ancestors and the eventual repository for their own spirits. They belong to the land and are an extension of it.

The land and the sky are dotted with sacred sites and constellations which were integral to the rhythm of Aboriginal life. Here the ‘ancestors left part of their energy ... which may be actualized in the present through rites and ceremonies to ensure that the species of creation remain abundant’.[4] Ceremonies and rituals were an important part of Aborigines’ lives, including initiation practices, which marked the transition from childhood to adulthood, and burial rites. Religion provided the law and prescribed patterns of behaviour and living. The Aboriginal Dreamtime has been formally recognised as a religion by the Council of Churches.

Regrettably, today we do not know where these sacred places were because they were not recorded. The best known site in St Kilda related to Aboriginal spirituality is the Corroboree Tree, which is believed to be the site of ceremonial activity prior to the arrival of the Europeans. It is located in Albert Park Reserve at the corner of Queen’s Road and Fitzroy Street. This red gum, currently on the register of the National Estate, is at least 300 years old and is the last survivor of the open woodland that once covered this area.[5]

Overview of churches and their role in the social and architectural history of St Kilda

Churches and synagogues are public buildings which reflect a community’s religious beliefs as well as its more earthly aspirations and concerns. These places of worship cannot be considered just in architectural terms as landmarks in the suburban landscape. In the past, churches were more than places of worship; they were the very centre of the community. Here rites of passage were formalised with baptisms, marriages and funerals. They were also meeting places and the source of authority, respectability and morality, which had a huge impact on how people lived their lives. They were dominated by the prosperous, social elite and represented the establishment and conservatism.

Churches were a focal place for social activities with youth groups, sporting events, annual Sunday school picnics, concerts and prize givings. Membership of church choirs, attending or teaching in Sunday schools, and serving on church committees was a major part of many people’s social, cultural and spiritual life. It would be interesting to know how many people met their future spouse through their church. While much of this social activity declined after World War II, some congregations in St Kilda are now actively developing programs that once more attract young people.

The church community provided financial and emotional support for members. They also extended social and welfare support and friendship to newly arrived immigrants who had left their communities and families behind. At first the churches established in St Kilda reflected the established religions of the predominantly British settlers but other religious groups established themselves in St Kilda, notably the Jewish community and post-war immigrants from Europe, including the Ukrainian members of the Autocephalic Orthodox Church. The diverse range of religious denominations established in St Kilda reflects the freedom of worship possible in Australia. Many groups had been denied such freedoms in their homelands. The persecution of the Jews in many lands is an obvious example. Generally, they have established synagogues and enjoyed religious toleration in Australia, although the Adass Israel shule (synagogue) in Glen Eira Avenue, Ripponlea, was severely damaged in an arson attack on 1 January 1995. Catholics had been oppressed in Ireland and England until Catholic Emancipation in Britain returned most of their civil liberties in 1829, while Baptists, Congregationalists and English Presbyterians had also suffered persecution.

The building of churches was an important part of the development of early white settlements in Australia. The 1836 Church Act provided for government contributions to the three major denominations: Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Presbyterians, and approved minor ones. Support was on a pound for pound basis from a minimum of £600 to a maximum of £2000. The government also paid an annual stipend of £150 to the clergy of the three denominations permanently represented in Melbourne in 1839.[6] When Victoria separated from New South Wales in 1851, the new colony consisted of 48% Anglican (Church of England), 23% Roman Catholics, 16% Presbyterians and 7% Methodists.[7]

The Church of England was the established church in England, dating from the reign of Henry VIII of England, during which the English Church separated from the Roman Catholic Church and the English sovereign, not the Pope in Rome, became the head of the church. The Church of England was also the established church in Australia and enjoyed similar prestige in Victoria in the nineteenth century where the governor and most officials belonged to it and its bishops and clergy were given precedence over the clergymen of other denominations.[8] The church later adopted the title of Anglican Church in Australia. Anglican churches were divided into High Church (or Anglo-Catholic) and Low Church. The former consider themselves as a reformed form of Roman Catholicism and All Saints’ Anglican Church in St Kilda, with its elaborate interior decoration and rich liturgical and musical life, is a good example. Low churches are more critical of Rome and ascribe to the position that the Scriptures (not the Pope) are the sole authority. This was also the position of other Protestant denominations. Presbyterianism was the dominant church in Scotland and was founded by the reformer John Calvin. The Methodist Church was founded by John Wesley in the late eighteenth century.[9]

Government surveyors designated land ‘suitable for churches’ when planning towns. The land chosen was often on high ground and imposing buildings were built to ‘look up to’ as people approached, quite often on foot. (Lack of transport, especially for the poor, is one reason why so many churches were built in relatively close proximity.) The various denominations were grouped together although on occasion a denomination requested other locations. An Act passed in 1870 provided for the cessation of state aid in 1875 and church land was converted to regular freehold titles. Previously, the land was held on condition it was used only for religious or educational purposes. This legislative change has resulted in church land being sold for commercial purposes without legal constraint, which has at times created conservation issues.[10]

The major denominations all established themselves within St Kilda in the early years of settlement. The first Crown Land sales in St Kilda were in December 1842. Early services were typically held in private homes and as the number of worshippers grew, buildings were rented and then churches built. The first known service in St Kilda was held on 23 December 1849, the Sunday before Christmas, by an Anglican, Henry Jennings, at his home in Melbourne Terrace, now Fitzroy Street. His wife conducted the Sunday school with sixteen children in attendance that first day. The following Sunday six worshippers attended the service.[11] On 6 January 1850 the first service conducted by an ordained minister took place. The Reverend W. W. Liddiard preached to thirty people. Services were moved to the more spacious home of James Moore while building took place. A wooden building in Acland Street was used as a school and a church. It was soon replaced with a brick structure and was licensed in 7 November 1851.[12] The foundation stone for the substantial bluestone Christ Church in Acland Street, St Kilda, was laid in 1854 and it opened in 1857. It is the oldest surviving church in St Kilda. The Anglican church of All Saints’ in Chapel Street, St Kilda East, opened the following year.

Catholic services began in a modest brick building in 1853 and the foundation stone for St Mary’s in Dandenong Road, St Kilda East, was laid in 1859. The first Wesleyan Methodist service was in an iron building in 1853 and the Presbyterians commenced services two years later, also in an iron building. These buildings were dispensed with as soon as possible, with the Wesleyan Methodist church on the corner of Fitzroy and Princes Street, St Kilda, being built in 1857-58 and the Presbyterian Church on the corner of Alma Road and Barkly Street opening in 1860. This was demolished and replaced in 1885-86 by an imposing Gothic building. Situated on a prominent hilltop position, the highest point in St Kilda, its spire was a landmark for sea captains sailing up Port Phillip Bay. Its dominance of the landscape symbolises the peak of church building in St Kilda when the city was the home of the well-to-do.

The foundation stones for other churches were laid during the next thirty years: the United Free Methodist Church in Pakington Street, St Kilda, in 1859; the Free Presbyterian Church in Chapel Street, St Kilda East, in 1864; the Jewish Synagogue in Charnwood Grove, St Kilda, in 1872; the Methodist Church in Chapel Street, St Kilda, in 1877; Holy Trinity on the corner of Brighton Road and Chapel Street, St Kilda, in 1882; Sacred Heart in Grey Street, St Kilda, in 1884; and the Congregational Church on the corner of Hotham and Inkerman Streets, St Kilda East, in 1887. While most of these churches were variations of the Gothic style, St George’s Presbyterian Church, built in 1877 in Chapel Street, St Kilda, stands out for its landmark banded belltower, which is 33.5 metres tall, and the dramatic use of polychrome (multi-coloured) style.[13]

As early as the 1850s St Kilda was the ‘preferred suburb of the wealthy’[14]who sought to escape the pollution and disease of the city and who enjoyed the sea views and bracing fresh air. The churches built in the 1850s to 1880s reflect the prosperity and aspirations of their congregations, and of course, their social class. Gothic designs were traditionally preferred by Anglicans and Roman Catholics while the reformist religions tended to favour simpler buildings, avoiding the ‘Papist’ Gothic. However, in Victoria the Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists also built substantial Gothic churches, reflecting their prosperity in the new colony and the competition to attract members. The Jewish community was also attracted to living in St Kilda in the 1860s and 1870s and they established a congregation and built a synagogue which was opened in 1872.

The Christian denominations and the Jewish community provided social, cultural and moral leadership in the St Kilda community. The religious leaders were educated and socially well connected in the colony. They provided leadership to the fledgling community and were active in a wide range of activities, including municipal affairs.[15] Their wives, daughters and sisters were also leaders of women’s groups such as church auxiliaries or other philanthropic organisations at a time when governments provided minimal assistance to the needy. The churches were also in the forefront of establishing day schools. It was common to erect a schoolroom first, which was also used for worship on Sundays.

The financial crashes associated with the 1890s Depression bankrupted many wealthy families. The grand homes for which St Kilda was renowned were sold and many were later converted into boarding houses. Notably the only new church built during the next two decades was the Salvation Army barracks at 17 Camden Street, St Kilda East, which were begun in 1892. In the following decades the wealthy moved to more fashionable suburbs such as South Yarra or Toorak and St Kilda’s fortunes declined. The population of Elwood was growing, however, and several churches opened there. Elwood Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Scott and Tennyson Streets, was opened in 1912. The Anglican St Bede’s in Ormond Road, Elwood, and the Baptist Church in Pakington Street, St Kilda, were both built during World War I in red brick, their simple designs reflecting wartime constraints. Similarly, the austere Our Lady of Dolours in Cowderoy Street, West St Kilda, was built during World War II. Between the wars, grander places of worship were built, with St Kilda’s Hebrew Congregation building a new synagogue in 1926-27 to replace the original one. An impressive Romanesque church named St Columba’s, in Normandy Road, Elwood, was begun in 1929.

The increased number of Jews settling in the St Kilda area before and after World War II also resulted in new congregations being established. After renting or buying places that they then outgrew, the foundation stones for their current synagogues were laid as follows: Temple Beth Israel, at 76 Alma Road, St Kilda, in 1937; Elwood Talmud Torah Congregation, at 39 Dickens Street, Elwood, in 1956; and Adass Israel Congregation at Glen Eira Avenue, Ripponlea, in 1964.

In more recent times, other immigrants settling in St Kilda have established their own churches, notably the Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church. Evangelical congregations have also established congregations in St Kilda, and many church communities now focus their ministry on assisting the poor and disavantaged, as well as those with physical or psychological problems. These developments reflect the changing patterns of religious worship in St Kilda and the wider community.

St Kilda’s changing fortunes saw it evolve from an exclusive residential suburb to a suburb renowned for prostitution, organised crime and significant poverty. In more recent times, it has emerged as a cosmopolitan, seaside suburb, albeit still with serious social concerns. The various church communities have had to confront declining attendances and make hard decisions on how to allocate decreasing resources while attempting to address the poverty and suffering in the broader community.

It is an irony that almost every church is a local landmark ‘prized by some of those who live in the area or who were former members of the congregation’.[16] Yet many such buildings are no longer needed by the present church congregation. Some churches became redundant when the Uniting Church came into being, although in St Kilda the two Presbyterian congregations chose to remain independent. Many churches represent a major investment of capital in the past and are major architectural works in the town or suburb.[17] Problems are exacerbated by the proliferation of church buildings and the high proportion of assets they (or the site) represent. Churches tend to be centrally located on generous sites tieing up valuable real estate. They also tend to be elaborate buildings with interior furnishings, objects and fabrics that present technical problems beyond the norm when it comes to maintenance, conservation and restoration. For example, it is estimated that the organ in Christ Church will cost $500,000 to re-build. Money spent restoring such buildings and their interiors and furnishings has to be diverted from other worthwhile causes, which makes for difficult decisions that are always open to criticism.[18]

Some church communities have devised creative ways of preserving their buildings. Churches and their associated buildings such as manses and halls are now being used for a wide range of activities. They lend themselves to uses such as kindergartens or school halls. St Bede’s in Elwood has a kindergarten operating from its extensive hall at the rear of the church, while the original Presbyterian church at Elwood is now used as a creche. In St Kilda, church buildings are also used as soup kitchens, housing for street kids and centres offering legal aid and assistance for the disadvantaged. The presbytery and hall at Sacred Heart, St Kilda, are primarily used by the Sacred Heart Mission, which provides a range of social services to the community. Every day about 400 people enjoy a free, three-course lunch in the hall. The former East St Kilda Congregational Church is now used as the Centre for Creative Ministries, which combines the arts with worship and community service. More unusually, the forecourt of the Holy Trinity Hall has been used as a used car showroom for many years.

Other churches have been the victims of insensitive re-development. The most glaring example in St Kilda is the former Wesleyan Church in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. It has been surrounded by a range of commercial buildings and the integrity of the site has been destroyed. Of even greater concern is the heritage that has been lost through the demolition of churches. The Methodist Church in Elwood was demolished in the late 1960s and replaced by an electricity sub-station. The former Independent Church in Alma Road, St Kilda, was demolished in the 1990s despite being assessed as having local significance as a landmark on St Kilda Hill.[19] The places of worship in St Kilda are an important part of our heritage and as such deserve community protection and preservation.

[1]     Gary Presland, Aboriginal Melbourne: The Lost Land of the Kulin People, McPhee Gribble and Penguin, Ringwood, 1994, pp. 40-41.

[2]     Mudrooroo, Aboriginal Mythology, Thorsons Harper Collins, London, 1994.

[3]     Meyer Eidelson, The Melbourne Dreaming: A Guide to the Aboriginal Places of Melbourne, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1997, p. 40.

[4]     Mudrooroo, Aboriginal Mythology, p. viii.

[5]     Eidelson, The Melbourne Dreaming, p. 40; and Presland, Aboriginal Melbourne, p. 29.

[6]     Miles Lewis, (ed.), Victorian Churches: Their Origins, Their Story & Their Architecture, National Trust of Australia (Victoria), Melbourne, 1991, p. 5.

[7]     Ibid., p. 6.

[8]     Ibid., p. 8.

[9]     See the glossary for definitions of the various denominations.

[10]    Ibid., p. 7.

[11]    John Butler Cooper, The History of St Kilda 1840-1930, Printers, Melbourne, 1931, vol. 1, p. 323.

[12]    Ibid., pp. 323-4.

[13]    For explanations of architectural styles see: Lewis, Victorian Churches, pp. 20-35 and information on the various denominations and their preference for particular styles of architecture see: Ibid., pp. 8-19.

[14]    Eidelsen, The Melbourne Dreaming, p. 2.

[15]    Timothy Hubbard, ‘The Former Independent Church, 9 Alma Road West, St Kilda: A report to the Minister for Planning and Urban Growth supporting the addition of the building to the register of classified buildings in the St Kilda planning scheme’, Timothy Hubbard Pty Ltd, South Melbourne, 1991, p. 14.

[16]    Lewis, Victorian Churches, p. 3.

[17]    Ibid., p. 3.

[18]    Ibid., p. 3.

[19]    Hubbard, ‘The Former Independent Church’, p. 9.


Anglican Churches

Christ Church

All Saints’ Church

Holy Trinity Church

St Bede’s Church


Christ Church Complex

Corner Acland Street and Church Square, St Kilda

The first Anglican service held in St Kilda was on Sunday 23 December 1849 at the home of Henry Jennings in Melbourne Terrace, now Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. The number of worshippers soon outgrew the accommodation available in private homes and a wooden building, soon replaced by brick, was erected to serve as a church and schoolroom to accommodate 140 people. It later became half of an extended schoolroom. The first incumbent was the Reverend David Seddon. He had arrived from England in 1852. The historian J. B. Cooper relates the story that when the minister was farewelling his congregation a young architect named Charles Swyer announced he would go to Australia with him and build him a church.[1]

The foundation stone was laid on 29 November 1854 and the architects were Albert Purchas and Charles Swyer. It was opened on 2 August 1857 with three services led by Bishop Perry, the Very Reverend Dean Macartney and the Reverend David Seddon. It was consecrated on 19 January 1863. Built in Gothic Revival style with a nave, two transepts and a chancel, it is the oldest surviving church in St Kilda. The hand-carved gargoyles are a distinctive feature, reminiscent of medieval European churches. It is made of Point King and Sorrento sandstones, which are rarely used in churches. The original pulpit, ‘a typical three-decker’ with winding stairs leading to its platform, was in the centre of the church in front of the chancel rails. The font was in front of the reading pew, below the pulpit, and the organ was at the rear where the west gallery now stands.[2] The first organist was Hugh Childers. He later became the Chancellor of the Exchequer in England. The current organ was built by William Hill of London and shipped to Australia. It was modified by George Fincham in 1859. The planned tower and steeple were never built but the south gallery was a later addition. In 1874 the chancel was extended and in 1881 a new chancel was built. Other distinctive features are a huge painting of St Michael conquering the Devil and a memorial chapel with a reredos mural of St Michael.

 After Seddon retired, the Reverend J. Stanley Low replaced him and served the Christ Church congregation from 1868 to 1904. He was also the Chaplain General of Victoria’s armed forces before Federation. Canon W. G. Sadlier was the incumbent from 1904 to 1912. The Reverend George Pennicott was vicar from 1912 to 1934 and a stained-glass window was later dedicated to his memory. Canon F. E. C. Crotty succeeded him and served from 1934 to 1940. As Cooper notes, during this period St Kilda was a ‘conservative, homely, and very English place’.[3]Anglicanism was the establishment religion and worshippers at places like Christ Church were prominent in the community and in the forefront of its philanthropic work.

Subsequent incumbents listed on a board in the foyer, placed there by the efforts of the Sunday school to celebrate the centenary of the church in 1957, were:

E. J. B. White, 1940-47
Claude Woodhouse, 1947-71
P. H. Salvin, 1971-77
Philip Hutchinson, 1977-98

Jim Minchin became the vicar in 1998 and is the incumbent in 2003.

The ornate interior with gold-leaf stencilling and stained-glass windows is a prominent feature of Christ Church. The stencilling was restored in 1996-98. In the choir area around the altar a series of windows depicting the life of Christ cost £84 in 1888. The craftsmen include Ferguson and Urie, William Montgomery and Brooks Robinson. The western triangular rose window is modelled on one in Lichfield Cathedral. One of the most interesting memorial windows commemorates Miles Nicholson, who died on 27 April 1874, aged twenty-eight, and his twenty-five year-old brother William Dalzell Nicholson, who drowned when the British Admiral was wrecked on King Island on 23 May 1874.[4] They were the sons of William Nicholson, MLC. Two World War I soldiers are also commemorated: Harold Worseldine, son of longstanding parishioners, and Lt P. Vassy, who died at Gallipoli, aged thirty-seven. He had been the Sunday school librarian and had sung in the church choir for many years. A mother and daughter are commemorated in two windows: Louisa Murphy is remembered by her daughter Sophia Matilda Murphy. For many years, Sophia conducted a school in Wattle House, Jackson Street, believed to be the oldest existing house in St Kilda. Her pupils erected a window in her memory.

Christ Church also has a mystery associated with it. The former vicar Philip Hutchison believed there were graves on the site and this is supported by the story that a woman approached a man gardening in the church grounds in the late 1990s and asked what had happened to the headstones, although she could not remember exactly where they had been located.

The changing nature of St Kilda is highlighted by two stories from different periods related to Christ Church. In the 1920s and 1930s, Christ Church was a very fashionable place for weddings and the incumbent, the Reverend George Pennicott, was dubbed the ‘marrying vicar’, performing a record twenty-five wedding ceremonies in one year. Fifty years later, Christ Church was described as being in the ‘heart of St Kilda’s vice and crime belt’. A bomb was lobbed through the vestry at the vicar but fortunately he was unharmed.[5]

In 1999 a review of community, civic and parish needs resulted in plans being drawn for a community centre and an emergency annexe on Acland Street on the site of the school. In addition to its uses for liturgical celebrations, pastoral services and private prayer, the church is used for three Narcotics Anonymous and one Alcoholics Anonymous meetings each week as well as residents’ meetings and civic occasions. Between thirty and seventy people call on the vicar each week, seeking help of various kinds. The church grounds are a pleasant place for locals to enjoy but they have also been used for drug injection, sex, illegal car parking and ball games which gives rise to concerns about the safety and heritage integrity of the site.[6]

Christ Church School

This school was one of the earliest in St Kilda. During the gold rushes, the teacher abandoned his scholars and went to the diggings. The school was without a teacher for about a year and when John Hadfield re-opened the school just two pupils attended on the first day. The school continued until the 1940s. The building was burnt down in 1977.


The original vicarage was built on the corner of St Leonards Avenue and Church Square before 1855. It has been used as a school, a community health centre and a private residence. It is currently occupied by the Bishop of the Southern Region. The story goes that in the 1870s the vicar’s daughter died of tuberculosis and this prompted the building of a second vicarage, next to the church, close to Acland Street, and still in use as a vicarage.[7] This two-storey building with its graceful, clean design is typical of the affluent 1870s and 1880s.


The parish hall was built in 1913-14. In recent years it has been leased to Theatreworks and the facade was refurbished in 2002.


[1]     For an account of the voyage and arrival see: John Butler Cooper, The History of St Kilda 1840-1930, Printers, Melbourne, 1931, vol. 1, p. 325.

[2]     Ibid., p. 327

[3]     Ibid., p. 331.

[4]     For details of the wreck see: Argus, 1 June 1874. Research by Pearl Donald.

[5]     ‘A facelift for St Kilda’s Christ Church’, The Emerald Hill & Sandridge Times, 23 June 1983, p. 10. The article says it was the ‘last vicar bar one’, which if correct would have been the Reverend Claude Woodhouse.

[6]     Christ Church St Kilda Fact Sheet.

[7]     Ibid. and St Kilda Sketchbook, pp. 52-3.

All Saints’ Anglican Church

 cnr Dandenong Road and Chapel Street, St Kilda East

In late 1857, the Reverend John Herbert Gregory began the campaign to build All Saints’ on land reserved for that purpose by the government. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Perry in November 1858 and the church was opened on 8 December 1861. Father Gregory was the vicar of All Saints’ from 1858-93. His began his ministry as a missionary travelling throughout Victoria and in 1853 he was the first Anglican to conduct a service in Bendigo. His first ‘home’ on the recently discovered gold field was a covered wagon. The foundation stone for All Saints’ in Bendigo was laid shortly before he was moved to Melbourne. Both churches he founded were named All Saints’. According to his daughter, he had attended All Saints’, Margaret Street, London, as a child and was attracted by the name.[1]

The church’s architect was Nathaniel Billing and it was built by Christopher Joseph Glynn. As for most Anglican churches of the period, the Gothic style was chosen with the focus on the altar rather than the pulpit, placing the emphasis on worship and the Sacraments rather than preaching.

Billing was born in England and claimed to have been a pupil of Sir George Gilbert Scott, the leading Gothic Revivalist architect.[2] Billing designed a long nave with side aisles. A tower 41 metres high was, however, never built. The story goes that one man promised the money required in memory of his wife but before work began ‘the donor married again and found thus other uses for his money’.[3] The Archbishop of Melbourne, Bishop Perry, laid the foundation stone on 8 November 1858, but due to a shortage of funds only the three bays at the west end were completed by 1861. The first service was held on 8 December 1861. The walls were not plastered, there was no ceiling and people were asked to bring their own seats. Two more bays were added in 1866. The second stage was opened in October 1868 with seating for 1000 people. Discussions were held with Billing in 1872-73 about completing the east end, including the transepts and chancel, but Frederick Wyatt was appointed instead, probably because a more decorative style was required. Father Gregory is thought to have favoured the French influence in the design, a result of his travels in Europe. These additions affected the integrity of Billing’s original design and were ‘undertaken in a largely uncoordinated manner’.[4] All Saints’ is built of bluestone with Tasmanian freestone dressings and has a steeply gabled slate roof. It is thought to be the largest Anglican parish church in the southern hemisphere and can seat up to 1400 people.

Internally, the church reflects the high churchmanship favoured by Father Gregory. It is associated with increasingly elaborate decorations and a rich liturgical and musical life. All Saints’ is noted for its stencilled chancel decorations. Father Gregory argued that greater adornment led to deeper devotion.[5] Permanent stencilling was undertaken in 1898 and replaced the original decorated panels, which were passed on to the Melanesian Mission. The choir wore cassocks and surplices for the first time on Easter Day, 1881, and Father Gregory was the first to wear Eucharist vestment in the Diocese of Melbourne on a weekday in 1882.[6] A choir was formed in the early 1860s and choirboys were paid and given preference to entry when All Saints’ Grammar School opened in 1871. There was debate about whether people were attracted by the spectacle and the music, rather than for religious purposes. All Saints’ led the way in liturgical and musical services in Melbourne, which was counter to Bishop Perry’s ideas, but Father Gregory argued that its popularity reflected the fact that this was what people wanted.[7] The church advertised its services and they became so popular that the decorum of services was disrupted by late comers and strangers. To prevent this, the doors were locked as the service began, but this led to protests. When a new system of ringing a bell to indicate all empty seats were now free was introduced, seat renters objected to being rushed by strangers.[8]

The 1868 American organ was enlarged by Fincham in 1872. Joseph Summers, a renowned pianist and composer, was the organist from about 1879-96.[9] The choir toured Tasmania in 1895, with the boys wearing Eton suits and sashes and Joseph Summers resplendent in his academic robes. Henry Inge was the next organist and choirmaster and also the organist for the City of St Kilda for 35 years. He died while playing ‘The Messiah’ during a service in 1928. His wife, who was in the congregation, later said he had expressed the hope he would die in such a manner.[10]

Although Anglicans formed the largest and most influential denomination in nineteenth century Victoria, paying for a building of such a grand nature was not easy. As the historian Stuart Soley has observed, the notion of providing personal financial support for a church was alien to ordinary Anglicans.[11] The minute books record the continuing efforts to extract the required funds from the parishioners. Renting seats made up approximately half the income for much of the period.[12] Father Gregory was opposed to this practice whereby the body of the church had to pay to attend or wait until the service began to take up unused places, but the church was dependent on the funds raised and the practice continued. Between 1870 and 1910 there were 857 seat renters. The peak was 295 in 1881 and the lowest in 1899 was 161. Of the total seat renters over these forty years, 38 per cent were women. Single women made up 27.2 per cent of the women.[13]

Father Gregory retired in 1893 and was succeeded by Robert Potter, a polished preacher who had had his sermons published aa well as a popular adventure story The Green Growers.[14] His appointment was controversial. Under the Patronage Act 1887 the parish could have a say in the selection of the incumbent if the church had been consecrated. To be consecrated the church had to be free from debt. The congregation toiled to pay off the debt and the church was duly consecrated in November 1892. The parish nominees then exercised their vote for Canon Samuel Green of Adelaide but were over-ruled by the Diocesan Board.[15] In 1905 Owen Crossley became vicar and brought new vigor to the parish and was to become greatly loved.[16]

Over the years, a variety of organisations were established as part of the pastoral and community life of the church. The All Saints’ Church Union, for young men, was founded in 1881. It later split into literary and athletic sides and became the All Saints’ Church Union and Athletic Club in 1904. A reading room was open two evenings a week with chess and draughts also provided. The effort to attract young men to the church was to emphasise manliness and Christianity in order to counter the popular association of spirituality with women.[17]

The All Saints’ Guild brought women together to raise funds for decorating the church, to visit the poor, teach Sunday school and undertake needlework to decorate the church and also to sell to raise church funds.[18] The Guild also discussed topical religious issues. In 1884 Eva Hughes read a paper on ‘Disunion in the Early Church’ but another woman refused to deliver her paper because she considered it was not an appropriate activity for a woman.[19] Eva Hughes was a co-founder of the Australian Women’s National League and was state president from 1909 to 1922. She was also involved with charity work and raising patriotic funds during World War I. Mrs Darlot, Father Gregory’s sister, and Mrs à Beckett, a member of an eminent Melbourne family, were staunch money raisers for the church.

The elaborate furnishings, decorations and high church liturgy and music reflected Victorian middle-class ideals and All Saints’ attracted the wealthy and professionals. There were many generous donations, including a gift of an eagle lectern by Dr and Mrs Embling.[20] The George II candelabra, originally in King George’s Chapel in Windsor, were obtained by Father Gregory when he was overseas and paid for by the Hebden family.[21] Father Gregory also procured a Venetian mosaic of Christ, a brass screen and Italian oil paintings during his travels. Other notable features added later include the chapel and sanctuary screens of wrought iron, the finely carved war memorial screen, many fine stained-glass windows and the stone shrine in the oratory, which was dedicated in 1928.

Some notable nineteenth century members were: George Leavis Allan who founded Allan and Co., which became Australia’s foremost musical retailer; Frederick Race Godfrey, squatter and businessman, who had Graylings built in 1880; William Piggott Firebrace, lawyer; George Porter, merchant and owner of Hartpury; John Warrington Rogers, barrister and judge; Edward Sandford, a solicitor and Father Gregory’s brother-in-law; and John Vale, auctioneer and estate agent. All these men served as guardians and in other positions. Other prominent seatholders included the à Beckett family; Archibald Michie, barrister and politician; George Robertson, publisher and benefactor of the church; and Richard Twopeny, writer. Frederic Hughes, who married Eva Snodgrass at All Saints’ in 1885, was a company director and soldier. He commanded the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, AIF, and served at Gallipoli at the age of fifty-seven.

All Saints’ was a fashionable place to be married and the first twelve volumes of the Australian Dictionary of Biography lists twenty marriages at All Saints’. They include: Hilda Bunny, daughter of B. F. Bunny and sister of Rupert Bunny, to Donald Mackinnon, politician, 1891; Ethel Fenner to John Chirnside, soldier, politician and pastoralist at Werribee Mansion, 1893; Clare Berry, daughter of the former Victorian premier, Sir Graham Berry, to John Sandes, journalist, poet and novelist whose World War I poetry is considered an early and influential formulation of the Anzac legend, 1897; and Adeline Raleigh to Sir Frederick Mann, Chief Justice and Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria, 1911. One of the oldest grooms was Holford Highlord Wettenhall, pastoralist and breeder of pure merino sheep, who married his second wife Laura, daughter of author C. J. Dennis, at All Saints’ in 1919 when he was 79. Wettenhall died the next year.[22]

The fifteen parish priests, who have served at All Saints’ Church are:

J. H. Gregory, 1858-93
R. Potter (Canon), 1893-1905
O. T. L. Lloyd Crossley, (Archdeacon, later Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand), 1905-10
J. W. Ashton, (later Bishop of Grafton, NSW), 1911-21
J. Jones, 1922-29
E. H. Fernie, 1929-36
C. G. Bright-Parker, 1936-38
J. A. Schofield (Archdeacon), 1939-47
D. Blake, (Archdeacon), 1948-61
W. A. Bowak, 1961-73
D. B. Warner, 1973-75
D. A. Sankey, 1975-86
J. D. Potter, 1986-94
P. D. Treloar, (Priest-in-charge and Chaplain of St. Michael’s Grammar School), 1995-2001
R. T. P. Williams, 2002-

All Saints’ continues the musical and liturgical tradition begun by Father Gregory. It has Melbourne’s only remaining traditional parish choir of men and boys. There is also a mixed group, ‘The All Saints’ Singers’, which sings liturgically on some occasions. The parish continues to use exclusively the traditional language of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, one of only two parishes in the Melbourne Diocese still to do so. It is one of only two parishes in Australia affiliated with ‘Forward-in-Faith’, an international traditionalist organisation, which seeks to promote and maintain traditional Anglican doctrine, ministry and worship.

The congregation is an eclectic one, drawn from many parts of Melbourne and beyond. Very few parishioners live within the parish boundaries but they are attracted to maintaining a tradition somewhat different from that of most parishes in the liberal Diocese of Melbourne. The Reverend Ramsay Williams is the current parish priest and is the fifteenth parish priest of All Saints’. He lives in the vicarage, close to the church, ‘in an urban setting very different from that of the “marvellous Melbourne” of Gregory’s day. The hope is that All Saints’ will continue to stand as a witness of service to the church and the community long into the future, despite the many changes to worship and church life in recent times’.[23]

 The Vicarage

The vicarage was begun in 1860 and is adjacent to the church to the south. It is also a noted historic building, being one of the first examples of polychrome brickwork in Victoria. It predates Joseph Reed’s work (he is usually credited with introducing the fashion in Melbourne) and is more restrained.[24] The decorative use of different-coloured bricks dates to medieval England. It became very fashionable in the mid 1860s and was used in residential and religious buildings.[25]

A new vicarage was built in the 1950s at 2 Chapel Street and is the home of the present parish priest, Father Williams.

Gregory Hall

Gregory Hall was built in 1910-11 by Stephen Bell to a design by P. G. Fick. Described as ‘abstracted Gothicism’, the beaten copper panel in the facade is representative of the Arts and Craft movement.[26] Alterations and additions were carried out in 1937.


All Saints’ Grammar School

All Saints’ Grammar School was founded in 1871 and was one of the earliest to be built in the grounds of a church. It was on the corner of Chapel Street and Dandenong Road.[27] The first headmaster was William Goff, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. Alfred Deakin taught there for eighteen months while attending evening law lectures. After 1875 the enrolment declined and in 1905 the school was refused registration as a secondary school, having failed to present a pupil for Matriculation exams in the past five years. In 1907, fifty of the seventy pupils were choristers. Under the leadership of Father H. C. Crotty the school regained its secondary status but when D. E. Manson became headmaster numbers again fell.

The school’s fortunes improved with the appointment of the Reverend Charles Zercho in 1913. He was said to be ‘keen on the cane’ but the old boys were divided as to whether he was too harsh a disciplinarian. Under Zercho the enrolments increased and Gregory Hall was used to accommodate extra classes but this meant Zercho lost some autonomy to the vestry committee. In 1919 there were 190 pupils but the vestry would permit the use of the hall only for assemblies. Zercho developed a plan to buy Linden to provide extra space for the school. The church guardians feared Zercho planned to establish a competing school and he was forced to resign although the staff, parents and students supported him. This was the death knell for the school, because without a playing field and the restricted classroom space there was no possibility of expansion.

A highlight of Zercho’s time as headmaster was when the entire school marched to the St Kilda Esplanade to greet Admiral Lord Jellicoe as he arrived at St Kilda pier. As the great naval chief was driven past them, the boys gave ‘hearty cheers and sang the school war-cry’.[28] An Old Boys Association was established and funded the honour board that was unveiled during speech night in 1924. The school ceased as a secondary school in 1928 and Jessie Maude Draper (née Wall), who had taught at the school since 1912, became headmistress in 1929. In 1937 it was decided to close the school at the end of the year, if not earlier. A polio epidemic at the end of the second term forced the closure. Ironically, Gregory Hall was later leased to Zercho’s Business College, founded by Zercho’s brother Frederick.

Eminent scholars

In all, 2500 pupils attended All Saints’ Grammar and many became eminent in various fields. One of the more colourful was Ernest Selwyn Hughes, an Anglo-Catholic clergyman, who became known as the ‘Fighting Parson’ after ejecting two poorly behaved youths from a wedding with two well-aimed blows.[29] Others were: John Parnell, soldier and commandant of the Royal Military College, Duntroon during World War I; Edgar Ritchie, public servant and engineer; Arthur Wadsworth, Commonwealth parliamentary librarian; Hubert Ernest de Mey Warren, superintendent of the Church Missionary Society’s Aboriginal mission at Roper River in the Northern Territory and later at Groote Eylandt; and Edwin Tivey, stockbroker and commander of the 8th Infantry Brigade, which fought at Fromelles and the Western Front. Tivey temporarily commanded the 5th Division several times. He was twice wounded and later gassed and was mentioned in despatches six times.[30]

Other notables, most of whom were from Zercho’s time as headmaster, include Sir Randal Heymanson, founding editor of Farrago at the University of Melbourne. He had edited The Grammarian in 1918 and 1919 while a student at All Saints’ and it was praised in The Age. He became a prominent journalist and founded the Australian American Association. Another old boy, Sir Frank Richardson, was knighted for service to the public sector. Sir George Pape was a Queen’s Counsel and Supreme Court judge and Sir Edgar Tanner was the MLA for Caulfield. Dr Mervyn Robinson was a surgeon and President of the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association. Finally, John Hetherington, a gifted writer and journalist, recalled his time at All Saints’ Grammar in his autobiography The Morning was Shining. The school also had an ex- pupil, Bob Walker, who became a murderer.[31]

[1]     For biographical information on the Reverend Gregory see: McLaren, All Saints’ Church, pp. 6 and 32-5.

[2]     Australian Heritage Commission, Register of the National Estate Database, ‘All Saints Anglican Church, St Kilda East, Vic’, database number: 005418, file number: 2/11/046/0007. Class: Historic, registered 21/03/1978. See also: ‘All Saints Anglican Church Group, St Kilda East, Vic’, database number: 014719, file number: 2/11/046/0007, Class: Historic, registered 26/10/1999. Hereafter: National Estate Database, ‘All Saints’.

[3]     M. Montgomery, ‘All Saints Church, East St Kilda’, undergraduate thesis, Architecture, University of Melbourne, 1948.

[4]     National Estate Database, ‘All Saints’.

[5]     Stuart James Soley, ‘“The Highest of the High” in “Marvellous Melbourne”: All Saints East St Kilda as Melbourne’s Original High Church, 1858-1908’, M.A., University of Melbourne, 1997, p. 32.

[6]     Ibid., p. 2.

[7]     Ibid., pp. 47-50.

[8]     Ibid., pp. 66-7.

[9]     See: Australian Dictionary of Biography.

[10]    Michael E. Humphries, ‘A School that has Passed: All Saints Grammar School, East St Kilda, 1871-1937’, M.Ed., University of Melbourne, 1986, p. 261. See also: Cooper, History of St Kilda, p. 335.

[11]    Soley, ‘The Highest of the High’, p. 13.

[12]    Ibid., p. 27.

[13]    Ibid., pp. 23-6.

[14]    Ibid., p. 96.

[15]    Ibid., pp. 101-2.

[16]    Ibid., p. 96.

[17]    Ibid., p. 88. For other organisations see: McLaren, All Saints Church, pp. 27-31.

[18]    Soley, ‘The Highest of the High’, p. 92.

[19]    Ibid., p. 92.

[20]    Presumably the politician and medical practitioner Thomas Embling. See: Australian Dictionary of Biography.

[21]    For other memorials and gifts, see: McLaren, All Saints Church, pp. 42-3.

[22]    These marriages are from the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Note that the profession given and achievements may not have occurred by the time of the wedding.

[23]    Current information and list of vicars kindly provided by the Reverend Ramsay Williams.

[24]    Soley, ‘The Highest of the High’, p. 33.

[25]    Ibid., p. 24.

[26]    Ibid., p. 33.

[27]    For a detailed history of the school see: Humphries, ‘A School that has Passed’. Except for some biographical information, I have relied on Humphries for this brief account of the school. See also: McLaren, All Saints Church, pp. 36-9.

[28]    Humphries, ‘A School that has Passed’, p. 162.

[29]    Australian Dictionary of Biography. Anglo-Catholicism stresses the continuity of the Church of England with Catholicism and follows traditional Catholic practices when celebrating the Eucharist and in the wearing of vestments.

[30]    For further details of the lives of these men see: Australian Dictionary of Biography.

[31]    Humphries, ‘A School that has Passed’, p. 293.


Holy Trinity Church

Corner Brighton Road and Dickens Street, St Kilda

The parish of Holy Trinity was formed when it was subdivided from Christ Church to serve Anglicans in south St Kilda and Balaclava. The triangular piece of land on the corner of Brighton Road and Chapel Street was reserved for church purposes in the Victorian Government Gazette on 23 April 1866. In October 1870 a wooden church building was begun under the supervision of F. M. White. Capable of accommodating 300 people, it was later used as a Sunday school. It was opened on 29 January 1871 by Bishop Perry. It had cost £1217, including £182 for furnishings. The organ cost £100.

A member of the first parochial committee was Edmund Samuel Parkes, who was the superintendent of the Bank of Australasia. He died on 11 May 1887 in a train crash at Windsor Station. Described as a ‘spiritual pillar’ of Holy Trinity, his loss was deeply mourned. A reredos, a decorative screen, paid for by public subscription, and a stained-glass window, presented by his officers of the Bank of Australasia, commemorate him in the church.

The first incumbent was the Reverend Barcroft Boake who ‘wore an unusually long white beard, that divaricated leaving a “V” shaped opening’.[1] In 1872 he was asked to shorten his sermons, especially in hot weather. He died in 1875 and the new incumbent was Archdeacon Stretch. The Reverend George Torrance was the incumbent from 1878-94. A highly talented musician and composer, he was held in great affection by the congregation. During Torrance’s incumbency, fundraising for a permanent church began. An Olde English Faire, held in the Melbourne Town Hall for five days in 1881, raised almost £3000.[2]

Leading architects Reed and Barnes designed the substantial Later Gothic freestone church and Ekins was the successful contractor with a tender of £7675. The vicarage was built at the same time, with the land and building costing £2400. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Moorhouse on 23 November 1882 and the church was consecrated on 19 November 1889.[3] It is built of Barrabool Hill stone with Waurn Ponds freestone dressings and a basalt plinth and a slate roof.[4] The church has a nave and aisles, transepts, chancel and vestry, although the spire was never built. It is considered of interest for ‘its circular baptistery with conical roof, unusual circular clerestory windows and apsidal chancel converging on a three-light window’.[5] Other features are the ‘timber roof trusses, arcaded side aisles, chancel, memorial stained-glass windows, ingeniously developed altarpiece, organ and raised pews’.[6] A new three-manual organ by George Fincham was installed. The £600 it cost was fully paid by 1885 through Father Torrance giving recitals, collecting subscriptions and acting as the church organist to save the salary. He was dubbed ‘The disappearing parson’ because after finishing prayers he vanished behind the screen to play the organ. He was also the first warden at the newly founded Trinity College. A marble tablet commemorates him.

One of the poignant memorials is a clerestory window to L. F. De Soyres, a young chorister who died in 1889. The window was subscribed by the choristers and the boy’s school friends. Another is the north transept window, a memorial to the infant children of Frederick and Jessie Grimwade. Beneath it are alabaster tablets to the Grimwades. He and his partner, Alfred Felton, built up a huge wholesale drug business and he was a Legislative Councillor for thirteen years.[7] A window depicting Raphael’s angels is based on one in Dresden in Germany.

The World War I roll of honour has 181 names inscribed on it, of whom thirty-six died. It was unveiled by Archbishop Lee in 1921. In 1947, the architectural firm of Bates, Smart and McCutcheon, which was originally Reed and Barnes, prepared designs for the tower and spire but they were not built. A Soldiers’ Memorial, a small chapel facing the World War I memorial, was dedicated by Archbishop Booth on 11 June 1950. An unusual aspect of the church is that niches in the pepperpot tower contain the ashes of deceased parishioners.

Holy Trinity is well maintained and in virtually original condition. It continues to serve an active congregation and operates in co-operation with St Bede’s in Elwood.


The current church hall was built in 1924-25, replacing an earlier wooden hall.

Holy Trinity Church Hall

[1]     Cooper, History of St Kilda, p. 337.

[2]     Ibid., p. 338.

[3]     Ibid., p. 339.

[4]     Australian Heritage Commission, Register of the National Estate Database, ‘Holy Trinity Anglican Church, St Kilda Vic’, database number: 005417, file number: 2/11/046/0006.

[5]     Miles Lewis, (ed.), Victorian Churches: Their Origins, Their Story & Their Architecture, National Trust of Australia (Victoria), Melbourne, 1991, p. 84; and National Estate Database, ‘Holy Trinity’.

[6]     Ibid.

[7]     Australian Dictionary of Biography.


St Bede’s Church

Corner Ormond Road and Byrne Avenue, Elwood

 The parish of St Bede’s was formed from the parishes of St Clements, Elsternwick, and Holy Trinity, St Kilda, in January 1916. The Reverend F. Lewin held the first services in the home of Mr Huon at 30 Vautier Street, Elwood. The foundation stone was laid on 16 July 1916 by Archbishop Clarke and the red brick church opened on 3 October the same year.[1] St Bede’s is the oldest church in Elwood. The intention to build a larger church adjacent to it on the corner of Tiuna Grove was never fulfilled. The architects were North and Williams and James Brown was the builder. It cost £925. The porch was a later addition.

30 Vautier Street, Elwood

 The Reverend J. J. McCall became the minister in 1921 and under his guidance the vestries and a guild room were added in front of the schoolroom. A meeting room and kitchen were also attached to the hall. In 1929 a new front to the building facing Byrne Avenue was added to match the main porch. The architect was H. V. Frew.[2] The church’s interior was remodelled and a fine rood screen added.[3] The original vestries were removed and an organ recess added. Later, the rood screen and choir were removed and the altar brought forward. A window over the altar was removed because it was regularly broken when basketball was played in the adjoining hall. The carved wooden pulpit was donated in memory of John Gray Mitchell in 1934 and the communion rails were presented by the Sunday school. The carved wooden lectern is in memory of Jane Hannah Foggan and dated 6 February 1951. A carved wooden font is in memory of John James McCall, the vicar from 1921 to 1935. He died in 1939 and his family donated a stained-glass window depicting the disciples discovering the empty tomb.

There are stained-glass windows in memory of Alice Habersberger and her daughter Wilhelmina, and to Arlie Wrixon. The window in memory of Stella Elizabeth Clemenger, 1895-1974, depicts St Bede, who wrote the first history of the English people and translated and commented on the Gospels. A window showing Mary holding the baby Jesus is dedicated to Celia and Ida, the daughters of Elizabeth Nott. A wall plaque commemorates Isabella Margaret Kilbur, who died in 1944 aged eighty-two. The centre panel of the reredos names Maxwell and Hannah Reynolds with the date 1921 while the side panels are in memory of Evelina Benson Mitchell, 1860-1950. There is a World War I wooden honour board and a stained-glass window depicting Christ on the Cross is a World War II memorial. The most recent stained-glass windows are a triptych in the porch by Derek Pearse, in memory of E. A. Owens.

The parish bell used to be in a wooden stand at the rear of the church. The stand fell into disrepair and the bell was kept in storage. The bell has recently been refurbished and mounted on a bronze ship-style bracket in the church’s entrance.

The church continues as a place of worship and reunified with Holy Trinity in 1995, as the parish of Balaclava and Elwood.


A schoolroom was built by A. J. Bell at the rear of the church in 1918. A kindergarten was built in 1921 by E. H. Cooper. Known as St Bede’s College, the school once had 150 pupils and just two teachers. A curtain in the middle separated the two classes. It was bigger than the local primary school and pre-dated St Colman’s school (see below). The buildings are still used for a kindergarten.

Scout Hall

The Scout Hall was named in honour of Graham Farley. He was a member of the church and the founding principal of Braemer College.


A vicarage at 2 Tiuna Grove was built in 1917-18 at a cost of £1108. It was designed by R. M. King and built by A. J. Bell.

[1]     Cooper, History of St Kilda, pp. 342-3.

[2]     David Bick, St Kilda Conservation Study Area 2, vol. 1, p. 223.

[3]     Cooper, History of St Kilda, pp. 342-3


Roman Catholic Churches

St Mary’s Catholic Church

Sacred Heart Church

St Colman’s Church

St Columba’s Church

Our Lady of Dolours


St Mary’s Catholic Church

208-214 Dandenong Road, St Kilda East

The first Mass in St Kilda was celebrated on 4 September 1853 at the Bay View Hotel, corner of High and Argyle Streets, by the Reverend Patrick Niall. On 22 January 1854 Bishop James Alipius Goold, the first Catholic Bishop of Melbourne, laid the foundation stone for a small brick building, which was to be used as a church and a school. Capable of seating 250 people, it cost £4000. It was at the southern end of the present St Mary’s Church and was demolished in 1867.[1]

The foundation stone for St Mary’s Church was laid on 27 February 1859 by the Very Reverend Doctor Fitzpatrick, Vicar General of the Diocese. It is the oldest Catholic church south of the Yarra river. William Wardell, one of Australia’s most significant nineteenth century architects, designed the bluestone Gothic church. Wardell migrated from England to Australia in 1858 for health reasons. He soon became Inspector of Public Works and retained the right of private practice. His best known works are St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne and St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. A deeply religious man, he attended St Mary’s in St Kilda and maintained his interest in the church after he left Melbourne.[2] Wardell was one of the senior civil servants sacked on ‘Black Wednesday’ when Sir Graham Berry became Premier in 1877 and as a result, Wardell moved to Sydney.

From the beginning, there were problems with the building: the original materials proved to be defective and the workmanship was poor. The sum of £1600 had been spent on the church when work was suspended through lack of funds. In 1862 St Kilda and Brighton became separate parishes and St Mary’s first resident priest, the Reverend Ed McCarthy, died after just three months and his successor, the Reverend F. Hayden, died at Easter after only two months in the parish. Dr James Corbett was appointed on 30 August 1863 and work on the church resumed in September 1863. The first Mass in the new church was held the following year. In 1869 Wardell was invited to prepare revised plans to enlarge the church. Dr Goold once more performed the duty of laying the foundation stone for the additional work on 1 May 1869. The work was completed in 1871 at a cost of £3800. The nave and sanctuary were lengthened, the vestry and a new chancel added. The original church occupies about half the length of the nave from the Dandenong Road end.

Built in Early English Gothic Revival style of bluestone with freestone dressings and a slate roof, St Mary’s Church is notable for being the ‘purest example of Wardell’s parish churches which were built according to ancient ecclesiastical principles’.[3] The design has a nave with side aisles with a vestry, side porches and chapels. A belfry surmounts the gable. The original gas lamps over the entrances are rare. The organ was built for the first Melbourne Exhibition.

St Mary’s is notable for its remarkably intact interior. It has a wealth of internal fittings, including the high-quality stained-glass windows by Mayers, Settler and Mathieson & Gibson. Above the southern porches there are two nineteenth century spherical lights, which were originally in the school. The sanctuary features rich stencilling while elsewhere the decoration is simpler. This reflects the historic separation of the sanctuary, which belonged to the Church of Rome, and the nave which was used by the congregation.[4] The decoration was restored in 1981. The Caen stone altar retains its original fixtures and curtains. Designed by Wardell, it is the only non-Gothic feature, being based on a Roman design in the church of San Alfonso.[5] The stone statues were possibly designed by Wardell.

Dr James Corbett, Bishop of Sale for just six weeks, consecrated St Mary’s in 1887 in a five-hour ceremony. It was the first Roman Catholic church consecrated in Victoria and the second in Australia. Corbett had studied for the priesthood in France and Belgium and travelled extensively in Europe. He became parish priest at St Mary’s in 1863 and with Wardell is responsible for bringing the church into being. This collaboration was recognised in 1981 when two windows were added representing Wardell as St Thomas, the patron saint of architects, and Corbett as St James. When Corbett was appointed bishop, the St Kilda mission was divided into St Kilda East, St Kilda West and South Yarra. Later, in November 1892, St Kilda East was further divided when Malvern district was handed to the care of the Vincentian Fathers.

Father Hegarty was succeeded in 1895 by Father T. Lynch, who died in 1942 at the age of ninety, having been a priest for sixty-three years and parish priest at St Mary’s for forty-six years. Father Keenan served until 1949 when Father Durkin became parish priest. In 1959 a chapel was added to house the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, which had been installed by the Reverend Corbett in 1886. The organ was removed and found a new home at St Margaret Mary’s in Brunswick. In the 1960s alterations were made as a result of the Second Vatican Council, but to a lesser extent than in other churches. An altar was placed in the nave to enable the priest to face the congregation when celebrating Mass.[6] The rood perch was removed but reinstated in 1981.

One of St Kilda’s most famous sons, Albert Jacka VC, married Veronica Carey in St Mary’s in 1929. Jacka served in the 14th Battalion and was awarded the Victoria Cross on 19 May 1915 for his bravery in a rear-guard action at Courtenay’s Post at Gallipoli. It was the first VC awarded to the Australian Imperial Force in World War I. Jacka later became a mayor of St Kilda but died prematurely. At his funeral, his coffin was carried by eight VC recipients.

A requiem mass was conducted on 31 October 1975 for Gary Cunningham, Greg Shackleton and Tony Stewart, members of the news crew who were killed at Balibo in Timor.


The rendered brick two-storey presbytery was built in 1866-67 to a Wardell design and is one of his few domestic buildings. It replaced an earlier building, which fronted Westbury Street. Its foundations are still visible. The alterations and extensions of 1908-10 were supervised by Grainger, Kennedy and Little. John Grainger designed the new Princes Bridge crossing the Yarra and was the father of the eccentric musician Percy Grainger.[7]

School hall, later St Mary’s Hall

Five Irish Presentation nuns arrived in St Kilda from Limerick on 21 December 1873. They came in response to a crisis caused by the withdrawal of funding for religious schools by Parliament. The priests vacated the presbytery until Turret Lodge’ opposite St Mary’s, was bought in 1874 to house the nuns. Their leader, Katherine Mulquin or Mother Paul, established Presentation Convent and Colleges, which had a high reputation for progressive education of girls. Three Christian Brothers arrived from Ireland in 1878 and a new school was opened in 1880. Congregate graves for the nuns and brothers are at St Kilda Cemetery.

School Hall

 The school hall was built adjacent to and east of the church in 1902-04. The design was by John Rigg, in conjunction with Godfrey and Spowers, and probably influenced by Robert Haddon.[8] Robert Gamble was the contractor and £7500 was spent, including £2000 for the land. The two-storey, red brick hall has stucco decoration and includes Romanesque Revival and Art Nouveau elements. Architecturally it presents a contrast to the church and presbytery and demonstrates changing styles and the ‘new self confidence of Catholics in the general community’.[9] It was extended in 1909. It is a substantial building and was used for small theatrical performances. In addition there are rooms for classrooms, offices, a library and a kitchen. It was built at a time when church communities were attempting to provide for the betterment of young people through education, physical activities and spiritual guidance. This echoed the earlier movement to build mechanics institutes to provide educational opportunities for working-class men.[10] The hall is now occupied by the Christian Brothers College. St Mary’s Catholic School is now on the corner of Dandenong Road and Westbury Street.

[1]     This account is based on the following: Australian Heritage Commission, Register of the National Estate Database, ‘St Marys Catholic Church, St Kilda East, Vic’, database number: 015771, file number: 2/11/046/0092. Class: Historic; and ‘St Marys Catholic Church, School Hall and Presbytery, St Kilda East, Vic’, database number: 014701, file number: 2/11/046/0092. Class: Historic. Also: Timothy Hubbard and Petri Juhola, ‘St Mary’s Catholic Church, Presbytery & Hall, Dandenong Road, East St Kilda: Submission to the Classifications Committee of the Historic Buildings Council’, Hubbard, St Kilda, 1989.

[2]     For biographical details see: Ursula M. De Jong, William Wilkinson Wardell, Monash University Press, Melbourne, 1984; and Tom Hazell, ‘William Wardell, Historic Environment, vol. 3, no. 4, 1984, pp. 20-3.

[3]     Hubbard and Juhola, ‘St Mary’s Catholic Church’.

[4]     National Estate Database, ‘St Marys’.

[5]     Hubbard and Juhola, ‘St Mary’s Catholic Church’, p. 12.

[6]     Ibid., p. 13.

[7]     Australian Dictionary of Biography.

[8]     For more details of these architects see: Hubbard and Juhola, ‘St Mary’s Catholic Church’, pp. 16-18; and for Haddon, Australian Dictionary of Biography.

[9]     Hubbard and Juhola, ‘St Mary’s Catholic Church’, p. 5.

[10]    Ibid., pp. 5 and 18-19.


Sacred Heart Church

Corner Grey and Neptune Streets, St Kilda

 When it was realised that St Mary’s could not cope with the expanding numbers attending, a site was bought for a new Roman Catholic church in Grey Street for £1000.[1] The foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Goold on 13 July 1884 and the church was dedicated on 7 December 1884. The first priest was the Reverend William Henry Quick, who was born in England and educated in Spain. He arrived in Melbourne in 1872 and assisted Father Corbett at St Kilda East before moving to Sacred Heart. Father Quick died in 1899 and was succeeded by Father William Ganly, a brilliant scholar, who served until 1917. The early congregation had its share of prominent men, including Francis Quinlan (a judge), Frederick Wimpole (developer of the George Hotel and a mayor), Edward O’Donnell (grocer and mayor six times), Dr M. U. O’Sullivan and the parliamentarians, Nicholas Fitzgerald, James Orkney and Sir Bryan O’Loghlen (a former premier). But as David Moloney has shown not all the parishioners were wealthy. There were sixty-one weddings in Sacred Heart between 1894 and 1900 and twenty-two of the brides were domestic servants. Ten others stated they were gentlewomen and fourteen described themselves as ‘lady’. The grooms had more varied occupations with clerks, tramway employees and labourers outnumbering the well-to-do. In addition, the most numerous occupations of parents of girls attending Presentation Convent, Windsor, were publicans and shopkeepers.[2]

Sacred Heart is a substantial brown brick building with cement dressings and a slate roof. Consisting of the nave, sanctuary and two sacristies, it cost £3300. The architects were Reed, Henderson & Smart. The Italian Renaissance church is significant because it represents the abandonment of the Gothic Revival style favoured by Victoria’s Roman Catholics. It is only a year or so later than similar churches built overseas. Sacred Heart set the trend for subsequent Roman Catholic churches in Victoria, which were Renaissance and Baroque designs with red brick and cement dressings. In 1890 the side aisles and the belltower were added. The church was completed in 1922 by Kempson and Conolly, architects, and Brady, the contractor. The hipped roof campanile at the front was replaced with another at the rear, measuring 36 metres and featuring a copper dome topped with a statue of Christ. The chancel and three bays at the rear were also added at this time. During this work a fire broke out, near where temporary walls and screens had been placed around the altar. It quickly spread to the ceiling and the local fire brigades had difficulty getting at the fire between the wooden ceiling and the slate roof. One of the altars was damaged and all the vestments were burnt and the furnishings damaged by water and falling cinders. Fortunately the brick building was only slightly affected. Masses were said at the St Kilda Theatre until the building was useable again. Archbishop Mannix opened the renovated church in November 1922. The work had cost £18,000.[3]

The interior has a barrel-vaulted ceiling and is decorated with floral stencilling apparently carried out in the 1940s but which may have incorporated some of the 1901 scheme by G. and W. Dean. An anonymous donor paid for the original decoration. The high altar of Carrara marble was the gift of a Mrs Petty in 1909 and designed by Kempson and Connolly. Judge Casey donated a bell in 1910. Weighing 4.75 cwt (240 kg), it was made in Dublin by the O’Bryne firm and cost £120. The stained glass is also of interest, being the first use in a Roman Catholic church in Victoria of the Classical style in preference to the Neo-Gothic, which was then in vogue. Above the organ is a rose window which was covered during the blackout of World War II and only discovered fifty years later when the church was being restored.[4] The result of the two years of renovations was dedicated on 21 April 1991.

The two-manual organ of eleven stops was built in 1910 by George Fincham & Son and is unaltered except for a new wind system. It is centrally placed on a rear gallery and retains its original tonal scheme, tubular-pneumatic action, pipework and detached console, which gives the organist a clear view of the sanctuary. The highly polished casework is one of the most accomplished local designs of the period.[5]

Father James Byrne was the parish priest from 1917 until his death in 1936. He was fondly remembered for taking about forty altar boys on a paddle steamer trip to Sorrento each year. An annual picnic for children at Ferntree Gully was another fixture for many years.

In 1982 Father Ernie Smith became the parish priest at St Kilda West.[6] By this time the congregation had declined and the suburb of St Kilda had more than its share of disadvantaged people. Father Smith provided an open door to all comers. The presbytery kitchen soon became a place for informal companionship. The growing numbers calling in for a cup of coffee or lunch highlighted the loneliness and isolation of people in the community. Many lived in a single room with no cooking facilities. By March 1983 an average of seventy people were having lunch each day in the very crowded kitchen. The decision to move to the hall was not made easily because it was feared that the special atmosphere of friendliness in the kitchen might be lost. However, the move proved a success and about 400 people enjoy a free, three-course lunch every day, although on occasion up to 600 have attended. Despite this ‘catering nightmare’ no-one is ever turned away.[7] The kitchen remains open and homeless people come for tea and toast in the morning. Others drop in during the day, sometimes for the company, sometimes seeking help with housing or advice on other problems.

The Sacred Heart Mission was constituted as a separate legal entity in 1984. The welfare work undertaken now includes community programs for the unemployed and providing affordable housing; aged care, which includes home visits, care in the home to help people remain independent and aged hostels; and a women’s program. This assists women working as prostitutes and heroin-addicted women, and provides safe housing and counselling for women who have been abused. The outreach program visits people living alone in rented rooms, some of whom are socially isolated through agoraphobia. Another program co-ordinates visits by volunteers to the aged in nursing homes. The Mission also has an opportunity shop which assists the needy and raises money for the Mission lunches. The parish also provides funerals and burials for people who die alone and efforts are made to find lost families. Many of these initiatives are assisted by volunteers and community donations. In the process, the parish has changed in character and attendance at the church has increased significantly.

Sacred Heart Hall and Presbytery


The hall was built in 1901 of red bricks with stucco mouldings and a slate gabled roof. The crosses at the main corners and on pediments, which are a distinctive feature of the church, are replicated on the hall.


The presbytery is a two-storey red brick building featuring a cast-iron verandah and balcony. It was opened in 1901. The presbytery and hall are now primarily used by the Sacred Heart Mission, which provides a range of social services to the local community.


[1]     Australian Heritage Commission, Register of the National Estate Database, ‘Sacred Heart Church Group, St Kilda Vic’, database number: 015379, file number: 2/11/046/0021. Class: Historic, registered 26/10/1999.

[2]     David Moloney, From Mission to Mission: The History of Sacred Heart Parish West St Kilda, 1887-1987, n.d., p. 8.

[3]     The Advocate, 23 March, 30 March and 9 November 1922, MDHC, Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.

[4]     Brochure on Sacred Heart Church, MDHC Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.

[5]     National Trust of Australia (Victoria), ‘Sacred Heart Church, Manse, Hall and Organ’, file number: B5296.

[6]     See: Ernie Smith, Miracles do Happen: A Priest Called Smith, Collins Dove, North Blackburn, 1993.

[7]     David Moloney, From Mission to Mission: The History of Sacred Heart Parish West St Kilda, 1887-1987, n.d., pp. 74-5. See also: www.sacredheartmission.org


St Colman’s Church

(formerly Church of the Holy Angels)

293 Carlisle Street, St Kilda East

The Church of the Holy Angels was built in 1900 at a cost of £2000. In 1907 the church was broken into but fortunately nothing was stolen because the priest prudently removed the silver after Mass every Sunday.[1] It became a separate parish in 1912 with the Reverend John Barry, assisted by the Reverend T. Bride. The foundation stone for the enlarged church was laid in August 1913 and the church was opened on 30 November 1913 by the Archbishop of Melbourne, the Most Reverend Dr Carr. The Reverend Barry was the pastor at the time. Brick reinforced pillars with arches had replaced the old wooden walls. A new gable window, organ gallery and four entrances were added and with new seating and other embellishments the work cost about £12,000. The architects were Watts and Sons and the contractor was James Brown. Cooper described the interior as ‘impressive. The high altar, and the side altars of the Sacred Heart, and Our Blessed Lady, are aids to devotion. There are beautiful decorated statues of the Sacred Heart, and the Blessed Virgin, adorning the side altars. The altar rails are artistic, with a rich carpet, and a massive candelabrum; these, and other furnishings, it is said “make the Church of Holy Angels, Balaclava, the most devotional one outside of [the city of] Melbourne”.’[2]

The parish was made a separate parish in 1926 in the care of the Reverend M. J. Keenan. The foundation stone for a new church was laid on 16 June 1929 by Archbishop Mannix. C. D. Rose was the architect and R. V. Ritchie the builder. The work cost £10,288 and was opened on 1 December 1929 by the Apostolic Delegate, Dr Cattaneo.[3] Stylistically, it is a fusion of Byzantine and Romanesque. The symmetrical facade is dominated by a central porch and the side towers. The upper parts of these towers were removed several decades ago, presumably due to structural failure.

St Colman's Church with Towers

 On 7 September 1939 the parish was re-named St Colman’s. The change of name was justified because there was no feast of Holy Angels in the church calendar and the name had never caught on. A groom missed his wedding appointment because a tram conductor and a policeman assured him there was no church named Holy Angels in the area. The school had taken the name Holy Redeemer and the Hibernians had called their branch St Colman’s. The tennis club took their name of Glen Eira ‘from the pavement’ while the football team adopted the name Balaclava. The club ‘had modestly declined the name [Holy Angels] — perhaps with good reason. On muddy days it might not look well, and on rough-neck days it might not sound well’.[4] St Colman’s continues to operate as a church and there is a school adjoining it.

Parish hall and presbytery

The parish hall and presbytery were in McWhae Avenue, in the city of Caulfield. The hall was opened by Archbishop Mannix in February 1914 and was designed to accommodate 400 people. The timber from the original church was used in its construction. The new presbytery on the corner of Carlisle Street and Carlisle Avenue was opened on 3 October 1926.

School Hall

The asymmetrical school hall complements the design of the church. Its tower is intact. The hall is on the ground floor and classrooms above. It was built in 1938-39.

[1]     The Advocate, 12 October 1907.

[2]     Cooper, History of St Kilda, pp. 352-3.

[3]     The Advocate, 18 June 1929.

[4]     Ibid., 7 September 1939.


St Columba’s Church

2 Normandy Road, Elwood

 St Columba’s Church School was opened on 28 April 1918. A fair conducted by the Sacred Heart parish in September 1914 had enabled the purchase of the land. The land cost £1439 and the building cost £1740. Archbishop Mannix opened and blessed the new church school in the presence of 3000 people. The school had 150 pupils when it opened in June 1918. The original teachers were sisters of the Presentation Order. Mother Anthony was the first principal and Sisters Angela and Bernadette the first teachers.

The first Mass was held on 5 May 1918 by Father J. Byrne. The priests from Sacred Heart attended until it became a separate parish in 1919 and its first parish priest, the Reverend Jerome McCarthy, was appointed. The school colours were blue and gold and they featured in the interior decoration. The wooden altar was painted in blue and gold. The sanctuary was a raised proscenium and curtained off during school times. The school desks also served as pews; it was the job of the senior boys each Friday afternoon to arrange them appropriately for services.

Sister Ignatius became principal in 1926. Pupils were taught physical education by a Mr Donald on Friday afternoons and Maggie Mossop taught singing. During the Depression the sisters taught pupils to Grade 9 level because many children could not afford to go on to secondary school. (Most pupils completed Grade 8, thereby gaining the Merit certificate, and left school.) The school held concerts, a choir, and annual picnics to South Morang.[1]

The Reverend Michael McKenna became the parish priest on 6 January 1922. He had served with the first contingent of the Australian Imperial Forces sent overseas in 1914. He began work raising funds to build a church next to the school. The foundation stone was laid on 12 May 1929. The architect was A. A. Fritsch and the builders were the Reynolds Brothers. It was completed on 8 December 1929. Archbishop Cattaneo attended with Archbishop Mannix. The red brick Romanesque church designed to accommodate 700 people had cost £12,516 and gifts valued at £3553 had been donated, including stained-glass windows, the pulpit and altars. The tower can be seen from many parts of Elwood and St Columba’s is considered one of the best of the Roman Catholic churches of a similar scale built around this period. The design of the belfry and metal-capped cupola is unusual. Inside, the barrel-vaulted ceiling is the main feature, while the stained glass and the choir gallery balustrade are also noteworthy.[2] It was a culmination of a dream for Father McKenna, who had laid the first brick of the church and laid the last brick on the tower to complete the building. His sudden death following a seizure on 17 October 1936 was a great loss to the people of St Columba’s.

His successor was Dr Francis Greenan, who continued the work undertaken by Father McKenna by buying adjoining land and expanding facilities for the school. A hall with three classrooms and a teachers’ room was completed in 1937. The story is told that on hot days Father Greenan would march the children to the beach. ‘The fact that mothers were aghast at their little ones being on the beach in the middle of a heat wave never crossed his mind’.[3] The hall was taken over by the Army during World War II and was also used as a post office for a time. The children were taught in the tennis pavilion, which was later demolished and a replacement built. The children regained the use of their school in 1943.

After the war, the school remained small with composite grades from Prep to Grade 8 taught by five teachers. In line with government policies this was reduced to teaching to Grade 6 by 1966. Sister Ignatius returned as principal in 1950 and remained until 1970, having given a total of thirty-one years of service to the school and its pupils. To mark the golden jubilee of the school another two rooms were added. In 1974 the long association of the Sisters of the Presentation Order with the school ended. Dawn Keogh became the first lay principal, followed by Loris Stone, who oversaw extensions to the school, including a library, which were opened in 1983. Colette Hickey was principal from 1988-97. The present principal is Christine White. The school is a small but flourishing community with an enrolment of ninety-two pupils.

 John Ploog was in the first enrolment of pupils at the school. In 1970 his reminiscences were included in a history of the church by Francis Renton Power. Reflecting on the traditional enmity between Catholics and Protestants, Ploog recalled how there would be ‘battles’ against the local state school pupils. ‘After a veritable flood of verbal abuse, battle was joined and continued on the banks of the Elwood “canal” (and sometimes in it).’ When some ‘yahoos’ threw a stone through a window of the Anglican St Bede’s, Ploog was in the delegation charged with apologising to members of St Bede’s congregation. In contrast, in 1970 the two congregations were attending each other’s services.[4]

The third parish priest was Father Michael Tuomey, who arrived in 1953. The church was consecrated on 12 October 1961 in a ceremony lasting more than four hours. Archbishop Simonds circled the church three times as a Litany of the Saints was chanted by a choir of priests. The ceremony then continued inside the church and included placing a relic of St Clement under the altar stone.[5] Father Tuomey began a monthly magazine The Columbian and was responsible for the establishment of the Parish Council and the introduction of lay lectors to the parish. He retired due to ill-health in 1973.[6]

St Columba’s fifth parish priest was Father Conrad Reis. A former boarder at St Columba’s, during World War II he served in New Guinea as chaplain attached to the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade. His particular charges were members of 29/46 Infantry Battalion, the 37/52 Infantry Battalion and the 4th Field Ambulance. Each year, even after he retired due to poor health in 1977, Father Reis celebrated a Mass at St Columba’s for the returned soldiers to whom he had ministered during the war. A plaque in the foyer commemorates the men from these units who died in action in New Guinea. During Father Reis’s time, St Columba’s Church was altered according to the provisions of Vatican II. Intended to make services more accessible to people, the Mass was celebrated in English, not Latin, and the celebrant now faced the people. The marble altar rails were removed, as was the top of the high altar, including the large marble angels and the rotunda. The sanctuary was extended and a simple wooden altar installed.[7]

Reverend Father Des Jenkins arrived in the parish in 1978 and served until 1996. During his time in the parish, the presbytery and the church were refurbished and extensions to the school were undertaken. His successor was Reverend Father John Salvano. He reactivated some of the regular social activities that had been enjoyed by parishioners in the past but which had gradually lapsed due to changing demographics in the parish.[8] He was appointed to the parish of St John’s Clifton Hill in mid 2000. Reverend Father Terry, the parish priest of Sacred Heart, West St Kilda, was then also appointed parish priest at St Columba’s and is the current incumbent.


In 1919 a house was bought for the priest’s residence and it was sold at a profit of £200. The new presbytery was opened on 24 April 1921. Mr W. M. Kelly, a builder from Gardenvale, built the building to his and Father McCarthy’s design, thereby saving an architect’s fee.


In 1937 a parish hall was built with W. P. Conolly the architect and J. H. Johnson the contractor. Tennis courts were also built at this time. It was part of Father Greenan’s vision of providing a centre for the children of St Columba’s during their leisure time where activities could be provided in a Catholic environment. Physical education, indoor sports and dancing classes have been held in the hall and there were  various sporting teams associated with the church.

Over the years, dances, card parties and concerts were other popular activities held in the hall.


[1]     All the information about the school comes from: Emer Di Muzo and Peg Whitehill (researchers), The Birth of St Columba’s, n.d.

[2]     Bick, St Kilda Conservation Study, p. 181.

[3]     Di Muzo and Whitehill, The Birth of St Columba’s, p. 10.

[4]     Francis Renton Power, ‘The Story of St. Columba’s, Elwood’, typescript, 1970, p. 2. [Copy held at MDHC Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.]

[5]     Ibid., p. 5.

[6]     For Tuomey’s ministry see: Emer Di Muzio, St Columba’s Elwood: A Chapel-of-Ease, n.d., c. 2000, pp. 46-51. Assistant priests, principals and teachers are also listed in this book. See: pp. 66-7.

[7]     Ibid., pp. 51-2.

[8]     Ibid., pp. 55 and 59.


Our Lady of Dolours

Cowderoy Street, West St Kilda

 W. P. Conolly was the architect of this small red brick building. The site cost £4500 and the building £2765. Its official opening was delayed because of the illness of the Reverend J. P. Carney. On 30 November 1941, Archbishop Mannix blessed and opened the church. A painting of Our Lady of Dolours over the altar was the work of a nun at Sacre Coeur in Malvern.

It is now a Chapel of Ease and is part of Sacred Heart parish.


Presbyterian Churches

St Kilda Presbyterian Church

Free Presbyterian Church (former)

St George’s East St Kilda Uniting Church (formerly St George’s Presbyterian Church)

Scots Presbyterian Church Elwood


St Kilda Presbyterian Church

Corner Alma Road and Barkly Street, St Kilda

 The first Presbyterian service in St Kilda was in May 1855 in an iron building with wooden forms and earthen floors at the corner of High Street and Alma Road. The original church used for services was wooden and owned by the Independent (Congregational) Church. The Reverend Arthur Paul conducted the first service there on 23 September 1855. The worshippers were Free Presbyterians, a sect that had broken with the Church of Scotland in protest at the perceived encroachment of the state on the church. Most of the congregation chose to join the Free Church Synod in 1857, which was the precursor to the Presbyterian Church of Victoria in 1859.[1] However, some members left, choosing to continue as Free Presbyterians. (Their story is told later.)

With the departure of the Reverend Paul through this split, Charles Moir became the new minister in 1858. He oversaw the erection of the church on land on the corner of Alma Road and Barkly Street bought for £1000 from Mr Langevill. The Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Barkly, laid the foundation stone for the church, which was designed by Alfred Smith. The builders, Bayne and Company, completed it within six months. Designed to seat 380 people, it was opened on 5 June 1860. It was brick and cement with stone dressings and in the Perpendicular style with a square tower and no spire.[2] Most of the debt was paid by 1863, helped considerably by a bazaar in the Melbourne Town Hall, which lasted four days and raised £857. A gallery was added six years later. The site was just over 27 metres on Alma Road and almost 40 metres on Barkly Street, which limited expansion, but the congregation was loathe to give up the prominent and central hilltop location. In 1882 the congregation bought the site opposite in Alma Road and built a Sunday school, opened in 1883, which was used as a church while the original was demolished and a new one built. The Sunday school retained the gallery from the first church. It was demolished in 1991.

In 1878 the Reverend Samuel Robinson was appointed and he oversaw the design and completion of the new church. Wilson and Beswicke were the architects for both the church and Sunday school, which cost £17,657. Ralph Wilson designed the Methodist church on the corner of Princes and Fitzroy Streets and lived diagonally opposite the Presbyterian church. Charles Beswicke had toured Britain and the Continent in 1886 armed with a camera and returned to Australia with photographs of what he considered the greatest examples of architecture. He was responsible for the town halls in Brighton, Malvern, Hawthorn and Essendon and Wesleyan churches in Camberwell and Dandenong.[3] Thomas Corley was the builder. The Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Brougham Loch, laid the foundation stone on 27 January 1885 and the church opened on 30 May 1886 with three sermons that day and a ‘Grand Sacred Concert’ during the week. Conditions were somewhat austere, with only some of the carpet laid and the purchase of seat cushions postponed. There was now room for 750 people with fifty in the choir gallery. The lofty spire was ‘a landmark to the mariner’ used by sea captains sailing up Port Phillip Bay.[4] On a prominent position, the highest point in St Kilda, the church attracted wealthy people with legal, merchant and pastoral backgrounds.

The pulpit is central on a raised platform with a cast-iron grille. The pulpit, pews and other fittings are of kauri, pine and cedar. Perry described the ‘strange mixture of Gothic architecture and cast-iron’ in the interior, adding: ‘The slim column standing on its own supporting a heavily decorated capital is unknown to traditional Gothic architecture’.[5] There are coloured glass windows — behind the pulpit the painted glass was donated by ladies of the church — and some stained-glass memorial windows. A new organ was installed in 1890 and the choir moved from the gallery to near the organ at the front of the church. The pulpit carving and honour roll are the work of John K. Blogg (c.1851-1936), an industrial chemist, who turned to carving when he became deaf. He produced over 200 honour rolls and panels for pulpits.

The Reverend Robinson’s health suffered during the difficult Depression years and he died in 1899. His successor was the Reverend David Ross. He served for thirty years and was followed by the Reverends H. C. Clark, 1925-41, for whom the carillon is a memorial, William Alec Fraser, 1942-44, Esmond New, 1946-51 and William Young, 1951-55.

By 1950 the stonework was decaying and dangerous. It was removed because the cost of replacing it was beyond the congregation’s means. The wealthy had long abandoned the area and the numbers attending the church were in decline. About 1957 the louvres over the opening in the tower were replaced by a speaker and a record was played to imitate the peal of bells.

In 1977 the congregation opted to continue as a Presbyterian church rather than join the Uniting Church, which is an amalgamation of some Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches. Instead, faced with declining numbers, it joined with nearby Presbyterian churches in Caulfield and Elwood. After a brief closure, it reopened under the ministry of the Reverend Bob Thomas, who was inducted as the church’s full time minister on 24 November 1994. Today the church serves the community in the vicinity of Barkly Hill with a small but growing congregation.[6]


A manse was built in 1869 on a government grant of land between Acland Street and the Esplanade near the Luna Park area. It was sold for £9306 and Stanthorpe, next to the church at 42 Barkly Street, St Kilda, was bought for £3500 in 1919. Stanthorpe was built in about 1875 as a private residence for merchant Alexander Sutherland.

It is a two-storey rendered brick Classical style mansion dominated by a central portico and cast-iron verandah. For some years, the manse was at 102 Hotham Street before Stanthorpe was converted into a manse and church officer’s flat in 1956. After infrequent use by the church, it was sold to a developer in 1999. It was renovated and is now being used as commercial offices.


A Presbyterian Common School associated with this church was opened in 1872.



[1]     For the background to the Presbyterian groups and their differences see: Lewis, Victorian Churches, p. 9.

[2]     Based on Dr Robinson, 75th Anniversary, 1930. Perry gives the number as 300 in Ian Perry, ‘St Kilda Presbyterian Church’, undergraduate thesis, Architecture, University of Melbourne, n.d. The Robinson booklet shows a photograph of the original church. Various sources give the cost ranging from £4-6000. See: Perry, ‘St Kilda Presbyterian Church’, p. 2. Also: Australian Heritage Commission, Register of the National Estate Database, ‘Presbyterian Church, St Kilda, Vic’, database number: 009868, file number: 2/11/046/0034. Class: Historic, indicative place.

[3]     Perry, ‘St Kilda Presbyterian Church’, pp. 7-8.

[4]     Robinson, 75th Anniversary.

[5]     Perry, ‘St Kilda Presbyterian Church’, p. 13.

[6]     My thanks to the Reverend Bob Thomas for this information.


Free Presbyterian Church (former)

12B Chapel Street, St Kilda East

The Free Presbyterian Church of Victoria was formed in 1846 by James Forbes, the former minister of Scots Church in Melbourne. After Union of the three Presbyterian denominations in Victoria, those who wished to remain as Free Presbyterians left the congregation at Alma Road in 1857. The Free Presbyterians were led by the Reverend Arthur Paul until his death in 1910, aged eighty-five. They moved further along Alma Road (numbers 23-29) and a manse was built at 88 Alma Road in 1858 (rebuilt in 1938). The church, adjoining the manse, on the corner of Chapel Street and Alma Road, was opened on 17 January 1864.

The architect was Lloyd Tayler, the builder Benjamin Williamson[1] and it cost about £1525. Built of bluestone with white freestone dressings, only half of the original design was completed. There is a projecting buttressed porch at the front and a Gothic window above. To the side is an octagonal base of a proposed tower. It accommodated 160 people. The church only became free of debt in 1885 following the sale of some land to Sir John Madden for his home Cloyne.

According to Cooper the animosity between the two groups of Presbyterians led to some Unionist ministers accusing the contractor of trespass and later sending an agent to ‘oust the contractor’s men by violence, if necessary, and then to take possession of the church’.[2]

There were only six incumbents during its use as a Free Presbyterian Church: Arthur Paul, 1855-1910; J. Campbell Robinson, 1921-52; Edwin Lee, 1959-66; Raymond Murray, 1968-72; Eric Turnbull, 1973-79 and Rowland Ward, 1984-86.

The last service held in the building by the Free Presbyterians was on 23 November 1986. The congregation moved to a new church in Wantirna. The building is now used for services by the Salvation Army.


St George’s East St Kilda Uniting Church

(formerly St George’s Presbyterian Church)

4 Chapel Street, St Kilda East

One acre of land was reserved in Chapel Street for the Presbyterian Church and was gazetted on 10 September 1866. In June 1876 a public meeting was held in the Orderly Room in Chapel Street, St Kilda East, adjoining the church’s land, to gauge interest in establishing a church. Sunday services began on 13 August 1876 in the Orderly Room with the Reverend Groundwater Fraser preaching.

On 21 April 1877 the foundation stone for the church was laid by Sir James McCulloch, the former Premier of Victoria and a founding trustee.[1] Albert Purchas was the architect of this substantial red brick Gothic Revival building with its distinctive 33.5-metre banded octagonal belltower and attractive contrasting cream brickwork and freestone dressings. The facade is dominated by a double entrance surmounted by a triangular rose window. Robert S. Ekins was the contractor and his tender was £3000. The church opened on 1 October 1877 and reflects the wealth and aspirations of the St Kilda Presbyterians of this period. At the first Communion Service, held on 9 December 1877, fifty-one communicants were present.

The first minister was the Reverend J. Laurence Rentoul. Born in Ireland and a brilliant scholar, he and his family travelled to Australia to answer the call to St George’s. He commenced duties on 15 June 1879 and spent four years at St George’s before taking up the position of Professor at Ormond College. An eloquent preacher and influential professor, he became an important figure in the Presbyterian Church and public life. He became Moderator of the State Church in 1894 and from 1912-14 was Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. He was appointed Chaplain-General of the Australian Military Forces at the beginning of World War I and in 1916 became Chaplain-General of the AIF on the Western Front.[2]

The congregation soon outgrew the church’s capacity and an enlarged building was opened on 3 October 1880, designed to accommodate 650 people and built at an estimated cost of £8700. The memorial stone was also laid by Sir James McCulloch. The church has a T-shaped plan with ‘an aisleless nave, raked floor and broad transepts, a shallow sanctuary and no chancel, representing a Protestant reduction of the ideas of British architects such as Pearson and Butterfield’.[3] The stained-glass windows are noteworthy and the early non-figurative windows by Ferguson and Urie are particularly fine.[4] The large triple window in the chancel was presented by Lady McCulloch in memory of the ‘loved and Dead’. Another, in memory of John Kane Smyth, the Vice-Consul for the United States of America in Melbourne, has the Stars and Stripes on the top ventilator above it. The newest window is on the southern side of the church and depicts the children of the world gathered around Christ. It is in memory of Samuel Lyons McKenzie, the congregation’s beloved minister, who served from 1930 to 1948. His ministry is remembered for his love of people and concern for their welfare during the Depression and World War II. He died on 16 January 1948 and his grieving widow continued her role of helping and advising, editing the newsletter and helping in the choir until the Reverend H. Douglas Fearon was inducted on 8 March 1949.[5]

An organ by Lewis & Sons of London dates from 1881 and was classified by the National Trust (Victoria) in April 1989. Prior to this acquisition, a harmonium had been used and then a hired small pipe organ. T. C. Lewis was a progressive English organ builder and a foremost pioneer of the German system of tonal design in England. St George’s organ is one of five Lewis organs exported to Australia and the earliest still in existence.[6] St George’s established a proud tradition for music in its services. Miss Nicholls organised the first choir and then in 1880 Thomas Brentnall, a professional organist and choirmaster, was appointed. He was succeeded by Julius Herz in 1885. He was a renowned musician and attracted some of Melbourne’s most talented singers to the choir. Bertha Rossow, Lalla Miranda and Clarence Fraser and later Madame Steinhauer were all well-known singers who sang in the choir.

When Rentoul left, it was feared this would be a major setback for the young church but the Reverend John Gordon Mackie began his ministry at St George’s in September 1884 and the church continued to prosper. In 1884 the Sunday school building was opened, having cost £1486. By 1890 all debt had been expunged. Half of the remaining debt had been paid by Sir James McCulloch, even though he had retired to England several years previously.

Many sons and fathers of the St George’s congregation enlisted during World War I and twenty died, including St George’s own minister, the Reverend Andrew Gillison, MA.[7] Born near Glasgow, Gillison was a minister in the United States, Edinburgh, North Shields, Glasgow and then Brisbane before arriving at St George’s in 1909. Appointed a chaplain of the AIF, he was closely associated with the 14th Battalion, which was raised in St Kilda and Prahran, and was with the unit at Gallipoli. On Sunday 22 August 1915 he and another chaplain ignored warnings of the presence of snipers and attempted to bring in a wounded man lying 20 metres away in no-man’s-land. Both chaplains were hit by snipers. Gillison was carried to safety and announced he felt ‘bright and happy’ but passed away a few hours later. The first AIF chaplain to die in the war, he was deeply mourned by his military companions and his parishioners. The 14th Battalion and the congregation at St George’s jointly erected a memorial tablet in the church and provided a communion table. The congregation raised almost £700, which was placed in trust for his family. The commemorative service in 1917 to install the memorial forged a bond between the battalion and the congregation at St George’s. The battalion colours were later entrusted to St George’s and now hang in the Shrine of Remembrance. The marching banner of the Battalion is cared for by the St Kilda Historical Society. After World War II, members of the 2/14th Battalion and the 14/32nd Battalion also became involved in the annual memorial service and since 1994 Vietnam veterans have also attended with other veterans.[8] It has become an important contemporary ritual, which attracts hundreds of people and its theme of ‘healing the wounds of war’ has deep significance for all veterans.

During World War I the female members of St George’s raised £1000 for patriotic funds and sent more than 10,000 articles to the Red Cross for the care of soldiers. Mrs Glass, the minister’s wife, served as president and Mrs Larard and Mrs Gray Cox were on the committee organising this work. The Reverend Thomas Glass was the incumbent during the war years and, like all clergymen, had the unenviable task of conveying news of casualties to families. His health suffered during the war and he resigned in 1922. The roll of honour in the vestibule is made of Victorian blackwood, carved in high relief. It commemorates the twenty men who died and another eighty-nine who served.

Over the years many spiritual and social activities were instituted at St George’s, some of short duration such as the Ladies’ Reading Club which operated from 1888-93. There were segregated Bible Classes for young men and women, the Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union, formed in 1892, a cricket club and a floral guild. Guilds teaching physical culture for girls, boys and young men began in 1904. They were entirely financed by John Maclellan and the idea extended to other denominations throughout Victoria. Maclellan died in 1936 and the guilds ceased at St George’s through lack of funds although in 1977 the members of the girls’ guild were still holding bi-annual reunions and raising money for charity.

The first mission work began in 1880 with G. O. Duncan appointed as a full-time visitor and lay reader, the entire cost being paid by Sir James McCulloch. In 1885 Lady McCulloch inaugurated a mission among poor women in Windsor and Prahran with a Miss Wilson appointed as the first missionary. A library was established and weekly Mothers’ Meetings were held. After Lady McCulloch withdrew her financial support in 1894, a committee of women at St George’s continued the mission. Beatrice Davidson worked for the mission from 1900 until her death in 1917, when the mission ceased. Parishioners had a large memorial erected over her grave in Sutton Grange Cemetery, south of Bendigo.

After World War II, St George’s suffered from the general decline in church attendances exacerbated by the changing nature of St Kilda and the decrease in numbers of residents living in the vicinity of the church. In 1973 the congregation was deeply distressed when the communion silver was stolen, including the small communion cup presented to the Reverend Gillison by the Young Men’s Bible Class before he left for overseas and used by him at Gallipoli. It had been presented to St George’s after the war and was used for communion. In a strange turn of events, the cup was found by a Vietnam veteran during excavations for flats. It was buried a metre deep. He sold it to a militaria dealer who advertised it in a catalogue in 1987. The wife of a member of the 2/14th Battalion Association saw the catalogue and, realising its significance, the battalion raised the money overnight to buy the chalice. It was donated to the Ivanhoe Grammar School cadet corps as a reminder to the young of the achievements and sacrifices of those who served.[9]

By the 1980s the reduced numbers and ageing congregation led to questioning whether the congregation remained viable. John Bottomley was inducted into the parish in 1991 and began a program of consolidating the church’s physical and spiritual resources and re-energising the congregation. Historic buildings were put to new and profitable uses. Much of the site is now used by St Michael’s Grammar School. In addition, a range of activities was introduced to attract younger people to the church. A centre for theology and the arts, the Centre for Creative Ministries, was established to meld activities in the arts with worship, faith development and community service. During the late 1990s, the emphasis was on the disadvantaged, for example the homeless, and people with intellectual, psychiatric and other socially isolating disabilities.[10] More recently, the Centre has refocussed on its original vision.

In 1997 the congregations of St George’s and the former East St Kilda and Windsor Congregational Churches joined together to form the East St Kilda Uniting Church parish. The Centre for Creative Ministries now operates from the former Congregational church and hall on the corner of Hotham and Inkerman Streets, East St Kilda. The new parish is growing in numbers and vitality and diverse groups of people come in contact annually with the parish through the many outreach programs.

Sunday school

The Sunday school with Mr A. Anderson as Superintendent began in August 1876. Three years later, it moved to Hornby Street State School where there was an average attendance of one hundred children and eighteen teachers. A hall in the church grounds was opened on 14 February 1886. This was destroyed by fire and a new hall built in 1927-28. After World War II the numbers of children attending declined and the Sunday school ‘went into recess’, probably in the late 1960s.[11] Today, a small group of children participate in a Children’s Ministry program to meet the present need.


[1]     For biographical details see: Australian Dictionary of Biography.

[2]     For biographical details see: Centre for Creative Ministries, History of the East St Kilda Uniting Church Parish: Application to the Local History Grants Program to make a 60-minute Video Documentary, Centre for Creative Ministries, East St Kilda, 1999, pp. 9-10.

[3]     Ibid., p. 6.

[4]     For detailed descriptions see: Ibid., pp. 6-7.

[5]     For a complete list of incumbents to 1977 and brief biographies see: ‘St George’s Presbyterian Church St Kilda: The First One hundred Years’, 1977.

[6]     For details about the organ and its builder see: Christopher Gray, ‘Proposed Restoration of the 1882 T. C. Lewis Organ: The history and importance of the instrument and its builder’, reproduced in Ibid., pp. 8-9.

[7]     The Australian War Memorial has an informal portrait of Gillison P02615.004 and a photograph of Gillison preaching at Gallipoli A03808. Also: Gillison papers, PR86/028 and his diary, 3DRL/6277.

[8]     See also: Healing the Wounds of War, video, Centre for Creative Ministries, n.d.

[9]     Scott Whiffin, ‘Back from battle, cup rests in peace’, Port Phillip Leader, 18 September 1995.

[10]    Centre for Creative Ministries, History, pp. 2-3.

[11]    Unless otherwise acknowledged, this account is based on St George’s Presbyterian Church, East St Kilda, 1876-1926 Golden Jubilee Book. My thanks to the congregation of St George’s for a copy of this book.


Scots Presbyterian Church Elwood

Corner Scott and Tennyson Streets, Elwood

The St Kilda Presbyterian Church in Alma Road established a small branch Sunday school in the home of Mr and Mrs A. W. Bruce at 20 Scott Street in 1909. This was in response to the number of young families moving into the new suburb of Elwood, to the south of St Kilda.[1]

The St Kilda congregation had already bought land and a meeting on 18 December 1909 decided to build a hall on this site. The first Presbyterian service in Elwood was held on 28 April 1912 at 20 Scott Street, Elwood and was conducted by Latrobe Bagley. The hall was opened and dedicated on 12 December 1912. The building and contents had cost £785. The Reverend Alexander Yule became the first minister and was inducted on 26 June 1913 and served until September 1924. Subsequent ministers were: Sidney Hadley, 1924-28; Hugh Buntine, 1929-37; and H. H. Donaldson, 1937-45. It was decided that a larger church was required and the foundation stone was laid by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Arthur Coles, on 10 December 1938. The red brick church was dedicated on 24 April 1939 and accommodates about 200 people. The architects, Scarborough and Love, donated the font. The main feature of the interior is the timber barrel vaulting. The honour board was placed near the entrance and has the names of fifty-three parishioners who enlisted in World War I, of whom eleven died. The seats and panelling in the chancel were donated in memory of Mr and Mrs Bruce, who had made their home available for the early services.

After World War II the ministers at Scots Church were: Douglas Fearon, 1945-49; Harry Harris, 1950-51; and Walter Harrison, 1953-64. When Harrison transferred to Warragul, a commission was appointed to enquire into the parish’s future. The congregations of Scots Church Elwood and the Elwood Methodist church held occasional joint services and began a joint Sunday school in 1965. St Kilda and Elwood were united on 1 February 1966 under Henry Sedlo, 1966-67. His successor was Alistair McAllister, 1968-78. In 1968 the congregations of Scots Church Elwood and the Elwood Methodist Church united. In 1975 Elwood voted to remain as a continuing Presbyterian church rather than join the Uniting Church. The vote was three for union and sixteen opposed. From 1978 to 1985 the position of minister was vacant and services were conducted at both St Kilda and Elwood by supply preachers. In 1985 the St Kilda-Elwood parish was united with Caulfield. The Reverend John Sweet was the minister from 1986-92. Then, in 1993 two parishes were created with Caulfield-Elwood being separated from St Kilda. The Reverend Stephen Tay has been the minister at Caulfield-Elwood since 1993.

Hall and manse

The original hall is now used as a pre-school centre. A manse was bought at 24 Scott Street, Elwood on 3 June 1929 at a cost of £1759. By 1964 it was in poor repair and was sold to pay church debts.

Original Hall


[1]     This account is taken from ‘Elwood Presbyterian Church 90th Anniversary’, typescript, courtesy of Robert Belcher.

Methodist Churches

The St Kilda Uniting Church (former) (formerly the Wesleyan [Methodist] Church)

St Kilda Parish Mission Uniting Church (formerly the Wesleyan Church)

United Free Methodists Church (former)

Methodist Church Elwood (demolished)

The St Kilda Uniting Church (former)

(formerly the Wesleyan (Methodist) Church)

Corner Fitzroy and Princes Streets, St Kilda

 In the early days of settlement at St Kilda, Wesleyan prayer meetings were held in private homes. One site was a two-roomed cottage near the St Kilda railway station. According to Cooper, a small iron building — about 18 metres by 12 metres —was opened on 3 June 1853. This was possibly located in Prahran on the corner of Commercial and Margaret Streets. Known as ‘iron pots’, these prefabricated iron buildings were popular imports during the gold rushes when accommodation was in great demand and local labour was scarce and expensive, but they were soon found to be unsuitable in the extreme Australian heat.[1] The Reverend Robert Young preached the opening service.[2]

The foundation stone for the new Wesleyan Church was laid on 27 October 1857 by the Honourable Alexander Fraser, local councillor and auctioneer and then a member of the Legislative Council from 1858-81.[3] As Cooper describes it: ‘The usual formalities were observed. Hymns were sung, and prayers offered up, responsive to the occasion. When the 84th Psalm was read, the stone was laid’.[4] A tea meeting was held in the evening.

The church was opened on Sunday 19 September 1858 and three services were held during the day led by the Reverends W. Hill, James Ballantyne and I. New. It was one of the first Wesleyan churches built in Victoria in the Gothic style and was designed by Crouch and Wilson. Thomas J. Crouch was a prominent Methodist and played the organ at services. He lived in the St Kilda area from 1853 until his death in 1889 and served a term as mayor of St Kilda. He also designed the chapel at Pentridge and Methodist churches at Fitzroy, Collingwood, Flemington, Daylesford and Maldon.[5]

 The blue granite Wesleyan church with sandstone dressings and a slate roof is unusual in several ways. Towered churches from the 1850s are rare in Melbourne, as is the use of bluestone south of the Yarra River because it was expensive to cut and difficult to transport across the river. Measuring 20 by 11 metres, the church could accommodate 600 people. Internally there was a low altar with a small brass cross. The central pulpit was moved to the side to accommodate organ pipes in 1927. The new organ cost £1163-10-0. The original organ had been in the gallery and in 1965 was thought to be in a church in Spotswood. The church is divided into five bays by buttresses and lancet windows are in the centre of each bay. Two aisles lead to a small sanctuary. The rear wall has a three-pointed stained-glass window and two symmetric doors. The south-east door leads to an outside porch while the other leads to the vestry. Off the gallery is a lower tower room and a stepladder to the upper tower room. The tower featured a copper deck roof and was designed to include a clock and graceful pinnacles.[6]

The Reverend Daniel Draper presided over the building of the St Kilda church. When he arrived in Victoria in 1855 following successful ministries in Parramatta and the South Australian district, he wrote: ‘If ever a circuit was a perfect wreck, my new one is that, “entirely quite”.’[7] During his time in Melbourne he oversaw the erection of three large bluestone churches — Wesley Church in Lonsdale Street and churches at North Melbourne and St Kilda. In the many churches for which he was responsible, Draper favoured the Gothic style and in Melbourne the use of expensive bluestone. Wesleyans had ‘no great architectural tradition’ when they arrived in Australia. The founder, John Wesley had decreed that ‘preaching houses’ should be ‘plain and decent’ and no more expensive than necessary.[8] Wesleyans in Victoria, however, argued that ‘God is better pleased with a good and elegant church when it is within the means of the worshippers to build it, than with one plain, unsightly and uncomfortable’.[9] Draper also argued that a better building ‘commands a better congregation’.[10]

The church building had problems from the early days. Ventilators were installed in the floor in 1863 and architects were employed to survey the roof because it was feared it was unsafe. Crouch and Billing reported no serious danger but found that it was vital to strengthen it.[11] Over the years, the roof needed frequent repairs. In July 1883 the Ladies Sewing Meeting presented five oak collection plates to the church. Perhaps they hoped superior collection plates would elicit more generous offerings to help offset those costly repairs.

In 1865 Draper travelled to Britain to represent Australia at the British Conference. A year later, he and his wife left England to return to Australia aboard the London. The ship sank in the Bay of Biscay and only seventeen people out of the 263 on board survived. These fortunates ‘reported that Draper comforted and exhorted those doomed to perish with him “by recommending that Pilot by Whom all might arrive safely at the Port of Heaven”.’[12] Draper’s death occurred the day after Wesley College in Melbourne was opened. He had been the ‘moving spirit’ responsible for its establishment.

Church membership peaked in 1864 when full members and those on trial totalled 190. In the 1860s the congregation was predominantly the well-to-do and leaders of the community. Members included Dr Corrigan, the headmaster of Wesley College, architects Thomas Crouch and Ralph Wilson, parliamentarian Alexander Fraser (a long-serving superintendent of the Sunday school) and F. E. Beaver, an insurance broker.[13] Another member was Richard Eades. A fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Eades emigrated to Australia in 1848. He was prominent in public affairs and a mayor of Melbourne. He was also a member of the Burke and Wills Exploration Committee.[14] John King, the survivor of the ill-fated expedition, also worshipped here. He never recovered from the ordeal and lived quietly in St Kilda, dying of tuberculosis at the age of thirty-one.[15] In a list dating from the 1860s, there were 127 men and fifty-nine female members. Miss Blanche Glass was the only woman for whom an occupation was given. She was a Post and Telegraph mistress. Mrs Fenton was the only other woman with an individual entry (possibly a widow). The other women were included with relatives.[16]

By 1900 membership had dropped to fewer than ninety and the decline continued in the twentieth century accompanied by an increasing inability to maintain the church. A 1965 report indicated the church interior was badly in need of renovation, with flaking paintwork, and that the freestone outside was deteriorating.[17] In late 1966 one of the pinnacles was displaced during a storm and they were all removed.

During this procedure, one was dropped causing considerable damage to the roof.[18] The congregation opted to join the Uniting Church and the church was closed. The final service was held on 25 June 1978.

By the 1990s the church and its buildings were in a sorry state. The church was used as a photographic studio in the early 1990s but was later unoccupied. Deciduous creeper had grown over the building, obscuring it. The hall was used by the St Kilda Alternative School for a time. The church was converted to flats and is now engulfed by a complex of offices and shops. The development plans were controversial and opposed by many but went ahead despite the Australian Heritage Commission citing the Wesleyan Church complex as having national estate historic values.[19] The citation stated it was ‘one of St Kilda’s oldest Churches and [it] has an association with the early development of the area. These prominent buildings, located on the corner of two of St Kilda’s main roads and forming an important part of a conservation area, are important for their aesthetic characteristics’.[20]

The Manse

A brick manse was built in Princes Street behind the church in 1856 at a cost of £500. Two years later it was altered to become a two-storey gable building with nine rooms for an extra £500. A sexton’s residence was also built in the 1850s.[21] The manse was demolished in 1888 because of weak foundations and a building in Grovesnor Street was rented until the second manse was completed in 1889. The architects were probably Percy Oakden and Ralph Wilson and the builder was T. B. Allen. A two-storey asymmetrical Gothic residence, it is typical of the late 1880s and considered a ‘particularly finely designed and detailed building’. It was converted into four flats after the new manse was built in 1926-27 and in 1955 became a men’s hostel.

The builder of the third manse was R. J. Jones with a competition-winning design by Alec Eggleston, which was however altered to provide for a more ornate facade. A single-storey red brick building in Tudobethan style, it features stuccoed dressings and a terracotta tile roof and cost £2095.[22] During the 1990s the 1887 manse was altered and some repairs were done while the 1926 manse remained in poor condition.[23]


At the end of 1853 a timber schoolhouse was built at a cost of £1750, the high cost reflecting the gold rush conditions.[24]In 1888 it was demolished and the materials recycled to build a caretaker’s cottage. A new brick school was erected. It was an important work of the architect Percy Oakden. Considered one of Melbourne’s finest examples of his work, it was gutted by a fire in 1990. Squatters were suspected of being responsible. In the 1990s large props supported the remaining walls of the schoolroom burnt out in 1990 and it was surrounded by wire fencing and ‘Keep Out’ signs.

[1]     A. Balcombe Griffiths and Yvonne von Hartel, ‘An Architectural History of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of St Kilda’, undergraduate thesis, Architecture, University of Melbourne, 1965, p. 4.

[2]     Cooper, History of St Kilda, p. 355.

[3]     See: Australian Dictionary of Biography.

[4]     Cooper, History of St Kilda, p. 355.

[5]     National Estate Database, ‘Wesleyan Methodist Church’.

[6]     Griffiths and von Hartel, ‘An Architectural History’, pp. 18-21; and National Estate Database, ‘Wesleyan Methodist Church’. Note: Cooper says 500 adults on p. 356.

[7]     John C. Symons, The Life of the Reverend Daniel James Draper, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1870, p. 224, cited in Griffiths and von Hartel, ‘An Architectural History’.

[8]     Lewis, Victorian Churches, p. 10.

[9]     Wesleyan Chronicle, 2 April 1864.

[10]    Griffiths and von Hartel, ‘An Architectural History’, p. 18.

[11]    Ibid., p. 30.

[12]    Australian Dictionary of Biography.

[13]    There is a biography of Corrigan in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

[14]    Ibid.

[15]    For details of King and the expedition see: Ibid.

[16]    Renate Howe, ‘The Wesley Church in Victoria, 1855-1901’, MA, Melbourne, n.d.

[17]    Griffiths and von Hartel, ‘An Architectural History’.

[18]    Margaret Gibbs, St Kilda Methodist Church, typescript, 1978. [Copy held at Uniting Church Archives.] This contains a list of incumbents from 1854-1950. The longest any served was four years.

[19]    National Estate Database, ‘Wesleyan Methodist Church’.

[20]    Australian Heritage Commission, Register of the National Estate Database, ‘Wesleyan Methodist Church Complex (former), St Kilda Vic’, database number: 014698, file number: 2/11/046/0089.

[21]    Ibid.

[22]    Ibid.

[23]    Ibid.

[24]    Griffiths and von Hartel, ‘An Architectural History’, pp. 4-5.

St Kilda Parish Mission Uniting Church

(formerly the Wesleyan Church)

Corner Chapel and Carlisle Streets, St Kilda

 In the 1870s, some people living in south St Kilda decided they wanted their own local Wesleyan church. Despite the opposition of some people living close to the St Kilda Wesleyan Church in Fitzroy Street, who feared the new church would be a drain on their church’s finances, fundraising began in July 1876 and a contract to build the church was signed on 22 December 1876. The position of the building was marked out on Christmas Day. The land had been reserved for a church in 1859 through the efforts and foresight of the Reverend Draper.

The architects were Crouch and Wilson. Crouch lived nearby on the other side of the railway line and was a long-serving trustee. He and his wife were commemorated in a 1950 stained-glass window. The polychromatic Gothic church with hawthorn face bricks and red and cream facings and a slate roof was opened on 23 May 1877. The cost of building was about £1060 and about half this amount had been raised when it opened. Built to accommodate 220 people, fifty-eight seats were taken when the church opened.[1] The turret measures 29 metres and is topped by an ornamental vane and is considered a local landmark. The stained-glass windows are by Ferguson & Wise. Inside, the main feature is the diagonal trusses at each corner of the junction of the nave and transepts, added in 1885 when the church was enlarged.[2] A side pulpit and solid screen across the sanctuary were added in 1938.

The 1891 two-manual organ of nine stops was built by Fincham and Hobday. It was classified of local significance by the National Trust of Australia in 1989. It ‘retains its mechanical action, detached console, tonal scheme, and attractive casework incorporating diapered pipework’.[3] It cost £235 and was never altered and is one of a small group of pipe organs in Melbourne in original condition.[4]

The congregation elected to join the Uniting Church in 1977 and the minister in 2002 is the Reverend John Tansey.


A school was built in 1879 and enlarged in 1887. A large brick room was later built for use as a kindergarten and classrooms.[5] It now operates as the St Kilda Drop In Centre for people with psychiatric disabilities. The Port Phillip Community Group, St Kilda Legal Services and Tenants Union have office space at this site.

[1]     Bick, St Kilda Conservation Study, p. 611.

[2]     Cooper, History of St Kilda, pp. 353-4.

[3]     National Trust of Australia (Victoria), ‘Fincham & Hobday Organ — Uniting Church’, file number: B6113.

[4]     Bick, St Kilda Conservation Study, pp. 609 and 611.

[5]     Cooper, History of St Kilda, pp. 353-4.

United Free Methodists (former)

96 Pakington Street, St Kilda

The United Free Methodist Church was established in 1857 with the union of the Arminian Methodists and the Wesleyan Methodist Association. The latter group had been formed by Methodists in 1836 in the large industrial cities of northern England who believed in lay rights rather than ministerial authority. The United Free Methodist Church was closer to Congregationalism than Wesleyan Methodism. In Australia it was strongest in Victoria but it was much weaker than other Methodist groups with only forty-four churches in Victoria in 1901.[1]

The foundation stone for the chapel was laid on 29 March 1859 by a Mr Orr. The land had been donated by Henry Jennings. The congregation had been holding services in a private house but increasing numbers dictated a larger venue.[2] It is one of the five oldest churches in St Kilda and is distinctive because it was not built for a major denomination. David Bick notes that there were very few United Methodist churches in Melbourne around the date this church was built and therefore presumably there are few if any of their buildings surviving. In addition, this United Free Methodist church and Sacred Heart in Grey Street are the only churches in St Kilda built in a Classical style. A brick porch was added probably early in the twentieth century and weatherboard rear additions were made and changes to the church itself. Without these alterations the church would have merited addition to the Register of the National Estate.[3] The building is now a private house.

Methodist Church (demolished)

Substation occupies site of the Church
Corner of Mitford Street and Austin Avenue, Elwood

 The first church was built in 1910 and moved in 1916 to Mitford Street. The foundation stone for a new church was laid on 25 May 1918 by the Reverend Arthur Powell. At the same time a memorial stone was laid by the Reverend R. J. Nance. It was officially opened on 20 October 1918. The congregations of Scots Church Elwood and the Elwood Methodist church united in 1968. The Methodist church was demolished and the land was sold to the State Electricity Commission and a substation was erected on the site. The communion table, dedicated to Margaret Barrie ‘who gave a lifetime of Faithful Service to this Church’, is now in Scots Church. The foundation and memorial stones are also at Scots Church.[1]

[1]     ‘Elwood Presbyterian Church 90th Anniversary’, typescript, courtesy of Robert Belcher.

Congregationalist Churches

Independent (Congregational) Church (demolished)

East St Kilda Uniting Church (former) (formerly East St Kilda Congregational Church)

Independent (Congregational) Church



       9 Alma Road, St Kilda

In the nineteenth century, Congregationalists usually called their churches ‘Independent’. This church was one of the first Independent Churches built outside the city of Melbourne. It was built on land which was sold in 1851 and was part of the second major subdivision of land in St Kilda.[1] The church had local significance because it was a landmark on St Kilda Hill, which is a historic precinct of metropolitan significance, and for its relationship with neighbouring buildings, especially the Presbyterian Church.[2]

The early history of the Congregationalists in St Kilda is uncertain. Cooper records that the first Congregational service in St Kilda was held in a tent on Marine Terrace in December 1855.[3] However, E. N. Mathews states that a wooden building in Alma Road was opened in 1853 for Congregational services and that an iron church was imported from England in 1855.[4] Timothy Hubbard concluded that the 1853 building may have been relocated to make way for the new iron church. He also suggested that a brick building may have been built in the 1860s and could have survived in the existing structure but that no tender notice or other evidence was located.[5] To support his view was the fact that the brick of the side and end walls differed markedly from the polychrome brick facade.

On 15 November 1874, the church was reopened ‘after undergoing extensive repairs, 1,000 pounds being spent on the improvements which included a new front, choir gallery and organ’.[6] The opening services were performed by the Reverend W. R. Fletcher in the morning and the Reverend J. J. Halley in the evening.

William Henry Ellerker, an important architect, a Congregationalist and mayor of St Kilda in 1885-86, is thought to have been responsible for the design of the church.[7] He arrived in Australia in 1853 and began work for Thomas Kemp of Knight, Kemp and Kerr in Melbourne. The company was responsible for the new Houses of Parliament. Ellerker later worked for the Public Works and Railways departments before moving to Queensland for three years. He returned to Melbourne in 1866 and established his own business and was responsible for the Temperance, Horticultural and Protestant halls in Melbourne and many private homes. Edward Kilburn joined him in 1885 and the firm designed the Federal Coffee Palace, ‘justly considered one of the handsomest buildings in Australia’.[8] Although a prolific and well-known architect, Ellerker designed very few churches.

The church design was ‘loosely Early English Gothic Revival and used polychrome brickwork for its chief effect. Its form was that of a simple hall church’.[9] The church had polychrome brick (cream and red) on the facade and pink bricks on the side and rear. It had a gabled slate roof. All the windowsills were bluestone. At the rear was a weatherboard extension and detached brick classrooms with bluestone footings.[10] The interior was typical for its period with a balcony at the northern end, the balustrade richly panelled with Gothic motifs. The flat floor was ‘unusual, perhaps’ for a Congregational church of this period. There were three stained-glass windows. The west window had the text, ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy’ and the east window had ‘Honour thy Father and thy Mother’. The eastern banner of the centre window proclaimed ‘Suffer little children to come unto me’ and Christ was depicted with a group of children and women.[11]

A major Congregationalist benefactor was Thomas Fulton, ‘a most worthy resident of Early St. Kilda, and a pillar of the Congregationalist Church’.[12] With Robert Langlands, he started the first iron foundry and engineering shop in Melbourne. He contributed £1000 of the £5000 required to bring ministers to Australia during the gold rushes. One of the group was the Reverend Richard Fletcher, the first Congregational minister in St Kilda. Fulton was tragically killed in an accident at a mine in Bendigo. His funeral procession was more than a mile long.[13]

Three eminent Congregationalists had brief associations with the St Kilda Independent Church. William Roby Fletcher MA, the third son of the Reverend Richard Fletcher, was also a Congregational Minister. After completing his studies in England, he joined his father in 1856. They briefly shared the pastoral duties of St Kilda and Brighton before William moved to pastorates in Bendigo, Richmond and Adelaide, where he also taught and served as vice-chancellor of the University of Adelaide. In addition to theological publications he also wrote on Egyptian archaeology and his broad interests had a great influence on the intellectual life of Adelaide.[14]

Alexander Gosman, a Congregational theologian and social reformer, was called to the St Kilda Independent Church in 1863. The following year he moved to the Congregational College of Victoria and was its principal from 1876 to 1913. He was a founder of the Bible in State Schools League, the first president of the Anti-Sweating League and active in the Charity Organization Society.[15] James Jefferis, Congregational minister, lecturer and journalist, married Marian Turner in the St Kilda Independent Church on 11 April 1866. His pastorates were in Adelaide and later Sydney. He worked for a more organised Congregationalism and supported Protestant union.[16]

Classrooms were built in 1875 and four years later a new organ was installed. In 1888 the congregation and the organ moved to a new church, St John’s, on the corner of Barkly and Mitford Streets, near the Village Belle Hotel in South St Kilda.[17] The church and the detached building at the rear, probably the original classrooms, were sold to the nearby Presbyterian Church. The church was used as a Sunday school for many years until the early 1970s. It was subsequently used as a dance studio. It was demolished in the 1990s and in October 2002 the site was part of a huge excavation, apparently the preparation for a high rise building. St John’s closed in 1974 and gave its hymn books, carpets and curtains to their sister church, East St Kilda Congregational Church. St John’s has also been demolished.

[1]     Timothy Hubbard, ‘The Former Independent Church, 9 Alma Road West, St Kilda: A report to the Minister for Planning and Urban Growth supporting the addition of the building to the register of classified buildings in the St Kilda planning scheme’, Timothy Hubbard Pty Ltd, South Melbourne, 1991, p. 16. See also: National Trust, Submission to the Historic Buildings Council on the Former Congregational Church 1874, 29 August 1883, HBC file 84/3046.

[2]     Hubbard, ‘The Former Independent Church’, p. 9.

[3]     Cooper, History of St Kilda, p. 70.

[4]     E. N. Matthews, Colonial Organs and Organ Builders, p. 149, cited in Hubbard, ‘The Former Independent Church’, p. 16.

[5]     Ibid., p. 17.

[6]     Ibid.

[7]     Ibid., p. 20.

[8]     Alexander Sutherland, Victoria and its Metropolis, vol. 11B, p. 516. See also: Gibbney and Smith, A Biographical Register 1788-1939, vol. 1, p. 207.

[9]     Hubbard, The Former Independent Church’, p. 22.

[10]    Ibid., p. 26.

[11]    Ibid., p. 27. The western banner has not survived.

[12]    Cooper, History of St Kilda, p. 367.

[13]    Ibid., pp. 368-9.

[14]    Australian Dictionary of Biography.

[15]    Ibid.

[16]    Ibid.

[17]    E. N. Matthews, Colonial Organs and Organ Builders, p. 149, cited in Hubbard, ‘The Former Independent Church’, p. 16.

East St Kilda Uniting Church (former)

(formerly East St Kilda Congregational Church)

Corner Hotham & Inkerman Streets, St Kilda East

 The second Congregationalist Church established in St Kilda was centred on the East St Kilda area. There was a building in Inkerman Street, on the south side between Balston and Westbury Streets, used for services and probably another meeting place was used, although the site is unknown.[1] Eminent men associated with the foundation of the new church and who served as deacons were Thomas Fulton, who was also involved with the Alma Street Congregationalists, and Sir Frederick Sargood, the owner of the spectacular house and garden Ripponlea. The Hon. George Rolfe, a state politician who served in both Houses of Parliament, donated land in Westbury Street (originally called Cannon Street). A wooden chapel was built, which had 180 seatings and was opened on 15 September 1865. The minister was the Reverend W. H. Lawrence. Rolfe served as the Superintendent of the Sunday school for many years.

In August 1885, although there were fewer than fifty members, the bold decision was made to buy the land on the corner of Hotham and Inkerman Streets for £750. The cost was partially offset by the sale of the land at Westbury Street. It was decided to move the Westbury chapel intact to the new site. As the chapel was being hauled along Inkerman Street, the entire structure collapsed onto the road, opposite Chusan Street. All weekend, male volunteers mounted a vigil over the wreckage and the female members kept them supplied with refreshments. Eventually the wreckage was removed and the chapel was re-erected. The contractor was paid an extra £12-10-0 for the additional work entailed. The chapel was used as a Sunday school when the new church was built.

In 1886 three architects associated with the congregation were invited to submit designs and while J. Russell Browne’s design was judged the best, that of Hillson Beasley was adopted because it would be more affordable.[2] The memorial stone was laid by Mrs Albert Spicer on 28 October 1887. The wife of a prominent member of the British House of Commons, she expressed delight at the gift presented to her of two emu eggs mounted in silver on an Australian wood stand. The builder was James Potter and it cost £3069. Money had been donated from the Victorian Jubilee Fund, which singled out the church at East St Kilda as a major recipient. The church was opened on 10 May 1888.

The church is distinctive architecturally because it is a late polychrome brick church. The use of brickwork interspersed with stone makes an attractive facade. The building consists of a nave, transepts placed beneath double transverse gables and an octagonal turret to the north west. The planned spire, apse and vestries were never built.[3] Congregational churches focus on the proclamation of the word and therefore place emphasis on the pulpit. Brass memorial plaques are preferred to memorial stained-glass windows.[4]

The organ, described as a ‘little gem’,[5] was built by Fincham about 1870. Its history is unknown before it was hired by this congregation in April 1886 for use in the chapel at Westbury Street. It was moved into the new church and bought in 1890 for £85. It was a single-manual chamber organ of six stops. The church and organ were classified by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria).[6] The organ was sold to a private owner after services ended in 1996.

The 1890s Depression brought financial ruin to many wealthy people and unemployment soared. Church members tried to help the poor and unemployed at a time when the church itself was in financial difficulty and the members less able to donate money. The women collected money for the unemployed, held a concert to buy fabric for the poor to make clothes and in mid 1894 started a soup kitchen, which opened three times a week. The following year, they extended their efforts by providing lectures, concerts and social evenings for the unemployed. In addition, they organised fairs to raise money for the church. One of these was held in the grounds of Ripponlea. A scheme of district visitation was also embarked upon whereby six women and one man visited poor areas, offering advice and financial assistance when possible.

Like many other churches at the time, guilds were established. The Christian Guild and its juvenile branch aimed to ‘promote sociability, rational recreation and intellectual and spiritual improvement’.[7] This was to be achieved through fortnightly activities such as Bible studies, essays, lectures and music. The youngsters met weekly for talks, concerts and temperance lectures. On museum night, the Reverend E. Taylor, who had been a missionary in Madagascar, showed the children Malagasy handcrafts and J. Russell Browne displayed a tiny working model of a steam engine.

The church’s honour board is unusual for including the names of two nurses who served abroad: Nellie Stephenson and Sister Gertrude Irvine.

By 1940 the old chapel, now used as a Sunday school, was beyond repair and the land was subdivided and the building sold. The rear of the church was redesigned to incorporate a hall and create a kitchen. The seating was reduced from about 400 to about 200 and later to 150 and the organ was moved. The manual blowing was at last superseded by electricity ‘to the relief of Frank Whelan’, who had performed the task for many years. (In the 1880s the fee for this task was ten shillings per month but payment ceased during the 1890s Depression.) A brick addition at the rear of the church was named the Stephenson Sunday School Kindergarten in honour of the longest serving minister. In the 1990s it was being used as an office for the parish and the Centre for Creative Ministries.

After World War II, the church had an active Sunday school and library, Young Worshippers League, gymnasium clubs for boys and girls and tennis teams. But, like so many other churches, East St Kilda Congregational Church endured a long period of decline. Gradually the various fellowship groups were abandoned and its Sunday school was one of the last to close in the district. The congregation survived through the dedication and determination of a small group, notably members of the Whelan family, which had four generations of association with the church. Typically, it was the older family members who by regularly volunteering to serve on the committees sustained the church because the younger family members had moved from St Kilda.

In 1977 many Congregationalist, Methodist and Presbyterian congregations joined the newly created Uniting Church. After voting twice against Church Union, East St Kilda was the last Victorian Congregational church to vote in favour of Union, and then only with the narrowest of margins. A two-thirds majority was required to join and the vote was eight for Union and three opposed. When the Union came into effect, the church had eighteen members. The Reverend John Woodruff concluded his ministry at St Kilda East Congregational Church at the end of 1977 and the Reverend J. Villiers Mills, the minister at St George’s Presbyterian Church, became the minister of the new East St Kilda Uniting Church parish, which consisted of Windsor and East St Kilda Congregational Churches and St George’s. In the following decade, the tiny East St Kilda congregation displayed a ‘remarkable spirit of tenacity’ in organising around key events such as harvest festival, the church’s anniversary and the annual thanksgiving appeal. The Baptist Lay Preachers Society assisted by providing people to lead services. With the appointment of the Reverend Graeme Warne to the parish, better cooperation gradually developed. When the church at Windsor closed, the former Congregational church gained five new members. The Reverend Norman Marshall served as interim parish minister during 1990-91 before the appointment of the Reverend John Bottomley. Steps were already under way to adopt a statement of Mission and Ministry for the parish and this resulted in a new initiative, the Centre for Creative Ministries, based at the former Congregational church. An agency of the East St Kilda Uniting Church parish, it creates worship, faith development and community programs that relate to theology and the arts.[8]

[1]     Jack L. Barnes, A History of the East St Kilda Congregational Church, East St Kilda Uniting Church Parish Council, Burwood, c. 1995.

[2]     The architect John Little is also given credit for the design in Lewis, Victorian Churches, p. 85.

[3]     Ibid., p. 85.

[4]     There is a comprehensive list of the many plaques in Barnes, A History of the East St Kilda Congregational Church.

[5]     Ibid.

[6]     National Trust of Australia (Victoria), ‘Uniting Church and Organ — St Kilda East, file number: B5966.

[7]     Barnes, A History of the East St Kilda Congregational Church, p. 49.

[8]     See also: Faith Works!, video, Centre for Creative Ministries, focussing on an art exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Baptist Churches

Particular Baptist Church (former)

Baptist Church

Particular Baptist Church (former)

16 Crimea Street, St Kilda

 Despite the convention of avoiding two churches in a suburb, two Baptist churches were built in St Kilda reflecting its dual character. In 1876, the Particular Baptists built a polychromatic hawthorn-brick church on St Kilda Hill at 16 Crimea Street. The architect of this attractive gable-roofed, rectangular building was Thomas Matthews. The polychromatic brickwork on the buttresses and window surrounds is a simple but original use of this decorative technique. Particular Baptists were strongly Calvinist and believed Christ died for the elect, the Church. Within forty years the congregation had dwindled and the church was closed in 1922 and sold to the Balaclava Lodge of Freemasons. Since then it has operated as Masonic Temple 162.[1]

[1]     Nigel Lewis and Associates, St Kilda Conservation Study, Area 1: Final Report, City of St Kilda and the Historic Buildings Preservation Council, September 1982.

Baptist Church

9 Pakington Street, St Kilda

 In contrast to the exclusivity of the Particular Baptists and the relative grandeur of their church, a General Baptist congregation was established in the valley below St Kilda Hill amidst poor working-class homes. General Baptists believe Christ died for everyone. For thirty-five years, this group met in halls rented from various organisations such as the Australian Natives Association, and in the St Kilda Town Hall. In 1907 a new minister, acting against the advice of the church leaders, bought a block of land in his own name. Eight years later, a Sunday school hall was built on the block. The foundation stone was laid by George Doery, the president of the Baptist Union of Victoria, on 27 March 1915. W. Rain was the architect and H. R. Stewart was the minister. The building was intended as a precursor to the church that would be built when there was sufficient money.[1] There never was enough money — the congregation consisted mainly of poor workers and Baptists rejected any government assistance for the construction of churches.

Although built as a hall, the simple red brick church had a stained-wood cathedral ceiling and a high pulpit, although it lacked an organ or stained-glass windows. The builder was a Mr Brett. His son Mervyn built the adjoining back hall some years later, which has been used by many youth groups and play groups over the years. After World War II the numbers declined dramatically and Mervyn’s daughter Edna was one of the stalwarts who sought to keep the church open, serving as church secretary and treasurer and running a youth group.[2] By the 1980s the congregation had had no regular minister for more than twenty years and relied on a series of student and interim ministers to survive. The church remained open and determinedly held a morning and evening service where a handful of worshippers would attend. Members also developed a special relationship with Scottsdale Special Accommodation House at 51 Alma Road, holding a monthly service there for the residents.

In 1981 Dr Peter Broughton agreed to an interim ministry of three months and remained for three years at the ailing church. Despite a primarily elderly membership of only about fifteen, they were ‘low in numbers but not in spirit’. Broughton observed young couples would come to services but drift away because there were no other people their age. The church was about to be shut down when he persuaded the church leaders to acquire the adjacent block of flats with the idea that this would attract young families who were saving to buy their own homes. Funds came from the sale of the old manse and its very large block of land, which had occurred in the early 1970s ‘at a give-away price’.[3] The congregation was also assisted by the Legion of Donors, a fund to help struggling churches, which covered the cost of renovating the flats. It was an attempt to attract and retain young families and thereby revitalise the congregation.

In 1984 Tim Costello was called to the St Kilda Baptist church. He and his wife Merridie had been studying theology at Rueshlikon College in Switzerland and expressed their interest in church-planting or re-building in a neglected part of Melbourne. Costello rebuilt the congregation, opened a drop-in centre and a legal service for those for whom the law is normally inaccessible. Elected mayor of St Kilda Council in 1993, he gained a reputation as a champion of local democracy. In November 1999, Costello became National President of the Baptist Union of Australia. One of his books, Streets of Hope: Finding God in St Kilda, describes his mission in St Kilda and the characters who made the ministry so special — and challenging. By 1988 the church had grown to capacity with more than 100 people involved in home groups. This created its own problems, trying to absorb new people and integrating young people into an elderly congregation.

Some of these ‘old timers’ were fondly described by Merridie Costello in a booklet marking the couple’s ten years at the church and in Costello’s Streets of Hope. They represent the ‘battlers’ who struggled financially and were often socially disadvantaged, yet were sustained by their faith and dedicated to their church and their community. Freda Ellingham had been the church pianist and attended the church all her life and lived for more than eighty years in the one street, Inkerman Street. Barbara Ramsay worked tirelessly for the church as a musician, running the Ladies Drop-in and helping at the Op Shop. Ces Swinson served as a deacon and spent much time at the Op Shop and in helping others. Ada Jackson was born in 1910 and spent most of her life in St Kilda, attending the Baptist Church with her family since 1916. She loved being part of the tennis team. (The tennis court adjoined the church and was replaced by the flats.) Ada was married in the Baptist Church in 1935 but was widowed and raised her three young children alone. In the 1970s she was heartbroken at the thought the church would close and watched the developments of the 1980s with enthusiasm. She enjoyed the friendship of Prime Timers, one of the groups established. Having vowed never to leave St Kilda, she collapsed and died there on 26 June 1992.[4]

 Important initiatives that have been part of the revitalisation of the Baptist presence in St Kilda include Machaseh House (the name is Hebrew for refuge) at 86 Brighton Road, Elsternwick, bought in 1986. This was envisaged as a community house for people who needed special accommodation. It now houses secondary students who need supportive accommodation. An Op Shop called ‘Everything But’ was opened in May 1988 at 162 Carlisle Street. By mid 1994 it had earned over $90,000. The House of Hope, the West St Kilda Baptist Mission, is located in a disused Uniting Church manse at 1 Princes Street. It was formerly run by the Presbyterian Church and called ‘Life Exchange’. It was developed as a drop-in centre with living quarters for the co-ordinator but closed in 1997.

In 1995 the St Kilda Baptist Church took responsibility for the management of Scottsdale, a large rooming house in Alma Road. This was converted to a Supported Residential Service (SRS) and has been managed by the church community ever since. It is the only not-for-profit SRS in Victoria and provides housing for nineteen adults with psychiatric disability. The residents have high needs of support and supervision. Most are living with a psychiatric illness and require significant medical and domestic assistance. The church community provides a range of volunteer assistance and a board of management.

Digby Hannah was appointed pastor in 1998 and is now serving his fifth year in this capacity. The church maintains its commitment to social justice principles and continues to understand Jesus as having modelled a way of life whereby power is shared with those who are weak and dignity ascribed to those on the margins of society. Many people who first joined Tim and Merridie Costello during the 1980s remain in the church community. Many of these people are married with young families and have settled in an inner suburb that has now become thoroughly gentrified. The tensions of living in such a materialistic and upwardly mobile community are evident within the church community. The challenge to maintain a commitment to the disadvantaged within this locality is as difficult and as pressing as ever. Under the church’s auspices, Machaseh House continues to provide for four teenagers who would otherwise be homeless and Scottsdale continues to care for people with psychiatric illness. The church also conducts an evening called ‘Saturday night mayhem’ designed to provide social opportunities for intellectually disabled young people.[5]

[1]     Tim Costello, Streets of Hope: Finding God in St Kilda, Allen & Unwin and Albatross Books, St Leonards, 1998, pp. 77-9.

[2]     Ibid., p.79.

[3]     Merridie Costello, (ed.), ‘Celebrating 1984-1994’, 1994, p. 2. Copy courtesy of Pastor Digby Hannah.

[4]     Ibid. and Costello, Streets of Hope, pp. 79-80.

[5]     Pastor Digby Hannah, email to author, 6 September 2002.

Salvation Army

Balaclava Corps Hall (former)

Balaclava Corps Hall (former)

17 Camden Street, Balaclava

The Balaclava Corps of the Salvation Army began in 1889. A hall (citadel) was built in Camden Street, Balaclava in 1892. The land was bought on 17 June that year for £298 and the building cost £603. Only a small number of nineteenth century churches were built by the Salvation Army in Melbourne. This one is a simple, gabled building with a symmetrical facade and a central entrance. Two memorial stones were laid on 16 November 1892, one by Peter Cousin and the other by Staff Captain Saunders, which are now painted over. The Primary Hall was opened on 27 April 1929 by Colonel Burton. Large crowds were present and in the evening the Hawthorn Band and Songsters gave a ‘splendid’ program.[1]

Balaclava Corps held annual harvest festivals, which lasted more than a week with several services on Sundays, open air meetings, Home League rallies and musical programs. Some of the latter were held outdoors with members in uniform, and hundreds of people gathered to listen and watch. There were also annual fairs and the self-denial drives. It was noted in 1931 that it was ‘very hard this year’ to raise funds as the impact of the economic depression began to take hold. The following year the result was halved but this was attributed to the opening of the Elsternwick Corps. From October 1950, it was ‘worked from Balaclava’.

A ‘Drunks’ Raid’ was held on 25 June 1932 with the assistance of the Staff Band but the ‘History Book’ records: ‘An enthusiastic effort but not enough of drunks’. The first mention of Christmas carolling was in 1937. It was described as a ‘splendid success’. By 1964 they were entertaining people with a cornet and accordion player backed by records, the performance being ‘appreciated by the public’.

In 1935 a house at 52 Blessington Street, St Kilda, was left to the corps by a Mr Lyons. It was used as officers quarters. The hall was remodelled and renovated in 1939 and re-opened by Councillor Maroney from St Kilda City Council.

In 1938 the Young People work was handicapped by the polio epidemic. The program closed for three months but the workers kept in touch with the children by visiting their homes on Sunday afternoons to hear their lessons.

Celebrating the Jubilee with Adjutant Oakley

When Balaclava Corps celebrated its jubilee in 1939 the Corps Officer was Adjutant Oakley. The War Cry carried photographs of various groups, including the Corps Band, the Young People’s Singing Company, the Sunbeam Brigade, the Home League, the Corps Cadet Brigade and the Timbrel Brigade.

In February 1951 permission was granted for the first time in St Kilda for Salvation Army bands to hold an afternoon program on the beach. The Springvale and Hawthorn bands were well received.

Numbers gradually declined because of the ageing membership. On Christmas morning 1964 fourteen people were present and this was described as ‘well attended’. In December 1974 twenty-one adults and nine children attended the Christmas Corps Tea. The Balaclava Corps of the Salvation Army held its final meeting on 4 January 1976 with sixty people in attendance. It was conducted by Colonel H. Preston and Colonel Allen Sharp spoke about earlier days. He had been sworn in at the corps when his parents were stationed there. A corps flag was given to Sister Lois Mangalsinghe for use by the corps in Sri Lanka. Colonel Preston closed the door of the hall for the last time as a citadel. Ethel Clark, a former soldier, fondly recalled her association with the corps from 1918-32. She wrote of:

Pa Florey & his flute, Tom Burt & Eric Langley with their lovely solos & Annie Dewar singing Sunday afternoons “His eye is on the sparrow”.
Dear old white headed Mrs Woodford, I thought she was a saint.
Bro. Green on the drum who always prayed with his eyes open.
Faithful consistent Charlie Brown.
Blind Tom Wells ...
The Corps Officers — what an impact they made on our young lives ...
Kneedrill, three open airs, three meetings and Sunday School on a Sunday, & something else on every night in the week. We were kept busy but we loved it.
The open airs were held after very long distances from the Hall & we marched back from them (no cars in those days).[2]

The building was sold to the local Ukrainian Orthodox parish but the Salvation Army maintains a crisis centre at 29-31 Grey Street, which does significant work, including helping victims of domestic violence, conducting a needle-exchange program and providing crisis accommodation, and a Bridge Program at 12 Chapel Street, which assists those seeking drug withdrawal. It also conducts weekly services in the former Free Presbyterian Church at 12B Chapel Street, St Kilda.

[1]     This account is based on the ‘Balaclava History Book’ and Balaclava Corps file, both at the Salvation Army Territorial Archives & Museum, Melbourne.

[2]     Ethel Clark (née Craig), letter describing her childhood, 1918-32.

Life Christian Church

Originally the Church of the Rock

later St Kilda Port Phillip Community Church

(Assembly of God)

Elwood Beach Community Centre, The Esplanade, Elwood

David and Rosanna Palmer began the Church of the Rock in about 1985. They were members of a rock band and had recorded an album and were set to go to America but received the call to pioneer a church with a focus on outreach. They held concerts in parks in St Kilda and later ‘church in the park’ which combined music and preaching. These were very popular and attracted young families whose children could play in the park while the service was being conducted. Street people were also attracted to the services and various other activities. Once, the Easter story was being re-enacted and when the person playing Christ suffering on the cross said, ‘Will no-one help me?’ a man in the audience was so engrossed by the drama he shouted out, ‘I’ll help you, mate’.

Over the years, the church leased various locations for the church and its office, including Elwood Secondary College.

Tania Harris was called to this congregation in 2000. The congregation moved to its present location at The Esplanade in Elwood and adopted the name of Elwood Life Christian Church. It is non-traditional and focuses on having a contemporary feel which appeals to the younger generation. A Children’s Program is also being developed. The congregation organises Carols by the Beach at Christmas time and is involved in the Elwood Community Festival. Mark and Judy Corrigan are the new pastors in 2003.

Parish of Sacred Assumption of Holy Virgin

(Autocephalic Orthodox Church)

This congregation was established after World War II. On 16 February 1976 members of the parish voted to sell parish land and also the land left by the late T. Pawluk in order to buy new church premises.[1] It now occupies the former Salvation Army Hall. The members of the Balaclava corps of the Salvation Army had held their final meeting there on 4 January 1976. The interior has been elaborately decorated according to Ukrainian Orthodox tradition.


[1]     S. Radion, History of the Parish of Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Balaclava in Ukrainian, n.p., c. 1987. Note: this book is in the Ukrainian language.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

84-86 Carlisle Street, St Kilda

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have conducted services in St Kilda since 1963. The first location was the ANA Hall, Blanch Street, St Kilda. Plans to build a Kingdom Hall at 84-86 Carlisle Street, St Kilda, began in 1983 when the land was purchased with money raised from voluntary contributions. The hall was built by the ‘quick build’ system and was erected in three days in 1989. The period style was chosen to complement the neighbourhood.

The congregation is multicultural with many nations represented. There are many young ones in the congregation, young singles and young married couples. All are ministers of the Bible and are active in the preaching activity started by Jesus Christ.

For more information about Jehovah’s Witnesses and their activities see the website: www.watchtower.org

Jewish Congregations

St Kilda Hebrew Congregation Sassoon Yehuda Sephardi Synagogue

Elwood Talmud Torah Congregation

Temple Beth Israel

Adass Israel Congregation

St Kilda Hebrew Congregation

Sassoon Yehuda Sephardi Synagogue

12 Charnwood Grove, St Kilda

 The first Jewish service was held in Melbourne in 1840 with ten people attending.[1] Like many other well-to-do people, wealthy Jewish merchants were attracted to living in fashionable St Kilda in the 1860s and 1870s. Many of the Jews living in St Kilda at this time were originally from Germany and had lived in England before migrating to Australia. The best known was Moritz Michaelis. He was born in 1820 in Germany and arrived in Victoria in 1853. He established a tannery in Footscray with his nephew Isaac Hallenstein. St Kilda’s Jews held services in the Wesleyan Church hall, Fitzroy Street, and also joined with the East Melbourne congregation.

By 1871 there were about fifty Jewish families living in the St Kilda area and Michaelis and others pushed to establish a St Kilda congregation. A meeting on Sunday 3 September 1871 at the home of Israel Bloomington, in Chapel Street, St Kilda, resolved to form the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation. Michaelis was elected President. The new congregation held services at the first St Kilda Town Hall, at the junction of Barkly and Grey Streets. On 1 July 1872 Michaelis, assisted by I. Bloomington, laid the foundation stone for a synagogue at 17 Charnwood Grove. The consecration ceremony was held on 29 September with a large gathering in attendance, including many non-Jewish people. The Reverend Moses Rintel, the East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation’s minister, officiated and the Reverend A. F. Ornstein, the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation’s minister, preached the sermon. The architects were Crouch and Wilson. It was a departure for the former, who was best known for his many Methodist churches.[2] The contractor was H. S. Gardner. The humble building, ‘reminiscent of a non-conformist meeting house’, was extended in the 1880s and twin domed towers were added to the facade.

 Elias Blaubaum, a twenty-five-year-old born in Germany, was contracted for three years as minister but remained at St Kilda until his death thirty-one years later in 1904, aged fifty-four. He began to learn English on the boat on his way to Australia and initially he preached in German, which most of the adults in the congregation understood. His many achievements make him ‘one of the greatest figures in the entire Australian Jewish story’.[3] He was instrumental in establishing the Montefiore Homes for aged and infirm Jews and founded and edited the Jewish Herald, a high quality Orthodox paper. An intellectual, Blaubaum supported the campaign to open the Melbourne Public Library on Sundays and championed the right of women to higher education and economic independence.[4]

In January 1874 the first choir of ‘Young Ladies’ was formed and in 1883 the ladies’ gallery was enlarged. In 1905 women joined the male choir, boosting the numbers to twenty-two. In 1904 structural alterations and extensions were made to the synagogue under the supervision of Nahum Barnet. Michaelis had died in November 1902 and bequeathed £500 for this work.

Reverend Jacob Danglow was appointed in 1904. Five years later he married May Baruch, granddaughter of Moritz Michaelis. During World War I, 113 men from the congregation enlisted and of these nineteen died. The Reverend Danglow served as the Jewish Chaplain for the Australian Imperial Forces on the Western Front for several months before the end of the war. On Chanukah, 12 December 1920, the congregation’s roll of honour was unveiled by Sir John Monash, the distinguished corps commander of the Australian Imperial Forces during its victories in August 1918 when the Allies broke through the Hindenburg Line.[5] Monash joined the congregation the same year and served on the Board of Management. In 1921 Danglow published a history of the congregation to celebrate its golden jubilee.

The foundation stone for the new synagogue, to be built almost opposite the original, was laid on 28 February 1926. F. D. Michaelis, the eldest son of Moritz Michaelis, followed in his father’s footsteps as president and in laying the stone. The Reverend Danglow officiated. The last service at the old synagogue was held on 12 March 1927 and the following day the new, significantly larger, synagogue was consecrated. Described by Cooper as an ‘imposing structure of Byzantine design’, it was designed by Joseph Plottel based on a synagogue in Chicago. The contractor was­  H. H. Eilenberg.[6] A large dome clad in Wunderlich metal tiles surmounts the red brick building with its three-arched entrance. A central aisle leads to the Bimah (reading desk) and behind it are the pulpit and Aron (Holy Ark) and above them the choir gallery. The decoration around the ark and dais reflects a Spanish influence. The large bronze doors were erected in 1955 to commemorate Danglow’s twenty-five years of ministry. Harrison Hall was built on the site of the old synagogue and opened in 1932 for use as a community centre. Another hall, Samuel Myers Hall, opened in 1940. In 1943 the brass pulpit from the old synagogue was presented to the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation.

Danglow is remembered for his profound influence on young people. Sir Zelman Cowen, a distinguished scholar and the second Jewish Governor-General, recalled his admiration for the man and the leadership he displayed within the congregation and the wider community. Cowen remembered that Danglow kept a pile of books specially for children beside the pulpit.[7] Trevor Rapke was inspired by Danglow to become a rabbi but was tactfully dissuaded and pursued a successful career, becoming the first Jewish judge appointed to the County Court.[8] He also campaigned to have women admitted as voting members but this did not occur until May 1975.

Danglow served as senior Jewish chaplain to the Australian Army in World War II and visited New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. He represented the Anglo-Jew, wearing a clerical collar and being known as John rather than Jacob. Instead of attempting to maintain a strict Orthodox community in Australia, he promoted the middle path, urging newly arrived refugees, survivors of the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust, to assimilate as soon as possible. He opposed the struggle for national independence of Jews in Palestine, favouring instead a Jewish homeland in Palestine under the British mandate. This, and his apparent lack of sympathy for Jewish refugees, combined with the increase in secular leadership of the Jewish community after World War II diminished his influence in his later life.[9] On 1 July 1957 Rabbi Danglow retired after fifty-one years of service to the congregation. He had been accorded the title ‘rabbi’ on 5 June 1934 on his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. He died in 1962, aged eighty-two. On 10 May 1970 the War Memorial Annexe (Danglow Centre) was opened to house the administration and a youth centre. The elderly also attend for social activities and English classes are held there too.


Rabbi Dr Herman was inducted as Chief Minister on 29 September 1959 and during his period of service the Sunday school attendance peaked with 160 enrolments. On 27 March 1963 Rabbi Ronald Lubofsky was inducted. He retired in April 1988. During his time at St Kilda Synagogue he introduced changes in the pronunciation of Hebrew and re-introduced the all-male choir. He also founded the Jewish Museum of Australia. On 20 November 1984 the refurbished centre in the Samuel Myers Hall was named in honour of Adele Southwick. Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn was inducted as Chief Minister in May 1988, the fifth in the congregation’s history, and is the current incumbent in 2002. Born and educated in South Africa, he and his family emigrated to Australia in 1979. Blessed with a beautiful tenor voice, he regularly appears in concerts and the synagogue’s Chazanut (religious singing) Concerts. He is one of Australia’s most senior and respected Rabbinic leaders and spokesmen.[1] In 1998 the renovated Danglow Centre offices were opened. The synagogue was listed on the Historic Buildings Register on 1 January 2001.

After World War II many Eastern European refugees came to Australia and many settled in St Kilda. The St Kilda Synagogue became the place of worship for many of these newcomers. It is considered a modern Orthodox Congregation although some of the well-loved German or Anglo-Orthodox traditions are still observed, such as choral services and the custom of wardens wearing top hats and tails.


The Hebrew School was established in 1872. In 1874 it was advertised that there were to be two classes with a maximum of twenty-five children in each. New schoolrooms were built in the grounds of the synagogue in 1896. In recent times the congregation has supported the Jewish Day School concept.

Elwood Talmud Torah Congregation

39 Dickens Street, Elwood

Contributed by Yossi Aron

The Elwood Talmud Torah Hebrew Congregation has its origins in the expansion of Melbourne’s Jewish community prior to World War II and the post-Holocaust European immigration of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The congregation began with a private Minyan (prayer service) held in the home of Joseph Fisher from about 1932. In 1938 premises were found at 40 Mitford Street, where services were held and a part-time Talmud Torah school provided after school and Sunday morning instruction in the Jewish religion. As Jews fled their homelands in Central and Eastern Europe in the lead up to World War II and the impending catastrophe, many settled in Melbourne. Increased numbers put pressure on the facilities as well as making it clear that the congregation faced a solid future. At peak times, services took place in halls in Acland Street, St Kilda, and Hennessy Avenue, Elwood.

Permanent premises were acquired at 26 Avoca Avenue in 1942. The existing house was renovated to serve as a home for the congregation through the turbulent post-war years until the further increase in numbers led to another move. The house was used for prayer services as well as for a Talmud Torah (part-time religious school) that grew to become one of Melbourne’s largest. The building was later sold and became a Scout Hall and remains as such to this day.

In the early 1950s President Abe Sicree realised that the congregation had outgrown the Avoca Avenue premises. Independently he decided to buy the current site of the congregation at 39 Dickens Street with the intention of ensuring the congregation has sufficient room for synagogue, school and communal hall. The foundation stone was laid on 26 February 1956 by past president Aaron Cohen JP in the presence of the then president S. Gandel. Mr Popper was the architect. The building was completed and opened in September 1957, in time for the High Holidays. The following year Rabbi Chaim Gutnick arrived and is still serving as Chief Minister in 2002. Cantor Avraham Adler was also appointed in 1958. He was succeeded by Cantors Natan Mittelman and Yitzchak Levi.

In the early 1950s there was increasing interest in the Jewish community in day schools rather than part-time Jewish education. For many years the congregation had hosted a Jewish kindergarten. Now, administration of Moriah College, founded in 1954, would become an intrinsic part of the congregational activities reflecting the concern for education of future generations. The foundation stone for the college adjoining the synagogue was laid on 4 December 1960 by S. Hamery. Though the college has ceased to exist as a separate entity, congregational support for Jewish education continues. The school building, complementing the Leo and Frances Lawrence kindergarten complex at the rear of the premises, was subsequently taken over by Mt Scopus College and more recently used by the Yesodeo Hatorah school.

The synagogue was originally designed to hold 427 men and 213 women. The imbalance, which reflected social attitudes at the time of construction, was typical of many congregations but soon proved inappropriate in light of changing attitudes. In addition, membership had again grown. Accordingly, during the presidency of Mottel Roth in 1973 a major expansion of the building was undertaken. Works carried out by L. U. Simons to enlarge the complex included raising the roof, the addition of further women’s gallery space and reorientation of the direction of the synagogue. The reconstructed building, now able to seat 538 men and 530 women, was dedicated on 16 September 1973. The foundation stone for a new communal hall, named Daniel and Tola Karafka Hall, was laid by B. Rosenwacg on 28 March 1980.

 The design of the synagogue is typical of post-war Orthodox synagogues, including (three) separate upstairs ladies’ galleries. Features of the building include the Aron Kodesh (holy Ark housing Torah scrolls) and its accompanying stage, including seating for the rabbi and officials. The stained-glass windows depict festival motifs and were designed by Adele Shaw. The minor chapel at the rear includes the reference library of religious tomes and has been dedicated to the memory of a long-serving communal official and teacher, the Reverend Haim Yoffe.

Temple Beth Israel

74-82 Alma Road, St Kilda

 This congregation is one of four progressive congregations that are members of the Victorian Union of Progressive Judaism.[1] In the 1920s, many Jewish congregations were seriously in decline in Victoria as older members died and were not replaced by younger members, who had perhaps married non-Jews or had drifted from their Jewish heritage. A letter to the Australian Jewish Herald in the early 1930s stated the synagogues were empty and the honorary offices ‘mere figureheads’. Australian synagogue services were ‘colourless, monotonous, tiring and unintelligible’.[2] There was also some who criticised the conservatism of the practices of segregating the sexes and denying women the right to be voting members.

In 1930 Ada Phillips, the widow of solicitor Abraham Phillips, established the first successful Liberal congregation in Australia, which is now known as Temple Beth. Two years previously, she had attended services at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, founded in 1910. Impressed by its liturgy and principles, and its rabbi, Israel Mattuck, she saw this as a means of keeping her own family within Judaism as well as making Judaism more relevant and helping its survival in Victoria. She was assisted by her daughters Isabella, a physician, and Millie, and five others.

The fledgling congregation was subsidised by the World Union for Progressive Judaism, which also selected an American Reform rabbi for the congregation. Granted six months’ leave from his temple, Jerome Mark remained at St Kilda for three years. Services were held on Saturday and Sunday mornings at Wickcliffe House on the St Kilda Esplanade. Services were shorter than Orthodox ones, an organ accompanied the choir, men and women sat together, women had equal rights, including joining the Board of Management, converts were accepted, head covering was optional for men except the rabbi and the rabbi sat on the Board and was fully involved in administration. At the end of the first year there were 110 members and sixty children. Although Mark asserted he had not come ‘to fight or make trouble’ and that he wanted to cooperate with other Jewish ministers, the Orthodox communities were antagonistic. Rabbi Danglow from the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation condemned the new movement as ‘a mutation of Judaism, specially compounded and flavoured to tickle the palates of religiously languid Jews’.[3]

Mark left in 1933 and was replaced by a Canadian, Perry Nussbaum, who stayed only eight months. Another Canadian rabbi, Martin Perelmutter, was appointed. By 1936 he had left and the seed funding had ceased the year before. With fewer than one hundred members, the congregation faced collapse but decided to appoint one last rabbi. Rabbi Doctor Herman Sanger arrived in Melbourne in August 1936. He had been inducted as rabbi of the Berlin community on 1 April 1933. Described as a gifted linguist and speaker, this seventh-generation rabbi and progressive Jew proved to be the ‘right man at the right place at the right time’.[4] When he arrived, the congregation was holding services in the Christ Church hall. Rabbi Sanger vowed: ‘As I stood at that rickety little pulpit ... I promised myself ... that I would build my future synagogue somehow in the image of the one I had left in Berlin’.[5]

Land was bought in Alma Road in August 1936 and on Sunday 11 July 1937 the foundation stone was laid by Sir Isaac Isaacs. He had recently completed his time as Australia’s first Jewish Governor-General from 1931 to 1936, and had previously been Attorney General, the federal member for Indi in the House of Representatives and a High Court Justice. A sombre element during the ceremony to begin the building was Rabbi Sanger’s announcement that the Jewish community of Berlin would send three of its precious Torah scrolls to the new congregation, tacitly acknowledging the potential danger if they remained in Berlin.

German and Austrian migrants were attracted to St Kilda East by the cheap rental accommodation. Those who had belonged to Reform congregations in Europe were attracted to Sanger’s congregation. In contrast to Danglow, Sanger passionately supported Zionism, seeking an independent state for Jews in Palestine. By 1941 there were 500 members. Herman Schildberger had come from Berlin to be the musical director, which also enhanced the appeal of Temple Beth. Lack of space forced a move to the St Kilda Town Hall for the High Holidays and at the end of the war there were 1600 people attending.

Sanger pioneered better interactions between Jewish and Christian inter-faith work in Victoria and this was developed by his successor. A great-grandson of Nathaniel Levi, who was a businessman, politician and the first Jewish member of the Victorian Parliament, Rabbi John Levi was the first Australian-born rabbi to serve a congregation in Australia. With Rabbi Lubofsky from the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation, they joined Christian leaders to foster Jewish-Christian relations.

By the mid 1980s Temple Beth was the largest Jewish congregation in Victoria. It has continued to grow and in 2003 is the largest Jewish congregation in Australia. In addition to the synagogue there is the Herman Sanger Centre, Slome Hall and the King David School on the site.


[1]     This account is largely based on the website for Temple Beth Israel: www.tbi.org.au

[2]     Ibid.

[3]     Jewish Herald, 16 October 1930, cited in Rubinstein, The Jews in Victoria. I am indebted to Rubinstein for this account of the formation of Temple Beth Israel. See: pp. 148-50 and 249-50.

[4]     http://www.tbi.org.au

[5]     Rubinstein, The Jews in Victoria, p. 179.

Adass Israel Congregation

22 Glen Eira Avenue, Ripponlea

The history of the Adass Israel Congregation dates to 1939-40 when some members of the Elwood Talmud Torah became dissatisfied with the level of observance and decided to established their own congregation.[1] Known as Kehilla Kedosha Beis Haknesses Ahawah Zion, it was established at 391 High Street, St Kilda, in a small shuttered shopfront. This building was later demolished when the road was widened. In 1943, Leo and Michael Newman and their father Peretz, who was originally from Vienna, left Elwood Talmud Torah over dissatisfaction with procedures they believed contravened Orthodox Jewish lore. Soon after joining the new group, they took over its management and the group moved to 15a Brighton Road. Ephraim Pollak, one of the founders, died in 1943 and the minyan was renamed Beth Ephraim in his honour.

The Newman brothers brought a Viennese influence to the congregation. This attracted Orthodox Jews arriving from Germany and Austria during and after the war. Some of these were the boys and men who were sent to Australia by the British aboard the Dunera in 1941. This group of about 3000 Austrian, German and Italian men and boys over the age of sixteen had been interned in Britain as enemy aliens after the outbreak of war. In fact, a majority of them supported the Allies. Many were Jewish, but not all were refugees. Some were interned at Tatura in country Victoria, where Leo Newman visited them and arranged for additional religious requisites to be provided and for some of the younger ones to be released. Erwin Lamm was also released from Tatura in order to become minister of Beth Ephraim after Joseph Weinern left. In 1944 Rabbi Ehrentreu, who had also arrived on the Dunera, presented the first Shabbos Hagodol Droshe at Beth Ephraim. Rabbinical assistance was also given by Rabbi Wyshkowsky, who had escaped with his son from the Nazis via Singapore and Japan.

In 1944 the congregation affiliated with the London Adass Yisroel movement. Congregations were required to include in their constitutions that the congregation would be conducted in the Orthodox way, according to the law of Moses and Israel, and that no-one who desecrates the Sabbath or partakes of forbidden food can be elected to the governing body. The name Adass Israel was adopted at a special meeting on 20 August 1950. Many congregations had adopted this name, modelled on the one in Berlin; it was also the name of the one in Vienna, which many saw as their model.

Post-war immigration laid the foundation for the Adass community. The congregation quickly outgrew the Brighton Road premises. A house at 24 Glen Eira Road was bought in 1950 and used as a shule and classrooms. In December 1950 the foundation stone for a mikvah (ritual bath) was laid at the rear of the property, which took two years to complete. In the meantime, many people used a private mikvah at the home of Yechiel Binet in Gardenvale.

The first Rov was Rav Yitzchok Ya’akov Neumann. He arrived from Antwerp on 23 April 1952. He was displeased that the children were attending state schools and a Hebrew school was opened in May 1952. It was a Government-recognised primary school and only the second such Jewish school in Melbourne. He also arranged that Neumann and Schwartz, at 251 Inkerman Street, St Kilda, would provide kosher meat under his supervision. The fees gained from this arrangement made the Adass establishment sounder and enabled expansion, especially in the education area. Rav Neumann stayed only briefly and it was two years before a new Rov, Rabbi Bezalel Stern, arrived in 1955. Rabbi Stern oversaw great developments and expansion of the Adass Israel congregation.

The new school campus opened soon after and Rabbi Stern’s daughter Miriam began teaching there, thus enabling the inclusion of girls at the day school. With a new influx of migrants after the Hungarian Revolution, the congregation needed larger premises. In 1959 the adjoining property was bought and an Adass Israel War Memorial Synagogue Building fund established. It was created as a war memorial for the purpose of tax deductibility for donations but was considered an appropriate designation given the background of so many congregants. Priority was given to the school building and it opened on 25 October 1964, the night before the foundation stone for the synagogue was laid. Building began in 1965 and opened on 19 September that year. It was designed to seat 300 men and 250 women. Subsequently adjoining sites were also bought as the membership continued to grow.

Rabbi Stern was succeeded by Rabbi Elimelech Ashkenazi whose leadership saw the congregation continue to expand and more building undertaken. A multipurpose hall built in 1984 was later named the Adass Gutnick Hall after an endowment by Rabbi Joseph and Stera Gutnick in memory of his mother, Reebetzin Raizel Gutnick. Rabbi Ashkenazi’s successor was Rabbi Avraham Zvi Beck, who was appointed in 1987. He placed great emphasis on the development of the Yeshiva, where young adults devoted their time to study and teaching. Another initiative was the building of the Caulfield Mikvah on the corner of Furneaux Road and McWhae Street. Named in memory of Mrs Malkah Sarah Jager, it opened in 1993. A new men’s mikvah was opened at the synagogue premises in 1997.

The shule (synagogue) was severely damaged in an arson attack on 1 January 1995. A rebuilding appeal was launched and there was wide support for it. The architect was Erwin Kaldor and the contractors were the Pomeroy Bros. Interior decoration was undertaken by Dario Zuroff. The new work was consecrated on 17 September 1995. The congregation continued to grow and extensions were carried out in 1997. Rabbi Gutnick also assisted the purchase of the building on the corner of Hotham Street and Glen Eira Road, which was redeveloped in 1999 and now houses the Yeshiva Ketana.

[1]     This account is from Yossi Aron, ‘History’, 50th Anniversary Commemorative Journal, Adass Israel, 2002, pp. 40-102. My thanks to the Adass Israel congregation who kindly sent me a copy of this book.


Architectural terms

Buttresses Vertical projections on external walls designed to strengthen the wall or to resist the outward pressure of a vault.

Chancel The area in a church which traditionally contains the altar.

Classical An architectural style developed by the ancient Greeks and Romans and popular in the eighteenth century.

Gothic An architectural style which flourished in Europe from 1200-1600, characterised by pointed arches and windows, buttresses and rib vaults.

Nave The long arm of a church where the congregation sits.

Reredos A decorative wall or screen behind the altar.

Rood screen A screen which divides the chancel from the nave.

Transept Transverse arms of a church which cut across the nave and the chancel.

Vault An arched ceiling.[1]


Anglican Church Title for the Church of England adopted in Australia and some other countries. The Church of England is the established church in England. It remained under papal authority until the reign of Henry VIII during which the English Church separated from the Roman Catholic Church and the English sovereign became the Supreme Head of the Church of England.

Autocephalic Orthodox Church A sect of the non-canonical Orthodox Church, one of the churches not recognised by the Eastern Orthodoxy’s Ecumenical Patriarch. In Victoria they are represented by the Macedonian, Free Serbian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches.

Baptists A Protestant denomination which refuses to baptise until the person is old enough to consciously accept the Christian faith. The General Baptist movement, which ascribes to the belief that Christ died for everyone, was founded in 1612 by John Smyth and Thomas Helwys. In contrast, the Particular Baptist movement, founded in 1633, was Calvinist and believed Christ died for the elect and that salvation was only for a particular few.

Catholic Church See Roman Catholic Church

Church of England See Anglican Church

Church of Scotland The established church in Scotland. It separated from Rome in 1560, primarily due to the influence of John Knox, the founder of Presbyterianism. It became the established church in 1696.

Congregationalism A Christian denomination in which each congregation is democratically self-governing and there is no central authority. Dating from the Reformation, Congregationalists were known as Independents in England.

Jehovah’s Witnesses A religious movement founded in 1872 by Charles Taze Russell in Philadelphia and based on Scriptural teaching. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject Christ’s divinity although he is considered to be God’s prophet. Members believe that only the elect will have salvation.

Judaism The religion of the Jewish people. In Orthodox Judaism the Torah, Judaism’s most sacred text, is the ultimate authority. Liberal Judaism aims to reconcile modern life with the fundamental precepts of Judaism. Temple Beth Israel, founded by Ada Phillips in 1930, was the first permanent Liberal congregation in Melbourne. The sexes are not segregated, as in Orthodox services, and observance of rituals and dietary rules are left to the individual.

Methodism John Wesley preached sermons throughout Britain but the Wesleyan Methodist Church was not organised until after his death, during the 1790s. The Conference is the supreme decision-maker and evangelical work is emphasised.

Presbyterianism A Protestant church which originated in the sixteenth century and was organised by followers of Calvin. Its organisation is based on government by elders. The Free Church of Scotland was a sect that broke with the Church of Scotland in the 1840s in protest at the perceived encroachment of the state on the church. The Presbyterian Church of Victoria was formed in 1859 and united most of the Presbyterian sects in Victoria. The Free Church continued, however, and in 1913 joined other Free Presbyterians to form the Free Presbyterian Church of Australia.

Roman Catholic Church. Since 1971 the Catholic Church has been the largest denomination in Victoria. It acknowledges the Pope as the head of the Church and was the spiritual authority in Western Europe until the advent in the early sixteenth century of the Protestant movement which highlighted the need for reform.

Salvation Army Founded by William Booth in London in 1865. It is organised on military lines and members wear a distinctive uniform. It is renowned for its social work.

Uniting Church An amalgamation of some Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches which came about in 1977.

Wesleyanism See: Methodism.[2]

[1]     This brief glossary is based on Lewis, Victorian Churches, Glossary, pp. 158-61; and Richard Peterson, Brimstone to Bunyip: Churches of Collingwood, Clifton Hill and Abbotsford 1852-1999, Collingwood Historical Society, 1999, Glossary, pp. 76-82.

[2]     Based on The New Macmillan Encyclopedia, Macmillan, London, 1987 and Lewis, op. cit., pp. 8-19.

Further reading

For a general introduction to churches in Victoria see: Miles Lewis, (ed.), Victorian Churches: Their Origins, Their Story & Their Architecture, National Trust of Australia (Victoria), Melbourne, 1991. Included are explanations of the various denominations, church architecture, a glossary and bibliographies covering church history, furnishings and local church architects.


Adass Israel Congregation, 50th Anniversary Commemorative Journal, Adass Israel, [Ripponlea], 2002.

Barnes, Jack L., A History of the East St Kilda Congregational Church, East St Kilda Uniting Church Parish Council, Burwood, c. 1995.

Bick, David, St Kilda Conservation Study Area 2, c. 1984.

————, Victorian Church Survey,  Uniting Church, Melbourne, 1988-89.

Breward, Ian, A History of the Australian Churches, Allen & Unwin, Melbourne, 1993.

Brodie, W. A. D. and Marks, Stan, St Kilda Sketchbook, Rigby, Adelaide, 1980.

Centre for Creative Ministries, History of the East St Kilda Uniting Church Parish: Application to the Local History Grants Program to make a 60-minute Video Documentary, Centre for Creative Ministries, East St Kilda, 1999.

Cooper, John Butler, The History of St Kilda 1840-1930, Printers, Melbourne, 1931, vol. 1.

Costello, Tim, Streets of Hope: Finding God in St Kilda, Allen & Unwin and Albatross Books, St Leonards, 1998.

Di Muzio, Emer, St Columba’s Elwood: A Chapel-of-Ease, n.p., c. 2000.

———— and Whitehill, Peg, (researchers), The Birth of St Columba’s, n.p., n.d.

Eidelson, Meyer, The Melbourne Dreaming: A Guide to the Aboriginal Places of Melbourne, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1997.

————, Nation Builders: Great Lives and Stories from St Kilda General Cemetery, Friends of St Kilda Cemetery Inc., St Kilda, 2001.

Freeland, J. M., Melbourne Churches: An Architectural Record 1836-1851, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1963.

Gibbs, Margaret, St Kilda Methodist Church, typescript, 1978. [Copy held at Uniting Church Archives].

Hazell, Tom and Moore, Marie, A History of St Mary’s Church, n.p., 1987.

Hubbard, Timothy, ‘All Saints’ Church of England Church, Vicarage & Parish Hall, Chapel Street, East St Kilda: Submission to the Classifications Committee of the Historic Buildings Council’, Timothy Hubbard Pty Ltd, South Melbourne, 1989.

————, ‘The Former Independent Church, 9 Alma Road West, St Kilda: A report to the Minister for Planning and Urban Growth supporting the addition of the building to the register of classified buildings in the St Kilda planning scheme’, Timothy Hubbard Pty Ltd, South Melbourne, 1991.

————, ‘Wesleyan Church, Parsonages & School, Fitzroy Street, St Kilda: Submission to the Classifications Committee of the Historic Buildings Council’, Timothy Hubbard Pty Ltd, St Kilda, 1990.

————, and Juhola, Petri, ‘St Mary’s Catholic Church, Presbytery & Hall, Dandenong Road, East St Kilda: Submission to the Classifications Committee of the Historic Buildings Council’, Hubbard, St Kilda, 1989.

Lewis, Miles, (ed.), Victorian Churches: Their Origins, their Story & their Architecture, National Trust of Australia (Victoria), Melbourne, 1991.

Lewis, Nigel and Associates, St Kilda Conservation Study, City of St Kilda and the Historic Buildings Preservation Council, 1982.

McLaren, Ian, All Saints’ Church, East St Kilda, All Saints’ Church, East St Kilda, 1958.

————, ‘All Saints’ Church of England, East St Kilda, 1858-1958’, Victorian History Magazine, vol. XXXI, no. 2, November 1960, pp. 106-17.

Maidment, John, ‘Masterpieces of Suburban Gothic’, Trust News, June 1984, pp. 8-9.

Moloney, David, From Mission to Mission: The History of Sacred Heart Parish West St Kilda, 1887-1987, n.d.

Morton, John, ‘Aboriginal Religion Today’, in The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, 2000, pp. 9-16.

Mudrooroo, Aboriginal Mythology, Thorsons Harper Collins, London, 1994.

Peterson, Richard, Brimstone to Bunyip: Churches of Collingwood, Clifton Hill and Abbotsford 1852-1999, Collingwood Historical Society, Abbotsford, 1999.

Power, Francis Renton, ‘The Story of St. Columba’s, Elwood’, typescript, 1970. [Copy held at MDHC Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.]

Presland, Gary, Aboriginal Melbourne: The lost land of the Kulin people, McPhee Gribble and Penguin, Ringwood, 1994.

Radion, S., History of the Parish of Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Balaclava, not published, c. 1987 (in Ukranian).

Rosenthal, Newman H., Look Back with Pride: The St Kilda Hebrew Congregation’s First Century, Nelson, Melbourne, 1971.

Rubinstein, Hilary L., The Jews in Victoria 1835-1985, Allen & Unwin, North Sydney, 1986.

Smith, Ernie, Miracles do Happen: A Priest Called Smith, Collins Dove, North Blackburn, 1993.

Tanner, Howard, (ed.), Architects of Australia, MacMillan, Melbourne, 1981.

Ward, Rowland, The Bush Still Burns: The Presbyterian and Reformed Faith in Australia 1788-1988, Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia, St Kilda, 1989.


Griffiths, A. Balcombe and von Hartel, Yvonne, ‘An Architectural History of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of St Kilda’, undergraduate thesis, Architecture, University of Melbourne, 1965.

Humphries, Michael E., ‘A School that has Passed: All Saints’ Grammar School, East St Kilda, 1871-1937’, M.Ed., University of Melbourne, 1986.

Montgomery, M., ‘All Saints Church, East St Kilda’, undergraduate thesis, Architecture, University of Melbourne, 1948.

Perry, Ian, ‘St Kilda Presbyterian Church’, undergraduate thesis, Architecture, University of Melbourne, n.d.

Soley, Stuart James, ‘“The Highest of the High” in “Marvellous Melbourne”: All Saints’ East St Kilda as Melbourne’s Original High Church, 1858-1908’, M.A., University of Melbourne, 1997.

Heritage Files

National Trust of Australia (Victoria) files

Christ Anglican Church & Organ, St Kilda B2352

Fincham & Hobday Organ — Uniting Church, St Kilda B6113

Free Presbyterian Church, St Kilda B5864

The Manse (former Stanhope), St Kilda B597

Old Parsonage, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda B4474

Presbyterian Church & Organ, St Kilda B6184

Sacred Heart Church, Manse, Hall & Organ, St Kilda B5296

Sassoon Yehuda Sephardi Synagogue, St Kilda B7100

St George’s Uniting Church & Organ, St Kilda B5519

St Mary’s Catholic Church & Presbytery, St Kilda East B3159

Uniting Church & Organ, St Kilda East B5966

Wesleyan Church Complex, St Kilda B1909

Register of the National Estate Database

All Saints Anglican Church, St Kilda East 005418

All Saints Anglican Church Group, St Kilda East 014719

Christ Church Anglican Church, St Kilda 005422

Christ Church Complex, St Kilda 014706

Free Presbyterian Church (former), St Kilda East 013332

Holy Trinity Anglican Church, St Kilda 005417

Presbyterian Church, St Kilda 009868

Presbyterian Manse, St Kilda 005412

Sacred Heart Church Group, St Kilda 015379

St George’s Uniting Church, St Kilda East 014714

St Mary’s Catholic Church, School Hall and Presbytery, St Kilda East 014701

Synagogue, St Kilda 012769

Wesleyan Methodist Church complex (former), St Kilda 014698

Historic Buildings Council

National Trust, Submission to the Historic Buildings Council on the Former Congregational Church 1874, 29 August 1883, HBC File 84/3046.