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

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.