You may have sat in a church and admired the stained glass windows, but have you had a close look? You’ll see church windows can tell a story about a town’s history and people. To give you an example, let’s take a look at windows at two churches I’ve visited over the past year, the Hamilton Uniting Church and the Hamilton Anglican Christ Church. A disclaimer…I like to think it’s a spiritual force responsible for the large percentage of blurry photos I’ve taken in churches. In reality, it says something about my photography skill. Also, there are loads of links in this post so if you see underlined text, click on it and you will find more information about the subject.
Opened on Sunday 5 October 1913 as the Hamilton Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Hamilton Uniting Church in Lonsdale Street has some beautiful windows.
I have some family history here as my ggg grandfather James Harman was a Wesleyan local preacher and often preached at the former Wesleyan Church in McIntyre Street. The current church opened prior to his death and even though he was eighty-three he still found the energy to attend events important to him so I expect he was there.
There isn’t a memorial window for James, but there is a window for a man he knew well, Peter Learmonth of Prestonholme Hamilton, a local businessman, flour mill operator and stalwart of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Unveiled on 14 January 1900 at the then Methodist Church in McIntyre street, this beautiful window was later installed at the new church in Lonsdale Street.
The Reverend W.C. Thomas spoke of the Learmonth’s dedication to the Methodist Church during a memorial service for Mary Jarvey Pearson, herself deserving of a memorial window.
James Allan Learmonth was a son of Peter Learmonth and Mary Jarvey Pearson. He was born at Merino Downs on 8 April 1856 and went to school at the Hamilton and Western District College and Wesley College. Locally, James was well-known for his sporting prowess. After some work experience in Melbourne, James returned to the Western District to manage his father’s Penshurst Flour Mill.
After his father co-purchased Maraposa Estate in Mexico, James and his brother left for that country to manage the estate for ten years, returning home briefly in 1886 to marry Annie Thomson of Monivae Estate. In 1892, James and Annie returned from Mexico to live at Prestonholme. James died on 29 October 1928 and Annie on 14 June 1930. They were buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery.
Annie’s family were Presbyterian and the St Andrew’s Church in Hamilton features a large memorial window for her father James Thomson. James and Annie Learmonth’s window at the Hamilton Uniting Church is below.
Hamilton’s Christ Church in Gray Street was built in 1878.
Walking up to the door, I always imagine handsome Lieutenant Edward Ellis Henty and his beautiful bride Florence Grace Pearson emerging through the doors after their marriage on 18 November 1914. They’re bittersweet thoughts because nine months later, Florence and Edward’s family and friends entered the same doors for a memorial service for Edward. He was killed at the Charge at the Nek at Gallipoli on 7 August 1915 while serving with the 8th Australian Lighthorse Regiment. Florence was around seven months pregnant.
I’ve visited the Christ Church three times in the past year. Each time I visit, I can’t help but touch the 137-year-old walls made from local bluestone just as I enter the doors below.
Just inside the main door of the church in the vestibule is the first stained glass window, a memorial for the Tatlock family, Alfred James Rolland Tatlock, his wife Marie McGowan and sons Norval and Alfred Jr. Depicted is St. Francis of Assisi possibly indicating the Tatlock’s love for animals. Alfred Sr.’s father Thomas Henry Tatlock was a leading breeder and judge of poultry and horses.
Alfred Tatlock Sr. was a grand master of the Grange Masonic Lodge and a Hamilton councillor. Marie died in 1937 and Alfred Jr. met a tragic end, killed in a plane crash in Queensland on 27 March 1943 while serving with the RAAF. Twenty-two other crew and passengers were also killed. Norval died in 1951 and Alfred Tatlock Sr. in 1956.
Another window in a different part of the church remembers another son of Alfred Tatlock and Marie McGowan, Rolland Tatlock who died in 1981. This window depicts St. Vincent de Paul and is one of two windows in the church created by Jean Orval. I went to school with three of Jean’s grandsons, all cousins. Each day on my way to primary school, I passed Jean’s house with his workshop at the end of the driveway. You can read more about Jean Orval and see photos of his beautiful windows in churches across Victoria and South Australia on the link http://www.orvalstainedglass.com/index.html
Once inside the Christ Church, stained glass windows line either side of the nave. To the left is the window for Abraham Greed and his wife Hannah Oaff.
Abraham was a leading coachbuilder in the town and a Mayor of Hamilton. He was born in Taunton, Somerset, England and arrived in Victoria around 1857. Abraham married Hannah Oaff in 1866. He died on 27 July 1926 aged eighty while on holiday in Geelong with Hannah and their daughter. Only the year before, Abraham had donated an oak altar and reredos to the church.
In his will, Abraham left the Christ Church money for a peal of bells. Hannah died at Hamilton in 1937 aged eighty-eight.
Also to the left of the nave is the window for Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys Stapylton Bree and his wife Anna Maria Henty.
Robert Bree was born in Cornwall on 11 November 1839, his father an Anglican minister. He worked for Dalgety & Co. in London before arriving in Victoria and working for Stephen Henty as a manager of Henty’s properties. It was during that time Robert met Stephen Henty’s daughter Annie four years younger than himself. They married in Hamilton’s first Anglican Church on 30 July 1874. Robert operated a stock and station business at Hamilton from 1872. At one time he was in business with Alfred Tennyson Dickens, son of Charles Dickens.
Robert sat on the Hamilton Borough Council for thirty-five years, twice serving as Mayor. He was President of the Hamilton Hospital board and operating theatre was named in his honour along with a park opposite the hospital. On 26 May 1900, Robert and Anna’s son Reginald Robert Stephen Stapylton Bree serving as a Lieutenant was killed in Bloemfontein, South Africa during the Boer War.
Robert Bree died on 16 September 1907. After Robert’s death, Anna continued living at the Bree family home Bewsall in Hamilton and in 1914 hosted the wedding breakfast of her nephew and his new wife, the aforementioned Edward Henty and Florence Pearson. Anna died on 2 July 1921 at Bewsall in Hamilton leaving two daughters and a son.
Next is the window for the Rountrees, James Hughes Rountree and his wife Margaret Strang Kitchen.
James Hughes Rountree died on 1 August 1902 after an operation for an ulcer. He arrived in Victoria aboard the Great Britain in 1864 and worked as a dispenser at the Geelong hospital. In 1874, he became superintendent at the Hamilton Hospital. Fourteen years later, James opened a chemist shop in Hamilton. He was a member of the Masonic and Orange Lodges. At the time of his death, James left his widow, Margaret and eight children.
Most of James and Margaret’s children followed James’ profession. Daughters Mary, Margaret, Jean and Ella were chemists as was son James. Mary Rountree married the well-known jockey Bobby Lewis in 1920. Lewis rode four Melbourne Cup winners during his career and controversially rode Phar Lap to third in the cup in 1929. The wedding took place at the Hamilton Christ Church.
James and Margaret Rountree were buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery.
The following photo is a perfect example of most of my church photos and I wasn’t going to post it. Instead, I asked Mum to try her luck photographing the window. When I compared the two photos, I had to share both because of the different colours in each photo.
This is Mum’s photo. Each was taken in the early afternoon, the first in April and the second in November. The angle was the main difference. The window is dedicated to the memory of Percy Beaumont Osborne.
Percy Beaumont Osborne was the stepson of Hamilton’s Anglican Vicar from 1907 until 1917, Charles Harris. He enlisted for WW1 on 11 February 1916 and left Australia for England on 28 July 1916. Percy died of Meningitis at Tidworth Military Hospital, England on 2 February 1917 aged twenty-two. His memorial window was unveiled on Sunday 17 June 1917.
Memorial windows for WW1 soldiers are not unusual. The former Baptist Church in Hamilton (now a private home), had five memorial windows installed for WW1 soldiers Alexander and Edgar Stevenson, James Sack, Joseph Brokenshire, Walter Filmer and Albert Herbert Lewis. The Victorian War Heritage Inventory site allows for searches by a soldier’s name or site of a memorial.
I intend to add to my stained glass window photo collection and hopefully, with more practice, they’ll improve. I’m keen to get back to St. Stephen’s Church in Portland where there are beautiful windows and a memorial tablet for Edward Ellis Henty was unveiled there on 1 July 1917.
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