Christ Church 18601
Perhaps the old Christ Church Parish Hall2 on the corner of Rutledge and Crawford Streets, was sold to the Home in Queanbeyan project to provided the dollars to replace, with new shinning armour, the roof and steeple of historic Christ Church, which is estimated to have cost around $150,000.3
Looking like the weapon that a Giant from Gulliver’s Travels would have used to thrust someone off their steed during an encounter, the 75 foot steeple now glistens and reflects the sunlight above the town reinforcing its 148 year position as one of the most beautiful and permanent landmarks in Queanbeyan.4
And intermittently, as the trees sway in the breeze, glimpses of the glistening steeple and high pitched roof can be seen flickering like a beacon to draw people into its sanctuary.5
One fragile artefact displayed in a glass cabinet inside Christ Church, is the detailed small scale cardboard model-example of the future Christ Church made c1858 by the talented Queanbeyan minister Reverend Alberto Dias Soares.6
Forest of trees
Reverend AD Soares trained in Portugal and England as artist, architect, engineer and linguist before coming to Australia to build (it is said) a railway from Sydney to Adelaide with a town called Alberto half way; he also intended to improve Sydney Harbour and the Botany Waterworks.
Ken Charlton architect and historian, and Rev Soares researcher, also writes that after the railway idea fell through Soares did tutoring, clerical work, drew house plans and made models of existing buildings as well as importing wine as a wine merchant.
Soares completed a model of Mr Mort’s Gothic villa, before training to become a minister of religion – Queanbeyan was his first incumbency where he soon used his talents to make a cardboard replica for the proposed new Christ Church.7
Rev Soares also made coloured lithographs of Christ Church, prior to its construction to sell to raise funds to build Christ Church and one is held in the National Library of Australia and one is held by Christ Church.8
The 1860s Christ Church needed 35,000 wooden-shingles to cover the roof and steeple – but no one knows how many trees were used, the time taken for manufacture, how long to fix them in place or who was counting the 35,000.9
Footnotes / Resources
1. Christ Chruch: (i) Cross, Rex L Bygone Queanbeyan – Revised Edition. Queanbeyan Publishing Company, 1985. (ii) Lea-Scarlett, Errol. Queanbeyan District and People. Queanbeyan City Council, 1968. (iii) Burra Charter: The Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance (heritage), 1999. ISBN 0 9578528 0 0. Print copy of Burra Charter: <www.icomos.org/australia>
2. The Parish Hall, corner of Rutledge and Crawford Street is separated from Christ Church by Church Lane and by units.
3. Christ Church was extensively renovated internally in 1960 to celebrate its centenary. (Lea-Scarlett, 1968, p. 218). See also Response to Outlook No 5.
4. Swift, Jonathon. Gulliver’s Travels. Priory Classics, Bridlington. (undated).
5. (i) Connee-Colleen © “Queanbeyan Outlook (209): Medieval Outcome,” The Queanbeyan Age November 20, 2009, p. 15.
(ii) Response to Outlook: Letter to the Editor, Queanbeyan Age:
Reverend Ian Palmer (Rector) of Queanbeyan Christ Church, responded to the above Outlook column in The Queanbeyan Age , Letters to the Editor, November, 27, 2009. p.14; in which he expressed thanks to Queanbeyan Outlook (November 20, 2009) for “the eloquent prose extolling the beauty of the historic Christ Church” and reminded everyone that on October 9 & 10, 2010, the celebration of the 150th Aniversary of the consecration of historic Christ Church will be held.
On the matter of cost Rev. Palmer agreed that it “did come in around $150,000 of which only $50,000 was a heritage grant and the other $100,000 was raised by the parish – but [he emphasised] the parish did NOT sell the old Parish Hall – the Hall has been leased to the board of Home in Queanbeyan”.
Rev Palmer wrote that the “Parish are proud to be associated with Home’s courageous initiative to provide safe housing for people with ongoing mental illness”. He said that Home has a similar philosophy to a successful safe-housing project in the US called “Common Ground”. (Melbourne Age, 22-23 November, 2009).
Rev Palmer also expressed pleasure that the “carefully constructed roof by B & S Roofing and Constructions under the direction of Pip Giovenelli, Queanbeyan City Council, heritage officer, showed the pride that this parish has for its heritage – and its “commitment to the future of Queanbeyan”.
Rev Palmer emphasised that, “Christ Church is here for the people of Queanbeyan, it is a sacred space”; it has been a place of comfort for thousands of mourners; of celebration for countless couples getting married; a place of hope for parents christening their children.”
“But above all, week-by-week it is a place of worship and prayer; a place where lives are nourished in the presence of the God who loves and gives hope to all,” said Rev Palmer.
6. Cross, Rex L Bygone Queanbeyan – Revised Edition. Queanbeyan Publishing Company, 1985, p.174-179, (Reverend Soares cardboard model of Christ Church is in a glass cabinet inside the church and can be viewed on Sundays in between services. The model is about 18 inches high and was made soon after Rev Soares arrived in Queanbeyan.
7. Charlton, Ken. The Anglican Historical Society Journal – ‘Southern Spires’. Diocese of Canberra & Goulburn, No 25, April 1998. Canberra, pp. 1-9.
8. Google: National Library of Australia (nla) and search the collection and you can view the print on computer; a copy may be purchased.
9. Cross, 1985, p.174-179, (All the churches in Queanbeyan are originals except Christ Church, which was the first church built in 1843 along with stables and school house which are still standing. The first Christ church was “razed to the ground” in 1859 and the present beautiful Christ Curch designed and built by Reverend Soares suring 1850-1860). (ii) Lea-Scarlet, 1968, pp. 42, 51, (“There was no spire when it was dedicated in October, 1860 and the windows were covered with canvas; and there was no spire as Allen McLean & Donald Ross, of Goulburn, had to complete the Courthouseby the end of 1860 and the court moved in January 1, 1861; McLean & Ross took two monts to complete the 75 foot spire, which cost £168 (pounds). So the Christ Church spire is not as old as the rest of the church and is about six months younger.
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