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Garrison Church (Sydney)


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The Garrison Church, also known as Holy Trinity in Millers Point, Sydney was the first military church built in colonial Australia. It continues as an active Anglican church, now in a joint parish with St Philip's Church, part of the Diocese of Sydney.

Location and Parish

The church is located at the north end of Fort Street, and is surrounded by houses and terraces from the Georgian and Victorian periods.

On 1 November 2013 the Garrison Church merged with St Philip's Church to form a joint parish using both buildings for combined ministry.

History

The Garrison Church was planned at a meeting convened by Reverend William Cowper in December 1839 because the seating capacity at the nearby St Philip's Church had been outgrown by the congregation. Cowper made a significant contribution to funding the church, stipulating that it be named "The Holy Trinity". The land was granted for the church and associated schoolhouse by George Gipps. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop William Broughton on 23 June 1840. At the foundation service the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Broughton concluded his address "expressing his belief that those present would not only avail themselves of the building about to be erected for perpetuating the true worship of the true God, but also expressing his fervent wishes that the building might for generations be devoted to the purposes for which it was to be constructed." The Garrison Church was one of nine or ten churches under construction at the time, projects considered by the Sydney Morning Herald at the time to "clearly prove ... still Religion and Morality are rapidly advancing amongst us".

This Foundation stone of a Church in Honour of the Holy Trinity, erected with the aid of Her Majesty's Government, by the Inhabitants of the Parish of Saint Phillip in the Town of Sydney, and Colony of New South Wales, was laid by the Right Reverend Father in God, William, Lord Bishop of Australia, on the XXIII Day of June, in the year of our Lord MDCCCXL, the IV year of the Reign of Queen Victoria, and the LIII of the Colony, Sir George Gipps, Knight, being Governor. The Bishop of Australia, Trustee; the Rev William Cowper, chaplain of St Phillips, Major George Barney, commanding Royal Engineers, Robert Campbell junior, merchant, acting Committee for the Building.

The first service was held on Whitsunday in 1844, and the first rector John Grylls was appointed and licensed soon after, on a salary of £500 (including £200 from the Government). The church was the official Garrison church for the imperial troops at Dawes Point Battery until they were withdrawn from Sydney in 1870. A small adjoining hall was used as a school, and for a time was the headquarters of the 30th Scottish Battalion, which continued its relationship with the church at anniversaries.

For some years the Garrison Church was the "parish church" of Government House.

During World War II, troops on leave were housed and fed in the Garrison Hall.

Building

The church building was designed by Henry Ginn, and built by mason George Payten/Paton and builder Edward Flood. The authorisation was for a north-south building, but it was built east-west. Lighting was installed in 1850 after a special collection for the purpose. Colonial architect Edmund Blacket made some enhancements to the building in the period 1855-1859, including adding the wine-glass shaped pulpit, and the north-eastern vestry. The design included a tower at the west end, which although it received support in a split vote in 1887, was never built, and the large buttresses built in preparation have since been reduced.

The eastern stained-glass window by C. Clutterbuck was purchased for £100 in 1860, and has corbels in the form of human heads (traditionally thought to be Queen Victoria and Prince Albert). It was installed in the chancel in 1861 by Rose Scott in memory of her parents Helenus and Augusta Maria Scott. It shows scenes representing the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Shepherds, the Baptism of Christ and the Ascension, and has been called "one of the most beautiful windows in Australia".

A window on the south wall is dedicated to Dr James Mitchell and his wife Augusta Mary Mitchell (Helenus Scott's sister), the parents of David Scott Mitchell. Another of the southern windows is dedicated to John Flavelle, a prominent optician and jeweller. Several other windows were presented by James Merriman, after whose family the nearby Merriman Street is named, one of the windows is a memorial to his son. One of the windows on the northern wall is a memorial to William George Summerbell, and another to George Atherden.

Many of the memorials in the church are military related, although in the sanctuary there are also a number of memorials to clergy.

The architecture was considered to be of "mixed Gothic" style. The dimensions are about 100 feet (30 m) by 55 feet (17 m), and the height of the walls about 45 feet (14 m). It is constructed with sandstone from the nearby Argyle Cut. The nave has two high arcades formed by five horseshoe arches supported by solid stone columns.

A reconstruction was undertaken in 1878, which included installing arches with a 90 foot (27 m) span resting on four pillars on each side of the church. A renovation and restoration was completed in 1938.

One of the stained glass windows, depicting the Angel of Death sheltering a small child, was the subject of an Australian Christmas stamp in 1984.

Rectors

  • 1844–1854 John Crouch Grylls
  • 1858–1880 Edward Rogers
  • 1899 R. Noake
  • 1902 P. W. Dowe
  • 1904 G. S. Fielding
  • 1907–1912 Gerard D'Arcy-Irvine
  • -1921 John Done
  • 1933–1937 Stanley Grant Best.
  • -1941 A. W. Morton
  • 1941- C. K. Hammond.
  • 1965 Allan Yuill.

Ministry

Records right back to the 1840s record a history of charitable giving by the church in response to regional emergencies including the 1848 sinking of the steamer Sovereign, and the 1851 Gundagai floods. Collections were also taken in aid of the poor in the parish.

The church has hosted events for a number of other organizations, including the Naval Brigade in 1905, and a five-day campaign of the Sydney University Evangelical Union in 1940.

Notable attendees

Dame Eadith Walker was baptised at the Garrison Church, and Sir George Reid and Sir Edmund Barton both reportedly received part of their education in the associated school hall.

Glenn McGrath and Jane McGrath's wedding was at the Garrison Church, as was Jane's funeral.


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