It is rather refreshing after visiting great cathedrals of Europe or indeed those of larger Australian cities to head out into country Australia and come across little wooden churches, in a popular Carpenter Gothic Style, like St Edmund’s in Tharwa.
The Gothic arch windows and door frame and the two crosses on the eaves, while rather plain, give a prominent, though simple, religious look and feel to this rather cute (probably not the right word for a church) and impeccably tended church. The granite cladding around the base of the building was added in the 1930s to hide the brick skirt and timber stump footing on which the building is build.
St Edmund’s was consecrated in 1919 on land donated by George McKeahnie, the then owner of the nearby Cuppacumbalong Station.
St Edmund (840 – 870), after whom the church is named, was the Anglo-Saxon King of England between 855 and 870, prior to his elevation to the sainthood.
As King, Edmund was a holy man who was unwilling to use the sword to get his way. In 870 having, relatively peacefully, defended his kingdom against a Viking invasion they soon returned with a larger army demanding that Edmund accept certain terms and conditions he could not agree to. To avoid bloodshed, Edmund disbanded his army and attempted to beat a retreat though before he could do so the Vikings captured and imprisoned him.
Once again the King refused to accept the terms sought by his captors, lead by Ivar the Boneless, and resigned himself to the fact that he would be martyred for so doing. King Edmund was beaten with cudgel, tied to a tree and given a good whipping before the Danes discharged a volley of arrows into him until “his body had the appearance of a porcupine” and finally removed his head with a sword.
The picture above (courtesy of Wikipedia) is the contemporary work by Irish artist, Brian Whelan – The Martyrdom of St. Edmund – which permanently hangs in the Lady Chapel of St. Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St. Edmund, England.
St Edmund was the patron saint of England until the thirteenth century when he was replaced by St George.
While the church is not open outside its monthly service, a peak through a couple of the windows will reveal all of its small interior to the visitor.
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on Tharwa. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Onyong’s Grave – or to start this loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – The Australian Capital Territory’s Oldest Village.