When nearby St John’s Anglican Church (also known as ‘St John’s in the Wilderness’) in Halifax Street, built in 1839, became to small and was found to be structurally unsound it was decided that a larger replacement, St Mary Magdalene’s, be built in Moore Street. It was to be a mission church in one of Adelaide’s poorest and depressed areas at the time and a spiritual “no man’s land”. (St John’s was also subsequently rebuilt).
Gothic style St Mary Magdalene’s, designed by R. Garlick Howell, was built in 1887 with much of the building materials, including the brick and bluestone and windows being recycled from St John’s. I particularly like the mosaic depicting the crucifixion of Christ, by the front door, itself worthy the short walk from the city to see.
Given its working class locale it became the first Anglican church in Adelaide not to charge a pew rent (a fee levied on parishioners for the running costs of the parish and the right to use a specific pew).
In 1912 St Peter’s College, an exclusive Anglican boys’ school, built the Mission Hall next to the church and maintained the mission until 1957 when it moved to Elizabeth, in the outer suburbs. St Mary’s then ran the mission, which had become the social centre for the district providing help to families in need, until 1966 by which stage it was no longer required as most of the inner city working classes had moved to outer suburbs and a new more affluent type inhabited the area.
By the 1990s the Mission (now the Magdalene Centre) was back in use as a Saturday night Drop In Centre for homeless and marginalised people living in the city centre though, soon, that need surpassed the size of the Mission Hall and an additional facility was added nearby to better care for these people.
Today the Mission Hall is still used for social and educational activities associated with the Magdalene Centre while the church, though having only around 120 parishioners remains fully active, even if those parishioners are no longer the poor of Adelaide.
Like many churches in the city it seems to be closed outside service times but for those wishing to partake of a service they are as follows:
9.00am – Sung Mass with Godly Play for the children and contemporary music
10.30am – High Mass with incense, traditional hymns and choir
Also – 5.00 pm (Saturday) – Vigil Mass of Sunday
Address: 26 Moore Street