When I visit somewhere I like to drop into the local churches, synagogues, temples, cemeteries and such like. I do this not because I am terribly religious but rather because I find such sojourns peaceful and such places tend to hold a wealth of historical information and give you an insight into an area that you might not otherwise get.
In Port Adelaide three churches were on my list for a look:
St Paul’s Anglican Church
St Mary’s Catholic Church
Port Adelaide Uniting Church
Alas when I visited, the first two were closed so I didn’t track out to the Uniting Church as I had seen it many times before passing by. The reason for the closure, when not in use for church activity, is alas, a fear of vandalism. Given the small number of visitors wishing to visit these churches none of them can afford to man the churches such that a few people per day can have a look. This is regrettable but perfectly understandable.
Anyway this does not prevent you having a look at the exterior of the churches and in terms of the two that I did stop by for a closer look at the exteriors I offer the following in the hope that it may be of interest:
St Paul’s Anglican (also main picture above)
This is the third church on this site and was built in 1905 with its stained glass windows supplied by Percy Bacon Brothers of London. The first Anglican Church here was St Pauls-on-the-Piles (a very English name!) – a wooden structure built wooden on piles in 1841. Prior to this religious services were held in the Customs House sheds.
The new church didn’t get of to a great start. A parishioner of St Pauls-on-the-Piles noted thus in a letter some time later:
“Unfortunately the first Sunday service was held in stormy weather and the water had risen to the floor so we had to go home in boats. The next day the church was found to be leaning to one side and strange to say the next gale made it right and we had services there for years.”
The church was, off course, constructed in the mosquito infested swamp land to which I have referred in various other reviews and this explains the need for the piles.
The second St Paul’s replaced the one on piles in 1852. David Bower who provided the roof of the second church agreed to “take the old church in lieu of thirty pounds to be deducted from the amount of the contract”. Removal and indeed financial problems of building a new church were thus solved. Mr Bower presumably didn’t get the church on piles in that “…soon after the second building was opened for services; St Paul’s-on-the Piles was washed away in a swollen tide and wrecked…” or perhaps the rubble sufficed as he would have had to dismantle it anyway.
By the turn of the century repair bills on the second church, this time of stone, were becoming very high and the church was too small anyway. A third, the present, church was built in 1905. The WWI memorial/shrine in memory of the parish fallen at the front of the building was added in 1919 (picture 3).
St Mary’s Catholic
The Church of the Immaculate Conception – popularly know as St Mary’s was officially opened on August 15th 1858, although the building had been used as a place of worship for some time beforehand.
The Sisters of St Joseph ran a school in the then old stone cottage (now church hall) next door to the Church in addition to providing medical services to the poor. Mable McCutchen, being a trained nurse, purchased a small £17 ray machine and went into the homes of the sick.
When the now saint (Australia’s first) Mary Mackillop visited Adelaide in 1867 she stopped at St Mary’s en route into the city.
Directions: St Paul’s – 1 Church Place
St Mary’s – Cnr Dale & Marryatt Streets