If you are following the “Lambie Walk’, which I referred to my first Cooma review, the next and last section of the walk covers three churches. If churches are not your thing you can head down Sharp Street to the town centre having visited the Southern Cloud Memorial.

When I visited I could only get into one of the churches (St Patrick’s). Sadly even in small towns like Cooma the risk of theft and vandalism means churches cannot be left open unless volunteers are available to keep an eye on things.

Leaving the Southern Cloud Memorial via Commissioner Street St Paul’s Anglican Church was about 250 metres away on my right.

St Paul’s Anglican Church

St Paul’s Anglican Church

I really liked this beautiful clean cut Victorian Gothic style church which was built with local granite and alpine ash (flooring and roof) by Mawson, Potter and Scarlett between 1865 and 1869. While the church opened for services in 1869 it was not consecrated until 1872.

Looking at the church I felt that the spire looked older than the main church building but, in fact, it is a little younger having been added in 1891. The rectory, located next door, dates from 1906-07.

St Paul’s Anglican Church

The lychgate, or covered gateway, is similar to what one would find at the entrance to many traditional English churches. The one here was formerly at Monaro Grammar School and retains two bronze tablets commemorating old boys who fell in the WWI.

Lychgate originally from Monaro Grammar School

Until 1850 the pastoral needs of the Anglicans of the region were looked after, from his home by the Cooma Back Creek, by the Revd. Edward Gifford Pryce, the last of the Missionary Chaplains sent to Australia by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (Her Majesty’s Government).

In 1850 a church (Christ Church) was consecrated on the banks of the Cooma Back Creek. This was the forerunner to St Paul’s though there were a few years when both were simultaneously operational.

Pryce remained rector until 1954 and his church registers give a good insight into conditions of the early settlers. Some extracts from the burial register while Pryce was rector:

“Died from the effects of sleeping in a room in which there was burning charcoal.”  (I wonder if this was William Hain of Lord Raglan Inn fame – refer to my separate review – Lambie Street and the Raglan Gallery.)
“Died from the effects of being thrown from his horse.”
“Struck dead by lightning.”
“Rode into Cooma Creek and was drowned, being at the time not sober.”
“Was killed by his own dray passing over him, he being not sober.”
“Thrown from his horse and killed instantly.”
“Killed by riding against a tree.”
“Found dead 300 yards from this church.”
“Killed by a fall off the coach near Bunyan.
“Died by exposure to cold whilst in a state of nudity at the time labouring under temporary insanity.”
“Died in a cart whilst being brought to hospital.”
“Lost in the bush 27th August, found dead 7th September.”
“Drank carbolic acid by mistake.”
“Died from exposure to cold and wet.”

Unfortunately when I visited St Paul’s it was closed. I understand that the furnishings are of English cedar and that the stain glass windows are worth a look.

I continued on along Commissioner Street and took the first turn right into Soho Street where I found St Andrew’s Uniting Church.

St Andrew’s Uniting Church

St Andrew’s Uniting Church (with St Paul’s to the rear)

United or Uniting Churches exist in various parts of the world and are generally a mix of various protestant denominations. The mix varies from county or country or region to region. In Australasia (Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands) the Uniting Church came into existence in 1977 and is an amalgamation of the former Congregationalist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches in Australasia.

St Andrew’s in Cooma, a former Presbyterian church, is a classic Neo-gothic sandstone building originally costing GBP2,500 to build in 1882 when Cooma was going through a boom, fuelled by a mini gold rush in the area and a very strong agricultural sector. It was in this later part of the 19th century that Cooma’s other churches mentioned here and important civic buildings were also constructed. Lambie Street was in its prime and there was no shortage of money around town.

I especially like the clock tower on this church though the current one is a 1997 addition.

While again I could not get inside, I understand the interior of the church is rather plain, in keeping with Presbyterian traditions of the day.

St Andrew’s Uniting Church

Continuing on to the end of Soho Street and turning left into Murray Street I arrived at St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church and related buildings.

St Patrick’s Church Group

St Patrick’s Church – with presbytery to the rear (right in picture)

The one thing that struck me as I approached St Patrick’s Church was the presence of a couple of Celtic (or Irish) crosses on the gable of the church. Hardly surprising, perhaps, given the name.

St Patrick’s with Celtic Crosses

On closer inspection I found there to be a very strong Irish connection with the Church. On my left hand side, as I faced faced the church, I noticed the grave of, and a memorial to the memory of, the Right Reverend Ryan originally from Tipperary, Ireland and parish priest in Cooma from 1936 to 1967. This brought to mind the famous World War I song – ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary, it’s a long way to go’ – something that could not be truer for this memorial and grave!

Memorial to, and grave of, the Right Reverend Ryan

A few metres away on my right was a monument to the Irish who lived and died in the Cooma area. I have written about this in another review – ‘The Irish in Cooma’.

St Patrick’s Church is one of five buildings within the historic St Patrick’s Church Group – the others being a presbytery, stables, a convent / school and a primary school.

The church was built in 1877 in the Caledonian (Scots Gothic) style and changed little externally, at least, until an extension in 1981 and the addition of two new stained glass windows in 1988.

St Patrick’s replaced an earlier (and the first Roman Catholic church in Cooma) church on Commissioner Street dating from 1861. Prior to that services were held in a local house, ministered by Father Kavanagh from Queanbeyan (outside Canberra). An interesting tit bit for my Reader is that the land on which the church was built cost GBP 52, the same cost as the original baptismal font! The church cost around GBP4,500 to build.

While I was able to get inside you will see from my picture below that it was rather dark which is not surprising given the very narrow windows towards the entrance section (and older part) of the church.

St Patrick’s Church Cooma

The presbytery (priests house), built in 1878 though undergoing major exterior modifications in recent years, can be seen at the back of the church (pictured above) and is in a style similar to the church.

Across the road on the corner with Vale Street is the main building of St Patrick’s Parish School which is, I feel, Cooma’s most imposing building.

St Patrick’s Parish School, formerly the Brigidine Convent

This, apparently internally austere building, was built in 1884 and originally named Holy Cross Convent though soon renamed to St Brigid’s Convent. It was home to the Brigidine Sisters and St Thomas’ Primary School, from 1889. The school was run by the Sisters until 1927 when St Patrick’s Parish School, now catering for kindergarten to secondary school children, came into being. The Brigidine Sisters moved out of the building, by this stage renamed the Brigidine Convent, in 1988 at which stage St Patrick’s Parish School took over the whole building.

Having enjoyed seeing Cooma’s boom time churches it was a very short walk down to the centre of town where I had started my circular walk through the town.

My next Cooma review– HERE

Return to the beginning of my Cooma reviews – HERE

6 thoughts on “Cooma’s Boom Time Churches

  1. Great that you managed to visit at least one of these churches; it is so sad to see that more and more churches are difficult to visit these days because of the risk for theft and vandalism. It is exactly the same here unfortunately. Like the others: the burial register is fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Again, I remember this from VT but it was good to read it again, especially the list of sometimes fascinating way in which people met their ends back then! I like especially the wording of this one: “Rode into Cooma Creek and was drowned, being at the time not sober.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Those extracts from the burial register certainly do give insights into conditions of the early settlers. Falling off their horse, riding into a tree, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s