Installed in the 1920s after a major renovation, the Jesus as the Good Shepherd window was created by Melbourne stained glass manufacturer Brooks, Robinson and Company Glass Merchants, who dominated the market in stained glass in Melbourne during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. The image of Jesus clutching a lamb is commonly found in windows such as these. The image refers to a passage in John’s Gospel in the New Testament, wherein Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd. The image of the Good Shepherd is designed to remind parishioners of Jesus’ love for all his sheep, even the black ones, and the value that each person has for him.
He stands benevolently with his shepherds’ crook, clutching a lamb, whilst in the vignette below him at the bottom of the lancet window, Jesus is shown bringing his wayward flock safely into the safety of the barn. The sheep to his left looks wistfully up at him, whilst the lamb held in his arms in the main depiction is shown in the vignette draped over the crook of his arm.
The letters IHS appear intertwined in a monogram at the top of the lancet window. These letters are a contraction for "Iesus Hominum Salvator"; "Jesus, Savior of Men".
Built amid workers’ cottages and terrace houses of shopkeepers, St. Mark the Evangelist Church of England sits atop an undulating rise in the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy. Nestled behind a thick bank of agapanthus beyond its original cast-iron palisade fence, it would not look out of place in an English country village with its neat buttresses, bluestone masonry and simple, unadorned belfry.
St. Mark the Evangelist was the first church to be built outside of the original Melbourne grid as Fitzroy developed into the city’s first suburb. A working-class suburb, the majority of its residents were Church of England and from 1849 a Mission Church and school served as a centre for religious, educational and recreational facilities. The school was one of a number of denominational schools established by the Church of England and was partly funded by the Denominational School Board.
St. Mark the Evangelist Church of England was designed by architect James Blackburn and built in Early English Gothic style. Richard Grice, Victorian pastoralist and philanthropist, generously contributed almost all the cost of its construction. Work commenced in 1853 to accommodate the growing Church of England congregation of Fitzroy. On July 1st, 1853, the first stone of St. Mark the Evangelist was laid by the first Bishop of Melbourne, The Right Rev. Charles Perry.
Unfortunately, Blackburn did not live to see its completion, dying the following year in 1854 of typhoid. This left St. Mark the Evangelist without an architect to oversee the project, and a series of other notable Melbourne architects helped finish the church including Lloyd Tayler, Leonard Terry and Charles Webb. Even then when St. Mark the Evangelist opened its doors on Sunday, January 21st, 1855, the church was never fully completed with an east tower and spire never realised. The exterior of the church is very plain, constructed of largely unadorned bluestone, with simple buttresses marking structural bays and tall lancet windows. The church’s belfry is similarly unadorned, yet features beautiful masonry work. It has a square tower and broach spire.
Inside St. Mark the Evangelist Church of England it is peaceful and serves as a quiet sanctuary from the noisy world outside. I visited it on a hot day, and its enveloping coolness was a welcome relief. Walking across the old, highly polished hardwood floors you cannot help but note the gentle scent of the incense used during mass. The church has an ornately carved timber Gothic narthex screen which you walk through to enter the nave. Once there you can see the unusual two storey arcaded gallery designed by Leonard Terry that runs the entire length of the east side of building. Often spoken of as “The Architect’s Folly” Terry’s gallery was a divisive point in the Fritzroy congregation. Some thought it added much beauty to the interior with its massive square pillars and seven arches supporting the principals of the roof. Yet it was generally agreed that the gallery was of little effective use, and came with a costly price tag of £3,000.00! To this day, it has never been fully utlised by the church. St. Mark the Evangelist has been fortunate to have a series of organs installed over its history; in 1854 a modest organ of unknown origin: in 1855 an 1853 Foster and Andrews, Hull, organ which was taken from the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne’s Collins Street: in 1877 an organ built by Melbourne organ maker William Anderson: and finally in 1999 as part of major renovation works a 1938 Harrison and Harrison, Durham, organ taken from St. Luke’s Church of England in Cowley, Oxfordshire. The church has gone through many renovations over the ensuing years, yet the original marble font and pews have survived these changes and remain in situ to this day. Blackwood reredos in the chancel, dating from 1939, feature a mosaic of the last supper by stained glass and church outfitters Brooks, Robinson and Company. A similar one can be found at St. Matthew’s Church of England in High Street in Prahran. The fine lancet stained glass windows on the west side of St. Mark the Evangelist feature the work of the stained glass firms Brooks, Robinson and Company. and William Montgomery. Many of the windows were installed in the late Nineteenth Century.
The St. Mark the Evangelist Parish Hall and verger’s cottage were added in 1889 to designs by architects Hyndman and Bates. The hall is arranged as a nave with clerestorey windows and side aisles with buttresses. In 1891 the same architects designed the Choir Vestry and Infants Sunday School on Hodgson Street, to replace the earlier school of 1849 which had been located in the forecourt of the church.
The present St. Mark the Evangelist’s vicarage, a two-storey brick structure with cast-iron lacework verandahs, was erected in 1910.
I am very grateful to the staff of Anglicare who run the busy adjoining St. Mark’s Community Centre for allowing me to have free range of the inside of St. Mark the Evangelist for a few hours to photograph it so extensively.
James Blackburn (1803 — 1854) was an English civil engineer, surveyor and architect. Born in Upton, West Ham, Essex, James was the third of four sons and one daughter born to his parents. His father was a scalemaker, a trade all his brothers took. At the age of 23, James was employed by the Commissioners of Sewers for Holborn and Finsbury and later became an inspector of sewers. However, his life took a dramatic turn in 1833, when suffering economic hardship, he forged a cheque. He was caught and his penalty was transportation to Van Diemen’s Land (modern day Tasmania). As a convicted prisoner, yet also listed as a civil engineer, James was assigned to the Roads Department under the management of Roderic O’Connor, a wealthy Irishman who was the Inspector of Roads and Bridges at the time. On 3 May 1841 James was pardoned, whereupon he entered private practice with James Thomson, another a former convict. In April 1849, James sailed from Tasmania aboard the "Shamrock" with his wife and ten children to start a new life in Melbourne. Once there he formed a company to sell filtered and purified water to the public, and carried out some minor architectural commissions including St. Mark the Evangelist in Fitzroy. On 24 October he was appointed city surveyor, and between 1850 and 1851 he produced his greatest non-architectural work, the basic design and fundamental conception of the Melbourne water supply from the Yan Yean reservoir via the Plenty River. He was injured in a fall from a horse in January 1852 and died on 3 March 1854 at Brunswick Street, Collingwood, of typhoid. He was buried as a member of St. Mark The Evangelist Church of England. James is best known in Tasmania for his ecclesiastical architectural work including; St Mark’s Church of England, Pontville, Tasmania (1839-1841), Holy Trinity Church, Hobart, Tasmania (1841-1848): St. George’s Church of England, Battery Point, Tasmania, (1841-1847).
Leonard Terry (1825 — 1884) was an architect born at Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. Son of Leonard Terry, a timber merchant, and his wife Margaret, he arrived in Melbourne in 1853 and after six months was employed by architect C. Laing. By the end of 1856 he had his own practice in Collins Street West (Terry and Oakden). After Mr. Laing’s death next year Leonard succeeded him as the principal designer of banks in Victoria and of buildings for the Anglican Church, of which he was appointed diocesan architect in 1860. In addition to the many banks and churches that he designed, Leonard is also known for his design of The Melbourne Club on Collins Street (1858 — 1859) "Braemar" in East Melbourne (1865), "Greenwich House" Toorak (1869) and the Campbell residence on the corner of Collins and Spring Streets (1877). Leonard was first married, at 30, on 26 June 1855 to Theodosia Mary Welch (d.1861), by whom he had six children including Marmaduke, who trained as a surveyor and entered his father’s firm in 1880. Terry’s second marriage, at 41, on 29 December 1866 was to Esther Hardwick Aspinall, who bore him three children and survived him when on 23 June 1884, at the age of 59, he died of a thoracic tumor in his last home, Campbellfield Lodge, Alexandra Parade, in Collingwood.
Lloyd Tayler (1830 — 1900) was an architect born on 26 October 1830 in London, youngest son of tailor William Tayler, and his wife Priscilla. Educated at Mill Hill Grammar School, Hendon, and King’s College, London, he is said to have been a student at the Sorbonne. In June 1851 he left England to join his brother on the land near Albury, New South Wales. He ended up on the Mount Alexander goldfields before setting up an architectural practice with Lewis Vieusseux, a civil engineer in 1854. By 1856 he had his own architectural practice where he designed premises for the Colonial Bank of Australasia. In the 1860s and 1870s he was lauded for his designs for the National Bank of Australasia, including those in the Melbourne suburbs of Richmond and North Fitzroy, and further afield in country Victoria at Warrnambool and Coleraine. His major design for the bank was the Melbourne head office in 1867. With Edmund Wright in 1874 William won the competition for the design of the South Australian Houses of Parliament, which began construction in 1881. The pair also designed the Bank of Australia in Adelaide in 1875. He also designed the Australian Club in Melbourne’s William Street and the Melbourne Exchange in Collins Street in 1878. Lloyd’s examples of domestic architecture include the mansion "Kamesburgh", Brighton, commissioned by W. K. Thomson in 1872. Other houses include: "Thyra", Brighton (1883): "Leighswood", Toorak, for C. E. Bright: "Roxcraddock", Caulfield: "Cherry Chase", Brighton: and "Blair Athol", Brighton. In addition to his work on St. Mark the Evangelist in Fitzroy, Lloyd also designed St. Mary’s Church of England, Hotham (1860); St Philip’s, Collingwood, and the Presbyterian Church, Punt Road, South Yarra (1865); and Trinity Church, Bacchus Marsh (1869). The high point of Lloyd’s career was the design for the Melbourne head office of the Commercial Bank of Australia. His last important design was the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Headquarters Station, Eastern Hill in 1892. Lloyd was also a judge in 1900 of the competition plans for the new Flinders Street railway station. Lloyd was married to Sarah Toller, daughter of a Congregational minister. They established a comfortable residence, Pen-y-Bryn, in Brighton, and it was from here that he died of cancer of the liver on the 17th of August 1900 survived by his wife, four daughters and a son.
Charles Webb (1821 — 1898) was an architect. Born on 26 November 1821 at Sudbury, Suffolk, England, he was the youngest of nine children of builder William Webb and his wife Elizabeth. He attended Sudbury Academy and was later apprenticed to a London architect. His brother James had migrated to Van Diemen’s Land in 1830, married in 1833, gone to Melbourne in 1839 where he set up as a builder in and in 1848 he bought Brighton Park, Brighton. Charles decided to join James and lived with James at Brighton. They went into partnership as architects and surveyors. The commission that established them was in 1850 for St Paul’s Church, Swanston Street. It was here that Charles married Emma Bridges, daughter of the chief cashier at the Bank of England. Charles and James built many warehouses, shops and private homes and even a synagogue in the city. After his borther’s return to England, Charles designed St. Andrew’s Church, Brighton, and receiving an important commission for Melbourne Church of England Grammar School in 1855. In 1857 he added a tower and a slender spire to Scots Church, which James had built in 1841. He designed Wesley College in 1864, the Alfred Hospital and the Royal Arcade in 1869, the South Melbourne Town Hall and the Melbourne Orphan Asylum in 1878 and the Grand Hotel (now the Windsor) in 1884. In 1865 he had designed his own home, "Farleigh", in Park Street, Brighton, where he died on 23 January 1898 of heat exhaustion. Predeceased by Emma in 1893 and survived by five sons and three daughters, he was buried in Brighton cemetery.
Brooks, Robinson and Company first opened their doors on Elizabeth Street in Melbourne in 1854 as importers of window and table glass and also specialised in interior decorating supplies. Once established the company moved into glazing and were commonly contracted to do shopfronts around inner Melbourne. In the 1880s they commenced producing stained glass on a small scale. Their first big opportunity occurred in the 1890s when they were engaged to install Melbourne’s St Paul’s Cathedral’s stained-glass windows. Their notoriety grew and as a result their stained glass studio flourished, particularly after the closure of their main competitor, Ferguson and Urie. They dominated the stained glass market in Melbourne in the early 20th Century, and many Australian glass artists of worked in their studio. Their work may be found in the Princess Theatre on Melbourne’s Spring Street, in St John’s Church in Toorak, and throughout churches in Melbourne. Brooks, Robinson and Company was taken over by Email Pty Ltd in 1963, and as a result they closed their stained glass studio.
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