The Anglican Parish of Maryborough has a rich and complex history.
St Paul’s Anglican Church was constructed as the third Maryborough Church of England, replacing a timber church on the same site. The building was designed by prominent Queensland architect, FDG Stanley in 1879. A large memorial hall, designed by local architect, POE Hawkes, was added to the church site in 1921.
The original township of Maryborough was situated, not in its current place, but on the north of the Mary River, after wharves were established in 1847-8 providing transport for wool from sheep stations on the Burnett River. In 1850 Surveyor, HR Labatt arrived in Maryborough with instructions to “examine the River Mary…to suggest …the best site or sites for the laying out of the town, having regard to the convenience of shipping on one hand and internal communication on the other…also…point out the spots desirable as reserves for public building, church, quay and for places for public recreation.” The site recommended by Labatt was not where settlement was established but further east and from the early 1850s this is where the growing town developed.
The first Maryborough Church of England was constructed at the early settlement in 1852 and this was a timber slab building with shingled roof not exceeding £30 in cost. Much of the material and labour of this early church was provided without cost by the local community and in this year the first pastor, Reverend E. Tanner arrived in Maryborough. In 1853 the Parish of Maryborough was formed as the most northerly outpost of the Diocese of Newcastle.
With the movement of the town following Labatt’s survey, the timber church was dismantled and re-erected on land in Lennox Street which has been variously described as being donated to the church by early Maryborough citizen, ET Aldridge or as being secured for £21 by the church in early land sales in Maryborough. The Church of England retains this land as their principal Maryborough property to this day. Upon re-erection of the first timber church, a timber belfry complete with bells were added to the site.
This newly erected church remained in use for ten years, until it was replaced with another timber church dedicated as St Paul’s Episcopal church on 27 May 1866. This church was designed by Maryborough architect, William Montgomerie Davenport Davidson, who as a church warden provided his services without charge. Maryborough flourished in the late 1860s as a result of the discovery of gold in Gympie in 1867, for which Maryborough was the port. The trade of supplying the gold field went through Maryborough leading to the establishment of several secondary industries and a consequent growth in the population. During the 1870s immigration schemes and the introduction of indentured labour caused more population increases in Maryborough.
By 1877 a decision was made by the parish to construct a new permanent masonry building and the foundation stone of this new structure was laid by Sir Arthur Kennedy in March 1878. The services of Colonial Architect, Francis Drummond Greville Stanley were sought and he furnished the church with a design. Although Stanley was employed by the Queensland Government as the Colonial Architect, effectively from 1871 until 1881, he was allowed to continue with private commissions but this remained a contentious point throughout his employment as other architects complained. In October 1877, Stanley submitted a resignation to the government detailing how he needed to supplement his income with private work which was causing him health problems. When granted a salary increase he withdrew his resignation but argued that he was committed to the work at St Paul’s, Maryborough which he then brought to completion. Stanley resigned officially and vacated his position in July 1881.
The design Stanley provided to the Church of England for their church in Maryborough was very similar to his design for the Holy Trinity Church of England in Fortitude Valley. Both churches are constructed of brick on a masonry foundation and have a similar traditional church floor plan of central nave flanked by aisles with apsidal chancel and porch entrance. The clerestory in both buildings is supported on a cast iron pointed arched arcade extending for the length of the nave, with cedar panels set in the spandrels of the arches.
St Paul’s Church of England was opened on 30 August 1879 by Bishop Hale and Bishop Stanton of North Queensland. The building was constructed at a cost of about £6000 and a report in the local newspaper described the completed building as Queensland’s cathedral in reference to its size, architecture and prominence, thought to be greater than other Churches of England built in Queensland to that date. The report continues on to detail some of the internal decoration:
“The chancel has a neatly framed roof with quarter diagonals decorated with rosettes in alternating spaces…The lower windows in the sides, with the western ad wheel windows are of the new diamond glass – one whole sheet each with false diamonds and with the stained glass windows of the chancel were imported expressly for the church. The upper windows in lead frames were made in Maryborough. By night the church is lit by means of rose lights containing 12 jets one of which stands in every arch.”
The church was constructed by local contractors; Mr Caldwell who was responsible for the masonry work and Mr Taylor, responsible for carpentering. The report does state that the building is similar to the Holy Trinity Church but calls St Paul’s , “a vast improvement being very much larger and less costly”. By 1883 an organ gallery was added to the north western end, also designed by FDG Stanley.
The next substantial addition to the church was in 1888 when a large free standing bell tower was erected near the church. The structure, with nine bells cast by Mears & Stainbank Bell Founders of Whitechapel London, cost £3500 which was donated by ET Aldridge at whose suggestion the tower was constructed in memory of his wife, Maria. Queensland has only two other such towers – St John’s Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane has 12 bells, and St Andrew’s South Brisbane 6.
The bells were refurbished in 2012. They were uplifted from the tower 16 April, shipped to Whitechapel and returned 10 September (a 21 week turnaround).
After refurbishment 2012
For more pictures visit our bell tower page.
Another large addition was made to the site in 1921 when a memorial Hall designed by local architect, POE Hawkes was constructed. The hall was dedicated to the “glory of God and the memory of those who fell in the Great War.” The foundation stone was laid on 3 August 1920 to co-incide with a visit to Maryborough by the Prince of Wales. The building which was designed to harmonise with the church, housed a hall with a stage, two dressing rooms and two vestries along with two wide verandahs which would serve to provide supper rooms and open air classrooms. The hall was constructed by local contractor, WE Ferguson at a cost of £5980. POE Hawkes was an innovative local architect responsible for many fine inter-war building in Maryborough, including residences and commercial buildings.
Inside the church, a Warriors’ Chapel was dedicated on 3 July 1960 and the Lady Chapel was dedicated on 17 March 1963.
The Church celebrated its 130th anniversary with a visit by Bishop Jonathan Holland (Northern Region, Diocese of Brisbane), Sunday 6 September 2009.