which, unfortunately at the moment is getting a little bit of a facelift…restoration work is being done on St Matthew’s church in Windsor, but at the ripe old age of 191 it deserves a little touch up or two! It has the distinction of being the oldest Anglican church in Australia, and it’s pretty cousin in countryside Ebenezer is the oldest church of any kind here. Designed by the now famous convict architect Francis Greenway, (who also designed the Windsor courthouse and St James church in Sydney), it apparently followed the style of the time and favoured clean lines with little ornamentation to distract the faithful – as requested by Governor Macquarie.
The bricks used to build the church were all hand-made by convicts and vary in colour including pink, orange, red and brown, giving it what one contemporary called “ a delightful rosiness.”
The bell tower is a sister to the one at St James church in Sydney, both belfries were cast in the same foundry in London and were brought over on the same ship - back in the day bells were an ideal way of summoning local landowners to church from miles away. The beautiful black and gold clock in the tower was a gift from King George 4th, (his father was immortalised in the great movie ‘The madness of King George’), as was the original bible which was used in St Matthew’s until 1937 when it became too fragile.
The semi circular area at the end of the aisle is called a reredos, (thank you Hawkesbury historical society for all this interesting information), and it is positioned on the Eastern side of the church as it is believed that Christ when resurrected will return from the East. It has four columns holding up five arches in which are painted the Lords Prayer, Exodus XX, the Ten Commandments and the Apostles Creed. The ceiling of the apse is painted in graduating shades of blue with gold stars representing the night sky - John Tebbutt, a local astronomer, (commemorated on the $100 note), lay on the floor and drew the stars in the positions they occupied that night.
And, if you are a dyed-in-the-wool stained glass freak like me, there are some gorgeous examples to see, ranging from the simple to the amazingly ornate:
The cemetery surrounding the church predates the church itself by ten years – it was in use from 1810, and is a veritable who’s who of historical figures from the area…it is the last resting place of Thomas Arndell, a first fleet surgeon, William Cox who built the first road over the blue mountains, as well as John Tebbutt whose family mausoleum is decorated with a celestial sphere on each of its corners:
Inside the church is a fascinating document, a hand drawn map of all the gravesites with names carefully inked in…it is behind glass so I couldn’t get a good enough photo unfortunately…
I had to take a shot of this amazingly ornate Victorian-era monument that sits in the forecourt directly in front of the church, I now know that it is made from Italian Carrara marble and was erected in 1882 by Mr McQuade the mayor, in memory of his daughter.