Posts tagged ‘churches’

September 6, 2011

Here is the church, here is the steeple…

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.  


April 20, 2011

Bathurst – a petrolhead pilgrimage and a bishop’s house…

The last town we visited was a girl’s paradise of cute shops and bric-a-brac so to even up the scales a bit I thought we’d take in Bathurst – the pinnacle for V8 motor racing enthusiasts and boy people everywhere! Each year in October this quiet farming town hosts the biggest Australian motor racing weekend in history as a 1,000 km race is fought out grimly and with take-no-prisoners-determination on the famous mountain that is Mt Panorama. The track for the rest of the year is free to drive around at any time, although the official speed limit is 60 kph and it is rumoured to be heavily policed…but the experience is still awesome. What the tv cameras don’t show is the view from the top…looking out over the town proper and off into the countryside for miles and miles…

After the obligatory hot lap we checked into our accommodation for the night, a real live, (well, he’s actually dead now but you get the picture), bishop’s house. Set up on a hill on the outskirts of town and opposite a gothic looking cathedral-type edifice that is actually St Stanislaus boys college sits Bishop’s Court, a very upmarket B&B. The house itself was built in 1870 for the first Anglican bishop of Bathurst, Samuel Marsden and his family, (and servants I presume), and then was the home of each successive bishop until the 1970’s.

It has been magnificently decorated by the current owners, Christine and David and offers a choice of six rooms…all with a little something different but with the same sense of style and decadence, (I dare you to choose one, it took me ages…eventually I resorted to getting MD to pick for me), and a magnificent acre of gardens.

The room we (eventually) chose was called the ‘Harmony’ suite, how lovely is that colour scheme? Behind those cool white shutters was a view down into the valley and the wooden doors opened onto an antique strewn verandah that looked out over the gardens…I’ll show some photos of it in a minute…

I kid you not…there’s chocolates in every room of the house!!

Some of the other rooms…they range in price from $270 – $295 on a Friday or Saturday night, I actually found this on Wotif…
The living areas are available to be used by the guests whenever you would like, there  is a huge lcd tv in the main lounge room and an open fireplace that would be just gorgeous in the cooler months – I was going to say winter but it gets a little chilly out here so maybe more than just winter…
See, there’s the chocolates again…
Breakfast in the morning is included in the room rate, a lovely local lady had set the table with yoghurt and fresh fruit salad to start, (there was a selection of boring old cereal if we had wanted it), then asked what we would like for breakfast…MD had a mountainous plate of bacon, cooked tomatoes, fried eggs, mushrooms and turkish toast, I had two poached eggs on turkish that she very thoughtfully drizzled with a little hollandaise and added some fresh baby spinach…just delicious! Out the back of the house is a kitchen garden that supplies a lot of the home-grown produce…
 And then there’s the chapel…yes, you heard right…the house has its own mini chapel with a high vaulted ceiling lined in wood and a baby pulpit! Now it is used for functions and special dinners, the wooden door that can be seen on the right of the lounge room is the door leading into it…
 The premises is licensed so you can kick back with a coldie on this beautiful verandah and listen to the birds chirping!
Our room opened onto this lovely upstairs verandah, those lounges are as comfy as they look…
Your humble scribe checking out the gardens…


Although Bishop’s Court doesn’t have a restaurant of it’s own it is a short walk or taxi ride to many of the local restaurants, the owners would be only too happy to give advice on somewhere nice to eat – or you could just live on the chocolates!!

March 25, 2011

Kurrajong: my favourite place for village atmosphere and cuteness!

OK, just for the sake of it, let’s put Bilpin and Kurrajong up against each other in the must-visit stakes. Who would win? Well, even though it would be a really close call, I’d have to go with Kurrajong. Once upon a time it was the area’s undisputed queen of the antique shops, unfortunately most have closed down now, however it still offers two very interesting ones. If that’s not enough to lure you there’s also a cute, eclectic row of shops, (including the most amazing lolly shop), an old sandstone-and-stained-glass church and a gorgeous hybrid called Sassafras Creek that combines a gallery, shop and restaurant and has a back verandah that literally hangs out over the hill!

Kurrajong is a cruisey, pretty drive about 15 minutes from Richmond. Firstly there’s the Hawkesbury river to cross:

Check out some of the local paddocks:

Follow the Bells Line of Road up through North Richmond then Kurmond then hang a left at the lights at the Kurrajong village sign…sweep past the church then come into…the village!

I have no idea why this fence is slap bang in the middle of the village street – I think it might be advertising for the guy who builds them – but it makes for an interesting picture!

Just off the main street there’s a big picnic area with a children’s playground, public loos and some interesting local handiwork:

At the bottom of the hill past the park is the old Kurrajong theatre, now turned into one of the antique shops still residing here, it used to also offer a cafe with old-fashioned grandma-style cooking but that’s closed now. The bathroom doors are still labelled ‘Actors’ and ‘Actresses’.

And finally, because I just can’t resist pretty things, here are a few of the cuties you can see there.

March 1, 2011

Feel like afternoon tea with the interred?

Have I got the place for you – and, no, it’s not as morbid as it sounds! On the banks of the Hawkesbury river, about a fifteen minute drive out of Windsor lies the sleepy little town of Ebenezer, famous for being the home of Australia’s oldest church. I know… I was surprised when I found out too, what about all those old piles in Tasmania? But apparently it’s true, and the street sign says so, so it must be true. There is a slight caveat in that it’s Australia’s oldest Presbyterian church, but that’s a small distinction really when you have a historical landmark practically on your doorstep!!

It has been used as a church continually from 1809, and reminds me somewhat of a doll’s house:

Of course it is free to look at, wander around in and soak up the atmosphere, and the graves surrounding it are really interesting in a sad kind of way. The oldest one is for poor little Sarah Gilkerson who died at 3 weeks old on May 14th 1813. The churchyard has a lovely peaceful vibe and the pretty scenery of the bushland and the river adds to that.

Adjoining the church itself is the old schoolmaster’s house, (even more like a doll’s house than the church), it now houses a miniature museum and a shop with all sorts of interesting bric a brac, locally made goods and souvenirs for sale. They even have those silver teaspoons with a picture of the church on the top, speaking of which, I found some girls up in Byron Bay who make bracelets out of those spoons – they are so cool! Anyway, enough of jewellery, back to the subject – the house is an interesting combination of museum and historical display. Up the steepest set of stairs I have ever come across, (and my sister used to live in a terrace house in Paddington), lies the attic bedrooms all made up as if the poor convict servant girl had just gotten up.

Finally, here comes the bit about afternoon tea, (sorry to make you wait for it), outside the schoolmasters house in a paved courtyard with views down to the river a few tables are set up and Devonshire tea/coffee is available for $5. A lovely volunteer lady sets up a tray with all the fixings and you can relax and have a nice spot of tea… and don’t worry, the graves are all on the other side of the buildings. The church still runs as a Uniting Church and is open for services at 8.30am, whilst the house is open from 10am until 3, (or 4pm in the warmer months), on all days except Christmas and Easter.