Beecroft-Cheltenham History Group

Anglican Church – St Johns

An Anglican congregation was started by Jemima Margaret Hull who lived with her family in a house which still stands on the northern corner of Beecroft Road and Kirkham Street. Mrs Hull commenced these services in 1890 [1]. At a meeting in her home on 15 November 1890 of Rev George McIntosh, Messrs William Gratus Coward, Charles Churchill Tucker and Mesdames Alfred Cox and Hull decided to purchase land for a church building [2].

 

Within just 3 months a site on the southern corner of Beecroft Road and Hannah Street was purchased, architectural plans of William Coward were accepted and building by Hart & Sons of Parramatta of a small timber church was completed. An opening ceremony was held on 7 February 1891 although it was not licensed as an Anglican Church until 18 January 1892 [3].  Due to the rapid growth in the size of the congregation the church was doubled in size during 1894 to 1895. Services were conducted twice a month by the Rev McIntosh from the neighbouring parish of St Paul’s Carlingford. The church continued to grow in size and a Sunday School was formed followed by the first confirmation service in 1899. A Sunday evening service commenced in 1902. Services at this site continued until 1906.

As a result of the continuing growth in church numbers it was decided to purchase a new site, and the larger present site was purchased in 1905-6. In February 1906 the church building was relocated onto this new block of land after being towed by a steam traction engine [4]. William Nixon designed a new Gothic church of which the first part was commenced in 1907. A sandstone block for the foundation stone was donated by George Willis, the father of David Willis of the Boer War memorial and a parishioner of the church. The foundation stone was laid by the Governor, Sir Harry Rawson. The church was then opened and dedicated on 18 January 1908 by the Primate of the Australian Church and Archbishop of Sydney, Saumerez Smith. The earlier building now became the hall and continues to have this function to this day.

The pipe organ was built by Griffin and Keggo, of Pyrmont. It was ordered in 1911 and installed in 1913. The pipes were made by Alfred Palmer & Sons. The final pipes were made by Roger Pogsno of Orange and installed over many years until 2006 [5].

Stained glass windows are to the memory of the Skellett family, Bessie Grant, Charles Churchill Tucker and Harry Octavious Holcombe and his wife Violet.

The congregation continued to grow and in 1912 Victor Abram (son of William Abram), who had come to faith in Beecroft is the first member of the congregation known to enter Moore Theological College [6].   He was rector of Epping 1931 to 1939.

Through the advocacy of Rev Johnson, in 1945 Arden was purchased by the Diocese and occupied the hall at St Johns pending the donation of land of its new site. A house for a curate was purchased at 21 Hannah Street. Then in 1958 Chesalon Beecroft was opened as a support for the aged. In 1948, five men from the parish were studying at Moore Theological College. There were Sunday schools, Ladies Guilds, Mothers Union, Youth Fellowship, men’s teas and a missionary service League to name just a few of the activities across the three centres of the parish.

In 1964 west Beecroft (formerly St James at least in 1957) became part of an Anglican church at West Pennant Hills.

A notable part of the Ministry of Rev Blanch, who succeeded Canon Johnstone, was to develop home based bible studies and at their peak 17 existed.

Ministers

1890-1903     G McIntosh

1903- 1926    J Young

1926-1942     R Bootle

1942-1882     JRL Johnstone

1982- 2000    AM Blanch

2000 - 2019   GN Collison

2019-            J Smith

[1]      Beecroft Cheltenham History Group Beecroft and Cheltenham: the shaping of a Sydney community to 1914 (privately published, Beecroft, 1995) p 213.

[2]      Beecroft Cheltenham History Group Beecroft and Cheltenham: the shaping of a Sydney community to 1914 (privately published, Beecroft, 1995) p 213; T McCaskill A sure foundation: The early years of the Anglican community in Beecroft and St Johns Church Beecroft 1890-1896 (Beecroft Cheltenham History Group, Beecroft, 1990).

[3]      Beecroft Cheltenham History Group Beecroft and Cheltenham: the shaping of a Sydney community to 1914 (privately published, Beecroft, 1995) p 214.

[4]      Beecroft Cheltenham History Group Beecroft and Cheltenham: the shaping of a Sydney community to 1914 (privately published, Beecroft, 1995) p 220.

[5] A guide to St John’s Anglican Church Beecroft (np nd); Northern District Times, 22 November 2006.

[6]      Beecroft Cheltenham History Group Beecroft and Cheltenham: the shaping of a Sydney community to 1914 (privately published, Beecroft, 1995) pp 222-3

Anglican Church – St Andrews, Cheltenham

The foundation stone for this church was laid on 8 March 1924. Located on Beecroft Road the land (and surrounding sandstone wall plus a cash donation of 25 guineas) was donated by Mr W Harris of Edensor as a ‘spontaneous’ gift. The architect was Mr N H Broderick. The foundation stone was laid by Mrs Harris. The members attending the church “were not great in numbers but they displayed a warmth of interest and great generosity.” Ministers presiding were Rev J Young and Archdeacon Harris the latter of whom “in eloquent terms he dwelt upon the Church as being the Symbol of God’s presence.” The church secretary was Mr J W Mackaness and Treasurer Mr W R Cave [1].

The church closed in 1972 with certain internal plaques installed in St Johns and the land sold for the building of a residential home in the Spanish mission style. The proceeds of the sale of this property were used to build a residence for a curate on the land in Hannah Street.

[1] Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrower Advocate, 8 March 1924 p 11 

Anglican Church – St Peters

This church was located on the corner of Murray Farm and Orchard Roads. It was sold to the Brethren.

For many years Rev Dennis Kirkaldy was the assistant minister who presided at this church part time.

 

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