A heritage treasure. An amazing Story.
A House of God and the Gate of Heaven
The establishment of St. Paul’s Church dates to June 1854 when the first resident, Anglican (Church of England) Clergy was appointed to the Goldfields and tent services were held on Bakery Hill which is today’s car park at the rear of the church. This is also the year of the Eureka Rebellion and the Digger’s march started from this same area.
From a tent church, a schoolhouse/church was built. In 1857 a public meeting was held and it was decided to build a church for 450 and to make St Paul’s a separate Parish from the other areas of Ballarat. The foundation stone was laid in 1858.
However by 1862 it was decided to rebuild the church to accommodate 800 people. The new building had a tower, a vestry and a gallery was built for the choir.
Disaster struck on the 1st April 1864 when a great thunderstorm hit Ballarat and the ground under the church began to subside. During the next week the church was dismantled and most of the material was saved for rebuilding the church. This was accomplished in 12 months. The tower and the elaborate east window were saved.
The land in front of the church was acquired and a new church still slightly bigger but essentially the same design was built in front of the tower. The new building was opened in 1865. The east window is of particular interest as it is claimed to be the oldest example of the Melbourne firm, Urie and Ferguson.
The J.W. Walker & Sons organ has an interesting history as it was in transit from England when the church had fallen down but it was installed in the rebuilt church on 23 June 1864. Over the years it has undergone numerous alterations to bring it up to modern standards;it was restored by Ken Turner of Goldfields Pipe Organ and blessed by Bishop Garry on 10 February, 2013.
The sesquicentennial of the Organ and the rebuilding of the Church in 1864 was celebrated in 2014. We thank God for all his blessings and loving kindness towards all those who have gone before us and we pray that his everlasting love will continue to enfold all of us at St. Paul’s as we strive to proclaim afresh, with joy and hope, the God News of Jesus Christ to the men and women of our time.
A history of the church was published in 2018 and is available for purchase. Details available at Dr Anne Doggett’s history of our iconic church is available