The final church that Phil and Jane Pullin showed me when I stayed with them on my ADFAS tour is a contrast to Edmund Blacket’s other churches in the area.
Whereas St Mary’s, West Maitland and St Peter’s, East Maitland replaced earlier functional buildings, St James’ Church, Morpeth [http://www.stjamesanglicanchurchmorpeth.com.au/page/315332271] is Blacket’s 1860s adaptation of an existing building of 1837-40: he added the sanctuary and sacristy and designed the font and pulpit.
It was rebuilt by John Horbury Hunt after a fire in 1874: he raised the nave walls and devised the lightweight hammerbeam roof, but left the tower at its original height so that it now looks undersized.
The organ (1877) is a rarity, one of the few surviving instruments by the Sydney organ-builder William Davison. St James’ has two fine statues, of St James and the Virgin Mary, by the sculptor Englebert Piccolrauz (b 1942).
All this I would have missed as a tourist. It makes all the difference to spend time in a foreign country working and receiving the hospitality of people who’ve lived there all their lives.
And in the Hunter Valley coalfield of New South Wales, with its Tyneside place-names, there is a constant reminder to a Brit that Australia is, in many respects, remarkably like home.
Mike Higginbottom’s lecture Gothic Down Under: English architecture in the Antipodes explores the influence of British architects, and British-trained architects, on the design of churches and other buildings in the emerging communities of Australia and New Zealand. For details, please click here.