Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wesley Church Perth
Wesley Church is at 75 William Street at its intersection with Hay Street in Perth, Western Australia. It is one of the oldest church buildings and one of few remaining 19th-century colonial buildings in the City of Perth.
Wesley Church is built of load-bearing brick laid in Flemish bond in the Victorian academic gothic style and features a landmark spire, steeply pitched roofs, parapeted gables, label (hood) moulds and wall buttressing. The church has a strong verticality of form emphasised by tall lancet windows with plate tracery to the east facade. Angle buttresses divide the nave wall into five bays and the major windows have stucco label moulds above them. The bricks of the building, fired at uncertain temperatures in wood-burning kilns, show a range of mellow tones and, laid in Flemish bond, create a chequerboard effect on the walls, which provides a decorative element to the walls of the building. The spire is 35 metres high with a weathercock on top; it is surrounded by four smaller spires at its base which are capped by metal finials. The north-east tower replicates these smaller spires above the gable. The roof structure is of hand-sawn timber and the roof covering was originally shingles, but at some point the Church was re-roofed in clay tiles.
The first Methodists arrived in the Swan River Colony on February 3, 1830 aboard the Tranby, to found a small religious community six kilometres (four miles) upstream along the Swan River from the newly established town of Perth (approximately on the site of the current suburb of Maylands). The group was led by Joseph Hardey[and John Wall Hardey, and included a surgeon, preacher, bricklayer, blacksmith, shoemaker, surveyor, hatter, midshipman and several farmers.
The site for the church was purchased from James Inkpen (the first recorded Methodist to arrive in the colony, having arrived in December 1829) at a cost of ₤400. The new church was the third Methodist place of worship to be built in the forty years in which the denomination had been established in the colony. The original church was subsequently used as a caretaker's cottage; the second was used for Sunday School, then an armoury and then a store. George Shenton (another prominent Methodist, the first Mayor of Perth, and a Member of the Western Australian Legislative Council[ had earlier suggested that the name of the church be Wesley Church, and promised £1,000 to establish the building fund, with Joseph Hardey contributing a further ₤500.
Wesley Church was designed by Richard Roach Jewell[, an architect, circuit steward, clerk of colonial works and church member. Jewell was responsible for the design of a number of other prominent Perth buildings, including the Cloisters (1858), the Pensioner Barracks (1863), and extensions and alterations to Government House (1864) and Perth Town Hall (1870). Jewell designed Wesley Church in the fashionable Gothic revival style, a style which he successfully adapted in his other buildings. Jewell's plan for Wesley Church, comprising the nave, chancel and bell tower with a tall and elegant spire, was accepted with one alteration - the relocation of the bell tower from the north-east side to the south-east side.
The foundation stone was laid on October 25, 1867 by Governor John Stephen Hampton. The church was opened on Sunday April 10, 1870 with services by Reverend William Lowe (who married Joseph Hardey's daughter Mary Jane), Rev. W. Traylen and Rev. T.C. Laurence. The total cost of the building was about ₤3,000 - a considerable sum for a church membership of 138 (with a quarterly income of a little over ₤66). The original bricks were made from local clay pits and the floor is made of jarrah. The church bell, originally hanging in the southern tower, came from the sailing ship Tranby, which brought the original members of the congregation to the colony.
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