Inner City Legacy – 2

Brisbane was still only an infant settlement when a parcel of land on the hill near the old penal colony windmill was granted for the establishment of a church in 1856.  The ‘Brisbane Tabernacle’, as it was then known, was constructed of locally-quarried pink porphyry, and opened in 1862.  It soon proved to be too small and was enlarged in 1869, and what is now All Saints’ Anglican Church is the oldest surviving church building in the Australian State of Queensland.

Over time, almost all of the land around this small Early English Gothic Revival church was resumed by the city.  As happened to St Andrew’s Uniting Church not far away, the biggest sacrifice of church property was required to build a railway, only this time to tunnel a line directly underneath the church itself.  Once the tunnel was built, the former church land required to access this tunnel was filled in and sold privately.  Now, directly in front of the church entrance, stands a towering circular bank building, dwarfing what was once a Brisbane landmark.

Like so many inner city churches, All Saints is surrounded by modern office buildings

Like so many inner city churches, All Saints is surrounded by modern office buildings

There are a couple of features of this quite small church that are particularly worth noting.

Although it is a simple rectangular space with just a chancel, it has a spectacular and very rare double hammer beam roof. Compared to the single hammer beam roof in St Andrews’ (yesterday’s post), this is a more complex construction, but much lighter and more delicate, while doing the same basic job.

The rare double hammer beam roof of All Saints' Brisbane

The rare double hammer beam roof of All Saints’ Brisbane

There are many really pretty stained glass windows in this church, all in a very traditional style, most of them much more modern than they look.  However, at the east end, behind the altar, are the oldest stained glass windows in Queensland, dating from 1870.  The three main lancets are what you would expect to see, a crucifixion in the centre flanked by the Virgin Mary to the left and… er…someone else with a halo on the right.  But above them are one large and two tiny roundels which I really like – a benificent post-resurrection Christ, looking like some pagan sun god, and two tiny little decorative, and very cute, ‘alpha’ and ‘omega’ windows.

One of the oldest stained glass windows in Brisbane, over the altar of All Saints' church

One of the oldest stained glass windows in Brisbane, over the altar of All Saints’ church

One of two tiny roundels over the altar of All Saints' church, this is the sign for 'alpha', as in 'I am the alpha and the omega', i.e. the beginning and the end.

One of two tiny roundels over the altar of All Saints’ church, this is the sign for ‘alpha’, as in ‘I am the alpha and the omega’, i.e. ‘I am the beginning and the end’.

The other tiny roundel over the altar in All Saints" church.  Would it really be sacrilegious to put these two images on the front and back of a t-shirt?

The other tiny roundel over the altar in All Saints” church, is ‘omega’. Would it really be sacrilegious to put these two images on the front and back of a t-shirt?

All Saints is a ‘Forward in Faith’ church, which is almost, but not quite, a breakaway sect from Anglicanism.  That means that it sticks to a very traditional and more catholic form of the communion service, and is vehemently opposed to the ordination of women at any level, as well as being opposed to its parent Anglican church’s increasingly tolerant attitude to homosexuality.  Despite that, the Rev. Canon Richard Martin, the priest in charge of this church, was a very friendly and helpful man, and very accommodating to me and my questions, as well as to my tripod and other paraphernalia, and I thank him for that.

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