Crossroads Uniting Church and Manse,
corner of Duncans Road,
corner of Duncans Road,
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This church complex comprises the church, the manse at 21 Duncans Road, the 1921 church hall and the grounds. The church, originally St Thomas the Apostle, is constructed of bluestone with Barrabool sandstone used for quoins and detailing.
The architectural importance of the Werribee Church was examined in a 1991 study of Victoria's churches. The editor, Dr Miles Lewis, has described the former St Thomas the Apostle as " a handsome bluestone church...with interesting engaged colonettes on an octagonal tower, intact iron finials and surprising Venetian Gothic arches". Internally, Dr Lewis describes the relocated Chirnside pew as "finely carved with a mixture of late Norman and Ionic motifs which is quite exceptional". The church is notable also for its Fergusson and Uric stained glass.
Externally, it has been identified as having "stylistic similarities to the Presbyterian Church at Wickliffe, with its distinctive octagonal tower". This 1861 bluestone church with Waurn Ponds stone dressings, had a tower added in 1878 from the designs of Alexander Davidson. Like the Werribee Church, the Wickliffe Church is in French Gothic style. Other bluestone churches designed by Alexander Davidson include the Presbyterian Church at Mortlake (1861-62); the Wesleyan (now Lutheran) Church at Mortlake (1867) ; and the Presbyterian Church at Rokewood (1866 with a 1905 spire).
The manse built at the same time as the church is also built of bluestone with Barrabool sandstone detailing and a slate roof. It is a large house, with a verandah enclosing the front sections on three sides. Large front windows, each comprising a larger central window and two side windows, are set in gabled bays. Carved timber bargeboards remain on both gables. The central front entry is recessed between these two bays. The verandah is set on fine cast iron posts and retains its lacework. Elements of the manse garden - primarily several decidous fruit trees - remain.
Between the manse and the church is a more recent house (perhaps dating from the 1940s).
The brick church hall is a simple gabled building, with a small gabled entry. A large semi-circular window is the main feature. The hall dates from 1921, with the foundation stone marking its unveiling by G.T. Chirnside.
The grounds along Synnot Street provide the setting for the church. On the corner of Synnot Street and Duncans Road are two large trees, a Silky Oak and a cedar. The fence along Synnot Street was built in 1963 of stones from William Leake's home, including a lintel carved with the date 1877. William Leake was the second shire President.
The former St Thomas the Apostle, now the Crossroads Uniting Church, was dedicated and opened as a Presbyterian Church on 28 September 1884. The associated bluestone manse was completed the same year. Both buildings were designed by the notable Geelong architect, Alexander Davidson. Both the land, church and manse were funded by one family, the Chirnsides of Werribee Park. The complex also contains a brick hall, the foundation stone of which was laid n 16 April 1921 by G.T. Chirnside.
The first meeting of a Presbyterian congregation in Wyndham Shire was in early November 1866. It was conducted by the Rev. Andrew Hanna in a place of worship provided by the Church of England. A first manse was "built a mile out of town on the Ballan Road". It is not known if this building remains.
Two decades later, in 1883, the Rev. William White was invited from Scotland to take charge of St. Thomas' Presbyterian Church at Werribee. This was "mainly through the interest of Thomas Chirnside". A first Kirk Session was held in November 1883. The following year, on 5 February 1884, Thomas Chirnside laid the foundation stone of the new church.
An "Argus" article reported that the new church would be in "Gothic style of bluestone with Barrabool Hills stone dressing and will have a 90 foot tower at the north-east angle". The builder was a Mr Harding of Geelong.
A later article in September 1884 told of the opening of the church "erected by the generosity of the Chirnside family" and that of the manse that had "also been built". The new building was described as a "stone church" with "a graceful spire which can be seen from the surrounding district". The cost of the church and manse was nearly 4000 pounds.
The Werribee Church has historical interest initials "T.C." (Thomas Churnside) on one arm of a weather-vane on the steeple. It is said that the bluestone in the wall around the church added in 1963, is from the old Leake's Dairy in Truganina.
The Church, its manse, and land (handed over to the Trusteesi n 1902 by the Chirnsides) are on the Victorian Heritage Register, while the Church is classified by the National Trust.
corner of Duncans Road,
Werribee,” Wyndham History, accessed July 1, 2022, https://www.wyndhamhistory.net.au/items/show/398.
|This Item||Relation||Item: Presbyterian Church (now Crossroads Uniting Church)|