The Anglican Parish Of Bacchus Marsh (1851 - Present)
Anglicans comprised the majority of the early settlers in and around the town of Bacchus Marsh (an important source of produce for the Melbourne markets). Located on the main railway line between Melbourne, Ballarat and Adelaide, the town (Present population. 12,000) has been and still is popular for day trips.
An Anglican place of worship probably existed in Bacchus Marsh from 1847, with visits by itinerant preachers, and the first church building, a prefabricated iron church, was soon erected in 1851 to be the centre for Anglican worship in the emerging community. Holy Trinity Anglican Parish was one of the first ten parishes in Victoria.
The iron church cost almost 1,000 pounds and was described as "commodious, capable of holding 150 to 200 persons". The building was opened on July 4 1855 by the Dean of Melbourne, Dean Hussey Macartney, with assistance of the resident clergyman, the Rev John Potter. Bishop Perry, the first Bishop of Melbourne, consecrated the church on July 28, 1861.
Molesworth Greene, a successful businessman, who owned "Greystones", a few kilometres south of Bacchus Marsh, also contributed significantly to the building of both the iron church and the present church. He was the Patron of the Board of the Anglican School established in the church grounds in 1857 and demolished 45 years latter to make way for the present Parish Hall.
The Victorian and NSW bushranger Andrew Scott (alias Captain Moonlite) was once a lay reader in the Parish. He preached monthly in the church between July and December 1868. He was eventually hanged in Sydney in 1880.
James Elijah Crooke, bought land in the township of Bacchus Marsh in 1842 and built the famous Woolpack Hotel. As the first and long serving Church Secretary he energetically raised funds for building both the imported "Iron Pot" Church as well as the present sandstone Church in 1877. He had connections with many of the prominent landowners and business people of Melbourne and the district, and correspondence with them is kept in the Parish archives.
The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Thornton of Ballarat on May 20, 1876.Bishop James Moorhouse of Melbourne opened the Church on June 5, 1877, after a special welcome by parishioners.
Soon after the opening parishioners began placing stained glass windows in the church. (Refer to the "Walking the Windows section of this web site) Many fine examples of the imported and locally produced stained glass have been installed in the building up to the present day.
On April 20, 1881, Bishop Moorhouse consecrated the new church. Being close to Melbourne, visits were often made to the Parish by prominent Anglican Clergy, including several of the early Bishops of Melbourne. Bishop Dr Field Flowers Goe preached at a Gala Day Service in 1887.
Tablets bearing the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and the Creed were placed in the sanctuary in 1881, and a new carved wooden pulpit donated by Sir William Clarke of Sunbury was first used in the same year.
After 29 years of discussion and preparation, the congregation built the church gates as a memorial to the many years of service to the parish by the Simon family, well known orchardists of the district. Bishop Baker dedicated the gates on November 8, 1953.
The kindergarten hall was built as a war memorial and opened by Archbishop Booth on July 3, 1955, the centenary year of the foundation of the Church of England in Bacchus Marsh.
This year was marked by many celebrations, the least not being a Thanksgiving Sunday on July 10.
The memorial wall and garden were completed, and four of the original eight tombstones were placed there. In 1976 a memorial stone was placed on the lawn.
The Bacchus Marsh and District Historical Society were given permission to restore the grave of the district's pioneer, Captain William Henry Bacchus. With its original railings and gate it is located in the grounds south of the church.
This 150 anniversary of the first church was celebrated on 3 July, 2005, with the sermon preached by Bishop Paul White, Bishop of the Western Region of Melbourne.
The Parish records are held at the church and comprise preacher's books and other documents recording all baptisms, confirmations, marriages, burials and other religious services held since the church was founded. We also have documentation of the donations of 30 stained glass windows many from the late 19th century, in memory of members of prominent families of the district. Other valuable memorabilia include the pulpit donated by Sir William Clarke of Sunbury and a pair of silver candlesticks once owned by Captain W H Bacchus jnr. Also there are incomplete records of about 30 burials in the church grounds before 1908 including that of Captain W H Bacchus snr.