1887: Hawthorn Vic, St Columb’s Anglican Church

The Ascension of Christ

Single light, Nave

During 1887, additions were made to St Columb’s Church, Hawthorn to accommodate a congregation of 750 people, a measure of the growing population in the Glenferrie district of Hawthorn.  The church was one several daughter-churches of Christ Church Anglican that included Kew, Balwyn and Camberwell; St Columb’s remained closely connected.  Mr Robert Elias Wallen was a churchwarden at Christ Church, and also a founder of St Columb’s where he gave generously and served as a Trustee.  His wife, Marian May Wallen, née Pitman, died at the Wallen family home, ‘Harlech’, on 29 January 1887, aged only 40,[1] leaving her grieving husband, three sons and seven daughters.[2]  The same year, Robert Wallen commissioned windows as memorials for Marian to be placed in both Anglican churches.[3]

hawthorn st columbs anglican001                                hawthorn st columbs anglican002

Fig. 1:  William Montgomery, The Ascension and detail, 1887, St. Columb’s Anglican Church, Hawthorn Vic.           Photographer: Bronwyn Hughes

The window for St Columb’s, a single light depicting The Ascension, was undoubtedly selected as a pair to The Resurrection, installed the same year as a memorial to WT Clark, MA, a Glenferrie Road resident who died in 1886.[4]  Both windows were sourced from wood engravings published in The Pictorial Catechism, which was published to rave reviews in 1862.[5]  The black and white engravings readily offered a basis for stained glass interpretation, allowing the a firm to overlay the simple lines with its own style.  Montgomery’s Resurrection followed the Catechism format, possibly at the request of the client or clergy but he added his usual decorative details, most noticeably in the lavish representation of fabrics and embroidery.  Christ’s robe of gold ‘embroidery’ on white cloth is rich, delicate and filled with light, while, in contrast, the kneeling figure in the foreground is swathed mainly in deep gold and brown.

When Robert Wallen died in 1893, Montgomery was commissioned by his children to design and make a window in his memory, with the text, ‘Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden’.[6]


[1] Argus, 31 January 1887, p. 1.

[2] Australasian, 7 October 1893, p. 24.

[3] See separate entry for 1887: Hawthorn, Christ Church Anglican.

[4] Clark’s death notice appeared in Argus, 9 June 1886, p. 1.  One of Marian and Robert Wallen’s daughters, and two of Clark’s later became missionaries in India and China respectively. See Jane Carolan, St. Columb’s Hawthorn 1883-1983, Vestry of St Columb’s Hawthorn, c1983.

[5] MB Couissinier, The Pictorial Catechism after designs by G.R. Elster, AW Schulgen (Paris) John Philp (London, 1862.

[6] Church of England Messenger, 8 November 1895, p. 195.

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