1887: Sale Vic, St Paul’s Anglican Church, (now Cathedral)

Christ, the Good Shepherd / The Wife of Noble Character

Right-hand light of three-light east window

sale st pauls exterior view

Fig. 1: Nathaniel Billing, St Paul’s Anglican Church (now Cathedral) 1883-4, Sale (Vic).

St Paul’s Church, now the Cathedral for the Anglican Diocese of Gippsland, was built in 1884 to a design by Nathaniel Billing.  As was generally the case, the all-important east window was the first to receive stained glass, with the central light of the three-light window, Salvator Mundi, relocated from the east window of the earlier church.[1] The light commemorated Dr Floyd Minter Peck, a local surgeon and a church trustee, who died under tragic circumstances.[2]  Friends and colleagues erected the window ‘by subscription’.  The left-hand light, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, was a new addition in 1885, a memorial to Edward Crooke.  Both windows were designed and made by Ferguson and Urie of North Melbourne, but almost twenty years apart.[3]

sale st pauls ang cathedral good shep wm 1887001

Fig. 2: Ferguson & Urie, I Am the Way, The Truth and The Life, 1885; Salvator Mundi, 1867; William Montgomery,  Christ, the Good Shepherd/ The Wife of Noble Character,1887, St Paul’s Anglican Church (now Cathedral), Sale (Vic).

When the church opened, the right-hand light was probably filled with simple diamond quarries bordered with a stylised floral border as seen in the other lights, in the expectation that Ferguson & Urie would replace it with stained glass when a third donor might offer a new memorial.  The tracery glass that filled the arch above the three lights, with the Dove of the Holy Spirit placed in the centre, was also the work of Ferguson & Urie.

This pioneering firm was still operating in 1887, however the commission went to William Montgomery; it was his first rural Victorian installation, designed and made during his first year in Melbourne.  It appears that the original measurements may have been incorrect as a small infill has been added to the lower edge of the light.[4]

sale st pauls ang cathedral good shep wm 1887002

The last light of the three, adjacent to Dr Peck’s memorial, was dedicated to his widow Mrs Menie Peck.[5] Menie Peck (née Campbell) died aged 67 at her home, Islay Cottage, Sale on 28 June 1887.  Montgomery filled the central section of the light with a depiction of Christ, the Good Shepherd, with a subsidiary subject, The Wife of Noble Character, in the  panel below.  It accurately commemorated Mrs Peck’s contribution to the church and the local community – the woman who reaches out to the poor and needy, as described in Proverbs 31:20.[6] Both subjects became increasingly popular and Montgomery reworked the designs in subsequent years for different settings in all Protestant denominations.

Apparently Montgomery wasted no time in preparing his design for St Paul’s as the Gippsland Times reported that the window was expected to be installed in the church ‘before Christmas’ 1887.

St Paul’s east window is quite possibly unique: designed in three phases by different artists, with different designs in the architectural canopies and borders, and different heights in each of the base panels, and a generally lighter application of glass paint by Montgomery.   Remarkably though, the whole window is unified by the selection of  harmonious glass colours and Ferguson and Urie’s over-arching tracery design.

 

This was the last church window William Montgomery completed in 1887.  It had been a momentous period over little more than a year – marriage, planning and moving to the opposite side of the world, setting up home in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn and opening a new enterprise that by December showed every sign of being highly successful.[7] His careful business planning before leaving England had paid dividends. He brought many supplies including a supply of glass, glass paints and stains, paint brushes, a lead vice with a range of dyes for different lead came profiles and sketchbooks, books, source materials and some of his meticulous cartoons.  Just as importantly, he signed a Memorandum of Agreement with William James Robson, Glass Cutter and Lead Worker of Newcastle on Tyne, who was to follow him out to Australia once he had established his business.  Montgomery agreed to pay half his passage from London to Melbourne (up to seven guineas) and pay him £1.10.0 sterling per week from the first Monday after his arrival.  The agreement was binding for three months.[8] It is believed that the artist and glass-painter, Auguste Fischer, was also employed by Montgomery during this early period.[9]  Montgomery certainly needed assistance to design, manufacture and install so many windows during the Melbourne ‘Boom’ period of the late 1880s.

Photographer: Bronwyn Hughes

[1] Gippsland Times, 21 September 1867, p. 2.

[2] ibid.

[3] In 1867, John Lamb Lyon was a partner in the firm, which was known as Ferguson, Urie and Lyon until 1873.  Lyon moved to Sydney and set up Lyon, Cottier & Co; The Melbourne firm reverted to Ferguson & Urie. For information on the firm, see Ray Brown’s website https://fergusonandurie.wordpress.com/category/sale/

[4] For a commission where Montgomery could not attend personally, measurements might be forwarded by a church member or a local glazier.  Montgomery often requested a template of the window opening to help minimise errors.

[5] Argus, 1 July 1887, p. 1.

[6] Bairnsdale Advertiser and Tambo and Omeo Chronicle, 2 July 1887, p. 3.

[7] Montgomery completed at least 16 church windows from February to December 1887, ranging from a single light at Sale to the three-light east window at Wagga Wagga; commissions were also underway for some of Melbourne’s newest mansions.

[8] Original Memorandum dated 10 August 1886, (uncatalogued) William Montgomery Collection, MS 15414, State Library of Victoria.  Around 1900, Robson moved to Ballarat and set up a successful leadlight business.  It remains in operation in 2019 and is still run by his descendants.

[9] On arrival in Australia in 1886, Fischer spent a short time  in Sydney before coming to Melbourne.  After one of his several trips to Europe, he established his own Melbourne studio at Watson’s Place, in 1891. See Building & Engineering Journal, 19 September 1891, p. 130.

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