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East Perth Cemeteries
Perth, Western Australia


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Nov 1, 2001
   
Grave Surround

Foundation Day Events:
Royal Western Australian Historical Society hosts a service at Saint Bartholomew's Chapel, East Perth cemeteries, in honour of pioneering families, Chipper and Caporn.

Since 1976 the Historical Society have been holding annual pioneer memorial services like the one advertised above in the West Australian on May 30, 1998. They are held during Western Australia week on the first Sunday in June.

Surnames of pioneers who have been honoured over the years in such services include: Roe, Wittenoom, Broun, Clarke, Bruce, Wimbridge, Sutherland, Finnerty, Jones, Mellor, Richards, Dower, Seeligson, Jewell, Hasluck, Wells, Ranford and Lefroy.

Unfortunately, St. Bartholomew's has experienced and 'on again, off again' life of service to the Anglican community in East Perth, especially since the 1930s and 1940s after many of East Perth's residents moved to West Perth and other more socially acceptable areas.

After the original mortuary chapel was consecrated as an Anglican parish church on August 19, 1888, it became home to 'well-to-do' households with names like Roe, Parker, Burt, Glyde, Stone, Spencer, Wittenoom and Clifton.

They lived on Adelaide Terrace overlooking the Swan River and over the years St. Bartholomew's popularity increased as a place of worship for them. In fact, it had to be extended in 1900, but as attendances began to decline in the second half of the 20th century and its future became less certain, it ceased to function as a parish church in 1963 and ended its life in servce to homeless men from nearby St. Bartholomew's House.

It even looked as though it would be demolished in the early 1970s!

Once again, a chronological account of the church's history would appear to be the best approach.

Grave Surround

Due to a misinterpretation of Church records the notion that a mortuary chapel had been dedicated by Bishop Short of Adelaide in 1848 became a popular myth and was still being mentioned in National Trust documents and the newspapers of the day in 1976 when the church was restored.

In 1865 at the time of the public funeral of Panter, Harding and Goldwyer, a letter to the editor of the Perth Gazette suggested:

... Might not this be satisfied by the erection of a plain but commodious Chapel in the Cemetery, for the performance of the Burial Services; instead of the present inconvenient necessity of bringing the coffins, from whatever quarter of the Town they may issue, first to the Cathedral for the former part of the Ceremony?

Similar sentiments were expressed in a petition addressed to Bishop Hale in 1871 when it was explained that it was a long way to carry a coffin from St. George's Cathedral and that sometimes it had to be done in an unseemly manner. Earlier, before Cemetery Road was built up the hill from Adelaide Terrace, it was claimed that the sand was too deep for wagons and that six pall-bearers were needed to share the burden, rather than the four men used elsewhere.

As a result, St. Bartholomew's Mortuary Chapel was built by the Church of England in its cemetery in East Perth and was consecrated on February 16, 1871, by Matthew Hale, the Bishop of Perth.

It was designed by Richard Roach Jewell, the Superintedent of Works, and its erection was supervised by Mr. Knight, the Diocesan Registrar. When it was opened, the chapel was described in the original petition as being 'remote from habitation'.

The petition for consecration was signed by Archdeacon Brown, Messrs. Knight (Diocesan Registrar), J.F. Law, and W.T. Loton. It was also signed by Mr. George Vincent, Mr. G.F. Stone, Mr. Edward Stone and Mr. Joseph Kenworthy. Of those who signed, Mr. Edward Stone, who was by then Mr. Justice Stone, was also present in 1900 when extensions to the building were consecrated.

St Bartholomew's Chapel was opened for worship as a Parish Church on August 19, 1888, by Dean Goldsmith. The Inquirer published on August 22 said "the second service was held at 4 p.m., when the Chapel was crowded to its utmost capacity, and some sixty or seventy persons were gathered round the door" and "the preacher stood near the door, so that his words might be heard by all."

The same report also said "the expenses of fitting up the chapel have amounted to exactly 15; the seats are all free and open, and the maintenance of the services will depend exclusively on the offertory." Other sources add that the church was fitted out with some of the furnishings from the old St. George's Cathedral which had just been superseded by the new cathedral.

A belfry was built near St Bartholomew's Church in late October 1889 and the West Australian for October 26 said it would be dedicated during the next week. The bell was described as having a "good tone, weighing 152 lbs., and will probably be heard from some considerable distance from its lofty situation."

In 1900, St Bartholomew's Church was extended with the addition of a sanctuary and the enlargement of the nave. A vestry was added at the back and a wooden porch area at the front seems to have been added later. The extensions were Consecrated on March 22 by Charles Owen Leaver Riley, the third Bishop of Perth.

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

The following diagram is based on a plan drawn up for the National Trust (W.A.)'s conservation plan for St. Bartholomew's in 1992.

SAINT BARTHOLOMEW'S CHURCH

Fr. E.W. Doncaster, the Archivist for the Diocese of Perth, found the following inventory in St. Bartholomew's Vestry Minute Books for this period:

... there was a Holy Table, a Brass Cross, 2 Brass Vases, 1 set of Altar Linen, 1 set (4) Veils and Burses, 3 Altar Frontals (white, red and violet), 1 electroplated Chalice and Paten, 2 Glass Cruets, 1 Brass Altar Desk, 1 Credence Table, 1 Covered Alms Dish, 1 set (4) Alms Bags, 1 set Mural Hangings, 3 sets of Book Markers, 1 Great Bible, 2 Prayer Books, 1 Wooden Lecturn, 1 Prayer Desk, 3 Desk Falls, 1 "Smith" Organ, 1 large Hymn Book for organist, 1 Psalter, 6 Psalters for Choir use, 5 Hymn Books for visitors, 2 dozen books for visitors, 1 shelf to contain same, 4 lamps, seats for 120 persons, kneelers for same and 1 shell font. In the Vestry there was 1 Lamp, 1 hat and Robe Rack, 1 cupboard with drawer and 1 Library Cupboard.

The Vestry Minute Books for the early 1900s describe numerous social events including annual dances for parishioners, ladies guild 'tea and concerts', bazaars, choir meetings, picnics, farewell parties, and a Young Men's and a Young Girl's Social Club. One East Perth Historian also wrote of the Misses Burgess who ran an annual fete for St. Bartholomew's in the large grounds of their stately Hay Street home and sold home made cakes and things.

From all accounts, though, the wealthier families still chose bigger churches for their marriage ceremonies.

The Vestry Minute Books for 1906-7 said the Diocesan Trustees gave permission for electric light fittings and wire doors. The same records showed that in 1907-8 a donation funded the renovation of the church both inside and out. A pulpit, sanctuary carpet, meter box and electricity were also installed.

In the following year new altar hangings were put in place and the church was cleaned and whitewashed. In 1909-10 the original shingles on the roof were replaced with corrugated iron. Locks were fitted to the church doors in 1913-14 and finally, a memorial chair was placed in the sanctuary in 1920.

Grave Surround

As was mentioned on other pages, this was the time that the Misses Burt and Clements and the Burt Brothers were working on the appearance of the cemetery around St. Bartholomews.

Years later on June 30, 1952, D.C.Cowan related in the West Australian how from 1908 onwards Clara Clement and Ethel Burt got in touch with the relatives of people buried in the cemetery and collected funds for its improvement.

With the help of the Harry Tichbon, the caretaker, they identified many unmarked graves with small iron disks, and installed water pipes and a fence. An oyster shell path from the main gate to the church was also put down.

Unfortunately, they were fighting a losing battle. With the population moving out of the area and the cemetery falling into increasing disuse, especially after the last burial in 1924, the future of the cemteries and St. Bartholomew's hung in the balance.

At the same time, the eclesiastical nature of the church was changing as well. Until 1900, the staff of St George's Cathedral ministered at St. Bartholomew's as well, but between 1900 and 1930 there were eight specific Rectors of East Perth placed in charge of the church. In 1930 the district reverted back to being a part of the Cathedral Parish and between 1963 and 1988 it was placed in charge of the Chaplains to St. Bartholomew's House. The various ministers were:

1871-1900variousSt. George's Catherdral Staff
1900-1902A.G. CuttsRector of East Perth
1902-1904W.F. MarshallRector of East Perth
1904-1905H. PittsRector of East Perth
1905-1908R.J. CraggsRector of East Perth
1908-1911F.T. BowenRector of East Perth
1911-1920J.A. HowesRector of East Perth
1920-1923H.H. HarperRector of East Perth
1923-1930A.T. HainingRector of East Perth
1930-1948Deaconess D. GendersCathedral Parish Staff
1948-1958A.W. BatemanCathedral Parish Staff
1959-1963Ministers from St. Alban's in HighgateCathedral Parish Staff
1963-1964N.J. HallSt. Bartholomew's House Chaplain
1966-1974H.P.V. HodgeSt. Bartholomew's House Chaplain
1974-1980D.R. RussellSt. Bartholomew's House Chaplain
1980-1988H. McGuinessSt. Bartholomew's House Chaplain

Rev. Alex Bateman was stationed at East Perth between 1948 and 1958 during a period of great soul searching and change for the cemeteries at East Perth. He was keen to see the cemeteries preserved and enlisted the help of a young Government Statistician called E.W. Doncaster to survey and document the remaining gravestones in the Anglican cemetery. A few years later the statistician joined the priesthood and rose to the rank of Archdeacon and is the same Archivist for the Diocese of Perth who was quoted earlier.

On June 6, 1954, the Royal Western Australian Historical Society commemorated the 125th anniversary of Western Australia and its pioneers in its inaugural Foundation Day pioneer's memorial service in the cemetery. Similar ceremonies followed for the next years at least.

The renewed interest created by the remodelling and renovation of the cemetery coupled with the celebration of the State's 125th anniversary by the Historical Society provoked some public interest in the old church as well. As a result, in 1954, with the assistance of many public bodies and private citizens, St. Bartholomew's Church also underwent renovation. Repairs were done to the damp course, roofing iron and woodwork; gutters and downpipes were replaced; and work was done on the deteriorating brickwork.

On January 1, 1956, Perth Town Lot 767, where St Bartholomew's Church and its driveway now stand, was formally leased to the Church of England Diocesan Trustees for a period of 50 years.

A locally-made stained-glass window was installed and dedicated in St Bartholomew's Church on November 30, 1957. Its design paid tribute to Western Australia's aboriginal and European origins. Before being installed the window was displayed at an exhibition of church art in the Burt Memorial Hall in St. George's Terrace, from July 15 to 19. It was one of the projects undertaken to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Perth Anglican diocese.

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

In the 1963 St. Bartholomew's Church ceased to be used as a Parish Church and was placed in the hands of a succession of chaplains from the nearby St. Bartholomew's House. In its latter years it was used as a place of worship for the homeless men from the refuge.

By the early 1970s, St. Bartholomew's Church had become so run down that it was under threat of demolition. One of its few highlights was a ceremony which was held in its grounds on February 9, 1969, in which Archbishop Appleton ordained Captain Norman Polgen as a Deacon. It was said to be Australia's first open air ordination and the first ordination of an Aborigine in Western Australia in 40 years.

Fortunately, by 1971, the National Trust of Australia (W.A.) had given St. Bartholomew's Church an "A" Classification. The church was given a new lease on life when the Diocesan Trustees relinquished their lease on the property in November 1975 and St. Bartholomew's and its driveway were vested in the National Trust on December 17, 1975.

Grave Surround

The National Trust announced that $15,000 had been allocated in the 1974-75 National Estate Programme for the restoration of St. Bartholomew's Church and that the State Government had asked the national Trust to supervise the restoration. An additional $1500 was provided by the Perth City Council and a separate $750 grant was provided for the restoration of the windows, especially the stained glass window which was extensively damaged in 1974.

Throughout 1976 architect Geoffrey Summerhayes supervised the restoration of St. Bartholomew's and its belfry. The roof was replaced with new wooden shingles, the guttering and downpipes were renewed, the brickwork was refurbished inside and out and the windows were repaired, including the stained glass one.

When the original bell could not be found, a replacement one was located by the Rotary Club of East Perth. They also donated the pews for the restored church. Unfortunately, the bell was stolen again in 1978 and after the national Trust's insurers covered the loss, a replacement was made by a local foundary and re-installed in 1979.

On December 12, 1976, the church was re-dedicated by Bishop Brian Macdonald.

As indicated at the beginning of this page, the Royal Western Australian Historical Society has been holding annual Pioneer Memorial Services in the East Perth Cemeteries since 1976 on the first Sunday in June during Western Australia week.

By the mid-1980s the site had fallen into disrepair once more and on May 6, 1986 the entire cemeteries site was enclosed with a 2-metre high wire-mesh fence in an attemp to stop the repeated vandalism of headstones and railings. The site was then be kept locked between 4.30pm and 7.30am. The fence was also required before the Historical Society could take advantage of a $5000 W.A. Heritage Committee grant for restoring the cemetery. Repairs were then carried out on about 15 grave sites.

In 1991 the National Trust was asked to assume responsibility for the East Perth Cemeteries complex and they were finally vested in the National Trust in 1994. Since then St. Bartholomew's Church and the cemeteries have been under the control of the one body and an overall approach to the management and conservation of the entire site has been systematically put into place.

Click for larger image After conservation studies were completed, it was decided to reverse some of the modifications put into place since the remodelling work began in the cemeteries in the 1950s. In the church, such recent additions as the mural, which the 1976 conservation team decided to leave, were earmarked for removal and are no longer there today.

Click for larger image

In April 1994 it was the Heirisson Rotary Club's turn to fund and carry out reconstruction of the St. Bartholomew's Church belfry.

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Grave Surround


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