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Thursday, March 3, 2016

St James Anglican Church, 53-57 Langhorne Street, Dandenong, Late 1800's.

The Rev. J. H. Gregory conducted Dandenong’s first Anglican service on 21 July 1850. Although a committee was formed to obtain appropriate premises for subsequent services, it was not until the mid-1850s with the arrival of Mr R. C. Walker, that thi quest was partly realized. Walker was renting a large property, The Grange, north of the present Kidd’s Road, within a short time, services were being conducted there in a slab hut newly built for the purpose.

In July they applied to the government for a grant of land to establish a school, a site of two acres had was reserved for such purposes on the corner of Langhorne and Wilson Streets, extending to McCrae Street. The school house was built on the site facing Wilson Street. The brick building was completed by August 1857 and opened. Enlarged in 1865, the school house stood until 1905.

Still without a church building, a public meeting was held with on 3 March 1860 for the purpose of instructing an architect and arranging for the collection of the necessary funds. At another public meeting held in May 1861 it was decided that the services of a clergyman would be obtained if sufficient residents from Dandenong, Berwick and Cranbourne could fill a subscription list. It was not until 1863 that a clergyman, the Rev. Whitmore Carr, was appointed, and within a month of his arrival, the building of a church was firmly back on the agenda

Plans and specifications were drawn up by Diocesan architect, Leonard Terry who called for tenders in The Argus on 13 June. The foundation stone was laid on the 5 July by the Governor of Victoria, Sir Charles Darling who was presented with a silver trowel for the ceremony.

By 1866, the church was paid for, and attention turned to building a parsonage as well as providing further decoration for the church interior. The Trustees reported that they had received promises of handsome shrubs from the government nursery. In 1867, a public meeting was held calling for contributions, but sufficient funds weren’t obtained until January 1870 when a smaller version of the parsonage proposed by Terry was built, building commenced in August and was completed in November. Some years later, in 1877, tenders were called to cement the exterior walls of the church building.

As the congregation grew, it was decided to complete the church as originally designed, Tenders were called for construction of transepts, chancel, vestry and new seating on 15 November 1883. The work was undertaken in 1886 with over a £1000 donated by the congregation. Other additions to the church during this period include, a baptismal font (1884), and a new pulpit (1885) crafted from part of the pulpit removed from the former St Paul’s Church, corner Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne. Three extra rooms were also added to the parsonage. The church was consecrated on Thursday 25 August 188.

A ‘War Memorial Porch’ dedicated to those who served in WWII was added to the church in 1953. The bricks were reclaimed from the old railway bridge that crossed Princes Highway to the Springvale Crematorium. The elms are believed to have been planted in about 1900.

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