'Be thou my vision, O lord of my heart, naught be all else to me save that thou art my best thought...'
Bí Thusa 'mo Shúile
Christ Church Beechworth has some exceptional Victorian-era stained glass and later memorial windows. The Victorian plain glass lancet diamond-paned windows were made by Ferguson and Urie at the firm's Curzon Street works in North Melbourne and the central chancel window is by William Montgomery.
Christ the King
The principal window in the chancel, at the head of the apse, depicts Christ the King and was made by outstanding glass maker William Montgomery and installed in 1899 after 'a furious storm' destroyed an earlier one. The Ovens and Murray Advertiser described it as 'a beautiful window...a rare specimen of careful and artistic construction' funded by subscription. The designer-maker signed the window.
William Montgomery (1850-1927) was born in the northern English river city of Newcastle-on-Tyne and, at 14, apprenticed to stained glass maker Henry Barnett. At the same time he attended Newcastle School of Art and later won a national scholarship to Kensington School of Art, now the Royal College of Art, in London. He afterwards worked for leading London makers Clayton and Bell and the Franz Mayer glassworks in Munich. He married American artist Harriet Postlewait and, in 1886, they emigrated to Australia.
Outstanding commissions designed by Montgomery included the Stevens Window in the University of Melbourne's Wilson Hall, completed after his death by Napier Waller on the recommendation of Montgomery's wife. The window was destroyed when the hall burned in 1952. Other of his exceptional designs include a series of memorial windows at Geelong Grammar School's All Saints Chapel, the Warriors' Chapel in Bathurst's All Saints Cathedral, and other windows in significant Melbourne and rural churches. Historians Bronwyn Hughes and Ray Brown speculate that depictions of some of the young men in these windows might well have been modelled on the Montgomerys' son, Willam, known as Mont, who was at Melbourne's National Gallery School in 1915 when he enlisted to serve in the Great War 1914-18. Mont died of wounds in France in the last major battle of the war, one day before the Australian Imperial Forces were withdrawn from combat. Ray Brown suggests the young, auburn-haired man depicted in war memorial windows at St George's Presbyterian Geelong and St George's Anglican Malvern is 'more than reminiscent of Mont'.
Maker: William Montgomery, Melbourne
Inscription: Presented by the parishoners (sic)
Dedicated: August 6, 1899, by Reverend George Pennicott, rector
St Peter and St Paul pair
Frederick Brown (1829-1903) was an auctioneer, Beechworth councillor, barrister and parliamentarian and in 1866 and 1871 Beechworth's mayor. He also became the first chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Wangaratta after its creation in 1901.
Maker: Brooks, Robinson and Co., Melbourne
Inscriptions: S. Petrus. S. Paulus. To the glory of God and in loving memory of the Hon. Fred Brown MLC. Erected by some of his friends.
Dedicated: August 14, 1904 by The Right Reverend Thomas Armstrong, Bishop of Wangaratta
Note: Brooks, Robinson and Co installed in the 1890s the 'great cycle' of windows for St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne, made by London firm Clayton and Bell.
Bowes Todd Wilson (1812-1882) was district police superintendent at Beechworth (April 1869-December 1870). Before this he was Heathcote district police superintendent and crown lands commissioner (1863), territorial magistrate in Swan Hill (1859-1861) and police inspector and paymaster in Kyneton (1857). Ferguson and Urie historian Ray Brown believes this window was given to the church by Wilson after he retired from his Beechworth police post. The initials and Wilson family demi-wolf crest with its motto, Res non verba, meaning 'Things (or actions), not words', are clues to the donor's identity.
Maker: Ferguson and Urie
Inscription: Presented 1871 B.T.W
Frances Cliariottle Jervis Manton (1874-1944) succeeded her mother, also named Frances (1847-1935), as Christ Church organist in about 1896 and played the colonial-built instrument for 50 years. After her death (March 17, 1944), The Border Morning Mail reported that 'ever since the pipe organ was installed in Christ Church (in 1887) the church has held an unassailable position in the (Wangaratta Anglican) diocese in regard to music and this was largely due to the skill of Miss Manton at the organ'. The church vestry committee a few months later 'unanimously revolved that a memorial be erected in Christ Church to Miss Manton and her mother, such memorial to take the form of a stained glass window of musical design and character'. Miss Manton was also Beechworth Choral Society's director for many years, a music teacher, and Beechworth Red Cross branch president for eight years.
Santa Cecilia (c. 200-230) was a Roman virgin in the third century martyred for her Christian faith, as was her husband Valerian. She became the patron of music and musicians because she is said to have 'sung in her heart to the Lord' during her marriage feast. The Anglican, Orthodox, Catholic and other episcopal churches honour Saint Cecilia on November 22. The Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, founded by papal bull in 1585, is one of the world's oldest musical institutions.
Maker: Mathieson and Gibson, Melbourne
Inscription: A. M. D. G. (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam) In memory of Frances Manton DMSV organist of this church for 50 years. Died 17th March 1944. Erected by friends.
Dedicated: April 7, 1946, by The Right Reverend Thomas Armour, Bishop of Wangaratta (1943-1963)**
Edward Wakefield Morrah (1830-1894) was born in Sussex, United Kingdom, in 1830. In Australia he became a prominent banker and later New Zealand inspector for the Bank of Australasia. In 1858 married Fanny Weston in Longford, Tasmania. Her father, the Honourable William Weston, magistrate and grazier, was a prominent opponent of Britain's penal transportation policy and Tasmania's acting Premier (1857) and later Premier (1860-61). Morrah died in New Zealand in 1894.
Maker: F. and R. Mitchelson, Beechworth
Inscription: In loving memory of Edward Wakefield Marrah (sic) died February 15th 1894 aged 64.
Dedicated: September 8, 1895, by Reverend Canon Thomas Serjeant
Note: The partnership of Frederick James Mitchelson (1863-1927) and Robert Henry Mitchelson (1869-1917) is not known to have fired and painted glass in its Beechworth works. It's thought that the supply of the Morrah window, commissioned by his widow, was outsourced to one of the leading Melbourne stained glass makers. The spelling of the subject's surname in the inscription is incorrect.
World War II memorial. As The Border Morning Mail reported on May 6, 1947: 'The window is an exquisite piece of work and adds dignity and beauty to the appointments of Christ Church which is remarkably well-equipped for a parish of the size of Beechworth. (It is just over a year since a similar window depicting St Cecilia was erected to the memory of the late Miss Frances C. J. Manton, organist of Christ Church for 50 years. Both windows were installed by public subscription, each costing approximately £120.) The church was filled for the dedication service, several returned soldiers being in the congregation. Mr W. A. Bennett. of Melbourne, and formerly of Beechworth, was organist. During the service Mr P. A. Taylor, on behalf of the church wardens, vestrymen, congregation and parishioners of the church, made the formal request to His Lordship (Bishop Armour), who then dedicated the window. His Lordship preached the occasional sermon, taking as his text Revelations 12:11, part of which verse is also inscribed on the window: 'And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death'.
Maker: Mathieson and Gibson, Melbourne
Inscription: And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb. A. M. D. G. (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam) In honour of sailors soldiers airmen and nurses who gave their lives for their King and Country in World War II and also those who served.
Dedicated: May 4, 1947, by The Right Reverend Thomas Armour, Bishop of Wangaratta (1943-1963)
In memory of Reverend Arthur Blair Alexander Brown, Rector of Christ Church Beechworth. He was a former chorister at St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne, and bellringer.
Maker: Ferguson and Papas, Melbourne
Inscription: A. M. D. G. (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam) In memory of a faithful priest. Arthur Brown. Rector of this parish 1940-1952.
Dedicated: 1952-1953 date unknown
Ray Brown and Stained Glass Australia
Bronwyn Hughes The Art of Light: A survey of stained glass in Australia (La Trobe Journal 90) ***
Border Morning Mail (June 7, 1947) **