This is a new study of St Matthew’s first 200 years, told not just as bricks, mortar, sandstone and cedar, but of its people in the river valley. This book recreates the life and aspirations of the Anglican community which has created and preserved this rare, early church.
Francis Greenway’s church has become a landmark, religious, social and architectural, in the town of Windsor and far beyond. Its commanding presence in the upper Hawkesbury valley began early in the European history of the third area farmed on the Australian mainland and is still potent today.
Handsomely illustrated and fully referenced, this account places the church’s fabric within its wider context. St Matthew’s is one of the finest and earliest Christian precincts in the country: comprising an 1810 burial ground, an exquisite church constructed in 1817 with a famous organ, glebe-land, 1823-1825 rectory and stables together with a later Parish Centre, all within the original setting prescribed by Governor Macquarie overlooking McQuade Park.
This book analyses the architectural heritage within its social context. The orange-pink glow of the bricks, the elegant lines and softly repetitive arched windows tell why St Matthew’s has been cited as its ex-convict architect’s masterpiece.
Attention is also focussed beyond the physical form, to the cemetery which envelops the church in a rich cloak of history woven in mainly sandstone markers and altar monuments, but with many white marble pillars and some small, simpler plaques. The church’s history is full of stories. It is a parade of political tensions, merchant rivalries, family love, ambition and dedication. The Reverend Samuel Marsden had a bitter-sweet relationship with the church, upsetting the governor in his exercise of power there and dying in the Rectory in 1838. Clergy, civil officers and parishioners clashed from time to time, and doctrinal differences could raise a cacophony of voices. Colourful and eccentric rectors, a blue wedding dress of 1839 and suspected ghosts add to the mix.