HISTORY OF THE ANGLICAN PARISH OF WARRNAMBOOL
The first services were conducted by Dr. Thomas Henry Braim in November, 1847 in what was then the village of Warrnambool. The building used for the purpose was a blacksmith’s shop situated on the eastern side of Liebig Street, near the present location of Cramond & Dickson’s store; its paling sides and shingle roof were not impervious to the weather and its seating accommodation consisted of packing cases.
Dr. Braim (who later was to become Archdeacon of Portland) was a graduate of Cambridge University, and at that time conducted a school at Port Fairy or Belfast as it was then known. He was a candidate for ordination into the Priesthood of the Church of England and regularly assisted the Rev. J. Yelverton Wilson Chaplain of Portland Bay with the services at Port Fairy.
Upon his ordination early in 1848 Dr. Braim took charge of the newly created Parish of Port Fairy and conducted services at Warrnambool at regular intervals until the arrival of Warrnambool's first Vicar.
The blacksmith’s shop continued to be used until early in 1849 when a brick building 30‘ x 20’, which had been built on land lent for the purpose by one of the early church members was opened as a temporary place of worship.
The history of Christ Church itself can he said to have begun in June 1850, when a courageous young Irishman, Dr. Peter Teulon Beamish, took charge of the Warrnambool Parish, which at that time extended from Cape Otway in the East to Port Fairy in the West and northwards almost to Hamilton.
This young man had arrived in Sydney from Ireland in August 1847 and in the same year was ordained as deacon by Bishop William Grant Broughton, then Bishop of Australia. At the end of 1849 he came to Melbourne and joined Dr. Charles Perry, who in the meantime had been appointed as the first Anglican Bishop of Melbourne, and who had visited Warrnambool and conducted services in January of that year.
Dr. Beamish was ordained as priest by Bishop Perry and in June 1850 left Melbourne for Warrnambool, travelling by steamer as far as Geelong and thence by horseback. Some idea of the difficulties of travel in those far-off days may be gained from a contemporary account of his journey, in which it is stated that he had to steer by compass and was obliged to ford every river as there was not a single bridge between Melbourne and Warrnambool.
The population of Warrnambool, which at the time of Dr. Beamish’s arrival was only 250, had grown to 948 by 1853 and the meeting place in Liebig Street, even though it had been enlarged, proved inadequate. As funds in hand were not sufficient to enable the erection of a suitable stone building to be proceeded with, it was decided to build the outer shell of a parsonage and to use it temporarily as a church. This was done and on Sunday, 19th November, 1854 the wooden portion of the present vicarage (the east wing) was opened for service.
CHRIST CHURCH OPENED IN I856
The first part of the church to be completed, the southern portion of the nave, was opened for divine service on December 21, 1856, but so rapid was the growth of the township that it was soon necessary to add the northern section. This was done about 1860, by which time the population of the township had passed the 2,000 mark, and the completed church was dedicated by Bishop Perry in 1862. The Sunday School building was also erected about that date.
From time to time further improvements to the church property were made, the stone wall being built in 1873, the front porch in 1874, the tower (a replica of the beautiful 13th century tower of Middleton-Stoney in Oxfordshire) in 1882, and the organ chamber on the south side of the chancel in 1889.
The Parishioners of Warrnambool have cause to be grateful to their first Vicar who, during his long and distinguished ministry of forty-five years, not only won innumerable followers to his Master’s cause, but continued to enrich and beautify the fabric of the church. So faithfully did this splendid pioneer build that we find that the church in which we worship today is substatially the same as it was in 1895 when he relinquished charge of the parish.
During the last 16 years of his ministry, Dr. Beamish also performed the duties of Archdeacon of Warrnambool, and it is as Archdeacon Beamish that he is now remembered.
SUFFRAGAN BISHOP APPOINTED
Following upon the resignation of Archdeacon Beamish it was decided by the Church Assembly that a Suffragan Bishop should be appointed to assist the Bishop of Ballarat (of whose Diocese this parish then formed part) in his episcopal duties, the Suffragan Bishop to be also Rector of Warrnambool. The Ven. Archdeacon Cooper was appointed to this dual position which he held until 1900.
CHRIST CHURCH MINISTERS
1850 - 1895 Peter Teulon BEAMISH
1895 - 1899 John W. GRIFFITHS
1899 - 1905 Samuel McGEORGE
1902 - 1905 Henry Ellerker LEWIN
1906 - 1906 Edward George HIGGIN
1906- 1907 George POYNDER
1906 - 1912 Andrew Edward PEACOCK
1909 - 1910 Robbie Abney GILES
1910 - 1916 Charles John MARTIN
1912 - 1917 Thomas Pearse BENNETT
1910 - 1923 John REDMAN
1912 - 1913 Robert HAMILTON
1913 - 1915 H.H. PRITCHARD
1913 - 1916 Alexander Sutherland Murray McPHERSON
1917 - 1918 Albert George HORNER
1918 - 1925 William Osman James JESSOP
1923 - 1932 Walter Guthrie BOWER
1932 - 1940 Ernest Stanley YEO
1940 - 1946 William CLINCH
1946 - 1950 Ronald Edwin RICHARDS
1950 - 1959 Norman Smith FETTELL
1959 - 1967 Gordon Allan BROWN
1969 - 1973 David George COBBETT
1974 - 1983 John Raymond WARNER
1983 - 1988 Tony TAMBLYN
1989 - 1991 David Oswald ROBARTS
1991 - 2000 Denys TONKS
2000 - 2002 Dennis Arnold VANDERWOLF
2004 - 2006 Peter LORD
2007 - Scott Raymond LOWREY