The Churches.

Anglican Church of St Alban the Martyr

St Albans, NSW 2775

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Anglican Church of St. Alban. 

St Albans Anglican Church dedicated to St Alban the Martyr.


 Up at the top of Wharf Road that still leads down to the original point of "Bullock Wharf", on one of the highest sites in the village of St. Albans, stands the stone built Anglican church of St. Alban. St.Alban was a Roman citizen who converted to Christianity and was the first British Christian martyr, executed in the year 209. There is a famous Cathedral and Abbey Church of St.Alban on the site of a Benedictine monastery founded in 793. "The Martyrs Cathedral" is located in England on the site where Alban was killed. This was built in 1077.
The early settlers would have known of this, given that the Australian village of St. Albans was named after the English town constructed around the Cathedral.
The first church of St.Alban in the Australian village was of wood and construction commenced in 1842 by a board of trustees appointed at the desire of Bishop W.G. Broughton the first Anglican Lord Bishop of Australia. The Trustees were named as Messrs, Thomas John Thompson, Joseph Fernance, Charles Jurd, John Henry Fleming and George Preston. The Church-schoolhouse was not completed until 1843. On the 14th. Of November 1843 the "new Church of St. Albans" was opened with a service by the Reverend Mr. Simpson preaching to a healthy congregation of "about 800 persons". The building was used as a church and school-house until about 1863 when a stone church was built. Certainly in 1878 a traveler had commented "that there was a well built stone church, somewhat out of repair" at the site. It seems the original stone church was substantially re-built around 1896. The suggestion by the Rev. A. Palmer [Deceased 1962] that there was a third Church rebuilt one the site has been flatly debunked by several older residents [now deceased] who vividly remember alterations.
 The original site of the old wooden Church-schoolhouse was on the upper side of the present stone structure and fell into disrepair and in 1983 the old disused wooden Anglican church at Fernances, believed to be about 100 years old, was jacked up onto a semi-trailer and moved to that site adjacent to the stone church. The Fernances church was moved by a local resident Don McKillop who to this day still operates a family house removal business from the valley servicing all parts of NSW.  The transported building has been renovated and is now used as a church hall for meetings and Sunday school.  These days church services are held every few weeks by a visiting preacher as there is no Anglican minister residing in St. Albans.

The other stone Church in the township of St. Albans is the Methodist church in Espie Street, near the Wollombi Road. The Wesleyan influence was very strong in the Hawkesbury from the earliest days in the Colony. John Joseph Walker took up land in the Macdonald valley about 1830. He was a strong Wesleyan and produced eight preachers from his ten children, including the well known Aaron Walker, who preached in the valley for forty years until he moved to Sutherland in 1905. The contemporary Rev. Sir Alan Walker is his grandson. Alan Walker was responsible for arranging the removal of the disused "Jurd's Chapel"  [a Wesleyan chapel where his forebears had preached at Upper Macdonald] to a new site at a recreated tourist village near Arcadia. A crown grant of land for the erection of a Methodist chapel in the township of St. Albans was made in 1853.  A chapel was built below the present stone church, but was severely damaged by floods. The present building was built out of the material of the damaged one and was completed in 1902. The stone building is now used a religeous retreat and seminar center for the Methodist Church.

Also in the valley was a small Catholic community and the nearest Catholic Church to the Village was a Church dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto. This structure was a beautiful gothic stone chapel for about forty people located about five Kilometers north of St. Albans, it was completed in 1842 on land donated by Roger Sheean in 1839. He is buried in the old graveyard next to the ruins of the chapel. This was the first Roman Cathoilc church to be built in the valley.
Ruins are all that remains of this beautiful structure today and it has now reverted to private property and cannot be visited. Sadly there are many ruined and derilict churches scattered throughout the whole valley, lost forever due to fire, neglect and changing circumstances. One must ask what a pity that the various groups responsible for their upkeep denied future worshipers and generations the oportunity to experiance the effort that the early settlers made with their hopes for the future.

St Albans Methodist Church

The Old St Albans Methodist Church as it is today.

Links
The History of the Abbey Church and Cathedral of St. Alban.

Anglican Church of St Alban the Martyr   St Albans, NSW 2775


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