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Parish History

Location and History of the Parish

Written by Nigel Hubbard

Arranged by Christopher Lawn

 
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St Alban's Anglican Church has been providing ministry for those who live or work or choose to worship in Epping, for more than a century. The first Anglican services were held in the home of Robert Hilliard in Essex Street and commenced mid 1891.

 

St Aidan's Anglican Church West Epping was opened as a centre of worship and Sunday School by Archbishop Mowll on 28 November 1953 and named “The Raymond  V Ford Memorial Hall”. It has been known as St Aidan’s West Epping since 1962.

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The area now known as Epping was known as "Pennant Hills"

"East Carlingford" until 1899.

St Alban's Anglican Church has been providing ministry for those who live, work or choose to worship in Epping, for more than a century.

The first Anglican services were held in the home of Robert Hilliard in Essex Street and commenced mid 1891. The following year, Hilliard erected a wooden hall on his property, and the first service was held there on 22nd May, 1892.

Anglican worship has been held in Epping (known until 1899 as "East Carlingford") almost every Sunday since then.

In 1896 the Anglican community felt inspired to erect a permanent church and this was opened in October of that year.

The foundation stone of polished Bowral trachyte can be clearly seen at the front of the building, the only inscription being 1896 in Roman numerals (MDCCCXCVI).

Today it survives as the parish centre and church offices and although the interior has been altered beyond all recognition, the outside is little changed from the time when it stood alone on the crest of the hill surmounted by a small bell tower which has since been removed for safety reasons.

As Epping moved from village to outer suburb a more elaborate church was deemed necessary and the present building was opened for worship in December 1923. In 1960/61 it was completed by means of an extension to the West end.

The architect was Burcham Clamp, noted for a number of suburban churches and also distinguished homes in suburbs such as Mosman. A number of Clamp’s concepts have been modified to meet the changing demands of worship over the past seventy years.

The original sanctuary was very small and there was seating for the choir placed between the altar and the congregation. In 1991 this was removed and the sanctuary enlarged, the altar being moved forward in order to bring the actions of the Eucharist close to the worshippers. 

 One of the early benefactors of St Alban’s was Harry Weldon Williamson, a prosperous paint merchant who owned a substantial home next door to the Church, where the block of units stands today. Williamson donated the original altar, (since removed), the altar cross (now placed against the east wall) as well as the fine three light East window; this depicts Christ the King (centre), the Blessed Virgin Mary, and King David.

The font was originally placed in the old church in May 1900, the cost being raised by subscription to commemorate the life of Samuel Charles Atchison, a former Sunday School teacher who was killed fighting in the Boer war in February 1900.

Later the font was placed at the back (West end) of the new Church, and later still in the North transept and subsequently the South transept. Today baptisms are celebrated at the front of the building and all members of the congregation join in the admission of the newly baptised person into the fellowship of Christ’s church.

The Martyrs’ Chapel on the North side of the sanctuary commemorates all those who gave their lives as martyrs of Christ’s church.

 In particular we give thanks for May Hayman and Mavis Parkinson who were martyred in 1942. In the late 1930’s May and Mavis were members of the congregation while undertaking missionary training.

Their missionary service in Papua- New Guinea was overtaken by the events of World War Two. The parish is proud to be associated with the New Guinea martyrs, whose festival is held each year on 2nd September.

The wall hanging in the Chapel is a wonderful example of artistry and design. This spectacular work depicts the two land masses of Australia and Papua-New Guinea in brown and green, divided by a blue ocean. 

Both are united by a rainbow signifying the covenant between God and his creation. The red strand which joins the two land masses represents the blood which Christ shed for all, uniting us with the martyrs of the faith in one body.

The Chapel is used for prayer groups, the daily office, and early weekday Eucharists.

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The majestic tower and spire, built in 1961 when the Church was extended, are a landmark throughout the district, directing the thoughts of men and women “to the higher things which are eternal and divine”.

The money for this project was bequeathed by Dr Charles M. F. Olsen.

Music plays an important part in the life of the congregation, and St Alban’s has been fortunate in having the services of a succession of distinguished organists. There was a pipe organ on the North side of the sanctuary (in the present position of the chapel) from 1936.

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In 1981 a gallery was erected to accommodate the new organ of two manuals and eighteen stops built by Orgues Létouneau of Quebec. It is a fine recital instrument and ideal for accompanying worship.

A two manual and pedal mechanical action organ with mechanical stop action, 18 speaking stops; 23 ranks and 1,158 pipes.Located in the purpose-built gallery above the western entrance to the church, the organ was constructed by Orgues Létourneau of Quebec in 1981. In 1998 Létourneau rebuilt the 1866 William Hill & Son three-manual organ in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney.

The gallery is used by our senior and junior choirs as they lead the worship at choral services.

The parish remembers those of its number who served in the World Wars of 1914/18 and 1939/45. The reredos (carved panelling) at the East end of the sanctuary was given in memory of those who served in World War Two. 

The honour board for World War One is to be found in the South transept above the font. Among the names is that of the distinguished scholar, Dr Everard Digges la Touche who volunteered for service in the Great War and was killed at Gallipoli in August 1915.

The Memorial Garden is located between the War Memorial Hall and the Rectory. This garden was dedicated as a memorial to past parishioners and clergy on Sunday 1 November 1981, All Saints’ Day and the Eve of All Souls. 

The dedication ceremony was performed by the Rev’d Canon William Rook, rector of this parish 1949-1969. Over the years a number of ashes have been interred. Plaques have not been allowed but names are recorded in the book of remembrance kept in the narthex.

In 1998 the Parish Council decided to permit the planting of a special rose or other plant in memory of a loved one. This planting should be arranged with the Garden Committee and be done under their supervision.

This will ensure that the area will always remain a beautiful reminder of the people remembered by the Memorial Garden.