Saint Thomas’ Church Toowong Restoration Appeal Reception
Your Grace and Dr Aspinall; Councillor Matic; members of the Clergy; ladies and gentlemen. Kaye and I are delighted to join you this evening on this wonderful site which has such a strong link to Brisbane’s history and to the Toowong community, past and present. We greatly value the wonderfully warm reception you have graciously accorded us, notwithstanding our rather sporadic attendance since July 2014: we can, we assure you, come whenever we can!
Our wonderful City may have grown up around Saint Thomas’ over the past one hundred and forty years, but its prominent position has ensured that it asserts its presence as confidently today as it did when there were dirt roads, horse-drawn buggies, and a wooden bridge across the railway line.
Back then, in the middle of the nineteenth century, Toowong was a small but prosperous village, well removed from the noise and dust of the town centre.
It was that community that responded so generously when plans were announced for the construction of this much-loved Gothic-style church – designed by renowned Colonial Architect, F.D.G. Stanley – and has continued to provide support ever since.
The distinctive, steeply pitched roof and the beautiful timber ceiling of Saint Thomas’ have remained largely unchanged, but time has transformed the church into an historical treasure-house.
There’s the magnificent B.B. Whitehouse organ; the William Bustard stained glass windows; the beautifully crafted altar, pulpit, lectern and font; the memorial gates; the chancel; and the myriad stone, marble and brass plaques, each of which tells something of the story of this place and of this congregation.
Together, they represent a rich Queensland story that is worthy of preservation, a pursuit which has been met through vigorous fundraising since the very early days of the parish.
As long ago as 1882, the Brisbane Courier carried a report on a so-called “Fancy Fair” with (and I quote) “a capital display of fancy and plain and useful articles” ranging from “a hive of bees to an allotment of land”.
Ladies and gentlemen, two things are very clear to Kaye and me: first, this is a wonderful Parish community, and we are so pleased to be welcomed as we are.
Second, this beautiful Church itself is simply spectacular – as a sadly decreasing reminder in this part of the world of absolutely beautiful church architecture.
The Archbishop spoke evocatively of this at the 150th celebration service in October last year.
When Kaye and I can be here, we are greatly moved by the dedication of the people, which of course is what in terms of our own mission matters most; but also, if I may put it this way, by the comfort, the reassurance, the challenge… of this wonderful Church.
May all of us, as our means allow, assure that it long remains a mainstay of the Anglican Community in Toowong. Thank you.