Parish Beginnings

History001The Saint Mary's Parish is justly proud of its 160 years as an integral part of the history of this near city area of Brisbane.

In 1823, explorer John Oxley described Kangaroo Point as a "jungle, fringed with mangroves with the higher land open forest, covered with grass". During convict settlement (1825-41), Kangaroo Point was cleared and used for cultivation of crops. Subsequently, the area was opened up for free settlement, the first land sales taking place on 13th December 1843. Among the early purchasers was the Police Magistrate, Captain J.C.Wickham. Surveyor James Warner built the first house at Kangaroo Point in 1844.

History002It is not known when the first service was held, however, the 50th Dedication Festival of the parish was celebrated on 4th November 1897, with the Rector stating that "we have completed the fiftieth year of our existence as a Parish".

On 6th June 1848 Archdeacon Glennie is recorded as visiting the proposed site of a church, and later that year preaching at Kangaroo Point. On 12th April 1849, Capt. Wickham promised to give two allotments of land for a church, which was duly opened in July 1849. The Rev. T W Bodenham, who lived at Kangaroo Point, took services. The congregation was around 40 persons.

No known photos of this early church exist, however it is known that it was a simple wooden slab building, 15m x 6m x 5m high, built at a cost of £80 on a half acre of land in what was then called Church Lane, later John Street and now Rotherham Street. At that time, the church, which also served as a school, was described as "a neat and substantial building and well fitted for the purpose", although a later description was not quite so complimentary - "it was so small that but one person could approach the altar along the aisle. This was sometimes embarrassing especially when a marriage was being solemnised as the parties had to walk in single file". Statistics for the Diocese of Brisbane in 1868 show that the church seated 45 and the annual stipend for the Rector, the Rev Robert Moffatt was £150. In that year there were six persons confirmed, 19 baptised, two married and nine buried.

Additional land was granted by the Crown on 11th December 1849 for "Church, School and Parsonage in the Episcopalian Church of England". This land was opposite the present Scott St. and extended to the river. The location of this land is shown on the part copy of Slater's pocket map of Brisbane, 1865, shown below.

History003

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