St. George’s Anglican Church

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Fast Facts
Address: Orleana Square, Cowan Street
Town or Locality: Gawler
Year constructed: c. 1847
Used for: Place of Worship
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Take a look at the 360 degree images from Church Hill Photography CLICK ON HERE ON KUULA LINK TO SEE THESE SPECIAL PHOTOS:

Our thanks to Neil Jacobs for his valuable contribution to our website - May 2017.

The first Church of England services in Gawler were conducted in 1839 in the little sitting room at the home of Mr. John Reid at Clonlea (on the north bank of the North Para River in line with Murray Street). At this time there were no houses in Gawler. The first Colonial Chaplain Rev. C. B. Howard occasionally rode his horse 25 miles from Adelaide’s Holy Trinity Church to minister where necessary. During 1845 the Rev. James Farrell, the Colonial Chaplain of Holy Trinity, Adelaide, chaired a meeting of the Members of Friends of the Church of England and £100 was raised for the building of a Church at Gawler.

In 1846, the Rev. William Henry Coombs (formerly curate of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, London was sent out from England by “The Society of the Propagation of the Gospel”. Services were held in the basement of the Victoria Mill, (then under construction). This was the beginning of Rev. Coomb’s 50 years of service to the Anglican Church, Gawler (formerly Church of England).

The foundation stone of the first church to be built was laid in 1847 by His Excellency Governor Robe, on land known as Orleana Square (Church Hill) surveyed by Colonel Light. The Church was named after England’s patron saint (St George) and in honour of Colonel George Gawler. The Church cost £800 to be built. Five years after completion this building was severely damaged by a storm.

A day school was built in 1850 where the tennis courts now stand. Thirty-five scholars attended under the guidance of M. L. S. Burton. The building now known as the Parish Hall was constructed as a school in 1866. Additional rooms to the front and back were added in 1911 to accommodate the increased number of students. As recently as 1984 this building again became a school under the guidance of Rev. J. B. Kinsman and church members. Hence Trinity College was established. It is now situated south west of Gawler Township and with five schools and one Montessori school, is the largest school of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.

St. George’s Church as it stands today

In 1858 the foundation stone was re-laid for the Nave of the new building on the site where it stands today. The architect was Edward Angus Hamilton and the design is early 14th century Gothic. Materials used included blue stone and sandstone from local quarries and Welsh slate for the roof. The building was erected in stages - the nave in 1864, the transept 1884, and the chancel in 1887. The Church was consecrated on 23rd April 1894 by Bishop Kennion. In 1907 the first stone for the erection of the tower was laid by Archdeacon Young. The dedication took place on 28th April 1909.

An octave of hemispherical bells was placed in the tower in 1921 to commemorate those killed in the First World War. In 1950 the eastern end of the Church roof was re-slated with Spanish slate at a cost of £25,000. St George’s building has a National Trust “A” listing.

The church possesses a chime of eight hemispherical bells provided by this company in 1921. Our sales day book entry dated 23rd June 1921 advises that the work was invoiced to Sir Edward Lucas, Agent General for South Australia, Australia House, Strand, London WC2. It is clear that Sir Edward Lucas acted as a purchasing agent for the church. Our sales day book entry mentions the set of eight hemispherical bells with the largest 2’-7” in diameter, weighing approximately 3½ cwt. The chime was provided complete with supporting spindles, distance pieces, framework and a chiming apparatus for the freight on board London price of £315.0s.0d. source Whitechapel Bell Foundry Limited, Alan Hughes

Information about the stained glass and leadlight windows available here.

For information relating to the original Organ used in the Church, click here


Original Font, and Silver Paten and Chalice – donated by Stephen King in 1847. First Trustee and Warden. The present marble font was bought by subscription in 1889 and the original font was incorporated in it.

Communion Service – presented by Governor Gawler, second Governor of South Australia, who died in 1869.

Ornate Alms Dish – with inscription “To the Greater Glory of God”. Donated by the Bishop of Adelaide and Mrs. Kennion. Dedicated on St. George’s Day 1894.

Silver Cruets – given by Cyril Prior, ex-Dunkirk Veteran. In memory of his wife Dorisse Marcell Clemence Prior.

Cruet Set – in memory of Undine Day. Given by her daughter Naomi. Blessed by Fr. Piers Davey at Pentecostal Service 31st May 2009.

Brass, Altar Vases – given by the family of the late Mr Hollaway 1904.

Silver Cruet Tray & Paschal Candle Stand – given by past confirmees.

Pyxes (2) – given by Guild members. Consecrated and Blessed by Fr. Piers Davey on 17th January 2010.

Sanctuary Lamp – in memory of George Downing. Given by his wife Mabel 1976. Dedication was conducted by Archbishop Rayner.

Oak Reredos – donated by Mrs James Harris in memory of her husband, a Trustee and Warden. 1897.

The Sanctuary – enlarged in 1955. In 1957 the original altar and reredos were placed in the transept.

The Lady Chapel was created and Altar Railings were placed in memory of Emma Crump who died in 1953, and Harry Blinman Dawkins, R.A.A.F. who died in 1944.

Stone and Marble Altar – gift of Mrs Ethel Mary Taylor in memory of her son Robert John Taylor. 1955

Large Stone Cross – to the memory of Elizabeth Brown by her daughter Madge Ormsby.

Pews – jointly donated in 1847 by Messrs Younghusband and King. The rental of these Pews each year made up a sizable portion of Canon Coombs stipend.

Altar Railings – of timber and wrought iron – donated by James Martin and Co. in 1857.

Eagle Lectern - given by Mrs Popham in memory of her husband, Frances William Home Popham who died in 1903.

Two Sanctuary Chairs in memory of Anna Kopetske Martin.

Altar Book Stand – in memory of Naomi Lucy McEwin. Dedicate in 1963.

Aumbry – set in the north wall of the sanctuary. A gift of the Rev. J. Kinsman in 1986 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his Ordination to Holy Orders.

Pulpit – no record found.

Baptistry – furnished in memory of Robert John Taylor, in thanksgiving for the baptism of Michael Robert John Taylor. Dedicated on 25th June 1960.

Glass Entrance Doors – in memory of Mervin and Emelie Eime and their sons Victor and Oscar. 1962.

Furnishing in the Vestry - a brass plaque commemorates the lives of Mary Ann Dixon 1854-1940 and Rosa Winfield Grace 1851-1940.

Two Lectern Bibles - a gift of the Bible Society to commemorate the R.A.A.F. ministries by Fr. J. Kinsman.

Public Address System – given by Jack Parham and sons in memory of their wife and mother, Marjorie K. Parham, 1978.

Pipe Organ – Built by W. G. Vowles of Bristol 1878 for the Church of St. Mathias On-the-Weir. Transferred to St. Jude’s Bristol 1946. Eric Strange, organist of St. George’s knew it to be redundant and proposed its purchase. The organ arrived in 1986 and was assembled by parishioners – Arthur Hidson, Christopher Short, Tom McDermott and Eric Strange. The beautiful wood panelling surround was the work of Frank Forgie. The service of Dedication took place in 1987.

Ceiling –original being replaced with Western Red Cedar in 1966 by Wyn Hockey

Tapestry Kneelers – made and donated by parishioners.

Memorial Plaques.

1. Brass Plaque - in entrance porch. Commemorates parishioners who died in 1914-1918 war, in whose memory the bells were placed. Dedicated in 1921.

2. Marble Plaque – north wall. Placed by Henry Edward and Jane Prudence Bright in memory of their five children.

3. Brass Plate – in the sanctuary. Subscribed to by the congregation – to commemorate the life of Eliza Coombs who died in 1898.

4. Brass Tablet – south wall. Commemorates John Reid, his wife and six children. Original pioneers of Gawler.

5. Timber Plaque – south wall. In memory of Lt. Rodney Franklin , “Croix de Guerre”, killed in Egypt in 1917.

Bishop T. T. Reed, Archbishop of Adelaide said “Our churches are not museums but utilitarian buildings erected for the work of worship – they will continue to be silent witness to the faith of the pioneers and to the foundation upon which they began to build our national life”.

Rectors and Assistant Curates of the Parish

1846-1896 Canon W. H. Coombs

1891 Rev. K. A. Warren AC

1893 Rev. A. K. Chignell AC

1897-1904 Rev. J. Lumsden

1904-1906 Rev. C. E. Doudney

1907-1925 Rev. Canon S.T.C. Best

1925-1930 Rev. T. P. Wood

1930-1936 Rev. H, E. S. Dyson

1936-1942 Rev. J. L. Bond

1942-1944 Rev. E. A. Burden

1945-1950 Rev. H. B. Wilson

1951-1957 Rev. J. R. Bleby

1953-1955 Rev. T. G. Drought AC

1955-1957 Rev. M.K. Small AC

1957-1962 Rev. K.A. Osborne

1957-1959 Rev. I.C. Trevor AC

1962-1967 Rev. P. W Patterson

1964-1966 Rev. D.E. Grey-Smith AC

1966-1969 Rev. J. Green AC

1967-1975 Rev. E. J. Waterhouse

1969-1971 Rev. R. J. Niehus AC

1975-1978 Rev. D. C. Withers

1978-1994 Rev. J. B. Kinsman

1990-1991 Rev. P. Hunter AC

1994-1998 Rev. I. J. McDowell

1998-2005 Rev. P. W. Simmons

2006- 7/2016 Rev. Piers Davey

2016-7Sep The Reverend Canon Simon Bailey

We acknowledge information gathered from the writing of the late Trix McConnell, E.H.Coombe, P. & J Donovan. Thank you also to J. Statton, Trinity College. Thanks to Mrs Helen Hennessy for her valuable research on our Church and David Hilliard, Dept of History, Flinders University SA.

Compiled by Dorothy Hopgood and Jenny Evans 2010 © is an outline of the history of the Church, and all of the lovely stained glass windows are described in sequence; with maker's name and the details such as to whom the window is dedicated etc.

Click Here for a more up to date compilation of the history of St George's

For photos of St. Georges Anglican Church and the surrounds of Orleana Square please click here.

St. George's Church Gawler, Order of Service at the Raising of the Top Stone of the Tower, April 28th 1909

Trix McConnell's memories of the parish are recorded in "Looking Back 150 years".

Read Chris Leckony's writing 'Surprise on the Hill' about St George's Anglican Church, by clicking here.

Click here for photos of Gawler and surrounds taken from the Church Tower in 2015.

Please find the press release relating to the unlocated foundation stone Here

TAKE A LOOK AT THE FABULOUS 360 degree images TAKEN INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF ST GEORGES CHURCH from Church Hill Photography here:

ST GEORGES RECTORY - 21 Cowan Street

Long time Gawler resident Pat Harbison says "From the age of !0 years I lived in Adelaide with my Grandmother, Ina Davies (nee Deland), who was a daughter of Benjamin Deland, a builder in Gawler. The Delands lived in what is now the Anglican rectory in Gawler. She married her piano teacher E.H. Davies, who came from Oswestry in England, to take over the Gawler music students of his brother Charles Davies, who had died of TB (prevalent in those days). E.H. Davies later became Professor of music at the University of Adelaide (the Elder Conservatorium}. Some years ago, when helping the then Rector's wife (Joan Osborne) wash dishes in the Rectory kitchen, I noticed Benjamin Delands signature ("B.E. Deland") in the cement window sill over the kitchen sink. Don't know if it is still there. Hope so."

The following two books have come into the possession of the Gawler History Team Inc. via the Robertson Family as part of the Dr Dawes Collection: (click the links below): <St. George's Gawler Centenary Celebrations>

<The Church of S. George, Gawler. Service Order (1921)>

Please click here to view historical information from the 1998 Danvers Heritage Survey regarding this location. <1>

Please click here to read an article regarding the historic Church Hill tennis courts as printed in the Bunyip newspaper 8 September 2021.

Please click here to read an article about the 100 year anniversary of the church bells.

On the occasion of the centenary of the installation of the bells into St Georges Church in Gawler we thank Fr Simon Bailey for his sermon relating to the anniversary - Brian Thom

Please click here to read Father Simon Bailey's sermon.


Related Articles


  • 1. Danvers Architects Gawler Heritage Survey 1998 The Corporation of the Town of Gawler (June 1998)
St George's Anglican Church, c1920
St George's Anglican Church, c1920
St George's Anglican Church, 2010
St George's Anglican Church, 2010
St George's Anglican Church  May 2012
St George's Anglican Church May 2012
Dedication of Altar at St George's Church 1957
Dedication of Altar at St George's Church 1957
A lovely day in Church Hill
A lovely day in Church Hill
St. George's Anglican Church, Gawler (after 1909)
St. George's Anglican Church, Gawler (after 1909)



Memories of St. George’s Anglican Church

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