St John the Evangelist Anglican Church & Sunday School
Digby (Emu Creek), South-West Victoria, Australia
Glenelg & Wannon Region, south-western Victoria, Australia.
St John the Evangelist, Anglican Church & Sunday School, Digby (opened 1861).
Note the Sunday School and Bell Tower both missing from the current building below.
'Granny' Caroline McCALLUM (nee BEST, 1831-1910) standing in front.
Notes from the Merino / Digby Heritage Book, 1977
The first Church of England service held in this district was at "Rifle Downs". then owned by Mr. Richard Lewis. This was in 1849, and was conducted by Rev. Dr. F. T. C. Russell, who had just been appointed to the Wannon Valley as vicar, by Bishop Perry, the first Bishop of Melbourne.
In April, 1861. Dr. Russell laid the foundation stone of St. John's and in December of the same year the church was consecrated and opened for services.
Dr. Russell continued to minister to a huge parish (travelling by horse back) for 25 years. His health deteriorated to such an extent that the Bishop granted him leave. and he returned to England to recuperate. After some time he had a relapse and decided to return to his friends in the Wannon Valley, but he died at sea, February 7th, 1876.
The Vicarage was built in the 1880's as a residence for Rev. Moody while he served his term as Vicar. Since his term it has been leased to tenants. The Sunday School opened in 1874 with a roll call of 28 boys and 26 girls, with Mr. Nathaniel R. Burgess as Superintendent and six teachers assisting. The Sunday School closed in 1935 through lack of pupils and teachers.
The first entry in the marriage register is for the wedding of William Harvey Jackson and Jane Clifford, on September 23rd, 1867. (Source: Merino / Digby Heritage Book, 1977)
Rev. Dr. Francis T. Cusack Russell (1823 - 1876)
"In the early 1850s, F. Cusack Russell, from his base near Coleraine, ministered to a wide area in the Western District, including Hamilton. He held periodic services in homes, stores or the few public buildings. For a brief period Hamilton had its own Minister, a Mr Handt or Hantz, who arrived in 1853 but left for Geelong in April 1854. He was in Hamilton during the controversy over French's dismissal from the School Board of Patrons and was subject to some of French's wrath because he held similar views to those of Russell. Handt was refused permission to use the court house to hold services, which apparently then took place in J. H. Campbell's store. However, when Bishop Perry visited Hamilton early in 1854, he was granted the use of the court for a service. French sent off another stream of angry letters protesting that government buildings were being used to preach religious dogmas." (Source : 'Hamilton: A Western District History' - Don Garden, 1984)
"Anglican Church Merino - Original services were conducted under an archway of trees where Mrs HUSSON's house now stands, by the first vicar, the Rev. F. T. C. RUSSELL, who was appointed to this large parish in 1850. Services were later held in the old Vicarage, now occupied by Mrs BLACKBURN; afterwards in the school building known as the Common School, till the present church was built in 1866. The late Dr. RUSSELL labored in this parish for 24 years. He was returning from a long trip in the parish when he was seized with a paralytic stroke. He was alone and driving a pair of quiet ponies, and was still some miles from the parsonagae, with at least one pair of gates to open. Fortunately he succeeded in acomplishing this task and reached home safely. For some weeks the patient was kept very quiet; then a sea trip was recommended by his medical adviser, which was subsequently made possible by his many friends and admirers, who subscribed the sum of 1000 pounds, a further 500 pounds being sent to him while abroad. When returning to Victoria he died and was buried at sea." (Source : Back to Merino & Henty Centenary Book, 1937)
Parsonage-on-the-Wannon (residence of Rev. RUSSELL)
St John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Digby