Thursday, June 22, 2006

treasure trove of old church

from Don Cameron via Bristol_and_Somerset list:-

A very pleasing happenstance occurred this week when church authorities of
St Thomas' Port Macquarie, NSW discovered a treasure trove of old church
documents. Amongst the treasures were old parish registers, not previously
known to have existed, and certainly not photographed by the LDS. The
registers date from the convict period and will, when transcribed, greatly
assist a number of researchers with missing convict relatives.

We should all take heart that such occurrences do happen, and we should not
give up on one day finding a way through, over, under or around those
ubiquitous brick walls.

See St Thomas' web site here

the fifth oldest church still in use in Australia

RESTORATION of St. Thomas' Port Macquarie has been ongoing almost since it was first in use. This is because the convicts who built it were not artisans but labourers - and their supervisors were soldiers! As early as October 1828, the first vicar (Rev. John Cross) wrote that rain was coming through the roof and the windows. Restoration Appeals to the public were numerous including:

1839: Church partially destroyed by hurricane; restoration through local gifts and labour.

1897: Church so badly damaged by cyclone Bishop offered 100 pounds towards a new church. But Appeal through Herald and Telegraph raised enough to restore the building.

1923: White ants in roof timbers; galvanised roof deteriorated. New roof of terracotta tiles fixed through appeal by A.E. Pountney of Port Macquarie News.

1957: Local appeal raised enough to restore several problem areas.

1968: National appeal launched under patron Governor General Lord Casey, to restore tower walls. This was done by the insertion of steel rods at each corner to prevent bricks from slipping further; while a number of other smaller problems were attended to at the same time.

1986: Windows replaced; white ant damage repaired through appeal headed by His Excellency Sir Roden Cutler, V.C.

1998/9: Local appeal raised over $A85,000, including grants from the Australian Heritage Commission, for repair of white ant damage to box pews, flooring and wainscotting. Box pews restored to earlier configuration under direction of a heritage architect.

2000: Launch of major restoration appeal for repair of crumbling brickwork in tower and north entrance convict brick wall. Millennium year celebrated by laying stone to replace original foundation stone.

2002 - Ongoing Actions: Applications (March & April) to State and Federal Governments for funding amounting to around three quarters of a million dollars, to restore brickwork of outer walls, both tower and nave; also to install a damp-proof course (omitted from original building).

St Thomas’ recently received an anonymous donation of $100,000, bringing the total local donations to around $144,000. A further $242,5000 has also been allocated by the NSW Heritage Office, making a total of $317,500, also $78,000 from the Department of the Environment and Heritage (Federal Government). However, these amounts leave a shortfall of around $100,000. Unless further donations or government Grants are forthcoming, work will have to be suspended indefinitely. This will result in damage to fresh brickwork from rain and storms, probably nullifying all the innovative work which has already been completed.

2003 - 2004: Restoration of brickwork commenced in April 2003 with removal of cement render from the east and north walls. At this stage the damage was found to be much greater than assessed; cost of restoration now estimated at $1.5 million.

Scaffolding was erected around nave and tower and work commenced with the cleaning of bricks. This uncovered bricks so salt- and moisture-laden that most had to be replaced rather than turned. Fortunately, a large stock of convict bricks remained in the property and hundreds more were donated from public authorities and private homes after an appeal through the local Press.

If you would like to help preserve this historic building, please make your cheque or money order payable to:

"National Trust of Australia (NSW)
St. Thomas' Restoration Appeal"

and send to:

St. Thomas' Restoration Appeal
P.O. Box 689,
Port Macquarie,
NSW 2444, Australia


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