The story of some of Singleton’s beautiful old churches is one of rebuilding, reusing and relocating.
Singleton’s first church
In 1837, Patrick’s Plains was recognised as a Presbyterian congregation. The following year, newly appointed minister Reverend Irving Heatherington oversaw the construction of Singleton’s first church, St Andrew’s Presbyterian.
Benjamin Singleton donated the land for the small brick building on Church St. The church served its congregation throughout the Victorian era, but as the new century dawned its time came to a close. The foundation stone for a replacement church was laid in December 1904 and the new, Gothic-style St Andrew’s was opened on 31 May 1906.
A feature of St Andrew’s is its pipe organ, installed in 1920 as a World War I memorial. The immense, highly ornate instrument was built by Sydney’s Charles and is believed to date from 1885. Other features of the building include beautiful windows and stonework, and a memorial to Trooper Herbert Waddell, the only Singleton soldier lost in the Boer War.
St Patrick’s Catholic Church
With its solid façade, St Patrick’s has stood sentinel on Queen St for over 160 years.
However, it wasn’t the first Catholic church in Singleton. A wooden church, St Augustine’s, had served the area’s Catholics since 1845.
The foundation stone for today’s church was laid in March 1859, and in February 1860 – just 10 months later – the new church was opened and consecrated. But it wasn’t quite finished; at that point only the nave had been built. The gallery was added in 1875, with the chancery, sacristy and oratory following in 1881.
Finally, in 1920 the two western towers took their place as a memorial to Catholics killed in World War I.
All Saints’ Anglican Church
As with the two churches above, the current All Saints’ wasn’t the first for its congregation.
Construction of the original church began in 1845 and was designed by noted architect Edmund Blacket. All Saints’ was Blacket’s first church design – he would go on to design All Saints’ Cathedral, Bathurst, St George’s Cathedral, Perth, and St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney.
By 1907, the church building needed extensive repairs. One local, pastoralist Albert Augustus Dangar, had a better idea: he offered to underwrite the building of an entirely new church.
Designed by Frederick George Castleden, the new All Saints’ opened in April 1913 and incorporated Gothic architectural ideas, with a tower-based on the one at St Neot’s Church in Cornwall. Many of the stained glass windows from the original church were saved and reused. And, like St Andrew’s, All Saints’ features an impressive pipe organ. The one you can see today is the church’s third organ – the first was moved to St Stephen’s, Mittagong, and the second remains virtually unaltered at St Paul’s, Stockton, where it was moved in 1910.
The church’s cemetery features the imposing Dangar family mausoleum.
Christian Israelite Church
Members of the Christian Israelite Church have been in the Singleton area since the 1850s, but it would be another few years until they had a dedicated place of worship.
The first Christian Israelite Church opened on Bishopgate St in 1862. But once again, the building you see today wasn’t the first. In fact, it’s uncertain exactly where that first building was located.
But the mystery doesn’t end there. While we know a second, wooden church replaced the original, there are no known planning records for it. What we do know is it was completed in 1894 and served the congregation well into the 1930s, when plans began for a third, brick church, which is still in use today.
Stained glass windows from the old wooden church were placed into the new building, as had been done for All Saints’. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke …!
Photo credits: Singleton Anglican Church Facebook page