Our Journey so far
By Sally Osborne (Sally Osborne has written a history of St Philip's church, which was published in 2015 entitled A Small Church in Small Town)
The history of our Parish reflects the history of the area – from pioneering rural to semi rural with proximity to two inland cities - Canberra and Goulburn. The church has maintained a faithful congregation since it was built and consecrated.
There are four Anglican churches in the parish – St Philip’s Bungendore, St Mark’s Hoskinstown, St Thomas’ Carwoola and St Luke’s Captains Flat. Three others, St John’s Lake Bathurst, St Matthias’ Currawang and St Andrew’s Tarago have recently separated from the Parish to form a mission district – the Mulwaree Mission District.
St Philip’s Bungendore is a small Gothic style church that was completed in 1865 and consecrated in 1872. It was designed by Alberto Soares, local minister and prolific church architect. Soares designed two other churches in the parish, St Mark’s Hoskinstown and St Thomas’ Carwoola.
St Philip’s church is built of local stone from Mount Gibraltar with windows of sandstone and timber. Originally built with only the porch on the northern side, a vestry was constructed on the southern side counterbalancing the porch in the early 1960s. The church has buttresses on each side. It has a steeply pitched roof with a small ornamental bell tower at the western end and crosses at each point, small plain crosses over the vestry and porch and more elaborate crosses at the eastern end and over the sanctuary. There are two medium sized windows on the north and south sides. Sadly the window tracery has been removed from one window on the northern side or ’front’ of the church. There are smaller windows in the porch and vestry and large stained glass windows at the east and west ends. The church roof originally had timber shingles but now has tiles.
Inside the church the two large windows are spectacular. The western window, depicting St Michael and the dragon from Revelations 12.7 was installed in 1919 and commemorates three members of the Rutledge family, church benefactors throughout the church’s history. This window has suffered from the ferocity of the western sun and wind and has recently been completely upgraded and repaired.
The eastern window was designed and built by David Saunders in the early 1960s in memory of three members of the Osborne family, also church benefactors. It depicts Jesus, Noah and St Paul in a medieval or neo-gothic style.
The simple layout of the church interior with plain and robust pews, priests’ chairs and pulpit is very much in the correct or neo-gothic style of small English churches, a style made popular by Pugin and his followers. The strong design of the roof with large timbers is more than effective. It has brackets which terminate in carving, probably ornamental rather than structural. The font is carved stone.
The altar, hymn board and lectern were given in memory of soldiers who died in the two world wars, as are several brass and marble plaques on the western wall.
The church and buildings had major restoration and improvement in the early 1960s after the parish had raised money using a fund raising organisation. These changes include the addition of the vestry, the re-flooring of the sanctuary and major painting and plastering at St Philip’s and St Mark’s.
Rectory and Hall
The other buildings on this site are the Rectory and the church hall. The Rectory built in 1924 replaces the old rectory which was cut off from the church when the railway was constructed. It is in neo-Georgian style with a symmetrical front and recessed porch. It is built of plastered concrete blocks and is said to have been designed and partly paid for by Thomas Rutledge.
The requirements of the Diocese for the Rectory to be compliant with diocesan requirements have caused a number of changes including the upgrading of heating and several re-buildings of the bathroom.
The Hall was built from the material from the demolished old hall and was completed in 1920. The foundation stone was laid by Canon Ward. The Hall is a simple rectangle with a front door onto Butmaroo St and a very small kitchenette on one side and toilets on the other. Outer doors are raised off the ground, one to accommodate a removable stage. The hall is constructed of locally made brick which is inclined to wear. Timber details around the front door are robust and in keeping with the construction. The hall is probably much as it was when it was built in 1920 with more recent inclusions of a toilet and some coats of paint.
The Parish was initially nurtured by Bishop Broughton of Australia and Bishop Thomas of Goulburn, who visited and ministered to the small and struggling congregation from 1840 to 1893. The first resident pastor was James Dodwell appointed in 1877.
There have been 31 rectors and a number of locums appointed to the parish ministering to the congregation 137 years, since 1877. While this amounts to an average stay of 4+ years, there have been a number who have stayed considerably longer including Revs Julius Scott, Arthur Champion, Horace Walton, Peter Brown and Robin Long. There are others who have left a significant legacy in a very short time. A full list can be found in ‘Deep and Lasting Foundations’ by Stone and Body. The current rector is Rev. Michael Pailthorpe.
The principal changes in worship and ordinances in church government have occurred at a diocesan level and have been carried out fairly obediently at parish level. These include a diocesan levy, the payment of clergy through the diocesan office, the eligibility for women to serve on synod 196 and as ministers (1992), the use of the Australian Prayer book and two changes in hymn books.
The bishops of the diocese have conducted services at St Philip’s and the other churches throughout the years.
Special worship activities over the past years have included beating the bounds of the parish, pilgrimages to the cathedral, blessing of the pets and processing through the town on Palm Sunday and at Christmas. The church maintains a significant presence in the local schools, with six scripture classes conducted every week, overseen and shared by the current rector.
Bungendore has had a strong ecumenical focus over the last half century with a combined church rodeo and spring ball for fundraising, a combined church choir and a number of joint services with St Mary’s Catholic Church.