What is significant?
The first Anglican services in East Melbourne were held in 1842 by the Revd John Yelverton Wilson in a workshop at the eastern end of Little Bourke Street. Charles Laing was appointed architect for a new church following the submission of sketch proposals at the invitation of the Trustees by five local architects. An initial proposal by Sydney architect Thomas Edmund Blacket did not proceed. The foundation stone was laid on 18 June 1846 by Charles Joseph La Trobe, Superintendent of the Port Phillip District. The initial church constructed of brick with stone facings had a shingled roof. It was formally opened on 6 August 1848. The church was enlarged in 1854 to designs by architect Charles Vickers with the nave increased in length, the transepts with galleries and a chancel added, and the shingles roof replaced with slate. Leonard Terry carried out alterations including an enlarged chancel, an added vestry, and a Baptistery, with the new chancel opened on 29 June 1876. Work continued with five stained glass windows by Ferguson and Urie added to the chancel in December 1876. Repairs and alterations were carried out by Walter Butler of Butler and Inskip in 1897 which included installation of gas lines and Tobin tubes for ventilation, removal of the transept galleries, and a new layout of pews to include a central and two side aisles. Further alterations took place during 1927-29 including installation of timber panelling in the transepts and chancel, and installation of a choir screen by Louis Williams. In 1945 a stained glass window was installed in the north transept designed by Napier Waller to commemorate the New Guinea mission, and eleven Anglican martyrs and to mark the centenary. A second Waller window in the south transept was subsequently added. The current organ is the third organ in the church and was constructed by George Fincham and Son Pty Ltd and completed in March 1974.
Known originally as the Melbourne Diocesan School, St Peters School was opened on 11 April 1849. The original school, as well as the sexton's house and parsonage were constructed in the late 1840's and were designed by Charles Laing. By 1886 part of this site had been transferred to the Parliament of Victoria and the building demolished. A new vicarage and school were erected in 1886 to the designs of William Pitt. St Peters Hall, designed by Alexander North was erected in 1913 as part of St Peters School and contained a large hall and 2 classrooms. The school suffered economic difficulties during the Depression and was closed at the end of 1935. Since that time the hall has been mainly used by theatrical and music groups.
How is it significant?
St Peters Eastern Hill Precinct is of historical, architectural, and social significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
St Peters Church is of historical significance as the oldest Anglican church in Victoria on its original site and as the focus of Tractarian or Anglo Catholic tradition in Victoria. The tradition is one of full liturgical practice combined with an active interest in social justice issues and was particularly promoted by Canon Ernest Selwyn Hughes (Vicar 1900-1926), one of
the greatest pioneers of Catholic Revival in Australia. St Peters Church also has an historical association with the granting of Melbourne's status as a city, with the letters patent of Queen Victoria having been read in St Peters on 13 February 1848. St Peters is of historical and social significance for its association with the Revd Canon Farnham Maynard (Vicar 1926-1964), vicar during the Great Depression who initiated the introduction of the Brotherhood of St Laurence into Victoria with its development of social work programmes and fostering of awareness in Melbourne of social justice issues. Revd Farnham Maynard was also responsible for the installation of the transept windows by Napier Waller. The New Guinea windows in the north transept are of historical significance for the representation of the eleven Anglican martyrs
and the south transept windows for their anti-war theme. St Peters Hall has continued associations with the musical life of Melbourne.
St Peters Eastern Hill precinct is of architectural significance for its association with a successive number of prominent Melbourne architects who contributed to the development of the church precinct: Charles Laing, CharlesVickers, Leonard Terry, William Pitt, Walter Butler, Louis Williams, and Alexander North. The group of buildings forms a picturesque precinct. The vicarage and school are early examples of William Pitt's work and are substantially intact. St Peters Hall is the first work in Victoria of Tasmanian emigre architect Alexander North who specialised in church architecture.