St Johns Church of England, located at the intersection of Toorak and Clendon Roads, Toorak, was erected in 1860, and subsequently enlarged in 1865, with the tower and broached spire added in 1873 to complete the original design by William Wardell. Supervision of construction was undertaken by architect FM White. The chancel was enlarged in 1912, and the baptistery, vestries and chapel were added in 1920, 1935 and 1937, to the design of Walter Butler and Louis R. Williams. The Church is constructed of regular coursed basalt relieved with freestone dressings. It comprises a lengthy nave, with aisles and a diminutive clerestory and chancel flanked by organ chamber, chapel and vestries. The interior is notable for the wood and stone carvings, a rare and historically important organ by Hill & Son, London, of 1912, and beautiful stained glass from 1868 and 1874.
How is it significant?
St Johns Church of England is of architectural and aesthetic significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
St Johns Church of England is of architectural significance as a notable early English Gothic style church designed by the celebrated ecclesiastical and public buildings architect W.W. Wardell (1823-1899). This was Wardell's first Anglican Church, displaying the style that had made him a prolific designer of Catholic Churches in England before moving to Australia in 1858. It features the distinctive and characteristic Wardell proportions, accentuated by a dominant west tower and unusual, austere broached spire. In the year before obtaining the commission for St Johns, he had begun the design of St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne. In 1859 Wardell had also been appointed the Inspector-Clerk of Public Works, and in the following year became Inspector General of Public Works. Despite this position, he maintained his own practice, continuing to produce numerous church buildings throughout Victoria.
St Johns Church of England is of aesthetic significance for its stained glass windows, especially the WC Cornish memorial window, which was probably the first major work of JL Lyon. Lyon emigrated from England to Melbourne in 1861, immediately joining the very early Melbourne stained glass firm of Ferguson and Urie. Lyon went on to form his own important firm in Sydney, Lyon, Wells and Cottier. Lyon was significant in the development of stained glass in Victoria as one of the first stained glass artists of real note. Prior to this time, stained glass had been largely produced by plumbers and tradesmen.