A BRIEF HISTORY OF ST JOHN'S ANGLICAN CHURCH RAYMOND TERRACE
The first settlers of Raymond Terrace arrived in the early 1800's, firstly as timber getters cutting the large cedar forest and later as farmers on the rich alluvial lands near the junction of the Hunter and Williams Rivers. Among these immigrants were many who had arrived from England, strong adherents to the Church of England, as the Anglican Church was then known. Wisely, governments atthat time encouraged the citizens to continue their religious worship, granting land so that churches could be constructed.
With the initial survey and town plan in 1837, the land for a Rectory ( recorded as the Parsonage, Clergy Reserve ) was granted. The Rectory grant comprised all of a triangular block bounded byJacaranda Avenue ( then known as Stockton Street) Glenelg and Sturgeon Streets. A block of land for a church was purchased in Sturgeon Street in 1861.
Bishop Broughton, anxious to build suitable places of worship, visited Raymond Terrace in 1839, afterwards appointing the Rev. Charles Spencer, M.A to the parishes of Eldon and Stockton, with instructions to establish his headquarters in Raymond Terrace.
The foundation stone of a Parsonage in Glenelg Street was laid in 1841 and the hewn stone, shingled roofed cottage was completed in 1842. After the construction of a new Rectory in 1846, the older Parsonage became a Church School and later the gardener's home, eventually being sold as a private residence. Initially religious observances were conducted mainly in private homes, but on one occasion during a visit by + Bishop Broughton in January, 1840 a more public place was used. As he quoted "I officiated to a congregation of more than 100 and preached to them from the door of an inn, this being the only place to afford shelter and accommodation.
The first church was a slab building in Glenelg Street, and was the cause for considerable disquiet that a more substantial building was not constructed during the 17 years of Reverend Spencer's incumbency. He resigned in 1856. His permanent successor, the Reverend John Blomfield, inspired action and a stone building was erected around the old slab building, which was later removed. This building was never consecrated and after the opening of St John's Church in Sturgeon Street, itbecame the Sunday School.
In 1861 the current site for St John's was purchased, plans were drawn up by architect, Edmund Blacket, who also designed plans for Sydney University and many other prominent buildings. The design of the church is described as Gothic and the stone chosen for stonemason Robert Carnell to lay was "Muree" blue sandstone from a local quarry.+ Bishop Tyrrell contributed five hundred pounds towards its construction while the local parishioners provided one thousand pounds. The bishop conducted the consecration on 25th November 1862.
A large pipe organ was imported from England in 1862 by + Bishop Tyrrell and a person was employed to pump the bellows with a stirrup pump to provide air for the organ's blower.
Two large Norfolk Island pine trees in the grounds of the Rectory are a Raymond Terrace landmark, visible from a great distance, especially at Christmas time when one of the trees is illuminated with coloured lights.