Sunday, 5 April 2015

Saint James' Church
A Suburban Melbourne House of God

The Church of Saint James in Brighton, formerly known as Gardenvale, and before that Elsternwick is one of many Gothic Revival churches of the Archdiocese of Melbourne (Australia). For Easter Day, we are writing this post about Saint James', because its parishioners cannot fully share the joy of Christ's Resurrection today. Their church was gutted by fire on Monday of Holy Week, the victim of an arsonist.

Saint James' church Brighton:
North transept, nave and belltower.
Saint James' church, a brick cruciform building with stone facing, was commenced in 1891, but enlarged in 1924 with the addition of transepts, apse and sacristies complementing the original design of Edgar Henderson.

In most respects, Saint James' church was not an exceptional building, but its great glory was the magnificent decorative mosaic work on the walls of the apse and adjacent chapels. This decoration, in a style known as opus sectile, was completed in 1939.

Of all this beauty, nothing now remains. The interior of the church was completely destroyed this week past and parts of its brick and stone walls are imperilled. This is the first of a series of posts on Saint James, aimed at keeping this tragedy in people's minds and in the hope that this House of God might - to some extent at least - be rebuilt. In the meantime, let us pray for its sorrowful parishioners.

Send a message of support to the Parish here.

Charming interior of Saint James church.

A section of the magnificent decorative work
of the apse and Sacred Heart Chapel.

Saint James' ablaze early on the morning of Monday 30th March:
the view on the south side of the church.

Dramatic view of the blaze, looking through 
the tracery window of the southern transept.
Image: The Herald-Sun.

Fireman bringing the devastating blaze under control.
Image : The Herald-Sun.

Charred ruin of the transepts.