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News > Docco's Diary > Docco's Diary | The Chapel

Docco's Diary | The Chapel

The beautiful St Peter's College Chapel | a hidden gem

The beautiful St Peter’s college chapel was first opened in 1864 and completed in 1873.

Next year it will be 150 years since the Chapel was finally completed in 1873. 2022 is the 110th anniversary of the extensive renovations to the Chapel in 1912 and the 35th anniversary of the 1987 renovations.

All old scholars will remember attending services in the Chapel during their days at Saints. They will remember the beauty of the Chapel. They may also be interested in a little of the history of the Chapel.

The Reverend Dr Theo McCall, School Chaplain since 2010 and old scholar (YNG 1987), has written:

“The Chapel is one of Adelaide’s hidden gems. Visitors often remark on the extraordinary colour of its stained-glass windows, the intricate artwork on the front of the organ and the careful details of the kneelers. Brides and grooms seek it out as a place for their weddings and rejoice in the elegance of the building. Old scholars continue to bring their children back to be baptised and rejoice in the Chapel’s beauty. Many in the wider school community enjoy the chance to return to this place of tranquillity and stillness.

Pictured: The wedding of Michael Blight (DAC '71) to Jane Waterman in 1982  including groomsmen Peter Harrington (SHT 1971) and Andrew Cudmore (YNG 1974).

Pictured: The 2019 wedding of Craig Van Tenac (MAC 2009) and Lauren Van Tenac (Nee Patterson)

The Chapel continues to be a focal point of the week for students, with boys for Years 1 to 12 worshipping in it. It is good to give thanks to God for thousands of staff, students, parents and old scholars who have worshipped within its walls”.

The original Chapel was in the room to the left of the entrance from the Main Oval to Old School House.

In 1859 plans were drawn up for the present Chapel by the architect Edward Angus Hamilton and approved by the Council of Governors. The foundation stone was laid on 19th December 1861 but work progressed slowly due to a lack of funds. Eventually on 24th July 1864 the nave was opened for worship with a temporary wall across its East end.

If you had come to St Peter’s College in 1864, you would have only seen three buildings – the Big School Room, the front part of Old School House and the Chapel. The Council of Governors and Headmaster Farr had organised the building of the Chapel on the highest spot on the school grounds to emphasise its significance, although Bishop Short had envisaged this when laying the foundation stone of Old School House in 1849.

The Chapel remained unfinished until 1873 when it was possible to complete the chancel and add the fleche to the roof of the nave. This was one of many improvements to the School which was made possible by the legacy of one of the School founding governors, the Very Reverend James Farrell, the first Dean of Adelaide, who had died in 1869.

The organ and organ-chamber were added in 1877 and the original vestry in 1878.

Some of the beautiful features of the Chapel include:

This 1864 window made by William Wales depicts King Solomon holding a model of his temple. It was given by George Wright Hawkes in memory of Henry Stuckey, the first school Architect and is said to have been the first figure window imported into the colony of South Australia.

Almost all of the windows in the Chapel were made by William Wales, who began making stained glass in 1838 in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England.

A previous Headmaster has written: “Our Chapel is one of the great treasures of St Peter’s College”. We all know he was right. 

Researched and written by David Docwra
David Docwra retired from St Peter’s College in December 2015 after 37 years’ service and is fondly remembered by many as a dedicated teacher, a committed coach of squash, cricket and soccer, and most especially as a passionate Head of Hawkes House for 21 years. David remains connected to St Peter’s College and regularly provides historical articles for the St Peter’s Old Collegians newsletters.

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