Wednesday, February 13, 2013

St Thomas Aquinas

St Thomas Aquinas is a small church in Bromby Street, South Yarra and very near the Highrise. Bromby Street is a quiet street running easterly from St Kilda Road. The street is only quiet because it is blocked off where it meets St Kilda Road. I can remember thirty years ago when it was open and even then it was a very useful shortcut for a lot of drivers. One can only imagine what it would be like now if it was a through road.

STA is an odd looking church to me. I don't think we have many Spanish looking churches in Melbourne. It seems out of place among the Victorian era houses, 1950s flats and ultra modern buildings that dominate the expensive South Yarra streets.

A little research at the parish website tells the tale. The church was built in 1915 and called the Chapel of Ease and informally known as the 'servants church'. In the early twentieth century South Yarra did have a certain demographic and there would have been servants who needed a church. I suppose their Masters and Mistresses would have travelled to St Patricks in East Melbourne for their spiritual needs.

In was remodelled in the 1950s and received its Spanish Baroque fa├žade and blessed by the long serving, famous and infamous Archbishop Dr Daniel Mannix.

In 1976 Archbishop Frank Little handed the church over to the Order of St Augustine. I expect the church's parishioners are now very local people. One day I will pop in for a look see at the interior. From the Highrise, its very fine slate roof is evident.

14 comments:

  1. Out of place or not, it's a very pretty little Church.

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    1. River, I think many churches are built to intimidate, but this one is not.

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  2. An interesting little church Andrew ... nestled in amongst architecture of a very different era. Would love you to take a peek inside one day.

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    1. Dianne, it is often open and one day I will step inside.

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  3. Hello Andrew:
    We really urge you to go and look inside. We find church architecture hugely interesting and often revealing of the times.

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    1. JayLa, churches are quite fascinating, so long as one doesn't have to get onto one's knees or cross oneself.

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  4. I would love to see what the Chapel of Ease looked like in 1915 when it was built the first time. Photos might show that the church looked perfectly appropriate, for its time and its location.

    The Spanish Baroque facade DOES look very unusual for Melbourne so I wonder what the model was in the post-ww2 era - California's Spanish Mission?

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    1. Hels, I too wonder. If I had the time, there might be a photo PROV or the library. There were Spanish styled flats built in Elwood around the same time, but I have never seen a church like that. It reminds me of the Seamans Mission in Flinders Street.

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  5. It is a cute church and I still think they hold their character when surrounded by different architecture. In fact it makes it more prominent.

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    1. Diane, it certainly stands out in a primarily residential street.

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  6. 'Chapel of Ease', I like that. It certainly has a plain(ish) facade....

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    1. Kath, it does seem to lack pretence.

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  7. It's not easy being...'Spanish', ole!! I like it, then again I like things a little 'different'!!

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    1. Very clever Grace, ole!

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