Anglican ministry to the Central West began in Carcoar in 1845. The first Rector made periodic visits to other centres. The first service for Anglicans in Orange (then Blackmans Swamp) was in 1846 at the Five Ways where the Congregational (now Uniting) church stands. Orange was proclaimed a village that year.
In June 1851, The Reverend Philip Agnew (Chaplain to Bishop Broughton of Sydney) officiated under a tree in the encampment at Ophir which was attended by 500 people. Between 1851 and 1855 he maintained a monthly ministry to Orange.
In October 1855 Bishop Barker of Sydney, confirmed a number of people in the Orange Court House. A plaque commemorating his visit can be found on the verandah of the old Court House. It was reported that year that there were 1200 members of the Church of England in Orange.
A public meeting decided that the house be built forthwith for a resident clergyman and a Building Committee was appointed. The first Rectory was built in 1856, a timber residence next to what is now called the Bluestone Hall. The present Rectory dates from about 1865 and is one of the oldest continually inhabited residences in Orange.
The second-storey balcony was added after 1909. A shingle roof can be found underneath the corrugated iron roof!
In August 1856 a committee was appointed to construct a place of worship. In July 1857 the foundation stone for a church was laid by William Dale. The Bluestone Hall was opened in January 1858 as a place of worship. It is curious that it was 10 years before the first Holy Communion service was celebrated. One of the people baptised during the period it was the Parish Church was Andrew Barton Paterson, well-known Australian poet.
A reproduction of an 1868 watercolour by Charlotte McNeilly of the Church and Parsonage is located in the display cabinet in the Church.
The present church building was designed to seat 600 people by a Sydney architect, Thomas Rowe. It cost 7,000 pounds. It was opened for use on August 24, 1879. It is described as "a large high Victorian Gothic revival brick church" of "cruciform plan with steep slate roof and prominent tower and spire on the southern side".At that time, Francis Bertie Boyce was Rector. Churches were constructed at Borenore, March, Caves Creek, Canobolas and Springside. Regular services are still held at Christ Church, Borenore. St Philips, March is part of Orange East Parish. The other churches are all now closed.
See Buildings for more information and photos.
The 1928 publication "Orange and District Illustrated" comments that "Unfortunately the structure was left unfinished, and the debt with added interest imposed almost entirely on the guarantors and others in the parish to pay off". Canon H. Walker-Taylor (1909 -1927) was able to have the debt paid off to permit consecration of the Church by St Lukes Day, October 18, 1909.
The Foundation Stone for the Tower was laid by Bishop Long in 1919 in memory of soldiers who fought in the Great War, 1914 to 1918
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