by Kerry Tyrrell
Updated: 30 March 2022
This fine church was consecrated and opened in 1906 on land given by the Venn family of Dardanup Park. It is still in its original condition and features three beautiful leadlight windows dedicated to the memory of Mr H W Venn by his wife Charlotte, the original organ which is still in use today and one of the original kerosene lamps. The brass bell outside the church is dedicated to the memory of fallen soldiers.
The Reverend E W Doncaster, author and historian, wrote about the St Mary’s Church (date unknown):
“Church services were held at Dardanup from an early date. It first appears in the Statistical Return from the Parish of Bunbury for the year ended Easter 1898: Evensong had been held on 5 Sundays in the preceding twelve months.
The following year the town was listed under the Parish of Donnybrook and Morning Prayer had been said on nine Sundays and Evensong on five others, with an average attendance of 26. The same pattern applied for the year ended April 1900: 11 Morning Prayer, 4 Evensongs, average 24 morning and 22 at night.
During the year ended Easter 1901 the Eucharist had been offered twice on Sundays, Morning Prayer on 12 and Evensong on 5: average attendance 8, 17 and 16 respectively.
It was the first year that Dardanup was listed in the Return of Religious Instruction in Schools but it was a “nil” return. Dardanup was back in the Bunbury Parish for the returns of 1902 when there had been 2 Eucharists, 2 Morning Prayers and 3 Evensongs only. The School had been visited on 3 occasions in 1904 with only 6 Anglican children in attendance.
On 9 May 1906 Sir George Shenton laid the foundation stone of a brick and iron-roofed church designed by F W Steere of Bunbury. The builders were Messers J and H Gibbs. It cost approximately £600 to erect and stood on Town Lots 33 and 34. The site and cost of building were provided by H W Venn of Dardanup Park.
The building was licensed for Public Worship on 2 September 1906, and the West Australian Church News carried this report in its columns in October 1906: “The Consecration of St Mary’s Church, Dardanup, was performed by the Lord Bishop of Bunbury in the presence of a large congregation. The Bishop was met at the church door by the Rector, the Rev P J Ryall, B. A., Messrs H W Venn, Jarvis, Pringle and Bocker. There, Mr Venn, as Hon secretary to the church committee, read and delivered the petition for license. His Lordship, after expressing consent, offered an earnest prayer, with his pastoral staff in his hand.
A Procession was then formed, headed by the trust committee, the Diocesan Secretary (Mr W S Hales), the Diocesan Architect (Mr F W Steere), followed by the Rev P J Ryall and Bishop Goldsmith. The Processional hymn, All people that on Earth do Dwell was sung, after which the license was read by the Diocesan Secretary.
The Bishop’s address was most impressive. The hymn Now thank we all our Lord (sic) was sung during the offertory. The collection amounted to £16 3s. The celebration of the Holy Communion was then administered to a large number of communicants. Mrs Venn acted as the organist and the singing was heartily joined in by the congregation.
The beautiful little church was a great surprise to many of the congregation, the furnishings being most elaborate, the greater part being donations. The handsome crimson altar cloth and frontal, with deep gold fringe, and embroidered with the usual church designs, were presented by Sir George Shenton, and the scarlet Axminster carpet in the chancel was given by Mr Frank Venn. The brass cross and altar vases were the gifts of Mrs Waddington (England); the large hanging lamps, Mr A Sandover; the scarlet vestry curtain, the Economic, Perth; the church service, the S.P.C. K. ; offertory bag, Mrs Stanley (England): the linen altar cloth, Miss L Shenton; the lectern, Messrs C and H Locke; and the silver communion, Mrs H W Venn. The tiles from the gate to the porch were made, laid and given by Mr Jarvis, and were much admired.
The building is erected with an aisle, transept, and sanctuary, the plan being in the form of a cross, the whole in the Norman style of architecture, with a battlemented porch in the west end and bow windows in the east end. The interior, though small, presents a bold appearance, the transept and the sanctuary being spanned by arches, and these three arches, with the alcoves in the ceiling, formed by the transept roof, give a varied and imposing effect. The aisle and the porch are paved with red and white Minton tiles, and the church is furnished with neat and comfortable seats, stained mahogany. The ceiling is of jarrah, oiled, and the walls are of a soft, light stone colour. The whole effect is restful and complete and reflects great credit on all concerned with the construction of the building.”
Although the above article states that the building was consecrated on that occasion, it was in fact dedicated, opened and licensed – the Consecration occurred at 11 am on Sunday 2 June 1907 and was performed by Bishop Goldsmith. It appears, though, that it was not free of debt until 1922, which begs the question about the extent of the gift of Mr Venn.
Bishop Goldsmith dedicated stained glass windows on 20 May 1908 which had been given by Mrs Venn in memory of her husband the Hon. Harry Whittall Venn. These were designed by Mr Eastcourt of Barnett Bros of Perth. In 1923 a new organ was installed, and candlesticks were given in memory of Dr W Stuart Hawthorne. There is a memorial plaque in honour of John Hester Venn. A Sanctuary Chair was given in memory of Frank and Elizabeth Johnston in 1945. A new font was given by Mr Horsfall in that same year. A new altar and pulpit were installed about this time, the altar being given to Upper Warren Church in 1948. The chalice, paten and vases were given in memory of Evan Jarvis. It is thought that the Sanctuary Lamp, placed in the church in about the 1970s was originally made by Gordon Holdsworth for Perth College.
Gates were erected in memory of Frank Evans Venn who died 2 November 1947, and these were dedicated by Bishop Redding on 17 February 1952. In 1972 the brass Altar ornaments were stolen.
Dardanup was originally part of Bunbury Parish until 1898 when it passed into Donnybrook, but it appears to have been with Bunbury again 1902 -1903. Later in 1903 it was part of Donnybrook again. With the formation of the Parish of Boyanup in 1909 it was part of that until 1999 when it passed into Donnybrook Parish which was known as the Ministry District of Preston. “
From January 2012 a part-time priest was appointed to the re-formed Parish of Boyanup. Services of worship are held at the churches in the parish -Boyanup, Ferguson, Capel, and Dardanup – including weddings, baptisms and funerals.
From July 2021 Morning Prayer is now celebrated at St Mary’s Church, Dardanup on the 1st Friday of the month at 8.30 am. This service links to St Boniface Cathedral, Bunbury via Zoom (a video teleconferencing service).
- Doncaster, E W, Revd, article about St Mary’s Anglican Church – date unknown.
- Laying the foundation stone of Dardanup Church, Southern Times (Bunbury, WA : 1888 – 1916), Thursday 10 May 1906, page 5
- St Mary’s Church, Dardanup, Bunbury Herald (WA : 1892 – 1919), Monday 10 December 1906, page 2
- Anglican Church News, Diocese of Bunbury, West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), Friday 7 June 1907, page 2
- Church News, Anglican, St Mary’s Church Dardanup, Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), Saturday 25 January 1908, page 42
- St Mary’s Church, Dardanup, Consecration Service.,West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), Saturday 8 September 1906, page 4
- St Mary’s Anglican Church from Gwen Wells
- Church from Railway Station: Railway Heritage WA, P05481152 views FS class 452, Station, Dardanup. PP line, ballast train, https://www.railheritagewa.org.au/archive_scans/displayimage.php?album=11&pid=2089#top_display_media