This week’s Sepia Saturday is brought to us by the themes of domes, arches and significant buildings. I thought this would a good time to give a quick tour of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Wangaratta and quickly outline the many ways that my maternal family connect to the building.

Below is an image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria of the first Church of England building in Wangaratta. It’s focus seems to be less on the building  itself and more on demonstrating just how pious and eager to get to church the residents were. In a later post I hope to demonstrate just how far from the truth this vision really was!

In the mid 1850s my great great great grandfather William Henry Clark purchased the land at the rear of the church and immediately donated it to the church. This enabled the church to build a parsonage which was eventually replaced by Bishop’s Court, sometimes dubbed Bishop’s Palace.

Wangaratta Bishops Court

Bishops Court – postcard from private collection

The problem with this early church is that as the population grew, the modest building could not accommodate all the residents who wished to attend. It was of course nothing to do with the fact that the Roman Catholic church of St Patricks had completed a substantial part of their lovely stone church by the late 1860s, designed by celebrated architect William Wardell. 😉 Plans were soon drawn up for a huge cathedral with two large towers that would completely blitz the Catholic claim to church building fame.

Money was an issue from the beginning. Below is the first stage looking rather odd as it has no beginning and no end! On the left is the older building which is now demolished.

Holy Trinity Cathedral old & new

Holy Trinity Cathedral before the Heach funded chancel, with old church to the left – postcard from private collection

This building had a porch on both sides and the four porch windows (two can be seen here) were dedicated to William Clark and his wife Elizabeth (nee Harris). This is just one of the windows.

Clark window in Holy Trinity small

Clark window in Holy Trinity Cathedral – copyright the author’s collection

The cathedral was completed in at least three major stages but lacking the two stone towers, although an ‘add on’ bell tower was completed in the late 20th century. The next two images show the completed second stage from a respectable angle, and from a very unflattering angle.

Holy Trinity Wangaratta

Holy Trinity – postcard from the author’s private collection

The unflattering image of the church clearly without a stone chancel is important to this story. The church did have a timber chancel but it was rather unfitting for the building it was located in. You can see an image of the timber interior here. The stone chancel was eventually built in the late 1920s with funds bequeathed to the church by one of its parishioners.

Matilda Margaret Moore was the half sister of my great great great grandfather William Moore. William had married Alice Rebecca Clark, a daughter of William Henry Clark. In 1857 at the tender age of 17 Matilda was married at the first Trinity Church in Wangaratta to Francis Heach, a 27 year old storekeeper. Frank was a very successful businessman who amongst other things later held the license for the Bulls Head Hotel in Murphy Street and the North-Eastern Hotel. Matilda and Frank did not have any children and by the turn of the century they took up gentile retirement in Holmes Rd Moonee Ponds. Matilda died in Essendon in 1912, Frank married his housekeeper and died at his home in 1922. The connection to Wangaratta was not lost as Frank left 200 pounds to the Building Fund of the Wangaratta Athenaeum and Public Library, 1000 pounds to be invested in the name of the Wangaratta Hospital and the residue to the Building Fund of the Church of England Cathedral. He gave specific instructions on how that residue was to be used.

“A sum not less than six thousand pounds … in the completion of the Chancel end of such cathedral to include Chancel Sanctuary Vestries and Organ Chamber provided that out of such sum there shall be expended a sum not less than five hundred pounds nor more than eight hundred pounds in the erection to my memory of a suitable end window or windows in such Sanctuary and a suitable tablet.”

This is Frank’s plaque …

Heach plaque @ Holy Trinity Wangaratta 2

Heach plaque at Holy Trinity Cathedral – image copyright the author’s private collection

And this is Frank’s chancel

Frank’s will also provided for a tower at the western end of the cathedral and in the first of two codicils he stated that the residue of his estate be used for the “purchase and installation therein of a peal of bells on the new Carillon  principle and in the purchase and erection of an organ to cost one thousand pounds.” The second codicil set aside 3,000 pounds to be known as the Francis Heach Bequest. The money was to be invested and the income used for “the maintenance and upkeep of the building of such Cathedral and upkeep of the Choir and the services of such Cathedral.

There is far more to the story of Matilda Moore and Francis Heach but that will have to wait for another time. I do have an image of Matilda, but for all his generosity there is no surviving  image of Frank that I have located. If anyone has an image of Frank Heach I would dearly love to set eyes on this man.

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