St Stephen's Church - East Maitland

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HISTORY

The original St.Stephens church,  with the foundation stone being laid on the 31st May 1858, was built  between the 31st May 1858 and 13th May 1860 was a brick church building  in the Gothic style with a square crenellated tower. The internal  measurements were 55 feet in length by 35 feet in width exclusive of the  vestry 10 feet square at one end and a tower at the other end of the  same dimensions, serving as an entrance porch. The tower rose to a  height of 45 feet. W Purves officiated at the first Sunday Service on   the 30th May 1860 with church services continuing until 14th April  1938.
 The church suffered in the great flood of 1893 and with the drift of  the population to higher parts of East Maitland, a new church was built  on higher ground at its current location, and opened on 16th July 1938.
Constructed in brick in a contemporary Gothic idiom, the building  incorporates a square tower flanking the porch entrance. The dimesions  were 77 feet in length by 41 feet wide. The bell in the tower came from  the old Presbyterian church at Hinton, and is inscribed "The First  Protestant church at Hinton. Robert Blain, Minister,  1849."
 The Moderator Rev. E.N. McKie dedicated the building and commented  during the dedication that "as we gather in a new church we are prompted  to think of the reasons why we build churches and the methods by which  we set about an important task."

The  St. Stephen's Church Hall with the Foundation Stones being laid on 20th  February 1926, was officially opened on the 31st July 1926 is still  used today for Sunday School as well as for fundraising functions,  Little Fish Playgroup and various meeting groups.
 

THE ORGAN

The organ standing  elevated at the front of the building was built in 1897 by Charles  Richardson, of Sydney, at a cost of £270. The consultant for the project  was Mr Hadwen Chandler (organist of St Stephens Macquarie Street in  Sydney), who also gave the opening recital.

The Organ was originally installed in the old St. Stephen's Church which was on the flood plain near Wallis Creek. 

In  1938 the instrument was transferred to the new building which was  purpose built for the Organ. When the Organ was installed in the  Stephen's Church, it was assembled from the back to the front and access  to the inner workings was via a small door at the back.
The instrument survives today totally intact at St. Stephen's Church,  the only modification being the addition of electric blowing.  All  original pipework survives with cone-tuning preserved intact, all  original console features have been preserved, the hand-blowing  mechanism is still in place, the original actions are preserved, and the  superb polished cedar case, with attractive stencilled patterns, has  likewise not been altered: it makes the appearance of the organ  instantly recognisable as the work of Charles Richardson.  Unusual  features of the organ are the octopod Swell division, with its  collection of flute, string and reed tone colours, and the swell  shutters which open at the rear of the enclosure.  The preservation  of this instrument, a rare and pristine example of its builder's work,  is to be considered a priority.

The Organ,  with its magnificent sound, is used every Sunday during the  Church  Service, and serves the purpose for which it was initially acquired, as  an aid to worshipping Almighty God.

Future plans are to host organ recitals, however this will not be done until the Organ Restoration Project has been completed.