Historical information

This pair of altar lights is from the St. Nicholas Seamen’s Church, 139 Nelson Place, Williamstown, Victoria, and was used during religious services there. The Church was operated by the Mission to Seamen organisation. The par of candlestick holders was originally donated by Mrs. R.J. Ewart,as part of the furnishings for the new St Nicholas Seamen's Church in Williamstown, opened in 1944. The candlestick holders were made by T. Gaunt & Co. of Melbourne, a manufacturer, importer and retailer of a wide variety of goods including jewellery, clocks and watches, navigational and measuring instruments, dinnerware, glassware and ornaments. Thomas Gaunt photograph was included in an album of security identity portraits of members of the Victorian Court, Centennial International Exhibition, Melbourne, 1888 THE MISSIONS TO SEAMEN (brief history. For more detailed history please see our Registration Number 611, Set of Pews) The Missions to Seamen is an Anglican (Church of England) charity that has served seafarers of the world since 1856 in Great Britain. It adopted a Flying Angel as its symbol, inspired by a verse from the Bible in Revelation 14. Today over 200 ports in the world have Missions to Seamen centres and chaplains. A Missions to Seamen’s club offers a warm welcome to sailors of all colours, creeds and races and provides a wide range of facilities. The organisation, now named Mission to Seafarers, still operates its Flying Angel Club locally in Victoria’s cities of Melbourne, Portland, Geelong and Hastings (current at year 2000). In Williamstown in 1857 Bishop Perry opened the first Sailors’ Church there, known as ‘Bethel’ or the ‘Floating Church’, on an old hulk floating in Hobson’s Bay, Port of Melbourne. Not long afterwards it became part of the Missions to Seamen, Victoria. In 1906, the Ladies’ Harbour Lights Guild was formed in Australia to support and raise funds for the Missions to Seamen organisation in Melbourne and other centres such as Williamstown. Two of the most significant ladies of the Guild were founder Ethel Augusta Godfrey and foundation member Alice Sibthorpe Tracy, who established a branch of the Guild in Warrnambool in 1920. The Guild continued its important work until the 1960s. In 1943 the former ES&A Bank building at 139 Nelson Place, Williamstown, was purchased to become the new Missions to Seaman Club. The chapel was named St Nicholas’ Seamen’s Church, after St Nicholas, fourth century bishop and patron saint of sailors. Services were held on Wednesdays and Sundays. The church was supported by the Ladies’ Harbour Lights Guild, the Williamstown Lightkeepers’ Auxiliary and the League of Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Friends. The Williamstown Mission to Seamen’s Church operated until 1966. Around that time, in the formative years of Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, the Advisory Board decided to include a Missions to Seamen Chapel and Recreation Room in its village, as the Missions organisation was a significant feature of ports during the late 1800s and early 1900s, the period that the Village represents. The Melbourne Board of Management of Missions to Seamen Victoria gave its permission for the entire furnishings of the then closed Williamstown chapel to be transferred to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village. The donation was approved on 21st May 1979 and the St Nicholas Seamen’s Church has been set up to closely resemble the Williamstown chapel.


These candlestick holders are significant historically for their origin in the St Nicholas Mission to Seamen's Church in Williamstown, established in 1857 to cater for the physical, social, and spiritual needs of seafarers. It originated in Bristol, England when a Seamen's Mission was formed in 1837. The connection of the candlestick holders to the Mission to Seamen ighlights the strong community awareness of the life of people at sea, their dangers and hardships, and their need for physical, financial, spiritual and moral support.

Physical description

Candlestick holder, polished brass, pair of two. The wax cup has a scalloped lip, the centre of the stem has a bulbous section, the base has a cast floral design depicting leaves and grapes. Inscription. Made by T. Gaunt & Co. This pair of Altar Lights is in our St Nicholas Seamen's Church Collection.

Inscriptions & markings

Stamped "T Grant and Co"