Historical information

The picture was framed by business, Leighton House, paint and art merchants at 346 Little Collins Street, Melbourne. It was made to order, number 6777. The business was also called The Leighton Gallery of Art and was owned by W & G Dean Pty Ltd. The phone number on the label "MU 8291" indicates that the picture was framed circa the 1960s or earlier, during the time that Melbourne was using 6-0digit alpha-numeric numbers.

Below the picture is an excerpt of a hymn "The Head that Once was Crowned with Thorns" by Thomas Kelly:
The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now;
A royal diadem adorns
The mighty Victor's brow.
The Cross He bore is life and heath,
Though shame and death to Him;
His people's hope, his people's wealth,
Their everlasting theme.

This picture was part of the original furnishings of the St Nicholas' Mission to Seamen's Church at 139 Nelson Place, Williamstown, Victoria.

THE MISSIONS TO SEAMEN (Brief History: for more, see our Reg. No. 611, Set of Pews)

The Missions to Seamen, an Anglican charity, has served seafarers of the world since 1856 in Great Britain. It symbol is a Flying Angel, inspired by a Bible verse. Today there are centr4es in over 200 ports world-wide where seamen of all backgrounds are offered a warm welcome and provided with a wide range of facilities.

In Victoria the orgainsation began in Williamstown in 1857. It was as a Sailors’ Church, also known as ‘Bethel’ or the ‘Floating Church’. Its location was an old hulk floating in Hobson’s Bay, Port of Melbourne. It soon became part of the Missions to Seamen, Victoria. In the year 2000 the organisation, now named Mission to Seafarers, still operated locally in Melbourne, Portland, Geelong and Hastings.

The Ladies’ Harbour Lights Guild was formed in 1906 to support the Missions to Seamen 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 work until the 1960s.

In 1943 a former Williamstown bank was purchased for the Missions to Seaman Club. The chapel was named St Nicholas’ Seamen’s Church and was supported by the Ladies’ Harbour Lights Guild, the Williamstown Lightkeepers’ Auxiliary and the League of Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Friends. It ceased operation in 1966.

A Missions to Seamen Chapel and Recreation Room was a significant feature of ports during the late 1800s and into the 1900s. It seemed appropriate for Flagstaff Hill to include such a representation within the new Maritime Village, so the Melbourne Board of Management of Missions to Seamen Victoria gave its permission on 21st May 1979 for the entire furnishings of the Williamstown chapel to be transferred to Flagstaff Hill. The St Nicholas Seamen’s Church was officially opened on October 11, 1981 and closely resembles the Williamstown chapel.


This picture is significant through its association with the St Nicholas' Mission to Seamen Church in Williamstown, Melbourne, established in 1857.

The items in our collection from the Missions to Seamen in Williamstown, Victoria, have historical and social significance. They show that people of the 1800s and 1900s cared about the seafarers’ religious, moral, and social welfare, no matter what the religion, social status or nationality. It had its origins in Bristol, England when a Seamen's Mission was formed in 1837. The first Australian branch was started in 1856 by the Rev. Kerr Johnston, a Church of England clergyman, and operated from a hulk moored in Hobson’s Bay; later the Mission occupied buildings in Williamstown and Port Melbourne.

Physical description

Picture, print of "The Cross of Glory", rectangular, framed print on matt. It depicts Jesus Christ on a cross with an angel on each side, at his feet. He is wearing priestly robes and a gold crown on top of thorns on his head. In the background there is a rainbow and clouds. The text below the picture includes "From the picture by T. Noyes Lewis". Lines from a hymn are also printed below the picture. The back of the picture has pencilled numbers in three places plus a printed label with the framer's details.

Inscriptions & markings

"From the picture by T. Noyes Lewis". Backing paper has pencil "6777" in two places. Label has bencil "677-"