Historical information

"The fine structure of St. Peter's, with its prettily-decorated interior, which holds crowded congregations at Holy Mass on Sundays, is alone an eloquent testimony of the piety and devotion which permeates the whole parish. Attached to the church is a circulating library, and Catholic papers and other literature are distributed at the church door. Branches of the H.A.C.B. Society and Catholic Federation are doing much good work. (Melbourne Advocate, 17 January 1914)

Cross on St. Peter'sNotwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, the opening of the new Catholic Church of St. Peter’s, yesterday (Sunday), attracted a crowded congregation. Although the rain, which has poured almost incessantly for some days past, had left our roads and streets in the condition for which Daylesford is celebrated in winter weather, and although he storm and rain seemed to increase as the hour announced for the ceremonies approached, the church was filled by a large congregation, comprising all sects and denominations of Christians in and around the district. The beautiful edifice, erected mainly through the zeal, liberality and energy of the respected pastor, presented a most imposing appearance, and reflects infinite credit upon the Rev. Mr. Slattery, and the flock committed to his charge.
The church was commenced in November 1863 and has been in the hands of the workmen up to the present time, work being uninterruptedly carried on. On commencing the foundations, it was necessary to excavate until solid clay was reached, which in consequence of the deep rich chocolate soil on the site of the building, had to be carried down to an average depth of 6 feet 6 inches. The foundations were laid with massive stones in courses of 12-inch, and four feet thick, reducing to 3 feet below the floor line. The style of the building is decorated Gothic, and consists of a nave, 80 feet by 30 feet in the clear, and a chancel 18 feet high; from floor line to apex of roof, 47 feet, which is elegantly constructed, consisting of six spans or frames with puncheons resting on carved corbels, low down between the windows. The north side consists of a handsome entrance, near the north-west angle, approached by nine steps of cut stone, and four bays of windows on nave, and a small door on side of chancel, intended as an entry from the sacristy. The south side presents a very handsome view to Victoria street, a beautiful porch entrance giving access to the building on the south-east end of nave; and on the south-west angle a handsome octagonal spire, terminating in an iron cross, with gilt floriations; the height of top of cross, from floor line, is 88 feet. A stone stairs gives access to the organ gallery and the belfry. The whole of the windows are of a handsome geometrical design, and carved in stone, with mullions and tracery, and glazed with amber-tinted glass, the chancel window being 15 feet high, and 8 feet wide. The chancel arch is unusually large, 27 feet St. Peter's interiorhigh and 18 feet wide, and handsomely moulded, and presents a fine appearance from the body of the church. The roof is stained a rich oak, with heavy cornice, and all the walls are smoothly plastered, and colored peach color, giving the amber-tinted glass a beautiful soft cathedral appearance to the interior. The altar is of a very chaste design, the panels being moulded with Gothic heads, and finished in white and gold; the altar rail was not completed, but is intended to be of polished cedar, with carved pillars. The interior fittings will be proceeded with immediately, and to complete the design, an organ gallery, with sittings for about 100 persons besides the choir, will be constructed on the west end. It is intended also to place pillar gaslights on each side of the main entrance, for lighting during vespers in winter. The style of architecture has been strictly carried out, and in the best and most substantial manner. The building has been erected under the superintendence of the architect Mr. John Townsend Brophy, a member of the congregation, and who has discharged his duty with great ability and care.

The hour of half-past eleven has scarcely passed when from the sacristy entered His Lordship the Right Rev. Dr. Gould, Bishop of Melbourne, preceded by the Very Rev. Dean Hayes (Sandhurst), the Rev. P. J. Slattery, and a number of boys dressed in white surplices. The Right Reverend Prelate proceeded to the foot of the altar, the Very Rev. the Dean on his right, and the Rev. P. J. Slattery on the left. The prayers usual upon the occasion were read by the Bishop. A procession was then formed, and went around the church in the following order. Several youths bearing wax candles first, next the Very Rev. the Dean, then the Bishop and his train bearers, and following were the Rev. Mr. Slattery and acolytes. Having returned to the altar in the same order, the Deacon (Dean Hayes) and Sub-Deacon (Rev. P. J. Slattery) proceeded to robe his Lordship, who had taken his seat at the epistle side of the altar, for the solemn High Mass, at appropriate times wearing his mitre and bearing his crozier. The mass, which was chanted by the Bishop with touching simplicity and earnestness, was then commenced.
The choir, under the direction of Mr. Meunsch, organist, was full and most effective. Mrs. Testar, of Melbourne, having generously offered her valuable services, took the leading soprano solos, and it is scarcely necessary to add, rendered them with exquisite taste and feeling – her beautiful voice being heard with great effect throughout the entire building. The choir consisted of the following ladies and gentlemen who volunteered to aid in the ceremonies upon this most interesting occasion.
Ladies: Mrs. Tresar, soprano; Mrs. J.J. McCormick, alto; Miss Julia Conry, soprano; Mrs. Vincent, soprano; Mrs. Aitken, soprano.
Gentlemen: H. Guthiel, tenor; Master John Murphy, tenor; James Knox, bass; J. M. Murphy, bass; Mr. Staunton, baritone; Mr. Sourby, alto; Mr. Short, bass.
The chant, “Let us adore,” during the procession, was given by Mrs. Vincent with considerable power.
The selection of the “Imperial Mass” (Haydn’s No. 3) was felicitous, and the highly artistic and finished manner in which the different parts were sustained, demonstrated that great and persevering care must have been bestowed on the preparation for “the opening day.” The “Kyrie” was given with the full strength and power of the choir. The swelling of the voices in complete harmony, and the pealing of the organ in the midst of incense and prayer, produced a most marked effect upon the congregation. In the “Gloria,” the solos of Mrs. Testar were really beautiful and Mrs. McCormick rendered the alto solos with considerable merit. Mr. Knox sang the part commencing with the words “Qui tolles” with much taste and power. The “Credo” than which we believe there is not a more magnificent piece of sacred music extant, was most successful in its rendering, nor do we ever remember to have heard anything more touching than the manner in which the line “Vetam Venturi in Seculi,” was given by Mrs. Testar. The offertory hymn “Come unto Me all ye that labor,” was given by Mrs. Testar with the most thrilling effect. The “Sanctus” having been sung, in which Mr. Sourby ably rendered an alto solo, the “Agnus Dei” was commenced with a solo by Mrs. McCormick and was given with great taste and feeling, Mrs. Testar, at the conclusion of the “Agnus,” taking up the soprano part.
Mass being concluded, the Very Reverend Dean Hayes ascended the altar and proceeded to preach the opening sermon, taking as his text Second Paralipomenon [Chronicles II], 7th chapter and 16th verse – “For I have chosen and have sanctified this place that My hand may be there for ever, and My eyes and My heart may remain there perpetually.”
St Peter's manseAt the close of the sermon a collection was made by the very reverend preacher, assisted by John Egan, Esq., Corinella, on behalf of the church, and about fifty pounds were contributed. When it is remembered that 500 tickets had been issues at 10s each, and the inclemency of the weather taken into consideration, the collection may be regarded as a large one.
Benediction was sung by the Rev. P. J. Slattery, assisted by Dean Hayes, the choir singing the “O! Salutaris Hostia” and “Laudate.” Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus was sung at the termination of the ceremonies. The vestments issued at Benediction, as well as at the Mass, were of the most gorgeous and beautiful character.
When the Benediction was over, the Rev. P. J. Slattery, standing at the front of the altar said– “I wish to say one or two words before the congregation leave. I feel most deeply indebted to all of you who have attended here today for the honor and glory of God, not withstanding the difficulties you had to encounter from this most inclement season. I am truly delighted at such a manifestation of feeling, and will not easily forget it.”
The rev. gentleman having disrobed, thanked the members of the choir for their kindness in assisting at the ceremonies, and more especially Mrs. Testar, who had braved all the storm and rain to be present at, and give the advantage of her great musical abilities on, the “opening day.” (Daylesford Mercury, 15 May 1865.)

Physical description

A number of photographs of St Peter's Catholic Church, Daylesford, taken at the 150th anniversary celebration.