St Andrew’s Anglican Church

– deconsecrated (Private Property NO PUBLIC ACCESS)

Written and compiled by Micheala Gilligan with thanks to the research and writing of the late Cynthia Hunter – historian and the late Jackie Youldon

The beautiful little stone church is especially interesting, given that it is only one of three buildings left in Seaham that are obviously historic and visible to the public. The other buildings – The School of Arts and Tom’s cottage are all that remain from the devastating 1939 bush fire which ravaged the village and local district. (In fact heat wave conditions in NSW and Victoria in that January 1939 were extreme. Many lives were lost and properties destroyed. Five people died in Singleton where temperatures reached 121° F (49.4C). Fires swept through many parts of the Hunter Valley.) Only two historic private homes remain and they are not visible from the roads. St Andrews Church is ‘iconic’ Seaham.

The religious and spiritual needs of the area were met by Rev. George Middleton who was chaplain at Newcastle from 1821. From 1837 he served the parishes of Butterwick, Seaham and Hinton but there was no church building in his district – he conducted marriages from his home in Hinton. After his death in 1848, on 14 December, Rev. Josiah Rodwell was licensed as Minister of the United parishes of Butterwick, Seaham and Morpeth, Seaham appeared on the stipend list for the first time in 1855.

The local population must have felt a need for their own church and  in 1858 the residents began to raise funds to erect a church.

Donations rolled in £20 from the Church Society from the Bishop, and £2.15.0 for a bell. A further £127.18.6 was raised, probably in the usual fashion at a dance in the barn of one of the locals. A Seaham Church Building Fund was established. Many donors lived outside the district. ‘Even firm Presbyterians contributed generously.’ Alexander Warren gave £15, George Mosman £3 and Henry Carmichael £1.10. John Ireland of Berry and Lea gave £5 as well as ‘the drawing of the stone’ believed to be from the Glen Oak quarry. Cedar was supplied from Glen William by a Mr Elbourne. The pews and altar were constructed by J. Wallace, a Seaham resident. The total cost of building the church was £382.10.0 – the bulk of which was to the builder J. Hesp.

The church was built in ‘early English style’ with rock quarried from Glen Oak on land which the government had set aside for a church and school in 1848. The roughly rectangular stones were cemented together for the main structure, shaped stones used for the buttress. The building was completed with a slate roof and terracotta capping. The foundation (corner) stone had been laid by Rt.Rev William Tyrrell on 28 March 1860, a ceremony to which the entire community was invited. The porch was added in a different stone around 1908 and in 1921 a new roof was built. More restoration in 1981 returned the church to it’s former beauty.

The church was deconsecrated in February 2019 and sold at auction in May 2019

The church was opened by the Bishop for divine service on 17 January 1861.