The foundation stone for Christ Church was laid on 29 November 1854. The experimental stone for the church was shipped from Point King near Sorrento.
The first sections, designed by [Albert] Purchas (1825-1899) and [Charles] Swyer (1825-1876), were built between 1854 and 1857, with enlargements taking place in 1874 and 1881 to the design of Sydney W. Smith. This cruciform building, constructed from Point King, Sorrento sandstone is in a massive Decorated Gothic style.
The western façade incorporates a distinctive triangular rose window, possibly inspired by medieval examples at Lichfield, and the stump of a tower and broach spire (with doorways opening east and west) which would have been highly impressive, had it been completed. On the side walls of the transepts are unused stair turrets for galleries which have been long been demolished. The southern parapet of the nave is adorned with delightful carvings of Gothic ornament and mythical beasts, some adapted as rain water spouts.
The spacious interior focuses upon the brilliantly stencilled walls of the chancel and sanctuary whose floor is paved in black and white marble. The stained glass is of great excellence including examples of the work of Melbourne artists Ferguson & Urie, glowing with colour, William Montgomery and Brooks Robinson together with London artist W.C. Taylor.
The Melbourne Herald said the church was “...built with a close-grained sandstone of a warm buff tint, procured from Point Nepean, and, contrary to popular belief, has stood the test of exposure very well; a few bad stones which were accidentally used have been removed; and it is found that the stone possesses the property of hardening by exposure to the atmosphere; no anxiety therefore need be felt as to the lasting quality of the material”.
This has been the subject of debate since. It was said originally that the stone had a life of sixty years. The current state of the church building shows there is now a need for some anxiety.
An article in the Melbourne Herald on 11 August 1857 described Christ Church as “a very handsome and substantial structure in the early English style, consisting of nave, north and south transepts, chancel, vestry porches, and stone turret stair cases for the galleries. Its extreme length is 111 feet, width 32 feet, height to the ridge of the roof 50 feet.”
The church cost 11,000 pounds and took 3 years to build. The doors opened on Sunday 2nd August 1857.
The 1859 Hill and Son Organ following the restoration
by Stewart Organs (2006-2016)
The full history of the organ is found on the