History of St Marks

‘St Mark The Evangelical’ Anglican Church has been standing in the Eastern Suburb of Maylands, South Australia since 1902, 64 years after the declaration of South Australia as a colony in 1836 and 26 years after the establishment of Maylands as a suburb. For thousands of years prior to this the original inhabitants, the Kaurna people, had hunted kangaroos amongst the towering red and blue gum trees and performed initiation ceremonies on their young men in nearby Waterfall Gully. When they departed the area for any period of time, they would hold corroborees and ritual ceremonies on the site of the Tram Barns still standing on Magill Rd at the end of Augusta Street, opposite the current bus stop. This delighted the young boys in the area who would watch from a distance. The foundation stone of the nave for Saint Marks was laid on Saturday September 6th 1902 by the Right Reverend Dr. Harmer. It was named in honour of St Mark The Evangelist, and was the only church of that name in the state. Prominent clergy and laymen were in attendance, grand speeches were made, a marquee was erected, the choir from the St Bartholomew Anglican Church in Norwood sang, and refreshments were served.


St Marks 1903

Then as now, Augusta Street, running off Magill Rd, and parallel to Phyllis Street, was a residential street noted for a few substantial villas and gardens, yet central enough in the suburb to be appropriate for the building of two churches - the Wesleyans Methodist Church (now an evangelical church with a Chinese congregation) at the intersection with Dover Street, and St Marks The Evangelist, Anglican Church at number 27. Several residents in the area had been advocating for the new church and Dr. Harmer felt that 60 Anglican families in the area ensured that the church would always be full. The building was designed to hold 150 people. Three walls would be built from stone and brick while the rear wall would be constructed from timber to allow for future expansion should the congregation grow. The building of the nave was contracted at £410 - a sum that was only partially raised, but £100 more had been promised in subscriptions. A collection on the opening day added almost another 13 pounds. It was still a number of years before the church was fully built. The initial debt was fully paid off in 1908 and in 1909 the Bishop was approached with a request to make St Marks a parish in its own right and to appoint a clergyman. The Bishop agreed and in that year the Rev. W. N. Higgins of the UK was appointed. In 1910 the building was extended at a cost of £621 and the foundation stone was laid by Mrs. Thomas, wife of the Bishop of Adelaide. In 1911 the block of land at the rear of the church in Phyllis Street was acquired through the generosity of three members of the church. A new rectory was built on the land, for the new vicar to live in, at a cost of £1,000. This house, still an attractive residence, remains standing at 54 Phyllis Street, once the high street of the district.

Reverend Higgins

The Right Reverend Dr W.N.Higgins

Fundraising events, including annual fetes and concerts were held regularly to contribute to the cost of the church and rectory. The SA newspaper of the time The Adelaide Register describes a ‘Blue and White fair’. This was a two-day event commencing with a Friday night concert featuring St Marks Choir and Stalls decorated with blue and white ribbons on the following day. A list of the stallholders describes flowers arranged and donated by Mr. & Mrs. Moyes, tea, strawberries and cream prepared by Mrs. Cruickshank, while others provided shooting galleries, variety shows, fiddlers, jumble stalls and other activities typical of such events.

The outbreak of war in August 1914 seemed to unleash a huge wave of enthusiastic support for Britain, and support for Australia’s part in the war. All major political parties, churches, community leaders and newspapers appeared to support Australia’s entry. It was seen as a moral and necessary commitment.

This was not universally true, and some actively opposed the war. We do not know whether this was true of Rev Higgins however, we have met with his grandson who came from England to visit the church and the rectory where his grandfather lived. He reported to us that Higgins had been so upset with the deaths of the young men of Maylands in his parish that he felt it necessary to offer his services. His church members were becoming bereaved in great numbers as their children died in Europe. The following is a letter from a young Maylands boy serving in the Gallipoli campaign.

…the foe made a pretty hot attack, which we were able to hold off all night, and Monday night we strengthened our position. On Tuesday morning Little Willie stopped one where the chicken, got the axe. I had to stay in the trenches, along with many others, for about 11 hours with it, part of the time going my hardest with the rifle, for on Tuesday they made the hottest attack to that date. The lead, instead of coming over in pellets, came in sheets, and it was like putting your head against a circular saw to put it over the skyline of the trenches. Whole firing Iines were toppled off, and the trenches at night time were blocked with wounded and dead. (Private DuRieu’s letter to a friend cited in The Register Friday 18 June 1915)

The Register also reprinted a letter from the son of Mayland’s first cab driver, William McDougal, who was recovering from wounds received in the conflict. Higgins, acting on his distress about the local body count, joined the Australian Army as a Chaplain to the South Australian forces in 1916 while his wife and son would return to England. A farewell was held at the St. Peters Town Hall attended by parishioners of St Marks and St Bartholomew. At the event the Bishop of Adelaide stated that, '… they all felt sincere regret that the rector was leaving. He realized in getting Mr. Higgins (sic) to Maylands that they were getting a man with a “high conception of duty” and a great worker — qualities which had accounted for the wonderful growth to the Maylands parish'. (Daily Herald, Thursday 15 June 1916 p. 3)

The Right Revered Dr. Higgins, was replaced temporarily by Reverend Hewitson whom he had originally replaced, and then Reverend Hopton. Constant upgrades and alterations meant that the church always had some debts until 1976. Regular fetes, concerts and events were held to raise money. Some events were simply tp celebrate the achievements of this small community parish. A Silver Jubilee was held in 1927 and a Golden Jubilee in 1952. Celebrations, for the 50th anniversary were held across three different churches.

St Marks 1930

St Marks 1930

clergy procession 1962

Clergy procession at evensong. Golden Jubilee November 1962

 kids procession

Golden Jubilee 1962

We are still collecting information regarding St Mark’s history. What we can tell you about it’s more recent history is that in 1990 the church building, land and rectory were bought by a Mr. Gannon for the purposes of renovation and development. He sold the rectory and built some units in the space between the rectory and the church. He intended to live in the church, and had built a substantial part of the current internal structure. Personal circumstances led to him selling the house to us at an auction in 1996. We have continuously added to the renovation since this time. When our children left home, the house was too large for our own needs, and we decided to share it by opening it up for use as a short-term rental apartment. We still regularly receive visits from people who have had a connection to the church in some way. If you have a connection to St Marks we’d love to hear from you. Wilson & Karin Main.

This apartment was perfect for our short stay in Adelaide.

The Church is absolutely perfect. Every possible consideration has been made, this is the highest level of offering. Flawless. Basil (March 2015)

Karin met us when we arrived and showed us around and told us a little bit about the history of the church. It is thoughtfully decorated and I particularly loved the stained glass in the main bathroom that let lovely pink light through in the morning. The apartment itself was immaculately clean, well provisioned with breakfast supplies and even has a washer/dryer if you have been travelling a while. We really loved it. It is also close to loads of great pubs, cafes and restaurants and we even walked into Adelaide city and back. I would definitely stay again. Jessica (April 2015)