• Canon Paul Black

A special event to celebrate our 175th anniversary

St John’s Church was consecrated by Bishop Broughton, the first Bishop of Australia, on 12 March 1845. A special event to celebrate our 175th anniversary will be Afternoon Tea in the Officers' Mess at Duntroon followed by a tour of Duntroon House.​

This event will acknowledge the long connection between the Campbell family, the Royal Military College and St John’s. Graham Downie AM, retired Canberra Times journalist and writer, will be the guest speaker.​

Robert Campbell was born in Scotland in 1769. He arrived in NSW from Calcutta in 1798 and became a successful merchant. In 1825, he was granted land and sheep to the value of £2000 in belated compensation for the loss of one of his ships, the Sydney, that had been chartered by the government almost 20 years earlier.

Campbell’s overseer, James Ainslie, took delivery of the sheep at Bathurst and drove the flock south to the Limestone Plains, as the Canberra district was then known. The small house built on the property in the early 1830s was known as Limestone Cottage. When a much larger house was built in the mid-1830s, the property became known as ‘Duntroon’, after Duntrune Castle, the Campbell family’s ancestral home in Argyll, Scotland.

The site for St John’s Church was chosen in 1840 by Robert Campbell and Bishop Broughton. Although the building was completed in May 1844, it was not until 12 March 1845 that the Church and its Churchyard were consecrated by Bishop Broughton.​

After being associated with Duntroon for 70 years, the Campbell family left their estate in 1903 after the death of Marrianne Campbell, the widow of George Campbell. Soon after, Canberra was chosen as the site for the nation’s new capital.​

Duntroon remained vacant until Brigadier General Bridges identified the property as an ideal site for a new military college. The Royal Military College, Duntroon, was opened on 27 June 1911.​

On the outbreak of the First World War, Major General Bridges landed with the AIF First Division at Gallipoli on 25 April and was mortally wounded by a Turkish sniper on 18 May.​

After receiving a state funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, a memorial service for Bridges was held at St John’s. His body was later interred in 1915 on the slopes of Mount Pleasant. There is a memorial dedicated to him in the Church and his wife Edith is buried in our Churchyard.​

At the rear of St John’s Church are two sets of regimental colours. These colours are symbols of a military unit’s traditions and continuity, and of its members’ loyalty to the sovereign and to their unit.​

As a church community we are pleased that parishioners Robert and Helen Campbell will be our honoured guests on the day.

Ring the Parish Office on 02 6248 8399 (card only) or in person (cash or card) - $30 per person.

Photo: St John's Church circa 1864

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