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History of St Mary's Church Axedale - Kennington Parish

The Original Church:
The original St Mary’s church was blessed and opened for worship on Sunday 9th February, 1862.  It was a bluestone building, plain and unpretentious, on the hill, maybe 100 or so yards east of the present Church.  The 10 acre allotment on which the church was built had been presented to the Trustees, along with a gift of 5o pounds, by the Rev Dr Henry Backhaus.

Messrs Vahland and Getzschmann designed the church, 50 feet in length, 25 feet wide, and walls 15 feet high, the roof of zinc, with a cross surmounting the gable.  There were 6 gothic windows, and an ornamental rose at either end.  Opening day must have been quite an occasion; soon after 11 o’clock, a large body of the Catholic Young Men’s Society went in procession from the Campaspe township to the church, where Dr Backhaus was waiting to carry out the procession around the building.

Mass was said monthly at the 1st church, which continued in use until it became unsafe, and tenders for it’s demolition were called.  From then on, Mass was said for a time in a hall, owned by the Drake family at the Campaspe Hotel.

The Current Church:
The original St Mary’s church was blessed and opened for worship on Sunday 9th February, 1862.  It was a bluestone building, plain and unpretentious, on the hill, maybe 100 or so yards east of the present Church.  The 10 acre allotment on which the church was built had been presented to the Trustees, along with a gift of 5o pounds, by the Rev Dr Henry Backhaus.

Messrs Vahland and Getzschmann designed the church, 50 feet in length, 25 feet wide, and walls 15 feet high, the roof of zinc, with a cross surmounting the gable.  There were 6 gothic windows, and an ornamental rose at either end.  Opening day must have been quite an occasion; soon after 11 o’clock, a large body of the Catholic Young Men’s Society went in procession from the Campaspe township to the church, where Dr Backhaus was waiting to carry out the procession around the building.

Mass was said monthly at the 1st church, which continued in use until it became unsafe, and tenders for it’s demolition were called.  From then on, Mass was said for a time in a hall, owned by the Drake family at the Campaspe Hotel.


On May 27th 1900 a church committee meeting was held and a decision was made to proceed with a new church.  Bluestone from the old church was largely used in the construction of the new building designed by Messr Keogh and Austen.  Messrs Brett and Gover tender was accepted and the final contract price was 1198 pounds.

Building began on December 9th 1901 and the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Reville O.S.A. of Sandhurst on February 16th, 1902.  Two priests whose names occur prominently in the records are Fathers O’Carroll and Shanahan

The new Roman Catholic Church at Axedale, which has been designed in the early English style of Gothic Architecture, stands on a very commanding site close to the centre of the township.  The grounds have been suitably fenced in and laid out in a very tasteful manner.  The church consists of a nave 48’ x 26’, sanctuary 17’ x 16’, vestry 14’ x 11’, and a porchway at the entrance 8’ x 8’.  The nave has a height in the centre of 33’ from the floorline to the apex of the ceiling and is lighted by nine lancet-headed windows, which are glazed and tinted leadlights.  The sanctuary at the east end, is octagonal, separated from the nave by a wide and lofty Gothic-headed archway which is suitably embellished with hard moldings and carved bosses.  The apartment is lighted by two lancet-headed windows, and one large rose window, cusped in the form of a quartrefoil.  Bluestone is used for all walls, there are brick and cement dressings to all doors and windows, and the whole is neatly tuckpointed.  The interior walls are plastered to represent rough-cast-work, and are suitably lined out and tinted.  The roof principals and ceiling lining are in cleaned dressed oregan pine, with bold molded cornice and frieze molds.  The sanctuary is railed off by a handsome line of wrought iron railing, surmounted with suitable cedar handrail.  The altar is a handsome structure, happily conceived and faithfully executed in detail to harmonise with the period of Gothic in which the church was built.  Source: Bendigo Advertiser

Axedale district was part of St Kilian’s parish, Bendigo, till 1958, when it was incorporated in the new parish of Kennington, under the late Monsignor Arthur Owens V.G.