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St Matthew's Church of England

  • 600837
  • Beatrice Street, Drayton, Toowoomba


Also known as
St Matthews Church of England; St Matthews Anglican Church
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
21 October 1992
Religion/worship: Church
8.1 Creating social and cultural institutions: Worshipping and religious institutions
Hodgen, William
Marks, James
Construction periods
1886–1987, St Matthews Church of England (1886 - 1987)
1886–1987, St Matthews Church of England - Church (1886 - 1987)
1902–1903, St Matthews Church of England - Rectory (1902 - 1903)
1913–1930, St Matthews Church of England - Church Hall (1913 - 1930)
Historical period
1870s–1890s Late 19th century


Beatrice Street, Drayton, Toowoomba
Toowoomba Regional Council
-27.59860535, 151.91178604


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

St Matthew's is associated with the early development of Drayton and of the Anglican church in Queensland, being the oldest parish on the Darling Downs. It is the second church of this name in Drayton, replacing a timber slab church and illustrates the growth of the area. The Sunday school hall on site was built in 1913 and incorporates material from the original 1859 church.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

The stonework of St Matthews is well constructed and the building is a rare example of a church built in the local bluestone.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

The stonework of St Matthews is well constructed and the building is a rare example of a church built in the local bluestone.

Criterion GThe place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.

The site has had strong links with the Anglican community of the parish for many years.

Criterion HThe place has a special association with the life or work of a particular person, group or organisation of importance in Queensland’s history.

St Matthew's Church has strong associations with the life and work of James Marks, one of a family of prominent architects in Toowoomba. It is also an outcome of the work of the Reverend Benjamin Glennie, an important figure in history of Drayton/Toowoomba who laid the foundations for the development of the Church on the Darling Downs and with subsequent Rectors of the church, especially Rev. S. Atherton.


St Matthew's Church of England is a small bluestone church constructed in 1886-7 to the design of James Marks and is the second church of this name in Drayton, replacing an earlier 1859 church. It is complemented by a timber hall built in 1913 which was moved to this site in 1930, a modern belltower housing the original church bell and established plantings.

The site is part of a continuing tradition of Anglican worship established during the first years of European settlement on the Darling Downs. At this time the Downs were part of New South Wales and fell within the Diocese of Newcastle. The Reverend John Gregor visited the area, holding services in camps and private homes from 1840 until his death in 1848. The energetic Reverend Benjamin Glennie succeeded him and in 1850 was appointed the first Incumbent for the Darling Downs, having previously made yearly trips to the area. His first service on the Downs was held in the parlour of the Bull's Head Inn at Drayton in 1848, there being no church. In 1850, Glennie arranged for a parsonage to be constructed on land he had purchased on what is now Rudd Street. Glennie also used the parsonage for church services. By this time, the focal point of activity on the Downs was swinging some six kilometres northwards to an area known as 'The Swamp', later to become Toowoomba. Glennie approached his Bishop for permission to buy land for a church there. He envisioned four churches, each dedicated to one of the evangelists, in the four major towns of the Downs. This he eventually accomplished with St Luke, Toowoomba (1856), St Mark, Warwick (1857), St Matthew, Drayton (1859) and St John, Dalby (1866).

The first St Matthew's church constructed at Drayton was a simple slab building, the erection of a church proper being delayed by the cessation in 1852 of state aid for the construction of church buildings. In February 1853 Glennie sought permission to collect subscriptions for buildings at Drayton, Warwick, Dalby and Toowoomba on his tours throughout his parish. In April 1856 two acres of land north of the parsonage were acquired and the first service was held in the new church on 23 January 1859. The building was denounced by the Brisbane Courier as "neither pretty nor an ornament to the town" and the congregation was criticised for failing to support the building of a better quality church. Nevertheless, it served as a place of worship for many years being enlarged in the late 1860s.

By 1884 the church had again become too small and it was agreed to build a new one. On the advice of the architect, James Marks, a hilltop site with better conditions for the foundations was acquired for the new church. After considering costs in several different materials, it was decided to build a stone church and the tender for £850 by builders Seath, Hobart and Watson was accepted on 26 March 1886. The foundation stone was laid on 16 August by Bishop Webber in company with the Hon W.H. Groom, Mayor of Toowoomba and Rev. J. McCleverty, Incumbent of Drayton at the time.

The architect for the new church was locally based and the founder of a remarkable family firm of architects which had a lasting effect on the appearance of Toowoomba, being responsible for a large number of public, private and commercial buildings. James Marks arrived in Queensland in 1866 and first set up in practice in Dalby, moving to Toowoomba in 1874. He entered into partnership as James Marks and Son with his eldest son Harry, who joined his father's practice in 1903, and was to later work on the Rectory, and Reginald who joined in 1910. Charles Marks, James grandson, also worked as an architect in Toowoomba.

In order to reduce costs as much as possible, the church was built with a timber chancel and was dedicated on 22 December 1887. The original bell had been replaced in 1880 with a larger and heavier one purchased from Brisbane for £18 and in August 1889 it was suggested that the belfry should be removed and the bell placed on the porch of the new church, to which a sandstone bell turret was added. By 1892 this and a temporary vestry were completed.

The original church was used as a Sunday school and in 1901 was taken down, moved slightly and rebuilt, the shingles being replaced by corrugated iron. In 1903 a new rectory was built opposite the original church site to the design of William Hodgen, another noted Toowoomba architect and founder of an architectural dynasty, who undertook work throughout southern and western Queensland. The rectory was a single-storey timber structure standing on low stumps with a roof clad in corrugated iron. It was approached through a gabled porch and a small open verandah. A central hallway opened onto bedrooms on the southeast, and a drawing room with a corner fireplace and a bedroom on the northwest. At the rear of the house the hall opened onto a service area comprising laundry and study.

By 1910 it was apparent that the weight of the turret and bell were causing structural damage to the porch of the church. To strengthen it, the north and south sides of the porch were closed in and the bell was removed to the present free-standing bell tower.

In 1913, a new Sunday School hall was built on the old site. It included flooring from the demolished former St Matthew's church and re-used its 1901 roofing.

Between 1923 and 1935 the Reverend Samuel Atherton was Rector at St Matthew's and was responsible for a series of major projects to improve and extend the church. In 1930 the rectory and hall were moved from the old site and relocated close to St Matthew's. Addressing Beatrice Street, the hall was located at the northwestern side of the site. The rectory, positioned on the adjacent, southeastern lot faced northeast and was set back from the corner of Lynch and Glennie Streets. In the process the rectory was made more convenient by relocating the previously detached kitchen, pantry and bathroom to the rear (southwestern side) of the rectory. Plans for this were drawn up by Harry Marks. The verandah to Glennie Street was later built-in as a sun room.

In 1933 extensive work was undertaken to remove the old timber sanctuary and replace it in bluestone as originally intended. Between 1933 and 1935 this was panelled and other works were carried out including the removal of the bell turret from the porch. Various items were donated to the church following its extension, including the door knocker from the Royal Bull's Head Inn at Drayton, which was placed on the vestry door. The two palms at the front of the church were planted on 20 April 1935 in memory of Mr and Mrs Searle. In spite of the severe financial strictures of the Depression, the work was paid for in full by May 1934, a remarkable achievement. The contribution made to the parish by Rev. Atherton is remembered in the name of the park opposite the church.

In 1986 repair work was undertaken for the centenary of the church including the replastering and painting of the interior. In 1987 the temporary timber vestry was replaced in masonry. Around the same time many parishioners took part in a working bee to refurbish the rectory, which had previously undergone extensive work in the 1950s and 60s as an alternative to building new accommodation. A new rectory was constructed between 1993 and 1995, while further work was carried out to the 1903 rectory in 1995. The 1903 rectory was demolished between 2001 and 2004.

In 2015, the site retains the church building, timber hall, front stone wall, church bell and established palm trees. St Matthew's Church is important to the Anglican community, having operated on this site since 1887. The site of the original church, on the corner of Cambooya and Rudd Streets, Drayton, is now marked by a stone cairn.


St Matthew's Church is located on an elevated, approximately 0.42ha, rectangular site bound by Beatrice Street to the southwest, Lynch Street to the northeast and residential properties to the northwest, in the town of Drayton, 6km southwest of Toowoomba. The complex, comprises a church situated at the southeastern end of the property, a timber hall at the northwestern end, a freestanding bell tower and established trees, and has expansive views of the surrounding area. Primary access to the church is via Beatrice Street, through a gate within a low stone wall, with secondary access to the site available from Lynch Street at the rear.

Addressing Beatrice Street, St Matthew's Church is a four bay stone structure comprising a nave, porch, sanctuary and vestry. It has a gable roof clad in corrugated iron with gabled vents to the sanctuary roof. The walls are of hammer dressed square rubble bluestone laid in random courses. The vestry is built of basalt and sandstone and has a flat roof concealed by a parapet. Facings to the gable capping, externally exposed buttresses, doors and windows are Murphy's-Creek sandstone. Windows are lancets, some with decorated leadlight glass. Entry to the church is via the southwestern arched sandstone porch, through a pointed-arch timber door with cast iron detailing. Secondary access is through rear timber pointed-arch doors into the nave and vestry. A sandstone cross is positioned above the porch, centred with the front door, and axially aligned with two sandstone crosses at the apexes of the gable ends. The foundation stone is located on the eastern side of the front elevation and details the dedication of the church on the 19 August 1886, as well as the church's architect, James Marks, and contractors, JH Scott & Co. A plaque in the centre of the northeast elevation is dated 20 August 1993, and commemorates the work of Archdeacon, Benjamin Glennie, and the 85th anniversary of the church's first service.

The entrance porch, nave and sanctuary are on a southwest-northeast axis; the vestry bay is located adjacent the eastern side of the sanctuary. The southwestern front porch has a concrete floor, is reached by sandstone steps and opens into the nave of the church. The nave has an open, timbered ceiling supported by timber king posts and hammer beams resting on stone corbels. A timber pulpit is located at the northern end. The northeastern sanctuary is separated from the body of the church by a large pointed-arch opening. It is raised, rectangular in form, and features timber panelled walls and a segmental timber vault. The interior walls throughout the church are painted plaster and the floors are timber.

The hall, located on the northwestern side of the site and facing St Matthew's Church, is a simple timber structure with a gable roof clad in corrugated metal, and a central gabled porch on the southeastern elevation. Small crosses stand at the apexes of each gable end. The building is clad in weatherboards and the gable end walls feature trimmed flat panelling above wall height. A skillion roofed addition extends northwest from the rear of the building. The windows are generally lancets, both double-hung and fixed, and a triplet of windows on the northeastern gable end wall has decorated leadlight glass insets.

Other elements of significance on the site include a stone wall, established plantings and a freestanding belltower. The stone wall is parallel to Beatrice Street at the front of the site and tapers in towards a central entrance gate that is aligned with the church entrance. The wall is low, constructed of the same bluestone as the church walls and has sandstone pillars. Two well-established palm trees stand behind the wall, either side of the gate. The original church-bell is located in the southern corner of the site and is supported by a modern freestanding structure-the supporting structure is not of cultural heritage significance.

All other structures within the heritage boundary, including the new rectory at the northern end of the site, are not of cultural heritage significance.

Image gallery


Location of St Matthew's Church of England within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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