Holy Trinity Anglican Church | Environment, land and water | Queensland Government

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Holy Trinity Anglican Church

  • 601875
  • 68 Hawthorne Street, Woolloongabba


Also known as
Holy Trinity Church of England
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
9 May 2008
Religion/worship: Church
8.1 Creating social and cultural institutions: Worshipping and religious institutions
8.6 Creating social and cultural institutions: Commemorating significant events
Construction period
1930–1949, Holy Trinity Anglican Church (1930 - 1949)
Historical period
1919–1930s Interwar period
Spanish Mission


68 Hawthorne Street, Woolloongabba
Brisbane City Council
-27.48812922, 153.03110949


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

Constructed in 1930 as the third Holy Trinity Church of England on the site, the building demonstrates the development of the Woolloongabba area from the nineteenth century when the original church was constructed and also reflects the expansion of the Church of England in Queensland during the 1920s when many parish churches were constructed or upgraded increasing the presence of the church in the state.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

The building demonstrates the principal characteristics of inter-war church architecture, with traditional cruciform plan including prominent tower, Romanesque detailing, internal layout and furniture and stained glass panels in traceried surrounds.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

The outstanding landmark qualities of the Holy Trinity Church contribute to the aesthetic significance of the place; it is a well composed and dramatic building on a prominent site. The design of the building is significant as a good intact example of a blend of architectural influences, most apparently inter-war Spanish Mission and ecclesiastical Romanesque. Elements of the building have aesthetic merit as well designed features which complement the design of the place, such features include the artificial lighting both internal and external; internal furniture and fittings, most significantly the pews, choir seating, two altars and altar furniture, lectern, pulpit, organ and font; as well as the early stained glass panels in the memorial chapel, on the western façade and in the sanctuary.

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

The church has special associations with the Holy Trinity parish and with the Church of England in Queensland as the site of a Church of England for nearly 130 years and as the parish church for sixty eight years.


The Holy Trinity Church of England at Woolloongabba was constructed in 1930 to the design of Brisbane architect Eric Ford of the partnership, Chambers and Ford. The building was the third church on the site and replaced a timber church constructed in 1875.

Woolloongabba grew from a small settlement in the early 1860s to a major centre in the late nineteenth century. In the early 1860s Woolloongabba was known as One-Mile Swamp and was developing following diversion of the Toowoomba mail from South Brisbane to Kangaroo Point, the formation of the New Ipswich Road and the opening of Brisbane's first cross river bridge at South Brisbane in June 1865. These developments stimulated land investment at One-mile Swamp, and in 1864 the Clarence Town Estate was offered for sale. This parcel of land was sold to publican Thomas Hayselden in 1863, and the first Clarence Hotel, at the corner of Stanley Street and Boggo Road, was opened by him in January 1864. When Hayselden's Clarence Estate and neighbouring One-mile Swamp or Woolloongabba allotments were being advertised for auction or sale in 1864-65, the potential of the area for both small business and residential purposes was emphasised. Suddenly, in the mid-1860s, an area which previously had been defined by little other than hotels acquired a string of small businesses fronting the new Ipswich Road beyond Boggo Road.

The population of Woolloongabba, which had grown steadily between the 1860s and 1880s, increased rapidly following the expansion of the railway line to Woolloongabba in 1884, and the extension of the electric tramway to Woolloongabba/East Brisbane in 1897. During the 1880s and 1890s Woolloongabba developed as Brisbane's fourth major shopping centre, the others being central Brisbane, Fortitude Valley and Stanley Street at South Brisbane. By the turn of the century, most of the allotments facing Stanley Street, Logan Road and Ipswich Road at the Fiveways were fully developed commercial sites.

As the population grew, a Church of England congregation was formed and a church was constructed on land in Hawthorne Street, Woolloongabba. This land was acquired in March 1864 by Robert Creyke from Mary Ann Peterson who was granted the original Deed in 1861. Robert Creyke was the son of a Church of England Minister and following Robert's death in 1869, Reverend Creyke donated the land to the Diocese for the newly formed Holy Trinity congregation for construction of a church. The congregation was formed in 1869 and meetings and services were held in local buildings. In 1870 a simple church was designed by prolific architect, Richard Gailey and this remained the parish church for about four years before being destroyed in a wind storm in October 1874. Another church was dedicated for service on 23 May 1875 and photographs of this second building indicate that it was a rudimentary timber framed and clad structure with a rectangular plan and a steeply pitched gabled roof clad with shingles.

At the construction of their first church the Holy Trinity congregation were part of the South Brisbane parish, and after 1886 when Reverend HT Molesworth was appointed Curate-in-charge of the church a movement started toward the formation of a separate Holy Trinity parish. The parish was constituted by the Diocesan Council on 19 January 1888 and Reverend D Ruddock was appointed as the first Rector. In the following year, Brisbane architect, John Henry Burley designed a substantial church hall for the Parish which remained in use until 1998 when it was demolished. By 1890 a rectory also was constructed on the site to the design of diocesan architect, John Hingestone Buckeridge. This was in use until destroyed by fire in 1956.

In 1915 the rector of Holy Trinity Parish, CH Edwards, temporarily left the parish to serve in World War I and after a brief return in 1916 did not return to the parish until 1920, where he remained until 1925. It is thought that he instigated a movement to construct another church because the timber church, despite the premier hilltop site, remained relatively inconspicuous, particularly compared with those Roman Catholic churches being constructed on elevated Brisbane sites by Archbishop Duhig. In about 1916 a subscription scheme was devised to allow parishioners to donate a sum of money over a lengthy period which finally contributed to the construction of a substantial church in 1930. The 1920s was a period of expansion for the Church of England in Queensland and during this time many older churches were rebuilt and new churches constructed. Typically these new buildings were unpretentious, retaining influence from the nineteenth century Gothic revival but with more awareness of the Queensland sub tropical climate. In the late 1920s experimentation with derivatives of a hybrid of Romanesque and Spanish Mission architecture are apparent in both the Holy Trinity Church at Woolloongabba and at another Holy Trinity Church in Mackay designed by Lange Powell. Earlier in 1924, a Roman Catholic Church at Bowen Hills was constructed using Spanish Mission influences but few other churches display the hybrid style developed by the architect Eric Ford at Woolloongabba.

The architectural firm, Chambers and Ford who designed the Woolloongabba Church of England, was a partnership of Claude William Chambers and Eric Marshall Ford. Chambers and Ford remained in practise in Brisbane from 1920 until 1951, although Chambers was largely not involved and moved permanently to Sydney in about 1935. Chambers was a highly experienced and notable architect, who worked for a number of prominent Brisbane firms during the nineteenth century and formed several partnerships in the twentieth century, including Chambers and Powell (where EM Ford was office manager); Chambers and Ford and Chambers and Hutton. The partnership of Chambers and Ford designed several Brisbane churches notably St Margaret's Church of England, Sandgate (1927) and St James' Church, Kelvin Grove (1943).

Plans, prepared by Ford, for the erection of a new church at Woolloongabba were ready by the end of the 1920s and it is thought that the design was chosen from a limited competition. The parish was saved the expense of the demolition of the earlier church which was blazed to the ground in a fire on 11 December 1929.

The foundation stone was laid on 3 March, 1930 by Archbishop Gerald Sharp. A description rendered by the Buildings and Real Estate writer of the Brisbane Courier, talked of the building designed in the Italian Romanesque style of the eleventh century, "slightly modified to suit local conditions". The plan comprised a prominent tower, vestry, entrance porch and nave with side aisles and octagonal chancel. A basement was to provide access for a further two vestries. Finishes throughout the church included face brick internal walls with black tuckpointing, timber panelled ceilings and external roughcast render. A red tiled roof was to provide a contrast with the whitewashed external walls.

Tenders were called by Chambers and Ford for the Holy Trinity Church in the February edition of the Architects and Builder's Journal of Queensland and in the May edition of the journal the tender of JH Davis was accepted. The final cost of the church was about £9800.

The Holy Trinity Church was dedicated on 4 October 1930 by the Coadjutor Bishop of Brisbane, the Right Reverend Francis de Witt Batty. Most of the descriptions of the building on the day of its dedication focussed on its extraordinary site which crowned the highest part of Hawthorne Street and commanded a view of the entire parish. The completed building housed an organ by Messrs Whitehouse costing £560, electric lighting installed by Mr Dudley Winterford, plasterwork by James Bain & Son, glazing by Decorative Art Company and leadlights by Exton & Company. The garden and landscaping was set out by Mr H Stokes. Many of the internal fittings were donated by parishioners and much of the fitted and loose furniture, including the altar furniture and pews was designed by the architect, Eric Ford.

The church has remained as it was constructed with very few apparent alterations. The organ pipes have been painted, carpet runners and squares have been laid, commemorative stained glass windows have been added to the side aisles and work appears to have been undertaken on the reredos screen which is now concealed by a heavy curtain. The exterior of the church has been painted but retains a whitewashed appearance.

Alterations to the site include the 1938 renovation of an sub-basement area in the church for a Columbarium, or a place to hold funerary vases and the erection of a freestanding bell tower in 1949 to commemorate those soldiers who were killed during WWII. Landscaping around the building has been continually upgraded and many established trees remain on the site. In 1956 after the original rectory was destroyed the church acquired an adjoining property with an early house from the Sawyer family. This building became the rectory. In 1971 a freestanding crucifix was erected on the southern side of the church commemorating Eric Johnstone. The most substantial changes to the church complex occurred in late 1997 to early 1998 when the church hall and rectory were demolished.


The Holy Trinity Church is a substantial, prominently sited building located on the crest of a hill in Hawthorne Street, Woolloongabba. The church complex, which now houses only a church surrounded by landscaping has expansive views in all directions of the surrounding suburbs. The building is a landmark on a relatively undeveloped hillside position in Brisbane and is visible most many suburbs of inner city Brisbane.

The church is a brick structure with all external surfaces rendered with a roughcast concrete stucco. The principal roof is clad with terracotta cordova tiles. The design of the building is strongly influenced by the popular Spanish Mission style of the inter-war period manifest both externally and internally in the textured render, barley twist columns, heavy timber joinery and cordova roofing tiles. Combined with this obvious influence is Romanesque detailing including the raked arch motif on the parapets, domed roofs, tower and round arched openings embellished with Norman detailing.

The church has a traditional cruciform floor plan, with shallow transepts, an octagonal chancel at the eastern end and a dominant tower projecting from the north western corner. The body of the church is divided into a nave with a gabled roof abutted on the northern and southern sides by skillion roofed aisles, creating a high level clerestory. The transepts are formed by gabled abutments to the principal roof and the eastern end of the roof is separated from the principal by a secondary gabled parapet from which an octagonal hipped section roofs the chancel.

The corner tower stands about three storeys or 75 feet above ground level and has a square plan through to the second floor level where it tapers inward to form a platform which is surmounted by a circular planned lantern. Surrounding the lantern is an elaborate concrete balustrade featuring large flames at the four corners. Original floodlighting, concealed by the balustrade, illuminates the lantern at night. The lantern comprises a colonnaded exterior which supports a pointed dome roof clad with copper tiles and surmounted by a Latin cross. At the base of the tower, on the northern face is a one storeyed semicircular projection, with a half dome roof clad with painted copper tiles. The principal entrance to the tower is from the western face, through a double timber door, flanked by twisted columns and surrounded by an archway in relief plasterwork featuring moulded panels of two alternating types of crosses. Within the base of the tower is a curved cantilevered concrete stair which winds up inside the tower to give access to the upper levels. The faces of the tower feature double round arched openings separated by twisted columns on the first floor and thin slit windows on the floor above. A repeated arched moulding forms a cornice mould around the top of the second floor of the tower.

The western façade of the church houses two entrances, the principal entrance to the body of the church and the already mentioned entrance to the base of the tower. The principal entrance to the church is via a centrally located double timber door with circular motifs on each of five panels lining the exterior of the door. The door is protected by a small open porch, which has a gabled awning clad with cordova tiles and a vaulted concrete soffit supported on substantial columns with Composite order capitals. On the fascia and surrounding the round archway is a relief moulding featuring square panels of moulded panels featuring crosses. Flanking the entrance are two shallow pilasters which divide the façade into three bays. Within the central bay, above the entrance, is a row of six round arched window openings divided by thin twisted columns and glazed with coloured glass leadlights. Above this is a large wheel window again featuring brightly coloured glazing. The parapeted gable is lined at cornice level with a repeated arch moulding aligned with the taper of the gable. Surmounting the apex of the gable is a cross.

The side aisles of the northern and southern façades of the building are lined with paired round arched openings divided by twisted columns with Composite order capitals and flanked by panels with dog tooth mouldings. These openings define the internal bays of the nave and are glazed with figured stained glass panels. The windows throughout the church are steel casements. Above the height of the side aisles are taller paired round arched openings aligned with the lower windows, but glazed with two tones of green leadlighting. Above the windows is a cornice formed by the repeated arch moulding. The eastern end of the church features a number of single round arched openings glazed with stained glass panels. The repeated arch moulding is used as a cornice moulding on the octagonal chancel and raked on the two parapeted gables. A freestanding copper crucifix, with memorial tablet, is found adjacent to the western end of the southern elevation of the church. Adjacent to the south western corner of the building is a small rustic stone font which is thought to have a long association with the parish. Also apparent on the southern elevation is the semi basement under the southern transept.

Internally the body of the church is divided into a nave and side aisles with two heavy face brick arcades, comprising compound columns supporting round arched openings and forming a six bay nave. The compound columns are capped with white painted concrete capitals embellished with mouldings of foliage. The side aisles are further divided by round archways defining each of the bays of the nave and springing from the compound columns of the principal arcades. Also demarcating the internal bays are a number of heavy dark stained timber scissor roof trusses supported on white painted concrete corbels with simple mouldings. The ceiling of the church is lined with stained pine rafters between which are infill panels of timber based board, like an early coarse particle board. The internal walls of the Holy Trinity Church are all dark face brickwork with black pointing. The flooring throughout the interior is concrete which has been scoured to resemble flagging stones and treated with a light buff colour in areas to form patterns. Symbols, ? and ?, are inscribed in the concrete floor in the steps to the sanctuary area.

The transepts of the church are formed by projections aligned with the two most easterly bays of the nave. Housed in the northern facing chancel is a memorial chapel separated from the church by a face brick balustrade. Featured in this chapel are early stained glass panels commemorating Mr and Mrs Thomas Weedon, long time parishioners of the church. Housed in the chancel on the southern side of the church is a vestry and organ case. The vestry is formed by dark stained timber panelling with feature panels of timber cross bracing. Aligned with the transepts in the nave is a choir area, separated from the body of the church by stepped platforms.

The sanctuary in the chancel is demarcated by two adjacent round chancel arches, defined externally by the two parapeted gable ends and separated from one another by a recessed bay housing round arched openings. Altar rails are aligned with the forward chancel arch. The ceiling of the chancel follows the hipped roof line and is clad with a concrete render. The sanctuary has a number of stepped platforms, and on the uppermost platform is a timber altar. Also in the sanctuary area are two early patterned stained glass panels in round arched openings within the raked walls behind the altar. A large concrete pulpit, to which access is provided by three steps, is found in the choir section of the church and is decorated in the manner of the exterior of the building, painted white and featuring the repeated arch moulding as a cornice.

Generally the interior of the church is quite dark and heavy, as a result of the dark finishes, heavy joinery and small openings, mostly glazed with coloured glass. There is early electrical lighting within the church in the form of pendants in the nave and wall brackets along the walls of the side aisles. The pews and other furniture and fittings including the organ, altar furniture, lectern and altar candles are also early features of the church. An early sandstone baptismal font is elevated on small platforms in the south western corner of the church.

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Location of Holy Trinity Anglican Church within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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