The stone Church of the Holy Name of Mary Castlemaine was originally built in 1858 as the nave only. The only windows at that stage were the simple windows on each side that were possibly made in Melbourne. The one extravagance was the stained glass window at the back of the choir loft – the West window.
This window depicting the Immaculate Conception, was imported from France. It is thought that no stained glass work was done in Australia at that time – it was apparently all imported. The delicate green colour and the soft overall pastel appearance are noteworthy. The wording on the window is in French, “Je’ suis Immaculate Conception” The glass in this window is irreplaceable as the soft colours are no longer able to be made. This is the most valuable window in the church. It is a beautiful reminder of the Gold Rush era, the wealth that was won and the faith of those simple miners who came so far and risked so much.
The transept and the new sanctuary were added in 1910.
Behind the main altar the very large stained glass window depicting the crucifixion was donated by the Eily Fitzgerald the daughter of the founder of the Castlemaine XXXX brewery, Edward Fitzgerald. This window had some restoration work done in 1960.
The Sacred Heart window on the north side was donated by Lieutenant General Sir James Whiteside McCay, KCMG, KBE, CB, VD who lived in Castlemaine. McCay, commanded the 5th Division during the worst disaster in Australia’s military history – the Battle of Fromelles on the Western Front (where today war graves are located – there are notes on this in the church). McCay was a controversial figure who earned the disfavour of his superiors and the odium of troops under his command who blamed him for high casualties.
General McCay was a founding member of the Castlemaine Art Gallery.
A beautiful story of a daughter’s devotion to her sick mother and a father’s love for his daughter (McCay had a non-military funeral at Cairns Memorial Presbyterian Church in East Melbourne).
This window was completely removed and restored during the tenure of Fr Michael Kalka in 2011-2012 by Glen Mack of Daylesford. It had sunken badly and it was a major restoration. The exact red glass in this window is no longer available having been made with lead. The restoration was enabled by a most generous donation of $22,000 from the Stuart Stoneman Foundation (Glen Mack used $20,000 and returned the rest).
The South Transept window is by the noted stained glass artist William Montgomery. It depicts the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. The town of Nazareth can be seen in the background. This window – said by some to be his best – is noted for light it transmits compared to the other windows in the church.
William Montgomery studied at the Kensington Art School in London. He then worked with the London firm of Clayton and Bell. He studied and worked in Germany between 1880 and 1886 and arrived in Australia in 1886 setting up the first stained glass studio in Melbourne. There is a signature and address in the lower right hand side of the window. This is unusual as glass artists didn’t usually sign.
Montgomery went on to create around two thousand stained glass windows during his 40 year career in Melbourne. They are still in many major buildings in Melbourne – libraries, university colleges etc. Montgomery (1850 -1927) was a friend of Frederick McCubbin, a president of the Victorian Artist’s Society and a trustee of the Public Library and the National Gallery of Victoria. from 1916 until his death. Montgomery sponsored McCubbin and his friends in their noted 9×5 Impressionism Exhibition (1889) by advertising in their catalogue. Two very beautiful works by McCubbin hang in the Castlemaine Art Gallery, one the gift of Dame Nellie Melba.
The Montgomery window was conserved and restored and replaced earlier by Rodney Robson. Rodney Robson’s great, great grandfather (also Robson) was apprenticed to William Montgomery. Signed before being replaced and still visible when taken apart; a nice detail.