The current St John’s Anglican Church has now stood beside the Murray River in the heart of Pinjarra for over 155 years, surviving two world wars as well as notable floods in 1862, 1945 and 1955. It has been the site of countless sermons, weddings and christenings, and is one of the town’s oldest buildings.
The Early Church
The first Sunday service was held in February, 1842 in the “Barn” on George Bouglas’ farm, north of the Murray and Dandalup Rivers in the Ravenswood area. The service was conducted by Arch Deacon Wollaston. In 1842 religious services were conducted by Rev. George King when he visited the Murray District once a month.
The first church was built in 1843 near to the current location. It was a rustic structure made with mud or gravel walls and thatched roof. Regular lay services were conducted by Mr. F. C. Singleton, Mr. J. Murray, also with Bishop Hale and Rev. G. H. Sweeting visiting the parish church.
In 1860 the old church was dilapidated and it was decided to build a new church with the successful tender being Mr. A. Cornish. He used handmade bricks and shingles on the roof. Some of the carpentry work was done by convicts.
The total cost of the building was nearly 300 pounds.
The new building was opened in December 1861 and was consecrated by Bishop Hale, dedicating it to St. John the Evangelist on the 19th April, 1863.
The first Rector was Rev. James Smart Price and because there was not a rectory in Pinjarra he was obliged to board with people, two of which were the Cornish and Oakley families.
In 1862 the Murray River flooded quite drastically with the water reaching the church and flowing through the windows. The harmonium was destroyed as well as the service books.
During Rev. Price’s time the erection of the vestry began and was opened in 1873 and served the purpose for 80 years.
He passed away in 1878 and was replaced by Rev. R.W.S. Alderson in 1879. The porch was added in this time, and two new rooms added to the rectory.
Between 1893-1900 repairs were carried out to the parsonage and chancel, and a new alter frontal. A brass cross and candlesticks were procured, also a set of alter vessels and two sets of alter linen were presented.
The Baptismal Font was carved in stone. The inscription reads ‘In memory of Sarah Jane Burns, who died 24th December, 1932.’ This lady was the wife of the then Rector, Rev. W.R. Burns.
The Church contains a number of stained glass windows in memory of the early pioneers, the Patterson’s and McLarty families.
The Chalices were made by Hubert Augustas Gordon Holdsworth b. 1886 in England, arriving in WA 1900 and settled in Hester Siding. Inscription on one of the chalices reads: To The Glory of God, and in beloved memory of Geoffrey William Edward Greatorex, 5th Battalion A.I.F. Born Feb. 1898. Fell at Villers-Britonneux, France.
In 1926 the original shingled roof was replaced with the current red tiles.
There are many grave stones in the church grounds marking the early settlers and pioneers from the district.
In recent years, the St John’s Church offered bi-weekly services and was a popular place for baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
After being closed for several years due to structural concerns the Church was fully restored through the generous support of local families, businesses, state grants, the Shire of Murray, and the wider Murray community. The Church was formally deconsecrated in 2019 and ongoing maintenance and management officially transferred to the Shire.
The building is now made available for community use and regularly hired for special events, weddings, christenings, and historic exhibitions. Tours are also available on request.