A Centenary Covered

St Peter’s, East Maitland Centenary Booklet

Sometime in 1934 or after, a librarian at Maitland Girls’ High School picked up a rubber stamp with the institution’s name on it, dabbed it on an inkpad, and stamped the first inside page of this booklet. It had recently been printed by West Maitland printer T. Dimmock for St Peter’s Anglican Church, of East Maitland, in celebration of its centenary in 1934.

Containing a history of the parish and its establishment, accompanied by photographs of the church, its chaplains and rectors from 1829 to 1934, this copy of the booklet likely sat on the shelves in the school’s library for some decades. It’s curious to think about how often (or how seldom) the students took it off the shelf for reading.

St Peter’s parish was established in 1834 and is one of the oldest Anglican parishes in Australia. The current church, constructed in 1886, was designed by Cyril Blacket (1857-1937), son of celebrated architect Edmund Blacket (1817-1883), and its architectural and historical significance is now recognised through listing on the NSW State Heritage Inventory.

The first two sections of the booklet were probably penned by the then rector of the church, Reverend K.S. Single, and are written in a sermon-like tone, insisting on the need to learn from, and honour, the past, and expressing praise and acknowledgement of those who have passed on. A third section, about the 1886 church design and construction, was written by the architect Cyril Blacket.

Booklets like this were popularly produced in the twentieth century to commemorate significant milestones in an institution’s history. When this one was published, it documented and celebrated the history and longevity of an important religious institution, and copies were probably distributed across the Maitland community where the church wanted to maintain its influence, such as at schools. Now, the booklet offers us a window onto 1930s values and the perspectives of representatives of a foundational institution in Maitland’s history.