Ch.3 – The Beginning Of The Parish Of Glen Innes

Anglican Church Glen Innes

The Parish of Glen Innes, one of the oldest in the Diocese, was set up as a centre of administration of the Church of England when  Bishop Tyrrell appointed the Rev. G. C. Bode to be the first Vicar of the Parish in 1858. Rev. Bode, who formerly trained under the then Vicar of Armidale, the Rev. Septimus Hungerford, was ordained to the diaconate at the end of 1857 and commenced his duties in 1858.  The Rev. Septimus Hungerford is credited with bringing Christian worship to Glen Innes.  His descendants, the Wiseman family, still reside in the Glen Innes district and are members of the congregation.

It is interesting to note that Glen Innes resident Mrs Isobel Stokes said her grandfather, the Rev. Charles Markham Mills, was ordained to serve in the Armidale Parish by Bishop Tyrrell about the same time that the Rev. G. C. Bode was installed at Glen Innes. It was the Rev. C. M. Mills who married Fred Ward, ‘Thunderbolt’, to his Aboriginal wife.  The Parish at that time was itself the size of a large Diocese, extending north as far as the Queensland border, while its boundaries to the east and west were undefined: “except perhaps by the powers of endurance of the clergyman”.

In those days Wellingrove was the centre of civil administration for the area.  The Courthouse, Post Office and Police Station were situated there, as well as other businesses. When Rev. Bode came to Glen Innes he would have found very few roads. Most were only bush tracks, leading from one station to another. Even these would have been indistinguishable at certain seasons except for the marked trees that blazed the trail. He would have led a hectic life being away from Glen Innes for weeks at a time.  He baptised children of any denomination at the homesteads he visited.  The first five baptisms in the Parish on the 5th April 1858 were those of Frederick William Martin, William Thomas O’Hara, William and Matilda Spatch and Francis Henry Patterson. The first wedding was solemnised at Tenterfield between John Henry Sommerlad and Louise Wilhemina Marcheller in 1859.

The poem ‘A Bush Christening’ by Banjo Paterson reminds us of those days.  Families rarely saw a parson, other than when he called at their homes, as there were no church buildings and services were held where the settlers lived.  Gradually, the regular administration of the church services in the growing town of Glen Innes superseded those in Wellingrove and the houses of lonely country folk.  Early records show that until the erection of the first portion of the present church in the 1860’s, services were held in a building in Wentworth Street near Church Street.