Wednesday, June 23, 2010


In the sleepy little village of Tharwa in the Australian Capital Territory sits a small, white, federation, wooden church supporting wooden crosses at each end. St Edmund's Church was built on land donated by a Mr G. McKeahnie who was the owner of the nearby 'Cuppacumbalong Station' in 1916. St Edmund's is a Federation 'Carpenter Gothic' Style (info here) church typical of construction in small towns right across Australia during the late 19th and early 20th century's. In 1919 the church was consecrated and named after Saint Edmund, formally the Anglo-Saxon King of East Anglia (England)(info here).

King Edmund (840-870) was crowned when he was fifteen years old in the year 855. Edmund was  a model ruler who treated all his subjects with equal justice. He was known only to take wise counsel and did not listen to lies. Being a religious man he once retired to his royal tower for a year to study scripture.

In 870 he defended the kingdom, and won against Danish invaders, however they returned in greater numbers and 'pressed terms' that he felt obligated to refuse. To avoid bloodshed he disbanded his armies and retired but was captured in his retreat. He was bound with chains and again asked to submit his kingdom to the 'terms'. He again refused stating that his 'religion was dearer to him than his life'.

The King's martyrdom took place when he was beaten with cudgels and tied to a tree and whipped. Apparently Edmund kept calling Christ's name until the Danes discharged arrows at him until 'his body had the appearance of a porcupine'. His head was finally struck off with a sword. St Edmund was the patron saint of England until he was replaced by St George in the thirteenth century. St Edmund's Day falls on the 20th of November.

Saint Edmund being martyred.
Image Wikipedia (here)

St Edmund's Church is located in Tharwa between Cuppacumbalong and the Tharwa bridge and sits with it's back to the main road in a pleasant rural position surrounded by trees. It has a steeply pitched gable roof with six Gothic arch windows (three on each side) and a singular, arched door frame. The windows, doors and roof provide some wonderful religious imagery. The granite cladding around the base of the building was added in the 1930's to disguise the brick skirting and timber stump footings at the back and sides of the building.

The Sydney Morning Herald 17 October 1936 - Clipping NLA (here)

(Some images and a Google map of the church below)

Entry in the ACT Heritage Register (here)(pdf)

View Larger Map

1 comment:

  1. An interesting story. Good to see these old buildings being preserved.


History lost through lack of funding

  The following ABC article laments the possible loss of many historical audio visual records that are waiting for digitising into modern fo...