Continuing the story from Journey to the Hunter – Saturday 19 April 2014: Broke Fordwich, we left the mines behind and drove down the Putty Road to Singleton through the bright morning sun. Singleton has changed so much as a consequence of the mining boom that the very pattern of the streets seems different. Still, I knew where I wanted to go.
Last year I read Michael Sternbeck’s history of the Catholic Church In Singleton: The Catholic Church In Singleton: an historical look at its people and progress (published by the author, c1981.) Now I wanted to visit the church complex with its church, convent and schools.
The buildings lie on a quite narrow strip donated by John Browne. Browne, originally just Brown, was a prominent lay person whose donations helped fund much of the early development of the Church in Singleton.
The photo shows the Church. The towers themselves were added in 1920-21. The building behind dates from 1859-1860, In March 1859, Archbishop Polding laid the foundation stone. In February 1860 he returned to open the building.
Both the church and the buildings around it have grown by accretion over the years. I wandered trying to work out what was what. Actually, it wasn’t easy. I didn’t have the history with me, so wasn’t sure just which building was what. Slowly, a pattern started to form. Meantime, my friend had vanished to do her own thing.
I wandered around the corner after her, finding that most valuable of things, a a toilet. Normally shut except during services, it was open that day because the church was being prepared for Easter Services. The side door was open, so I wandered inside, finding my friend standing watching a group of women preparing flowers.
It is a truly Beautiful church. This is the view in the old church looking towards the front door. The gallery you see was built in 1874-75 at a cost of 366 pounds.
Looking forward in the church, you can see the flowers being prepared for the Easter Service. On the left of the photo, a later extension provides a private area where the Sisters of Mercy from the Convent can participate in services. A quiet covered way links the extension with the Convent.
It was peaceful, but we had to move on. Next step Morpeth, and the vibrant world of commerce in the first half of the nineteenth century.
For those who want to follow along with the story, you will find the entry point for all the posts here.