An Anecdotal History Of St. Andrews Church of England, Alvie. 1890 - 1897
(by Miss E.E. Bridle)
I, Emma E. Bridle, having been asked by the Secretary of the history of the Church of England, Alvie, near Colac, to write about the history of the Church, from the time my parents and their family of 8 children left Koroit in the year 1890, and rented land on the estate of the late Thomas Carmichael Murray of Warrion, I will try to the best of my ability to do so. Although I am an old woman now, the happenings of those days are still vivid in my memory.
When we arrived at Alvie in the year 1890, there was no Church of England nor resident minister, but we were visited by the Rev. Mr. Lumsden of Colac, and also the Rev. A.E. Harvey of Beeac.
We used to attend the Church of England at Warrion, a distance, I should think, of about six miles, our means of transport being a horse-drawn buggy. We children took our lunch and stayed on for Sunday School, and then walked home round the foot of the big Warrion Hill.
Later on, services and Sunday School were held in the Alvie State School, which was built on Mr. T.C. Murray's Warrion Estate. Sunday School meetings were held at the home of Mr. Oliphant, who was the gardener at Glen Alvie.
As time went on, more people rented land on the various stations, and our congregations began to increase. It was then decided to build a church. Meetings were called and Mr. Stewart Murray of Wool Wool Estate kindly provided a block of land on his property, free, and also headed the subscription list with a substantial donation. So, the life of St. Andrew's began. I cannot recall the date when the building contract was let, or who the contractors were. At that time, Camperdown Church of England was putting in new furniture, and passed on to St. Andrew's that which they had taken out. It was made of oak, and remains in the Alvie Church today.
During our time, quite a number of people came to the district from Ballarat, many of them belonging to the Church of England. There were 3 families of Brights. Alfred Bright rented land on T.C. Murray's estate adjoining our property. All their children were baptised at St. Andrew's. Two brothers, John and William Bright rented land from Mr. Thomas Baker, and they also attended the Alvie Church. To the east was a very large family by the name of Parker, and a neighbour to them was Alice Brisbane, a relative of Governor Brisbane of New South Wales, after whom the city of Brisbane in Queensland is named. Alice Brisbane was my closest friend, and she and I were of the first choir at St. Andrews.
Other Church of England people were the Davis family from Glen Alvie Estate, the Stepnells on T.C. Murray's estate, and 2 Phalp families. Mrs Louis Calvert of Dreeite was the organist in the early years. Miss Harman was a very regular attendant and also taught in the Sunday School. My eldest sister was a teacher, too.
I can truthfully state that at a morning service, the Church was usually filled. There could have been other families whom I have forgotten.
During our stay there, confirmation classes were held and 3 of our family were confirmed (Henry, Laura and myself) by Bishop H.S. Cooper, D.D who was acting at that time for the Bishop of Ballarat, whose name I cannot now remember. That was on the 8th. November, 1896, and the number of confirmees was eight. The Secretary, no doubt, will have a record of the first Vestry meeting.
The first marriage in the Alvie Church was between Miss Mary Buckle and Mr. Alan Stepnell. The same year, my sister, Miss Mary Bridle and Mr. John Gunn of Koroit were the second pair to be married. We left Alvie in April, 1897, and bought a farm at Morwell in Gippsland.
E.E. Bridle, April, 1966