28 December 1847 Installation of Augustus Short as Bishop of Adelaide
The venue for this special event in the life of the diocese of Adelaide, the occasion when it was inaugurated and its first bishop installed, was Trinity Church, the first Anglican church to be erected in the colony.
Set on the side of a creek running down to the Torrens where a ford crossed to North Adelaide, Trinity’s foundation stone was laid on to 26 January 1838. It was built of golden limestone quarried from near Government House, quoined with red bricks. Its roof line was low, its tower squat. The building had recently been rebuilt/refurbished during 1845, with seating for officials and others who rented pews, with one sixth of the seating free. The ceiling was flat. Dr Short described it as ‘too low, cruciform’, with no reference to church parties intended!
The major rebuild of 1888 saw about a metre and a half added to the walls of the church, (which can be detected externally by the change of colour), height added to the tower, and the high vaulted ceiling installed, all under the direction of Mr Woods, Adelaide’s leading architect. The short sanctuary of 1845 was extended, the vestry and other entrances added, together with Gothic touches such as the pulpit (extant). The present aisle layout dates from the late 1920s. The galleries as now extant were installed in the 1950s-1960s, while the present chancel extension was installed only a couple of years ago.
About 200 were present, including all the clergy of the new diocese. They robed in the schoolroom in surplice and scarf, the bishop in rochet, scarf etc, ie ‘full canonicals’, and processed into the church preceded by members of the Church Society, (which contributed funds towards church growth and the erection of the diocese). Also present was the Governor, in his new official uniform, looking fine. Government officials, and representatives of the Dissenting congregations, as well as the press and other interested citizens, came despite the fact that the weather was ‘fiercely hot’. They were all eager to see this new thing, a bishop of the Church of England in their midst.
The Service was Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, read by the incumbent, the Revd James Farrell (who was named by Dr Short as Dean of the diocese soon after), followed by Communion, conducted by Dr Short, who to the great delight of those present assisted in distributing the elements..
Between the two parts of the service, Mr Bartley, soon to be appointed Registrar of the diocese, read the Letters Patent from the Crown establishing the diocese of Adelaide and thus erecting Adelaide to the status of a city. Dr Short was appointed to be bishop of this new diocese, brought into being by carving up the former diocese of Australia into four new dioceses (Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne and Adelaide). The Letters patent also named Trinity Church as the cathedral of the diocese, and authorised the bishop to name another site as and when he thought fit. After that, documents confirming Dr Short’s consecration as a bishop in Westminster Abbey were read by the Revd Matthew Hale (soon to be named archdeacon).
The bishop’s sermon during the Communion service was based on Ps 107:30, ‘So He bringeth them unto the haven where they would be’ using the Prayer Book version, no doubt reflecting his great relief in having arrived! He encouraged ‘the clergy and elders of the church’ in the dissemination of the Gospel, the ‘conversion of souls’ and warned them against appearing to seek ‘filthy lucre’.
The Register reporter, probably the editor, John Stephens, no friend to the Church of England, was yet eager to inform his readers of the new phenomenon that had come into their midst. He remarked that Bishop Short ‘possesses a clear, pleasing and sufficiently powerful voice, with all the appearance of the “sober” virtues enjoined by the Apostle St Paul, and the promise of longevity, as well as great usefulness in his holy calling. The Bishop’s delivery is unaffectedly plain, and pleasingly exempt from any languid intonation, or that succession of tasteless cadences which characterises the preaching of many modern divines; his style is lively and conversational; and his hearers will not fail (we think) to participate in those kindly impressions which pervaded all who were present at the solemn and interesting Episcopal installation.’
At the conclusion of proceedings at the church, a reception followed at Government House for the clergy and members of the Church Society, with speeches of welcome to the bishop and his wife.
Sources: WH Coombs, journal entry for 28 Dec 1847; Register 1 Jan 1848; Brian Dickey, Holy Trinity Adelaide 1836-1988: the history of a city church, Adelaide, 1988.