Edmund Thomas Blacket
Edmund Thomas Blacket (1817-1883) arrived in Australia in 1842 and was Diocesan Architect from 1843 and Colonial Architect from 1849-1851. For 40 years he dominated ecclesiastical architecture in New South Wales. A small selection of his better known works includes: the main quadrangle at Sydney University; St Andrew’s Cathedral; St Paul’s College at Sydney University; St Phillip’s, Church Hill; St Saviour’s Cathedral, Goulburn; and St Thomas’, North Sydney.
Blacket took on the completion of Christ Church after construction had stopped in the 1842 financial crisis and completed the building sufficiently for it to be consecrated in September 1845.
Christ Church St Laurence is in many respects Blacket's Church. It owes to him many of its finest features - the carved poppy heads at the end of the pews, the pulpit, the font, and the stone tracery in the windows.
In later years he completed the tower and spire (1855); the ceiling and columns (1864); Bishop Patteson's effigy (1873) and even designed some of the painted windows (although we are unable to determine which ones).
Blacket's sons, trading as Blacket Brothers, were responsible for the remodelling of the sanctuary and erection of the chancel in 1885.
Blacket was also responsible for the parish's second rectory (1855-1901) and the first (1845-1904) and second (1860-1904) school buildings. All three buildings were demolished to make way for the Central Railway Station and associated developments. The tracery from the rose windows from the second school building have been incorporated into the current parish hall.
The connection, however, does not end there.
One of Blacket's earliest mentors in Sydney was our first Rector (William Horatio Walsh), his children were baptised at the Christ Church font and he was the pewholders’ churchwarden 1851-1870 and trustees’ warden 1870-1874. His involvement with the church continued after this date, with his last recorded contribution being plans for the renovation of the church roof in 1880.
Despite not living within the geographical bounds of the parish, Blacket strongly defended his status as a parishioner. As can be seen from a speech he delivered at a parish meeting in 1858 that considered proposals for electing members for a proposed synod:
Mr Blacket then expressed himself in indignant terms at the course pursued by the Bishop, and contended that, from the circumstances of their not being residents in the parish, the three churchwardens, himself, Mr Metcalfe and Mr Pinhey, were shut out by the provisions of the Bishop's Bill from all participation in this matter of election, as also was Sir Alfred Stephen. He referred to the fact of his election by the people as their churchwarden, and to his long services in that position, and protested against the arbitrary rule shutting him out, which he considered as not being Churchman's rule. He objected to any mixing together of the Bishop's proposal with the rule already laid down by the Church Act, and insisted that they must either go with the Bishop altogether, or go according to their own opinions... He considered that the proposals of the Bishop implied a parochial system which did not exist...
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