Wesleyan – Methodist Church of Milton NSW
One can date back the Church’s History to the early 1850’s. The township of Milton did not exist and Boat Harbour ( Ulladulla of today) was in its early stage of development. The official business of the district including Court matters were done at Moruya/Broulee.
There had been no regular religious services held here before that time. Mr James Warden had on occasions visited Moruya on some public business. Whilst there he was asked if he would undertake to collect moneys in Ulladulla (refers to the entire district back in the 1850’s) for a Wesleyan Church to be erected in Moruya.
He was not hopeful of doing much in that line and the residents of that time, thinking that it was too far to drive, ride or walk to church at Moruya, did not see the advantage of subscribing for the erection of a place of worship 60 miles away. James Warden wrote to the Church authorities at Moruya, suggesting that a Clergyman should visit this locality and see if he could persuade the people to help them in their project.
Acting on this suggestion Rev. James Sommerville, the Wesleyan minister then stationed at Moruya, came on a tour of inspection. He held a service in a little school house that had been erected on Nurrawallee Flat. The attendance was so encouraging that Sommerville undertook to visit the district once a month as an outpost.
This he did for some time and the people turned out well for those early services, laying the foundation for public worship in this district. After a while a problem occurred in regard to their use of the school house. One Sunday they were confronted with a locked building and a notice that they would have to apply to one of the trustees for the use of the building.
Rev Sommerville was not intimidated by this difficulty, and said he would preach under an adjoining tree. James Warden and William Hood Wason and others having assisted to put up the school, insisted upon having the use of it ,even if they had to break down the door. It transpired, on investigation, that Thomas Kendall then at Kiama had given the site for a school house in connection with the Church of England. They than set to work to put up a church in connection with the Wesleyan body.
THE WESLEYAN CHAPEL
Both Henry Claydon and William Jinks donated adjoining lots of land in Crooybar Road to the Wesleyan Church. Original deeds dated 20 October 1856 were granted to James Sommerville as Trustee. Soon after this, in February 1857 the church community had a wooden building with a shingle roof was erected which could accommodate up to approx 150 people. It was the first church or place of worship erected in this district and cost £ 200.
Sunday school was commenced with hope to establish a day school. A fete was held to raise church funds. Doing so well with the support of the local community James Warden as treasurer was able to report a credit balance of œ4 and some odd shillings at the opening. In April 1858 the Presbyterians asked to used either the new Wesleyan Chapel or the school house for their services. Over 35 children were attending Sunday School in August 1858 and completing their examinations.
The first known wedding performed at the Chapel was that of Robert John Garrad and Jane Booth on 17 Jan 1859. Robert was the eldest son of Robert and Sarah Garrad nee Taylor. Jane was the daughter of Thomas Bonner and Jane Booth nee Stevenson. During March and April 1859 the local parishioners cleared and fenced the property surrounding the Chapel. They also purchased a horse for the minister. Rev Sommerville was then removed to the Shoalhaven but Ulladulla still formed part of his circuit and visited every month.
A Testimonial dinner/service was held in November 1857 as Rev Sommerville was leaving to visit his parents in New Zealand. He was back in our district in 1860 when his name reappears on our local marriage certificates. During his absence John Spurgin held services. John Spurgin (Spurgeon) was a private School teacher who lived at Boat Harbour (Ulladulla).
An addition of 12′ (feet) was made to wooden chapel in 1861. Plans for this extension started in September 1860 and were completed in February 1861 and a re-opening ceremony was held, progress reports appeared in the Illawarra Mercury. The surrounds of the Chapel had a great change in 1860. The township of Milton was born. The private township was established by John BOOTH. Brother to Jane who married Robert John Garrad. The Wesleyan Chapel is noted on the 1860 map as is also a small burial ground on the corner of Thomas Street and Princes Highway. But no burial ground behind the Chapel was noted?
What became of that School Building at Nurrawallee.?? In the meantime the population of the district having greatly increased, the Church of England community in order to meet the needs of the times instead of adhering to the school house at Nurrawallee built a church of their own on the present site in Milton. (St Peters and Paul Princes Highway Milton) in February 1860. The Wesleyan Chapel was used by Rev Grant of the Free Church ministered in Shoalhaven in the early 1860’s.
MILTON’S FIRST WESLEYAN/METHODIST MINISTER.
Recognition for the Wesleyan/Methodist local community was clear in 1863, when the Ulladulla Circuit was declared by Conference. The first permanent Minister arriving here in May 1864 was Rev John Herman ZILLMAN. He married a Kendall girl before he left the district. There are many newspaper reports on the happenings of the church in both the Illawarra Mercury and the Kiama Independent. One such report is of the tea meetings funding the ministers residence in October 1864. Another report is of a tea meeting at the Chapel in May 1865.
MILTON WESLEYAN MANSE.
Henry Claydon once again gave land to the Wesleyan Church. This time 25 acres of land on the corner of Thomas Street and Princes Highway (Murramarang Street). Next to the burial ground which appears on the 1860 Milton map. This was to allow for a dwelling house (Manse) for the Church However later its was decided that the manse was too elaborate and did not conform with the Wesleyan Methodist beliefs and was sold. The Manse a two storied residence which stands opposite the Milton War Memorial is said to be haunted. During WWII (1939 -1945) the back balcony was used for looking for enemy aircraft.
The old Wesleyan/Methodist cemetery is located behind the Church in Crooybar Road Milton. It is the resting place for many early pioneers of the district Eg. Davis, Faulks, Claydon, Booth, Garrad, Latta, Mudge to name a few. At the March 1892 Church trustee meeting charges were agreed for burials. A charge of 7/6 to be made for each burial ground 3 feet by 7 feet to be inforced and that 4 pieces (plots) be the limit secured. The front entrance of the Cemetery was fenced in September 1893 with Mr Joseph Collier providing the post and rails. This cemetery and the Church property was classified by the National trust in 1986. Some headstones remain today.
In March 1863 Sandridge Cemetery (Mollymook) was laid out and included a Methodist Section. The Sandridge Cemetery was dedicated on 12 March 1869 but was revoked. It was re-dedicated on 26 March 1893 some 30 years later. So burials continued at the Milton Cemetery. Burials at Sandridge started around the late 1880’s. The rules for operation at the Methodist Section were drawn up in June 1896.
MILTON’S PRESENT DAY METHODIST STONE CHURCH
In 1877 a resolution was put into place by the Church committee to the effect that a new church be erected. Plans of the church allowed for 250 people. The cost for the new church was estimated in April 1882 for £ 800. In October of the same year the Church Committee asked the District Council for a £ 100 grant towards the cost of the church building . The Foundation Stone was laid in November 1882 and funds raised on that day were handed over to the Church Committee in January 1883 along with the œ100 grant which had been approved by the Wesleyan/Methodist District Council. It was official opened on the first Sunday in June 1883.
The first known marriage to be held at the new stone Church was that of Elliott Charles FLACK and Susanna HEWITT on 28 September 1884. Susanna was the daughter of Samuel and Ellen Hewitt nee Forsyth. The church roof was damaged (uplifted) in a storm of late December 1899. The Hamon’s repaired the damage and recommended an additional iron bar across the roof for safety. This matter brought up at the Trustee April 1900 meeting – result unknown.
A NEW ERA.
In the minutes of the Trustee meeting of July 1891 appears the concern about the use of land and clearing of a paddock belonging to Mr John Ingold. This paddock adjoins the Church’s west boundary. John Ingold was present at the March 1892 meeting and agree to convey in writing any land belong to him on which the church building stands (??) and also agreed to rent the piece of land between the church building and the picket fence. This would be for the sum of 1/- for 10 years. Ingold also requested to update the boundary fence between the rear Cemetery and his property.
He offered to find the post and erect the fence. Which he did with the aid of Joseph Collier who donated the rails. However John Ingold declined to sell his land to the church and again “decline to give said piece of land on any condition” in August 1892. Six months later the church was paying 1/6 in rent for the land. On checking many land records, deeds, titles, land searches and surveys one cannot find any problems concerning this land. In 1893 Rev G G Percival served the entire district including many outlaying areas were many Methodists families lived.
In January of that year Sunday Church Services included locations as Milton, Brooman, Ferndale and Termeil. With help from Mr R Davis and Mr Thompson. James Warden gave a talk about the beginning of the church at a farewell social tea to Rev Sands in October 1896. At which time Warden was the local Magistrate and JP.
James Warden was born 18 March 1820 at Kirriemuir Forfarshire Scotland, now Angus. James was the son of David and Isabel WARDEN nee WINTER. Also in the district was his elder brother David Warden. At the time of the Church’s begining he was single. In 1863 he married local girl. Sarah Ann Garrad, daughter of Robert and Sarah GARRAD nee Taylor of Wickham Hill. James was Mayor of the District in 1880 and 1885.
Major church building renovations occurred in the early 1900’s. They included a choir platform. Two local builders Riley and Poole were employed. In 1917, Rev Peter Williams arranged for the memorial stained glass windows to be installed. This for the memory of those who served in WWI (1914 – 1918). 1933 was the 50th Anniversary Service for the Stone Church. The guest Preacher was Rev Lewis Herd a former Minister.
CHURCH SERVICES OF THE 1940’S.
In 1946 Rev Robert R Smith held the Christmas Thanksgiving Service. Carols and Christmas Hymns were preformed by the Milton Band featuring a Solo by E Crawford. The Theme/Anthem was Silent Night. The service was on Sunday 22 December at 7.30pm at the Milton Church. Rev Smith was replaced by Rev Roy E Nash. Sunday Church Services in September 1949 was 11am Ulladulla, 2.30pm Lake Conjola, 7.15pm Praise Service and 7.30pm Milton with Mr K Gale.
TIME OF CHANGE
The current Uniting Church of Ulladulla was originally a Methodist Church which was built in 1964. Edna Berry Veitch n‚e Backhouse sang at first Wedding preformed at this Church. Which is located on the corner of Princess Highway and North Street Ulladulla. The Methodist Church joined with the Congregational Church to become the Uniting Church in June 1977.
The Milton Congregational Church by mutual agreement became the home of the Uniting Church in the Parish of Milton/Ulladulla. The Methodist Church building and land was sold in May 1982 . The Old Stone Church and surrounding property and has been renovated into a beautiful home. The rear Sunday School building is now a workshop but has been relocated to allow for a vegetable garden. All set amongst greenery from the landscaping along with the allure and the beauty of Milton of the 1990’s.
Photos: Milton Methodist Church WW1 Flag
© Cathy Dunn
Extract from Methodist Church of Milton Ulladulla. Out of Print
Published by Cathy Dunn June 1994. ISBN 0 646 189387.