Adelaide, SA - St Mary Magdalene Anglican

Year Built: 1841

Denomination: Anglican

Saint: Mary

Address: 26 Moore Street, Adelaide, South Australia, 5000

Architect: R. Garlick Holwell

Traditional Owners: Kaurna people

Last Updated: 09/01/2024

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History and Architecture:

1841 - 1846

One of the oldest buildings in South Australia, the church was originally built in 1841 on the site on which St John's, Halifax Street now stands where it was commonly known as "St John's in the Wilderness" for its remoteness from the busier northern part of Adelaide. The church was poorly built, for it was condemned and its demolition ordered in 1885, though it was taken down with care in anticipation of reusing the materials for a Mission Church in Moore Street, where it was rebuilt to much the same design in 1886. The church bell bears the year 1838 and was presumably a feature of the first church.

Initially also dedicated to St John, the church was subsequently consecrated under the title of St Mary Magdalene in 1893. From the time of its foundation the church worked with the poor and marginalised people of the city and in 1912 the St Peter's College Mission was erected next to the Church.

The structure is formally described as a severely detailed Gothic building with a bellcote that is a significant feature. The architect was Mr R. Garlick Holwell, who designed many local churches, and the builders Couch & Perkins, overseen by a Mr. Harlow.

A notable internal feature is a three light stained glass window depicting Jesus, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary, designed by Vanessa Smith (nee Lambe) and executed by Clarkson's Ltd, depicting Jesus, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary. Smith was one of a number of women designers at Clarksons, and also designed and executed windows for St George's, Magill and St Saviour's, Glen Osmond. The window is dedicated to the memory of Percy Robert Ferris, Rector of the Parish 1940-1947.


These names are now in the Database and can be searched individually.

Years Name Annotation D.o.B D.o.D
1886 - 1895 Rev Canon Frederic Slaney Pool 1845 1936
1895 - 1908 Rev Canon Walter Hopcraft 1848 1908
1908 - 1922 Ven Charles Soward Hornabrook Archdeacon of Adelaide 1859 1922
1922 - 1934 Rev Canon Wilfred Brougham Docker 1882 1956
1934 - 1940 Rev James Hardingham 1890 1962
1940 - 1947 Rev Percy Ferris 1881 1947
1948 - 1954 Rev Ernest Dilena 1904 1963
1954 - 1957 Rev Howell Witt **later Bishop ofNorth Western Australia (1965 - 1984) and Bathurst (1985 - 1989) 1920 1998
1957 - 1967 Rev Malcolm Lindsay 1918 2006
1967 - 1975 Rev Ron Herde Received into the Catholic Church, 1976 1924 2012
1975 - 1988 Rev Stephen Nicholls Subsequently a priest in the Anglican Catholic Church 1943
1990 - 1994 Rev Graeme Kaines 1945
1994 - 2003 Rev Grant Bullen 1956
2003 - 2011 Rev Dr Ronald Dowling 1948 2013
2011 - 2013 Rev Catherine Relf Pennington 1958
2013 - 2014 Rev Sister Juliana
2014 - 2020 Rev Stephen Clark 1952
2020 - Rev Dr Steven Ogden 1955


A small pipe organ thought to be the only instrument built by the local music teacher, organist and music seller John Hill Fray was installed in the church in 1897. It was removed in 1915 and was subsequently installed in several other churches. By coincidence, it is presently in St John's Church, Halifax Street, the church from which St Mary Magdalene's originated.

A large two manual and pedal reed organ in an impressively carved case complete with faade pipes stood on the southern wall of the church for many years until a two manual Allen MDC Classic 42 organ was installed in 1989 following the closure of St Mark's, Maylands. This was in turn replaced by a 3-manual Johannus digital organ in 2017.


1. History and list of Clergy supplied by Peter Burdon. Minor alterations supplied by Rev'd Stephen Clark
2. Peter Burdon with DoB & DoD dates.