Sorrento, VIC - St John's Anglican

Year Built: 1874

Denomination: Anglican

Saint: John

Address: Point Nepean Road, Sorrento, Victoria, 3943

Architect: George Morse

Traditional Owners: Bunurong people

Last Updated: 19/04/2023

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History and Architecture:

St John's Church of England, Nepean Highway, Sorrento, was commenced in 1874, the transepts being added in 1889 and the chancel during 1908-11. The small limestone Church is conventionally planned with an apsidal east end. Walls are of random coursed masonry with rendered parapet, buttress cappings and plinth (probably later) and a slate roof. The massive angled corner buttresses, porch, oculus and triangular roof vents are the principal features.

The church was completed at least in the nave section by 1874 and built by George Morce, and the building was immediately used for a number of community functions and was known as The Athenaeum in 'Guide to Sorrento' dated 1876.(2) Further research is required to establish the connection between this nomenclature and the title of the building in Ocean Beach Road.

The transepts were built in 1889, presumably also by Morce. The stained glass windows in the easterly transept were donated by St Paul's Anglican Church in Melbourne which was demolished in 1889.(3) The chancel was built in 1908-11 by William Croad, who also built Marlborough House, Cliff Crest The Sorrento Golf Clubrooms among other buildings.

The church is believed by some to have been positioned here near the school and the butcher's shop in the expectation that the town would develop to the west.

The windows include a small rose window with limestone surround at the porch end of the nave. There are four arched windows dedicated to various families in the nave section. The east transept features the triplet from St Paul's, Melbourne and the west transept another three window panels plus three in the sanctuary.

The stained glass windows include the work of Ferguson & Urie (from St Paul's Church, Melbourne) and William Montgomery.


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

Years Name Annotation D.o.B D.o.D
1886 - 1890 Rev Arthur Pelham Chase 1858 1947
1891 - 1898 Rev Frederick William Willcox 1859 1905
1898 - 1902 Rev Mervyn Moss Whitton 1842 1921
1902 - 1914 Rev Edwin Charles Rodda 1844 1917
1914 - 1916 Rev Richard Sherwood 1880 1970
1916 - 1918 Rev Eric Thornton
1918 - 1920 Rev William Henry Henderson 1887 1964
1920 - 1923 Rev Edwin Warner 1887 1967
1923 - 1923 Rev Frank Ellis Thornton 1885 1978
1924 - 1926 Rev Henry Joseph Harvey 1865 1950
1926 - 1932 Rev Charles Parker Lee 1881 1937
1932 - 1934 Rev Alexander Frederick Falconer 1886 1968
1935 - 1941 Rev Frederick Godfrey Hughes 1889 1966
1941 - 1947 Rev Clifton Plessey Brown 1882 1963
1947 - 1969 Rev Eric Deacon Kent 1898 1988
1969 - 1970 Rev Albert Edward Bellamy 1902 1970
1971 - 1975 Rev Peter Paul Kan
1975 - 1981 Rev Charles William Kenny
1982 - 1985 Rev David Graeme Wood PiC 1953
1986 - 1993 Rev G E Charles
1999 - Rev K. W. Parker
2020 - Rev Nicholas Robert Wallace


The Organ was built in 1908 by N.T. Pearce of Christchurch for Methodist Church, Woolston, NZ incorporating components supplied by Gray & Davison of London. Alterations were made in 1980 by South Island Organ Co. Removed in 1981 to Christchurch Cathedral Grammar School Chapel. Dismantled c.2009-10 and placed in storage at South Island Organ Company, Timaru, Installed in present location in 2019 by Hargraves Pipe Organs Pty Ltd. It has
2 manuals, 9 speaking stops, 4 couplers, mechanical action. The Organ was to be re consecrated in 2020.
For a full description and photos click here.


* Philip Leahy re consecration of replacement organ


1. 2. On Eagles Wings A History of the Anglican Parish of Sorrento - Rye David Wood. 283.9452 WOO
2. Cable Clergy Index.
3. Organ Historical Trust of Australia.