Artist/Studio: Burlison & Grylls, London, c.1887.
Location: Birregurra, Victoria.
Building: Christ Church, Birregurra.
Memorial: Sir Charles Sladen (1816-1884).
Donor: Lady Sladen.
Photos dated: 28th December 2010.
‘BIRREGURRA – CHRIST CHURCH.
On Good Friday, April 8th, 1887, the service was one of peculiar interest, that day having been fixed for the ceremony of unveiling the large west window, recently presented to the church by Lady Sladen, in memory of her husband, Sir Charles Sladen, who died in February, 1884. The window, by Burlisson [sic] and Grylls, of London, is exceedingly beautiful. The upper tracery is rich, but harmonious. The four chief lights contain large and spirited representation of Joseph, Daniel, Stephen, and Paul; whilst beneath the figures are well executed groups, illustrating the four legends introduced below them: “I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat;” “I was a stranger, and ye took Me in;” “Naked, and ye clothed Me;” “Sick, and in prison, and ye visited Me.” The east window is also a handsome one, erected by his widow in memory of the late Mr Bromfield. The interior of the beautiful church now presents an exceedingly striking and dignified appearance. A large congregation assembled at the church, including old and intimate personal friends of Sir Charles, from Geelong, Lorne, and other places, besides and excellent representation of the residents of the township and neighborhood. The bishop, who had travelled from Ballarat by the early train, in order to attend, was assisted by the Rev. H. J. Carr, of Krambruk, and the Rev. T. Sabine, the retiring incumbent; this was possibly the last occasion of his officiating in the church, as he is leaving the colony. The service used was that appointed by the Church of England for Good Friday: two breaks, however, occurred in it. The first related to the opening, the other to the close, of human life. After the second lesson Holy Baptism was administered to the twin son and daughter of the Rev. H. J. Carr, by the bishop, the Rev. T. Sabine assisting. Later on, between matins and communion, the bishop conducted the “unveiling;” advancing to the desk, he bade all join in prayer of dedication as follows:- “Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee graciously to accept the adornment of this, Thy sanctuary, the window in the western wall, which we dedicate this day to the honor of Thy holy name and to the reverend and loving memory of that faithful servant of Thine, who so largely helped to build this house of prayer, and was wont for years to worship Thee within its walls. We bless Thy name for the noble life which through Thy grace he lived, and for that high and enduring example which he bequeathed to us. We thank Thee for that fidelity and constancy which shone so clearly in him as in old time in Holy Joseph. We praise Thee for the devoutness, purity, and wisdom which made him, as they made Thy prophet Daniel, and uncorrupt and high-souled statesman. We give Thee glory for that courageous, large-hearted piety in him, which reminded us in a measure of the saintly Stephen; and for the loving zeal, coupled with insight in the Apostle of the Gentiles. We adore Thee for his unstinted generosity and unfailing charity. To Thee be all the praise for what Thy servant was and what he did, and we beseech Thee to grant that we, reminded continually by this memorial window of what Thy grace wrought in him whose memory be delight to cherish, may by that same grace be enabled to follow in the footsteps of that crucified Redeemer whom he loved and served, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” The prayer of dedication over, the congregation were invited to stand and face westward. The veil, which hitherto had concealed the window, was now at the bishop’s signal lowered, disclosing the beautiful design, seen to great advantage in the forenoon sunlight; the bishop slowly reciting the words: “In the name of the donor and this congregation, I solemnly dedicate this window to the praise and glory of Almighty God, and to the perpetual memory of Sir Charles Sladen.” He then briefly explained the design of the window. The congregation being again seated, the bishop said:- “We have now unveiled a window set in yonder wall in memory of one of the truest-hearted and best of public men that ever emerged into distinction in Australian colonies. He played is part in the life of Victoria for over 40 years, and although his duties took him frequently elsewhere, it is with your parish and district that his private and domestic life was principally connected. And that life, I make bold to say, secured for him universal respect and love as that of a public-spirited and honorable neighbour; and upright and influential professional man and property holder; a most kindly , constant, and benevolent friend; whilst his loyal affection towards the church and her services was sincere, deep, exemplary, and unfailing. Shall such a man be forgotten amongst us in three short years after he has been gathered to his rest? There are those whose lives have been too completely altered by the loss of him for them to forget him for a single hour, and it is not in order to enable them to remember him, but as the instinctive tribute of an unutterable affection that can never cease to think of and honor the noble dead, that they have set this fair window in the church for the gratification of their fellow Christians who knew and prized him, for the credit of the place he loved, and for the conservation there to after years of the stimulating recollection of his high example. Live on, then, in all our hearts, noble memory of a faith that never faltered; or an integrity that never trifled, even with the finger of truth; of a diligence that never stained one duty with the blood of another; of a love which bore all, believed all, hoped all, endured all. We set up a fair memorial of all that to-day, not because without it we should forget the man whom many of us still miss so sorely, but just as we beautify the casket we keep some priceless jewel in, bind in sumptuous easing some precious book whose pages we would turn continually to mark our sense of their exceeding worthiness to be preserved. “He that believeth on Me,” said our crucified Master, ‘shall; never die.’ That window puts into glass for us, expressing in terms of sacred art, the thought that, though dead, in all our hearts and memories Charles Sladen lives on still. It is not the moment, as the poet sings, that conquers death; it is the faith and work of the servant of Christ; and the monument is only the trophy of that victory. Yes, and Charles Sladen will live on still; that window may remind us not only in our loving memory, but in the present consequence and influences of his personality and example. ‘The evil that men do lives after them.’ Shakespeare tells us, but I should go mad if I thought that was chiefly true of evil. No! ‘Ties have no legs;’ it is not wickedness that abides while goodness dies. It is ‘the way of the ungodly’ that ‘shall perish;’ it is ‘the righteous’ that ‘shall be held in everlasting remembrance,’ it is the holy man that, being dead, yet speaketh. Ever since they lifted up Jesus on a cross and laid Him in a grave He has had power over all the human race, and drawn all men unto Him. The crucified is now the ascended Christ, but He is no more lost in power and presence to His people than the sublime mountain is lost to the valley it presides over, when hidden from view by the clouds that have gathered round its breast, to distil down its side, like gifts of benediction, fertilising rains. One word more. For what activities the life of the departed expresses itself we cannot tell, yet it seems hard to suppose that they are shorn by their promotion of faculties of sympathy and knowledge which they possessed in this inferior state. Rather would these faculties be enlarged and intensified. Not improbably then, the man we loved, in the world of spirits, is cognisant of our strong and loving thought of him to-day, as we lay this fresh garland on his tomb. If so, will not his strong and loving thought of us be this: to beckon us along the same road he travelled tot he goal he reached? O! for grace to follow him as he followed Christ! O! to have a good hope of seeing him once again; no longer indeed in the flesh, no longer in the vesture of humiliation, but under conditions such as shall befit the life of Paradise and the immediate presence of our once crucified, but now ascended and glorified, Redeemer!” The Communion Service followed, and the service closed with a sermon on the Passion, the bishop taking for his text Rev. v., 12:- “The Lamb that was slain.” It need not be said that those present followed the entire proceedings with the deepest attention and interest: it was and occasion not to be forgotten. The Bishop of Ballarat, Lady Sladen, and Mr and Mrs Charles Beale were the guests of Mr Edmundson, Eliminook, Birregurra.”
Another stained glass window to the memory of Sir Charles Sladen, also made by Burlison & Grylls, exists at Christ Church in Geelong. See: 23-07-1884: Christ Church, Geelong, Victoria.