Church Name: Holy Passion of Our Lord
This church was built in 1866 at Brackenbridge, a town planned by Sir Frederick Weld for his Brackenfield Estate near Amberley, in anticipation of the railway passing that way.
Bishop Moran’s 1873 visit, during the interregnum in Wellington following Bishop Viard’s death, does not refer to a visit to Brackenfield, possibly because Weld was by then Governor of Western Australia and there were too few Catholics in the area for confirmation.
Neither does Bishop Redwood’s 1878 report, although he does refer to a church at Leithfield, which may be Brackenbridge. By 1887 Redwood, by then Archbishop, refers to “The pretty little church of Brackenfield was mainly due to the generosity of Sir Frederick Weld, who, as Mr Weld, resided for some years in that neighbourhood”.
The town of Brackenbridge failed to develop when the railway was placed nearer the coast, through Amberley, and in 1954 the church was moved to Amberley . On its new site it was enlarged and the tower was moved to the other side.
The church was estimated to have cost between £450 and £475 to build, Frederick Weld probably having contributed almost all. The church measured 50 feet by 25 feet with a sacristy at the south west corner. It was constructed of native timber with a shingle roof (replaced in the 1930s), its 14 pews capable of seating 150 people. Few nails were used in its construction.
The church had a rood screen, the only church in Australasia so furnished. It was largely removed in the 1930s by Fr Madden who referred to it as “cow bails obstructing the view of the altar”.
Photo courtesy of the Kowai Archives Society.