Three Score Years and Ten

“Three Score Years and Ten, a Short Souvenir History of the Glen Iris Methodist Church” was written to commemorate the 70th Jubilee of the formation of the Wesleyan Church community in Glen Iris. Although the Chapel was built in 1865, the congregation had begun to meet in a private home in 1862. The author of this book, William Lambert, provides a history of the earliest years in this first extract. Note that Lambert's reference to Captain Anderson, as told to him by the very elderly Mary Ann Bruce, is incorrect. This was actually Captain Henderson who sailed to Australia in the “Iris”. A dropped “aitch” probably caused the confusion.

The second extract from “Three Score Years and Ten” provides the story of the red-gum stump, a list of “firsts” for the Wesleyan congregation, a description of their Diamond Jubilee in 1922, and a wonderful descripton of the renovation of the chapel in 1922.

The third extract from “Three Score Years and Ten” alludes to the building of the new red brick church of 1932 and then tells the story of the first three trustees of the Wesleyan Church, Cr. T. Robinson, and Messrs Edward Stocks and Thomas Bruce.

Government Gazette, Victoria Government

These extracts are from the Government Gazette, Victoria 1860 and 1865.

The first contains reference, at the top right of the page, to land reserved in Boroondara by the Lands and Survey office, Melbourne on March 26th 1860, for a Mechanics Institute. This land was immediately north of the land now known as Glen Iris Primary School. Work did begin on building the hall but, according to William Lambert, it blew down in a storm before it was completed. It is commonly believed that the bricks were reused in the Glen Iris School in 1872.

The second and third also come from the 1860 Government Gazette and reveal the acceptance of contracts to first build and then add to a bridge over Gardiner's Creek, between Boroondara and Gardiner, now known as the bridge over Gardiner's Creek near or at High Street, Glen Iris.

The extract from the 1865 Government Gazette refers to land being reserved for a Wesleyan Chapel in Glen Iris. Within months the chapel, designed by architects Crouch & Wilson, had been built.

Glen Iris Wesleyan Minute Book

These two extracts from the Glen Iris Wesleyan Minute Book, 1871 to 1910, record moves to investigate options and raise funds for extending the Wesleyan Chapel.

This extract from the Glen Iris Wesleyan Minute Book, 1871 to 1910, provides a list of the children in classes 1, 2 and 3 of the Wesleyan Sunday School in 1886, and the book prizes awarded to them.

These three extracts from the Glen Iris Wesleyan Minute Book, 1871 to 1910, record the preparations and costs associated with the 1891 Church Anniversary Picnic held on the 15th of November.

Memories, 2007

“A member of the church by the name of Joyce Kissick once told me her motherís family were involved in an early group at the church. The group were responsible for the building of the grey church at Glen Iris Road. They picked up the children of the district, street by street, and returned them home again using a horse and cart with a flat tray on the back.”


In 1922 my mother and father, Ada and Colin Turnbull, moved to the new suburb south-east of Melbourne called Glen Iris. I was two years of age. There were no facilities; unmade roads, mud tracks in the winter. The nearest transport was a twenty-minute walk to the tram terminus and railway station-but on the rise in Glen Iris Road was a little grey church. Later I had a sister Dorothy and a brother Colin. Mum had grown up very involved in Wesley Church Melbourne so it was natural for the little grey church to become an integral part of our lives. Other than school everything we did was connected with the church. I remember attending Sunday School and Church services in the little church. The Sunday School teacher, Miss Brooks, walked there and back every Sunday from Surrey Hills, no matter what the weather. In the porch at the front of the church was a cabinet containing books. It was called “the library”. There were many lovely old books. The Billabong books by Mary Grant Bruce, Anne of Green Gables and many more. We were allowed to choose one to take home for a week. The Billabong books were our favourite. Mum would read a chapter each night.


My parents, Harry and Varla Burrows, joined this community in 1924. The tiny building was the spiritual and social hub of their lives. Later Harry helped to form and sing in the choir-he and Ralf Wellard and Russ Theobald were great! Mother taught Sunday School and of course was a member of the hard working Ladies Guild. Such Christians. My main experience was with the Sunday School, first as a pupil of the wonderful Miss Mary Brooks, and later teaching for her, and then directing the Sunday School. We had great Sunday School picnics travelling in the back of a furniture van or on the little single track railway from East Malvern. When small I truly believed Mr “Hughy” Craig, who took our picnics, was Jesus, as we always sang Hear the pennies dropping, Every one for Jesus as he walked out of the room.