Christmas Wishes from Strathcona’s Original Founders

For most of their tenure, Strathcona’s founders and co-principals (Miss Henrietta Hughes & Mrs Florence Livingstone) sent hand signed Christmas cards to school families. Of course, that was an era when far less students attended the school. The two ladies used a photograph of the original residence at 34 Scott Street; that residence was named ‘Strathcona’ for over 20 years prior to the establishment of the school.

This school always practiced its caring Christianity from day one. In the early years of the school, there were boarding students. The school boarders went to the nearby St Paul’s Church of England in Margaret Street, Canterbury. Occasionally, school services were held at this church.

In 1943, the Baptist Union of Victoria took over the ownership and management of Strathcona and in doing so, the school decided it needed a Chapel on the grounds. A room in the original residence at 34 Scott Street was used as a Chapel for a few years. This Chapel was often referred to as the “two windows chapel”.

The first School Chaplain was R.E. Evans. Just after World War II, the next Chaplain at Strathcona was Rev. John Morley, who later became a Principal at Strathcona. Morley was a part time Chaplain at Strathcona and he was also the part time Chaplain at Carey Grammar, where he also taught science subjects.

His successors as Chaplain at Strathcona were Rev. A.E. Smith and Rev. Chester Martin. Flower arrangements during the 1960s and 1970s in the Chapel were often organised by Miss Joan Mellor, the long-time legendary Head of Junior School at Strathcona. During this time, there were also gatherings of students at the Canterbury Baptist Church. Like Rev. John Morley, his successor Mr. Kenneth Lyall, acted in the dual role as the Principal as well as the Chaplain, which was a decision of then School Council/Board.

The current Chapel on the top of the Admin Building was opened and dedicated on 5 March 1994, by Rev. Jill Manton. This Chapel has the wonderful feature window. This Chapel is known as the Lyall Chapel, named after Ken Lyall. Mrs Judy McMaster broke new ground as the first full-time Chaplain at Strathcona in 1991, after being a classroom teacher at Strathcona from 1981. The Old Strathconians Association held fundraising events so that various fittings for the Lyall Chapel could be purchased, such as the pews and brass urn. Mrs McMaster, who was at the dedication, resigned the position of Chaplain in 2011 and now sits on the School Council/Board. She was succeeded by Ruth Sandy and Bethany Carr. The role has now expanded with current Chaplain Rhonda Burns and Mellor House Chaplain Bronwyn Arnott.

For many years now, Christmas and Easter services have been held at St Dominic’s Catholic Church in Riversdale Road. This has been in response to the Inter-faith Dialogue meetings to which Strathcona has been committed, in the last decade or two.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year, from me too.

Glen Turnbull
School Archivist