A beautiful naval chapel

Last Sunday I attended the annual Fairmile Association Church Service in one of the most beautiful and interesting chapels around. Located on Sydney’s Garden Island – the east coast base for the Royal Australian Navy – the chapel is one of the earliest main buildings on the Island, dating from 1886. It was erected originally as a rigging house but over the years became a rather plain chapel. Gradually it metamorphosed into a delightful place of worship and reflection. The plain glass windows were replaced firstly with gelatine windows that gave an illusion of stained glass, and then real stained glass was fitted. Today, each window is a stunning naval memorial in glass.

Australia’s destroyer flotilla window

Australia’s first submarines

Although no longer used for regular worship it is a popular place for naval christenings, weddings, funerals, and memorial services. Its unique memorials in stained glass offer a virtual panorama of Australia’s naval history. If you are interested in viewing the chapel and seeing other historic parts of Garden Island, come on a tour with us. Contact members@anmm.gov.au for our next excursion to this special part of Sydney.

The first HMAS Melbourne

Lindsey Shaw, senior curator

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