Holy Trinity is the perfect introduction to the city because of its connection to South Australia’s early settlement. This church is one of the oldest buildings in the city. It has been in this prominent position since 1838.
The planned colony of South Australia was founded on the radical idea that its settlers would have religious freedom and that all religions were equal. Before the official settlement in 1836, an association in Britain planned to build a church to meet the needs of the Anglican colonists. Surveyor-General Colonel William Light set aside land on North Terrace for the church and a parsonage.
In 1836 a prefabricated church and parsonage were sent from Britain to South Australia on the HMS Buffalo. This was one of the first nine ships that made the journey to set up the new colony. However, the timber materials were damaged at sea and local stone was used for the church instead. South Australia’s first governor, Sir John Hindmarsh, laid the foundation stone on 26 January 1838. Holy Trinity was finished by August that year.
The church became a landmark in the new city. Apart from its spiritual role for Anglican settlers, it had an important communication function for all residents. The clock in the tower, still visible, was brought over by the first colonists. Made by Benjamin Vulliamy, King William IV’s clockmaker, it was installed in Holy Trinity’s tower because it was one of the city’s most visible buildings.
The congregation grew and by 1839 Holy Trinity was enlarged. In 1844 the church was closed so it could be partially rebuilt. It gained higher walls and a new octagonal turret. The clock also received a new face made of South Australian slate.
There were more alterations to the church in the 1880s, directed by architect E.J. Woods. The roof was replaced and the walls and tower were raised. Although sandstone was used to match the original limestone walls and tower, over time soot particles caused the stone to blacken. As a result, these additions to the church’s exterior are quite visibletoday.
Inside Holy Trinity there is a remnant from the original prefabricated materials. A stained glass window installed at the time the church was built bears the date 1836, marking the first year of the colony. One hundred and seventy-eight years later, this window, and Holy Trinity, are an important reminder of South Australia’s colonial beginnings.