Our History

Church and Hall
The village of Payneham was among the very early settlements of the Adelaide metropolitan area. Section 285 was the country section of Hindley Street publican, Samuel Payne, who had it privately surveyed and advertised allotments for sale in October 1839 (at first it was called Payneland). The first rate assessment records in 1853 show 20 cottages in the subdivision, and by then market gardening was already established in the area.

Methodism was established in Payneham very quickly, as there are records of a Wesleyan Sunday School established there by October 1840. A Wesleyan chapel was built in Henry Street in 1851 and became the hall when a larger church was built beside it in 1858.
Expansion of the congregation led to demand for an even bigger church, and in 1881 the Trustees bought an area of land on the corner of Payneham and Portrush Roads for five shillings from Mr Bayfield Moulden, Solicitor. Fredrick Dancker (this must be one of his early pieces because he only set up practice in 1880) was commissioned to design the church and manse and completed the plans by October 1881. The early 1880s were a time of great prosperity and confidence in South Australia, and the new church reflects those qualities. The present church’s foundation was laid on December 6th 1881 and the opening service was held in the church on Sunday 20th August 1882. The gallery was built shortly afterwards and opened in March 1883.

The Henry Street chapel about 200m to the east remained in use as the hall until 1905 when the trustees sought estimates for a Sabbath School, and asked Mr. W Williamson to prepare plans. The foundation stones of the new hall were laid on 7th October 1905, and it was apparently in use by June 1906. The church and hall exemplify the significance of evangelical Wesleyan-ism in the nineteenth century South Australian community, and are of outstanding architectural importance as a pair of fine Gothic revival buildings which constitute a notable landmark. In 1914 the church became the centre of the Payneham Methodist Circuit, taking in most of north-Eastern Adelaide. In 1914 a Caretaker’s Cottage was built on the site behind the church; now 1 Broad Street. The present Pipe Organ was installed in 1918 as a memorial to parishioners who had died in the Great War. Other building were added to the complex in later years. Pitt Hall was built in 1914 and named after Ebenezer Pitt of the prominent market garden family. The memorial Hall was built to the north of it in 1917-18 and the Williamson Hall further north in 1959. The Church and Hall became State Heritage listed in 1995. In 2009 the church sought permission from the South Australian Uniting Church Property Trust to sell the manse, by this time no longer in use by the Minister as a residence, to secure funds for the costly maintenance and renovation of the heritage listed church and hall. In 2010, what is now known as 341 Payneham Road Marden was sold.

Since 2008, Williamson Hall has been leased privately as an arts facility and office.
In 2013 the church interior was renovated. In 2014 the church and hall roofs were replaced, removing asbestos lined tiles, to bring the aesthetics of the externals into line with what the buildings would have been made of originally.

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Pipe Organ

Early in 1917, Mr J H Hobbs offered to present a new pipe organ to the Church at a cost of 700 pounds. The organ was built by J E Dodd in Adelaide and was dedicated on 8th November, 1918. The presentation by Mr Hobbs and family was recorded on a brass plate on the case of the instrument inscribed as follows:
“Presented to the Payneham Road Methodist Church by the family of the late Jonah Hobbs.
Erected in loving memory of Jonah and Rebecca Hobbs and their grandsons Harold and Kenneth Hobbs and John Godlee. Dedicated to the Glory of God – November 8th, 1918”

In 1963 a legacy became available and, in 1967, the money was used to make alterations to the Sanctuary, including covering of the pipes with a reredos. The console and choir seating were moved to the western side of the church.

Music is an important part of worship at Payneham Road. The organ’s ability and versatility to create an atmosphere conducive to reflection or to lead and support a congregation in songs of praise, adoration or supplication can only be matched by an ensemble of other instruments. The organ at Payneham, built early in the 20th century was heavily influenced by mid-19th century organ design; typical of many instruments of its era. The archaic tonal structure and decades of deterioration to the wind supply and actions limit the natural ability of the instrument to fulfil its roles.

In 2013, the congregation renovated the Church interior, and to the delight of many, the reredos was removed.

The proposed rebuilding and enhancement are aimed at restoring full functionality and bringing the instrument into the 21st century with brighter tonal characteristics and reliable wind supply and actions. The work will also involve some minor structural changes which will improve the relative positioning of some sections of the instrument.

Current specifications and anticipated specifications are available in our Pipe Organ brochure (attached).

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