Lest we forget
St Matthew's and the Berry and MacFarlane Monument
By Susan Prior
I am sure I am not alone when I say that I dash about my daily life very often with little thought about the lives of those who have gone before. So when I decided to write something about this significant monument in Sherwood I took a little time to visit, to contemplate, and to try and imagine.
But first, why is the cemetery all the way down Sherwood Road with no church in its immediate vicinity? If you are a long-time resident of the area you will know why, but many of us may be forgiven for not knowing the story.
The three St Matthew's
St Matthew’s Anglican Church, on the corner of Sherwood and Oxley Roads in Sherwood, is the third and most recent iteration of St Matthew’s. The first two were built down the road where the cemetery still stands. Those two versions are long gone.
In 1869, the foundation stone was laid for the first St Matthew’s, which was built of brick with a stone foundation. According to Margaret Hughes (GROW, Oct–Nov 2009) the site chosen for the church was described as:
being on the branch road going up to the Pocket, which turns off from the Brisbane and Ipswich Road at the Rocky Water Holes. It lies between the Primary School and the bridge over the creek, and is about two miles from the last-named road, and on a small plateau, from which a very pleasant prospect can be obtained. When a little more clearing in fact, has been effected in the vicinity, the church when built, will be visible for a considerable distance around, and will be an improving and marked feature in the landscape. It is really a beautiful spot, and was very much praised yesterday. The land lying between it and the Ipswich Road is almost level and nearly all under cultivation, and the green and waving fields and 'smiling homesteads', form a charming prospect from the high ground, and one which is not at present very commonly to be seen in this colony.
It creates a wonderful picture, and one that is rather at odds with the site as it is today.
This first church was replaced in 1893. One report says that after 25 years, and following the disastrous floods of 1893, it was in a bad state of repair and so a timber one was constructed in its place. Another report (Margaret Hughes again) is slightly different, saying:
In 1893 the second Church, a pretty little timber one with its ornate octagonal window high in the west, was built to replace the deteriorating first church. The first and second churches were still standing during the 1893 flood. The water entered the new church causing the timber floor to bow and it remained like this for several years. This Church was totally destroyed by fire on the 27th September 1921, to the dismay of all who had been associated with it and had learned to love it. The only thing salvaged were the Processional Cross, which is still in use in the present Church and the tongue of the bell, which was incorporated in the bell at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Darra.
Finally, in 1923, the third St Matthew’s was built on a site, purchased for £870, at the corner of Sherwood and Oxley Roads. The distinctive red bricks were manufactured just down the road in Darra. Initially, the western wall was temporary weatherboard, but it was finally completed in December 1959.
Back to the cemetery
As I wandered around, familiar names popped out at me from the headstones; names that are revisited in the streets, parks and avenues of the Shires: Berry, Hassall, Dunlop, Nosworthy, Kinkead …
The Berry and MacFarlane monument is close to the Sherwood Road main entrance to the cemetery. It was erected in July 1902 in memory of two local soldiers killed in the Boer War in January of that same year.
Sergeant Robert Edwin Berry (just 23 years) and Acting Corporal John MacFarlane (an even greener 21 years) were both in the 5th Queensland Imperial Bushmen; they had volunteered to fight for their motherland, the British, in the Boer War of 1899 to 1902.
The 5th Queensland Imperial Bushmen contingent sailed on 6 March 1901 in the transport ship Templemore, with a further detachment following a few days later. Berry and MacFarlane were killed in action at The Battle of Onverwacht during ‘the last great clash of the war between the Boer and British forces on the Eastern Transvaal Highveld’ (Monumentally Speaking, Vol 2, No 4, December 2010). It lasted just 20 minutes.
The memorial was carved by the masonry firm W Batstone and Sons of South Brisbane, and is said to be a fine example of their work. This, and the fact that there are very few monuments in Queensland commemorating the South African War, has meant it is now entered into Queensland’s Heritage Register.
If you get a bit of spare time it is well worth visiting the cemetery to see this monument, and the many other memorials of lives-past that are tucked away there.
Lest we forget.