8. St Hilda’s Church

At the turn of the century, Anglican Church services in North Perth were initially conducted in Gibson Hall, on the corner of Daphne and Angove Streets, and at the North Perth Primary School. In 1904, a wooden building was transported from Canning Mills and erected on the eastern corner of Rose (renamed Glebe) and View Streets.  It was consecrated on 6 March that year.

St Hilda's Church original wooden building 1904
St Hilda’s Church original wooden building 1904

Planning a more permanent church

A plot of land was purchased opposite the wooden buildings on the western corner of View and Glebe Streets, to create a more permanent structure for the church. The foundation stone for St Hilda’s Church was laid on 24 July 1915, by William T. Loton, MLA.  A bottle containing the day’s issue of The West Australian, a few copper coins and a parchment scroll dedicating the church to St Hilda was placed under the foundation stone. The church was consecrated on 10 October that year by Archbishop Riley, with over 500 in attendance. A shortage of funds, however, meant only the end section of the church was constructed and it was not until 1954 that the building was completed when a porch, chancel, sanctuary, choir and priest vestries were added.

The Archbishop’s Son, Rev C. L. (Tom) Riley, was appointed rector of St Hilda’s. Initially he lived with his parents at Bishop House, traveling to his parish by motorbike. He moved into the rectory, constructed on Glebe St, when it was completed in 1915.

St Hilda’s became a part of the North Perth Community, with the weddings, baptisms and funerals of many local residents taking place over the years.

Wedding of May Poland and Bernard John Rice, 1920
May Poland and Bernard John Rice were married at St Hilda’s (1920)
Ronald Gill and his daughter Dawn on her wedding day, 1949
Ronald Gill and his daughter Dawn on her wedding day, 1949
Peter and Dawn Fisher leaving St Hilda's Church
Peter and Dawn Fisher leaving St Hilda’s Church after their wedding, 1949

In 1973, news of plans to re-zone the North Perth business area led to a decision to sell the original wooden church. The following year, the original site plus land occupied by tennis courts was sold and part of the proceeds was used to finally pay off the 1954 additions. A house was purchased in Coolbinia for use as a rectory and the original rectory on Glebe Street was demolished and replaced by a parish centre.

Historic font

St Hilda’s boasts the oldest baptismal font in Australia. It is of Anglo-Saxon workmanship and dates from the 9th or 10th Century. It was found in Peterborough, England and had been used as a garden ornament for many years there before being discovered in the 1880s by Mr Herbert Lawrence, the brother of the then Rector of Geraldton. It was transported to Western Australia to be placed in the church of St John the Baptist in Melbourne Road (later Milligan Street) Perth. When that church was demolished in 1928, Reverend William Patrick, St Hilda’s rector, arranged for the font together with its brass ewer and locally made pedestal and base, to be transferred to St Hilda’s Church.

Today St Hilda’s is known for its annual ‘blessing of the animals’ to which locals can take their pets and a popular community fete held annually.

Assets and References

Image Courtesy City of Vincent Local History Centre

  • PH01271 – Wedding of May Poland and Bernard John Rice, 1920
  • PH03020 – Ronald Gill and his daughter Dawn on her wedding day outside St Hilda’s Church in View Street, North Perth, 1949
  • PH03021 – Peter Fisher and Dawn Fisher (nee Gill) leaving St Hilda’s Church in View Street, North Perth, 1949

ABC News 25 November 2015

Heritage Council of WA – Heritage List

St Hilda’s Parish Church North Perth

  • Centenary Booklet 2015
  • Image of original wooden church, 1904
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