church frontCompleted in 1887, the church is built in the 19th century Gothic style of sandstone with brick features. It has two front doors: the north opens on to Halifax Street and the south on to the garden. There are stained glass windows at the front and back and original leadlight windows along the sides.
The sandstone walls are unusually tuck-pointed. The angled buttresses are also noteworthy.
The tower, which still dominates the streetscape, integrates well with the rest of the church. Its bell is rung for services.
A major restoration of the church in 1995 kept intact many of the original features and reinstated the original colour scheme to create a light and airy interior. The garden was extensively redeveloped in 2000 and again in 2009. A small memorial rose garden has been established at the eastern end of the church. A bas relief, Christ in Majesty, created by sculptor Rosemary Madigan, presides over this garden.
The high altar has a colourful reredos featuring the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, painted by artist James Aldridge.
The main carved wooden altar, which originally stood against the eastern wall of the church, was moved forward in the early 1990s in keeping with present-day ideas for the more direct involvement of the ‘People of God’ in the performance of the liturgy.
The dramatic rood cross, separating the chancel and nave, was made by the members of the Little Monasteries of Bethlehem in France, whose vocation is to create artwork for churches.
The octagonal pulpit was carved by the grandson of the church builder, William Rogers. Behind it is the foundation stone of the 1887 building.
The carved oak gothic bishop’s chairs and side chairs, made by an Adelaide Hills cabinetmaker, are to the right of the chancel.
In the early 20th century the chancel was much more ornate, with a wrought iron rood screen, a wide decorated frieze under the windows and brocade wall hangings to frame the altar. today its simplicity fosters the quality of worship.
The nave is simple and unusually wide with elegant king-post trusses in the roof. There is nothing to distract the eye from the handsome sanctuary. An original decorative frieze, uncovered during the recent restoration, runs along the side walls.
There are richly coloured stained glass windows on the southern wall.
Organs and piano
The main pipe organ in the chancel was built by James Dodd and commissioned in 1901. It was substantially rebuilt by George Stephens in 1996. Its sound and the acoustics of St John’s are widely admired.
At the back of the church stands a second baroque organ, built by Fray for St Mary Magdalene’s, Moore Street, Adelaide, in 1897. Now in private ownership, it was lent to St John’s while the main pipe organ was being rebuilt. Happily it remains.
The new Steinway piano complements the other instruments.
The comfortably furnished and equipped children’s corner, at the end of the pews, is a where children can quietly play during the service.
mary statueThe Mary statue was also made by the members of the Little Monasteries of Bethlehem and acquired in 2000.
church babistryThe Baptistery at the western end of the church contains a marble font presented by the Needham family in 1919. The Right Reverend A Nutter Thomas dedicated it in the same year.
The central window depicting St Paul at the altar of the Unknown God in Athens is the most interesting of the stained glass windows on the western wall.