St Peter's Eastern Hill

About St Peter’s

St Peter's Eastern Hill is an Anglo-Catholic community based in East Melbourne, Australia. Worship of God is at the centre of our community life, and our worship is a living embodiment of our apostolic faith.

St Peter's serves the surrounding community, with members of our ministry team serving as chaplains in nearby major hospitals, RMIT and the Victorian parliament. We also provide breakfast from 7.30 am every day to the homeless and our Lazarus Centre provides food parcels and emergency referrals to people in need. This service is staffed by volunteers and professionals from St Peter's, Anglicare, and the wider Melbourne community.

Our parish was established in the mid 1840s; Heritage Victoria and the National Trust place St Peter's at the highest level of significance. It stands as one of the handful of buildings in Melbourne that pre-date the gold rush of the 1850s.

St Peter's is a place where people can grow in faith and spiritual formation and where worship and service are key. To find out more about our inclusive community of faith, contact our parish.

Vision statement

We are an inclusive Church built on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people. We are committed to social justice and diversity. Our mission is Catholic evangelism: "Growing in God's Love".

Growing in God’s love

As the body of Christ, we seek to grow in God’s love. We do this by evangelism and worship.

We share the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ through the beauty of holiness, the Sacred Tradition of our apostolic faith, including an active engagement with Scripture, and by acting for justice in the wider community.

Eucharistic worship, or the Mass, is the cornerstone of our worship. We believe that in the Mass Christ is received, the memory of his Passion is renewed and our community is filled with grace.

Our Tradition calls us to:

  • worship God in and through the sacraments

  • engage with Sacred Scripture in the liturgical and devotional life of the church

  • bring reason and intellect to a living faith

  • build a loving and inclusive community

  • serve others through social action.

Our commitment as Christians

As Christians we are called to love God and our neighbour as ourselves. Thus, we commit to:

  • serve the wider Church as a place of ministry training and Christian formation;

  • minister to all peoples

  • embrace the gifts of all within our parish community

  • involve ourselves in the life of our City

  • speak out about significant issues, including social justice and the environment

  • acknowledge the historical and continuing relationship of Aboriginal peoples to the land on which our Church is built, to the Diocese of Melbourne and to Australia as a whole

  • honour our historic responsibility to witness to an inclusive catholic faith in the Diocese and the wider church.

A brief history of St Peter's

St Peter's is the oldest Anglican church standing on its original site in inner city Melbourne.

The foundation stone was laid by C J La Trobe on 18 June 1846, and the building was being used for services in 1847, although the first part was not completed until 1848. During the gold rush years, four hundred baptisms and the same number of weddings took place each year, and the building was extended in 1854 to bring its seating capacity up to 1050: much of this space was in galleries that were removed in 1896. The last extensions to the building took place in 1876.

The Rev’d Henry Handfield

Under Henry Handfield, the longest-standing of the 19th century vicars (1854 to 1900), St Peter’s developed a reputation for good choral music and increasing involvement in social outreach in the inner city, especially when the Sisters of the Holy Name began their work within the parish in the 1880s.

St Peter’s profile was at this time one of a very restrained high church, established mainly through teaching in sermons. Here, Dame Nellie Melba had organ lessons as a schoolgirl and Henry Handel Richardson worshipped, fictionalising this part of her life in an episode in The Getting of Wisdom.

from hughes and maynard to today

In 1900, Ernest Selwyn Hughes, who was vicar from 1900 to 1926, stamped the parish with an explicit Anglo-Catholic identity, introducing a High Mass as the main Sunday liturgy, along with vestments and incense.

Hughes’s mild Christian Socialism was developed even further by his successor, Farnham Edward Maynard, who was vicar from 1926 to 1964. Maynard emphasised a sometimes radical message through publications and radio broadcasts. At his instigation, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, then a small religious community, came to work in the Fitzroy part of the parish in 1933. Since then, the parish and has developed in different ways as a contributor to Melbourne's social conscience.

The Catholic and inclusive attitude of Hughes and Maynard has continued in different ways to the present.