Thursday, April 28, 2011


The Melanesian Chapel of St Barnabas, on Norfolk Island, is probably one of the most beautiful and most visited historic buildings in all the islands of the South Pacific. Visitors to Norfolk Island are often surprised to find a little church in this remote place with an inspiring beauty and charm that is usually found in great cathedrals.

 St Barnabas' Chapel was built between 1875 and 1880. The Chapel was built as a memorial to Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, who had been appointed by Bishop George Augustus Selwyn as the first Bishop of Melanesia. The Melanesian Mission had first been located at St Johns' in Auckland, and students were brought there from the islands to train to take the Christian message back to their people. The climate in New Zealand proved unsuitable, and the Mission headquarters was moved to Norfolk Island in 1866.
It was in 1871 that the much loved Bishop Patteson was martyred at Nukapu in the Solomons, when he was mistaken for a "blackbirder' who had come to take young boys away to sugar plantations in Australia and Fiji. His death actually served as a catalyst to bring about an end to this "slave trade". However, there was also great sadness and mourning throughout the Christian world at the loss of this fine man, still in his early forties.
It was decided to build a chapel to his memory. Many of Patteson's colleagues and family back in England decided to subscribe to a fund build a fitting memorial, fulfilling a vision that the Bishop himself had witten about of "... beautiful Gothic Chapel, rich inside with marble and stained glass, and carved stalls and encaustic tiles and brass screen work...It may come some day, and most probably, long after I am dead and gone."
The building was designed by Sir Graham Jackson, a well-known British architect, and the work was carried out under the supervision of Dr Robert Codrington, who was the manager of the Mission set up on Norfolk Island.
 The building was to be of stone, which supported a soaring timber framework for the steep roof. For the main walls of the building, they used blocks of limestone which were quarried from the west side of Emily Bay on the south side of the island, and dragged the fiive kilometres to the Chapel site using bullock drays.
However, for the interior, particularly in the Chancel area, Codrington decided to lay alternate courses of local limestone and the lighter and more mellow Oamaru stone which was imported from the South Island of New Zealand, arriving in 1878. At the time, Codrington noted in a letter home how ironic it was that it was actually cheaper to bring that Oamaru stone by steamer all the way from New Zealand than it was to purchase the local stone!

The Chapel was consecrated on 7th December 1880, with great celebrations and festivities, which were enjoyed by up to fifty visitors mostly from New Zealand.
St Barnabas' Chapel was handed over for use by the Church of England on Norfolk Island in 1920, when the Melanesian Mission moved its headquarters to the Solomons.
It is a much treasured building, not only by the parishioners but the whole island, who take great pride in this beautiful icon.
It is, however, a mammoth task to maintain and preserve this valuable building. To this end, the church established a branch organisation called the "Friends of St Barnabas'" some years ago. the idea was that "The Friends" would devote their efforts to raising funds and carrying out necessary restoration projects, thus allowing the Church council itself to focus on ministry matters.
The restoration work is constant and ongoing, and this picture here shows the work that is currently being carried out on the timber work surrounding the William Morris Rose window, stripping back to the raw timber and repairing and replacing any rotting areas.
 Recently, The Friends of St Barnabas decided it was time to tackle restoration work on the Oamaru stone, which was crumbling somewhat in the Sanctuary area. The problem was not new. In fact, back in 1930, Henry Drummond wrote in a report that the stone was deteriorating and although attempts had been made to arrest the problem, they had not been successful. It would appear that the main problem was the proximity of the locally quarried limestone, which contained salt and which reacted with the sandstone.

The Friends of St Barnabas attempted to contact someone who knew about Oamaru Stone, and fortuitously Bill Dooley himself, the owner and manager of Dooley Masonry in Oamaru, would soon be honeymooning on Norfolk Island, and would be able to inspect the problem itself.
Bill arranged to send replacement stone to Norfolk Island, and at first he hoped to instruct some local tradesmen to actually carry out the work. However, this did not eventuate, and two or three years later, in March of 2011, Bill and his wife returned themselves with two of their workers, and carried out the task.
 I should point out that the deterioration in the stone was not particularly unsightly, nor was it hazardous. The main problem was the stone dust that the church cleaners had to deal with each week! Moreover, it was advisable to deal with it before it did present more severe problems.

This dust came from the restoration process - much worse than the weekly deposits the church cleaners encountered, but it is very white and really shows up.
Bill Dooley and his team got stuck into the job, and  soon had it all looking as good as new, Along the way they discovered other problems needing attention, such as dampness and drainage, which they were able to point out to "The Friends" and the Parish Council.
 As well as the salt problem, Bill felt that the instability may have been partly caused by the direction in which the Oamaru stone was laid. He said that it should always be positioned facing the same vertical direction in which it had been quarried.
 There used to be wall hangings in this sanctuary area, which were removed and laundered before the work was carried out. However, they proved to be in such bad condition, it was decided not to put them back.
Now everyone commented on how lovely it looked without them. You can now see the beauty of the stonework, and the sanctuary area was so light and airy! These beautiful windows, the work of Sir Edward Burne-Jones, seem to greatly enhanced.

 Keeping our precious "Father Willis" organ in good condition and tune is another important responsibility we have as caretakers of this lovely church.
 Things were in a bit of disarray while the work was being carried out, but Bill and the boys soon had it looking better than ever. In fact, Bill, obviously a man of great practical skills, even showed us how to fix this old vacuum cleaner that has been out of commission for some time! I should add that Mr Dooley has, on his own admission, reached his four score years, so we were very blessed to benefit from his enormous skills and expertise.
 Bill also has quite a sense of humour, and I could not resist photographing the labels on the crate that had brought the stone from New Zealand.

 I think you will agree that our Chapel of St Barnabas is a very special building, set in magnificent grounds, and well worth the effort of keeping it in a beautiful condition for present and future generations to enjoy. Last year we replaced the roof at a cost of around $200 000, and in the near future we will need to attend to the Devonshire marble floor, which has many loose tiles. Currently, a thorough stripping and re-painting of all the exterior timber is being carried out.
You will note from the picture above that St Barnabas' is built in the "school chapel" style, with seats facing each other across a central aisle. Most important is that the Chapel is a house of worship to this day, and as we express our faith and God's love in this place, we are mindful of that much-loved Bishop, of the faithful Mission workers, of the Melanesian students who gathered here, and of all those who have gone before us who have been inspired by this very lovely place.
An Afterthought
I have just remembered this little Oamaru stone vase, given to us by friends a few years ago. I note on the base of this vase it says it has been "silicone treated". Now I must admit I have sometimes wondered about the wisdom of replacing sandstone with the same thing, which may continue to react with the adjacent limestone. I think this is the answer, and I do recall Bill Dooley talking about "silicone" when we discussed the project with him!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


One of the more satisfying projects I have undertaken recently are these little bags. I call this pair my "angel bags". I made them during a time when I needed a burst of colour, and was feeling a little bolder about it all than usual - may that feeling last!!!

 I had also been re-discovering some of my lace supplies - and adding to them - so they were brought into the picture too. I have been dyeing a lot of my laces and ribbons lately, and the results can be quite inspiring. I cannot locate picures for the laces just now - will show you at a later posting.

Meanwhile, I finally tackled a half-complete project that has been lying around for some months.
I think it was early October that I started these little zippered purses. I was initially inspired by some sample pieces of linen upholstery fabric that I was given by Natalie - mainly stripes and checks in classic muted colours. They just cried out to be combined with some lace and ribbons and buttons etc. So I overcame my fear of zippers to produce a set of little purses. I used some silk prints that were in my stash, many of them had come from dear Peggy of Kaliko Kottage. 

Now part of the way through producing these purses, I got sick - nothing serious but I felt awful. And even when I was better, I somehow could not face these purses without remembering that sick feeling! It was only in recent days that I finally felt I could work with them again and put the finishing touches to them.

 I am really pleased with the results - but I will have to tell you that most of them are actually rejects!
For instance, the top one was sewn with the zipper at the bottom! I have decided to keep that for myself and keep my passport in it.
 Others still have a little hole in the back where the sample pieces of fabric had been attached to the binder. I really thought I had cut around those holes. They are not really noticeable, but I do like my creations to be properly finished - so those will probably be given to friends with an apology and explanation.
 They were not the ony mistakes. One of them was sewn with the zipper upside down, so the toggle was inside the purse. But that was corrected with some unpicking.
 I have loads of little bits of rose prints which seem to go really well with the stripes and checks.

I have a big bag of broderie anglaise lace pieces. They went right out of vogue for a while, and I was tempted to ditch them or give them away. But I am glad I didn't. I am learning that if you hang onto something long enough, it will eventually come into its own again. Too often I have needed something about two weeks after I have got rid of it!
Not sure if I want to tackle zippers again for a while - altho' I do have quite a stash of them. Perhaps I should get some hints about using them from some good seamstresses (which I am not!)
Now I am itching to get back to my bright silks and dyed laces.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I think I may have mentioned that I have quite a large collection of crocheted doileys. Many I have rescued from Op shops, garage sales and secondhand stores. Others I have been given. Some came down to Bernie from his great-aunts, who were wonderful needleworkers.
Among these doilleys are some that were made for a special purpose, such as these little jug and sugar bowl
covers, with an edge that has been weighted with beads, and a little stand-up cup or pot in the middle.


While I was doing some cleaning and sorting the other day, I had an unexpected bonus. I was going through a big stripey bag of containers. I tend to collect containers....Pretty little boxes and tins that I thought would be useful for holding stuff - except that the quantity of containers was starting to outgrow the amout of stuff I could put into them or the shelf space to hold them!! Lately I have been regularly tripping over this stripey bag in my sewing room, and a ruthless culling was called for!
I actually got to the very bottom of the stripey bag, when I felt a little plastic bag in the bottom corner. I felt its contents and was puzzled. When I opened it, there was this dear little doiley cover, with a crocheted cup and saucer.
 Now I actually remember buying this. It was about 11 years ago in a little Craft/gift shop in Napier in New Zealand. When I got home to Norfolk Island, I realised I did not have it, and thought I must have mistakenly thrown the bag into the rubbish, or perhaps left it in the hotel room. I was delighted after all this time to find I had it after all!
 This lovely little one above was among the great-aunts' things. It is really quite exquisite.
 And this one was given to me by a friend a few years ago.
Who knows what else I will come across while I am dealing with this Autumn spring cleaning bug!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


It may not be Spring, but there is some "spring cleaning" going on. The weather is mild and balmy, and the humidity has gone for a while. The slightly cooler days are conducive to tasks like cleaning out the old laundry.
Our "old laundry", so named because this was where Bernie's mum did her washing when she lived here all those years ago. (We have the luxury of a laundry inside the house.) It is one of the rooms in a two room shed just behind our house, and over the years has always been a convenient dumping ground for "stuff." Too convenient, in fact, and I had to admit it had reached the stage where some of the stuff needed to be liberated.
There was old sports equipment for a start, like this golf trolley and a rather depleted bag of rusty old clubs. The concrete tubs you can see behind are definitely staying. They don't make them like that any more! are just so handy when there are big items to be cleaned up.
The small suitcase you can see contains masses of plastic cutlery - of the sort of quality they made about thirty years ago. Stronger than some of the modern metal stuff, I reckon. Cannot part with that, either! Besides, it actually belongs to a local organisation that is still functioniong, but which long ago forgot they owned this stuff, and is quite unlikely to ever need to use it, We are all too old to cater for big numbers any more like we used to.

 The croquet set is staying too - although it has only been taken out once or twice in the last decade!

Now, it is quite a few years since we kept peacocks, but I am still a bit sentimental about these lingering reminders. I think they will stay there and await a day when I feel a little more ruthless!

These old shoe cleaning brushes got a reprieve too. There are more than a dozen of them, and they are beautiful quality - but sadly, are rarely used anymore!
But I did turf out loads of junk - really and truly! I gradually piled it onto the patio, and from there Bernie sorted it and put into the back of the pick up truck ready to go to the Waste Management Centre. There were piles of old magazines, including loads of Craft, Gardening, and House and Garden types. I felt so virtuous in resisting the temptation to thumb through them!
 However, most of these books and old household items will wait for another day when I feel motivated.
 Among the junk was a whole suitcase of fabrics. They were all in remarkably good condition, but just so dated!! I cannot believe I was ever inspired by this insipid lot! They will go to the Remnant box at the Op shop. I am sure the ginghams, at least, will appeal to someone. Fancy, I have finally matured enough to be able to part with them!

Inside a little plastic bag, I found these pieces from a fabric that was produced a couple of decades ago, featuring iconic Aussie grocery labels. I no longer find them the least bit appealing, but feel I should save them for some future generation looking for heirloom treasures!

Anyway, I can finally see enough floor space in the old laundry to actually sweep the floor, and I am off to do that now!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Last Wednesday was the day for Rotary's Annual Bus Trip round the island. Now Norfolk Island is not very big - only 5 kms by 8 - and you would think everyone had seen everything there was to see. But each year we come up with something different!
Our first stop was at Dave's Market Gardens in Mission Road. Most of us had always wondered what was "behind the hedges" at the Souths, who have been supplying the island with things like lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber and other fresh veges for many many years.

 Dave was keen to show us his recently established pineapple plantation.
Starting with just a handful of suckers that he obtained from friends and neighbours, Dave and Bronwen have established a very healthy plantation which, in a year or two, will mean we have lovely pineapples available to us for much of the year!
 In the background, you can just see the massive bank of solar panels which provide power for running the farm.
 Tomatoes have been a little scarce lately, and these ones looked so mouth watering!
 Everyone is really starting to enjoy themself!
 Back on the road, for a mini-tour. Bernie is our tour guide for the afternoon.
 We stop at the Chapel, where Tim and Aubrey are busy sanding back the timber round the beautiful William Morris Rose Window, in preparation for re-painting.
 Bernie, with tongue in cheek, tells us that we have been singing so well on the bus that we will stop there and have a short service!!!
 We never get tired of the lovely Norfolk Island scenery.
 We drive through the old penal settlement area along the seafront at Kingston...

 And along Quality Row....
 Finally, at 3 o'clock. when we know that school is out, we arrive at the school library and technology centre. Everyone comments on how much the school has grown and changed since they were kids. The grounds are just beautiful.
 A bank of chairs has been set up for us in the school library

 Headmaster Neil welcomes us, and is keen to show us some of the new technology. This is the computer that was donateded by Rotary for Norfolk Island's Living Library, a project that was commenced in the last couple of years.
 Librarian Trish explains the workings of the Living Library, using the Interactive Smartboard. There is definitely no talking in class here - we are all fascinated, gobsmacked, in fact!
 It doesn't matter where you are, you can access most of the content of the Living Library at

 You can almost see the heads shaking in amazement as we leave. Many people say they have valuable historic material at home that they would love to make available to be recorded on the site. This was a real win-win occasion!
 Finally we head out to Rainbow's End for afternoon tea in one of the Endeavour Lodge units. The weather has been warm and mild, and the view is stunning. In fact, many long time residents say they have actually never seen this particular view before!!

 I wonder what new places we will visit next year?
In this picture, in the second back seat on the left, you can just pick out Tony, who brought his ukelele along,. and kept us entertained with a sing-a-long all afternoon. This really added to the great spirit and camaraderie of the occasion. Norfolkers really know how to have fun!
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