A stained glass window has been returned to its former lodgings at what was once St John’s Theological College in Armidale after an absence of more than 50 years.
Had it not been for the efforts of a former New England Girls’ School student, Juliet Cameron, it may never have found its way home.
The window, installed to commemorate the opening of the college, had been removed for safe keeping during World War II and taken to Morpeth, near Maitland, where the college moved in the 1920s. It remained there until the college’s closure in 2008.
By sheer coincidence Mrs Cameron was in the school archives in 2004 and saw a photograph of the window.
A few years later she met a student at St John’s, Morpeth, and asked if he knew about the window.
He invited Mrs Cameron to see the stained glass as the college was about to be closed, and the rest, like the window, is history.
Then Mrs Cameron approached the Newcastle diocese and the purchaser of the college site to ask if the window could be returned home.
In 2008 she was given the blessing of all involved to go ahead.
During the ceremony Bishop Rick Lewers talked about the meanings behind the art in the window, including the five quills, which represent learning.
It was an extra significant occasion for Reverend George Garnsey, a former principal at St John’s Morpeth, whose grandfather, Canon Arthur Garnsey, was a former warden of the Armidale St John’s.
“My father and his siblings were born here at this very place so it is very much like two of us are coming home,” he said.
Mrs Cameron was delighted to be on hand for the ceremony.
NEGS chairman John Cassidy arranged for maintenance manager Lyall Cameron and builder John Fisher to remove the stained glass and return it to the New England.
After more than $2000 worth of restoration work by a Walcha glass artisan, it was ready.
“It’s hard to imagine why it was thought World War II posed such a threat to the window here in Armidale – and for it to be removed to a place that was probably of greater risk,” Mrs Cameron said.
“Its return is a lovely story of history and tradition joining hands.”