Founded in 1859 as a Congregational Church, Brougham Place has a proud heritage. Freedom of thought, independent church government, and interest in public concerns characterised its work. Strong, relevant preaching has alwasy been seen as a vital feature of the Church's contribution.
The Rev. T Q Stow acquired our site for £300 in 1855. He invited James Jefferis to come and create a new congregation. Jefferis started his ministry in the Temperance Hall, North Adelaide in May 1859. On the 20th October 1859 the North Adelaide Congregational Church was formally constituted of 52 people including 13 from Freeman Street (now Gawler Place). A call was issued to Jefferis on the 2nd December 1859, which he readily accepted.
The young congregation was determined to create a church that will attest to South Australia’s reputation as the “Paradise of Religious Dissent”.
Building the church
A committee under Stow and Jefferis had proceeded with planning the building before the church was formally constituted. A Venetian Ionic design submitted by E.A. Hamilton and Edmund Wright was chosen. Stow laid the foundation stone on Tuesday 15 May 1860. The building opened for worship on Friday 22 February 1861.
Brougham Place's grand building was designed by Edmund Wright, later the designer of the Adelaide Town Hall (1866) which bears a similar ambience. It's unique site is said to have cost four hundred pounds. When the lowest tender for the erection of its Greco-Italian style building exceeded the estimated cost of four thousand pounds, a decision was made to build it by day labour under the direction of architects. The first Superintendent of the Sunday School acted as a Clerk of Works! At completion it was the largest place of worship in South Australia, able to seat 600 people, testament to the faith of its founders.
James Jefferis - first minister
James Jefferis brought a broad vision to Brougham Place. He started the North Adelaide Men’s society to provide courses in various subjects and training in writing and public speaking.
Reverend James Jefferis (1833-1917) was a man of vision and keen social engagement. Through his leadership he played an instrumental role in the establishment of various community organisations in the young colony, including the establishment of the first university in South Australia.
In 1872, the Moonta copper magnate Walter Watson Hughes had made a donation of the substantial amount of twenty thousand pounds to the Congregational Church, to be used for denominational training purposes. Jefferis had the vision to see a wider potential for Hughes' generous gift, and formed a committee to enter discussions on the formation of a broad-based educational institution serving the entire community. And so it was that the University Association was formed, a grant of land sought from the Government and, with Jefferis' dedication and commitment, in 1874 an Act of Parliament to establish the University of Adelaide passed.
A fine pipe organ was erected over six months in 1882.
- The Uniting Church Historical society has some notes on Brougham Place.
- Paul Scott has a comprehensive series of photographs and notes on the interior and exterior of the building.
- James Jefferis: prophet of Federation, Walter Phillips, 1993, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Kew, Victoria, ISBN 187560605X