The ‘Flamboyant Font’

Many artefacts in the Moruya and District Historical Society’s museum reflect the history of our town. The baptismal font from the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Moruya is no exception. This elaborate font was placed in the church in late May 1889 – the same year that the church was completed. Records of the time state:

It will be hard to find in the colony a more handsomely appointed church of any denomination

Moruya Examiner
24 May, 1889

Moruya in the 1880s was a prosperous community and was the administrative and business centre of the Eurobodalla region.The prosperity and optimism of the late colonial period was reflected in the public buildings built at that time – including the magnificent Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

The church was built in 1889 - the same year as the font was installed .
The church was built in 1889 – the same year as the font was installed .

At that stage, Moruya’s prosperity was derived from three main sources – the dairy, timber and granite industries.

Dairying: Dairying and cheese became the main agricultural activity at this time and there were 18 cheese factories in the Eurobodalla region.  The Moruya Co-operative cheese factory was soon formed in 1892. It was followed by Bergalia, Kiora and others.

Timber: In the 1880’s there were eleven mills in the district including at Gundary, Mogo and Buckenbowra while the old port of Tomaga, just inside the mouth of the Tomaga River, catered for five timber mills in the immediate area.

Granite: In 1868, Louttit’s quarry on the south side of the river provided granite for the construction of the Bank of NSW building in Martin Place, Sydney. In 1872, the quarry provided the stone for the columns of the GPO in Martin Place.

The Baptismal Font
The Baptismal Font
As the Moruya Examiner of 24 May, 1889 reported:
‘ the font is octagonal in form, supported on an octagonal column very richly nitched (sic) and buttressed. The style is that known in France as Flamboyant, and the material is terracotta.’

The Examiner goes on to say that:

The lid is oak, rising slightly in the centre to form a base for statues of Our Lord and the Baptist.

A indication of  the elaborate detail on the font
A indication of the elaborate detail on the font

Flamboyant (from French flamboyant, “flaming”) is the name given to a florid style of late Gothic architecture in vogue in France from about 1350 in France until superseded by Renaissance architecture during the early 16th century and mainly used in describing French buildings. The name derives from the flame-like windings of its tracery and the dramatic lengthening of gables and the tops of arches.

Do you have any a who were ancestors who were baptised at this font at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Moruya??

One response to “The ‘Flamboyant Font’”

  1. Steve Lancaster Avatar
    Steve Lancaster

    Hello, I live in Colorado and have recently acquired a wonderful Baptismal Font from a private estate. I googled elaborate early baptismal font and I found the picture of the font in Moruya and District Historical society blog on ” the Flamboyant Font and it matches the font I acquired. Could you tell me if the font in the picture is still at the Sacred Heart church built in the 1880’s. Do you happen to know any additional information on the font ….. Were they mass produced? Who built and designed it. Or do I have the one that belonged to the church? I have pictures I would like to send you but not sure how to attach them.
    Thank you,
    Steve Lancaster

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