Ancient lands

St Peter’s Church and the Gilgering Cemetery are situated on the banks of the Gogulgar Bilya (Avon River) within Ballardong Noongar Country, 17 kms from York and 117 kms from Perth. Prior to the European settlement, the Ballardong people lived on this country for tens of thousands of years, having access to a ready supply of food and fresh water from the Gogulgar waterways and the adjacent land.

The European settlement was established at York in 1831.

Within a few years, the people of the Gwambygine and Gilgering area began to gather for prayer services in John and Jane Fleay’s farmhouse at Gilgering. There were references to these services in Archdeacon Wollaston’s journals and in 1850, he wrote:

“… proceed 10 miles from York where, at Fleay’s farmhouse were assembled 20 persons, decent, attentive, orderly people for evening service and sermon. They contemplate the erection of a small church among themselves, for which I gave them all encouragement, but could hold out no hope of pecuniary assistance.”

A dream became a reality and the building of St Peter’s Anglican Church, Gilgering was completed in 1858 to serve the farming community as a social and religious centre.

Today, St Peter’s Church and Cemetery with adjoining grounds, is important as a sense of place and belonging for the general community.

Black and white sketch of St Peter's Church showing the front entrance and a tall thin pine taller that the roof nearby.
2013 – Illustration by Lesley Fleay, North Perth, WA

Excerpt from The Enquirer, December 23rd, 1858:

“The Gilgering Church, distant about 10 miles from York, stands on the sloping banks of the Avon River, emblossomed in jam trees. Beautiful as the site is, the convenience of the settlers has not been sacrificed in its choice. The church is a neat brick building on a stone foundation, it is weather boarded and shingled, with deeply projecting eaves. The ventilation is extremely good. The hangings and cushions etc were made by Mrs C. Wittenoom.

The cost of the building of the church had been a little over 100 pounds of which 25 pounds was readily granted by the Colonial Treasury. The collection at the first service (9 pounds,7 shillings), liquidated the last portion of the debt on the building and left a balance in aid of the Parsonage, which was soon to be built.

Mr George Fletcher Moore has given the site for the Church and the adjoining land.  Twenty acres has been kindly presented by Mr Hamersley, on which the parsonage will be built. The settlers have taken a warm interest in the erection of this church; they have begged little and done much”.

1858: First Rector – Reverend Frederick Lynch

Matthew Blagden Hale journeyed from the Swan River Colony to England in 1857, to attend the service for his consecration as the first Bishop of Perth. Whilst there, he met and corresponded with the Reverend Fredrick Lynch, BA, of Trinity College, Dublin. Reverend F. Lynch had been ordained in 1852 and served for five years as a curate in the Parish of Dymock in Gloucestershire, England. Bishop Hale encouraged the Reverend F. Lynch to migrate but advised that the fledgling Anglican Church of the Swan River Colony was unable to pay for his journey from England.

Sepia photograph of Reverend Lynch. He is wearing a white collar, a dark waist coat and jacket.
Reverend Lynch

In exchange for pastoral and education services for all passengers, the Reverend Frederick Lynch secured free passage on the convict ship Lord Raglan for himself, his wife Margaret and two young sons, Frederick and George, arriving in Gage Roads, Fremantle on the 1st June, 1858. His daughter, Mary Elizabeth Anne (Annie) was born the following day. Reverend F. Lynch kept records during the voyage, naming all the convicts on board with written comments, including whether they could read or write. A copy of these records are available at the J.S. Battye Library of Western Australia.

During his first six months in Western Australia, he was appointed headmaster and assisted Bishop Hale with the establishment of the first boys college in the state; later to be known as Hale School. A copy of a list, written by the Reverend Frederick Lynch, with names of the pupils who attended Bishop Hale’s School on the opening day, 24th June, 1858 is available at the J.S. Battye Library, Perth, Western Australia (found following the records which  include the  names of  convicts who arrived at Fremantle on the Lord Raglan – mentioned in the previous paragraph).

He arrived at Gilgering with his family in early December, to become the inaugural rector of St Peter’s Church, Beverley (named Gilgering when the new St Mary’s Church, Beverley was established in 1892).  The first divine service was celebrated in the church on the 19th December 1858.

Reverend F. Lynch was the only rector to reside at St Peter’s rectory, Gilgering.  During this time he took a great interest in the education of the children and was chairman and secretary of the District Board until his retirement in 1888.

Reverend Frederick Lynch served the local community for 31 years until his death on 27th March 1889, aged 73.  He is buried beside his wife, Margaret, in the Gilgering cemetery.


  1. Hale School, Perth – The Story of its Foundation and Early Years 1858 – 1900
  2. Contributions, including photograph, from descendants of the Lynch family.

Gilgering School

In 1861, a brick building was built adjacent to St Peter’s Church, Gilgering; initially used as a hall but later from that first year was utilised as a school room.  The Gilgering School was originally called the North Beverley School when Gilgering was located in the Beverley District.

The building consisted of one main room plus a smaller room at the rear, with a front and side verandah. The roofing was of sheoak shingle, similar to the roof of St Peter’s Church. Clay was extracted from a large hole on the Avon River bank whereby bricks were made, initially for the nearby church and then for the school building. The school continued until 1891 when it was closed, as the number of pupils had fallen below ten.

The school re-opened in 1905 and then was known as Gilgering School under the auspices of the York School Board. The school was held in the same building (new iron roof) and leased from the Anglican Church for 10 pound per year.

Due to lack of numbers, the school was closed in 1926.

Black and white photo of Gilgering School with several children standing on the verandah and in front of it. The verandah is covered with a lean-to and extends around the side of the school. A towering gum is in the background behind the school.
Teacher and pupils attending the reopening day in 1905.

Top Row

  • 5th from the left – Mary Bradley, teacher

Bottom Row

Fleay family siblings:

  • 1st from the left – George Fleay
  • 4th from the left – Margaret Flora (Madge) Fleay
  • 5th from the left – Francis (Frank) Fleay
  • 7th from the left – Frederick James (Fred) Fleay

Can the other children in the photograph be identified?  Information would be gratefully received – contact email: stpetersgilgering@gmail.com


  1. From Early Beginnings, A History of York Schools – printed 1981.
  2. Contributions, including photograph, from descendants of some of the pupils who attended the Gilgering School.