Friday, 14 September 2018

Set in stone: the McQuade monument, Windsor NSW

An impressive Victorian monument is situated in front of Windsor’s historic St. Matthew’s Anglican Church. The elaborate marble monument was erected by William McQuade in 1882 in memory of his wife Amelia and her parents, James Hale and Mary Durham.

William McQuade was born in 1827 and was the second son of Irish born convict, turned publican, Michael McQuade, and his wife Sarah. William became a prominent figure in the Hawkesbury and a successful landowner. He married Amelia Ann Hale in 1850, and the couple had four sons including one who died as an infant. Amelia was the daughter of James Hale and Mary Durham. Mary had originally been married to convict William Durham, a butcher, and following his death, she remarried in 1828, to James Hale, and their daughter, Amelia Ann was born the following year. 

James Hale was a prosperous businessman and amongst other things, owned Fairfield House in Windsor, originally built by William Cox. William and Amelia McQuade lived at Fairfield for a number of years and the property was later inherited by their second son, Henry Michael Hale McQuade, well known as the owner of Her Majesty’s Theatre in Sydney and the member for Hawkesbury for a number of years in the 1880s. The couple eventually had a large portfolio of properties including a sizeable mansion in the fashionable Potts Point. 

William McQuade was keen on sports and it was he who arranged a one-day match between the All-England Eleven, and a local team, with players selected from the Hawkesbury and Nepean districts. A special train conveyed the sporting team from Sydney, and the game was played at Fairfield on a specially made wicket. Over one thousand people attended the remarkable event.

While the McQuade family were staunch Catholics and very supportive of their religion, the Hale and Durham families were Anglican. When William married Amelia the ceremony was held in St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in Windsor. However when Amelia, aged forty-six, passed away in 1875, she was buried in St. Matthew’s Church of England cemetery, alongside her parents and various other family members. 

Following Amelia’s death, her husband planned and built, an extravagant monument, which was made from imported Carrara marble. It was apparently designed to be undercover, protected from the elements but it has always stood outside. The cost for the monument was well over £2,000, with the work performed by the Italian, Antonio Caniparoli, of Carrara Italy, according to the newspapers, and “is amongst the finest examples of monumental marble carving and artistic designing to be found in the State. Lovers of the artistic will observe the symbolic cinerary urns, the upturned torches and the laurel wreaths; also the rare clustered columns supporting the large dome stone.” Local stonemason, George Robertson, from Windsor, was responsible for erecting the 40 plus tons of stone and foundations.

Nothing like it had been seen in Windsor up until then, and the magnificence of it confirmed the McQuade’s prosperity to the Hawkesbury community. The monument was erected at the front of St. Matthew’s Church of England in 1882, commemorating the memory of Amelia McQuade as well her mother, who died in 1857, and father in 1866. When William died in 1885, aged fifty-eight his estate was worth £212,000. He was buried in Windsor’s Catholic Cemetery.

William McQuade's vault at the Windsor Catholic Cemetery


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