East Melbourne’s St Peter’s Church to receive $144,000 upgrade

Katie Johnson

The iconic heritage-listed St Peter’s Eastern Hill Church in East Melbourne has received $144,000 from the state government to conduct urgent conservation works.

The 175-year-old church will use the money to rebuild part of the roof to prevent water leakage as part of the government’s $2.3 million Living Heritage Program.

Vicar’s Warden Stephen Duckett said he was “elated” to receive the grant after applying for the second time.

“I’m very happy as the leaking has worsened over time and every time there is a big thunderstorm it gets under the eaves,” Mr Duckett said.


The church congregation is small and ageing and we don’t have an enormous amount of money to upkeep a historic site, so we couldn’t afford to do this project without the grant.


The grant will cover half the cost of the project, which includes replacing roof tiles, battens and rainwater goods, rebuilding some of the roof structures and installing a new downpipe and rainwater head.

Mr Duckett said the works would ensure the ongoing community use of the hall which was originally part of a school connected to the church.

“The whole of our site is heritage-listed, including the hall, which leaks badly during the rain,” Mr Duckett said.

“The rain runs into all parts of the building, damaging the beams and the floor of the hall as well.”

The repair of the hall is particularly important as it is used by the church to run a number of programs for homeless people and international students.

Every morning the church serves a breakfast for 50 to 100 homeless in the hall, which has turned to takeaway during COVID.

Mr Duckett also said the church had been running a meals program for international students out of the hall, a service which began during COVID.

“A lot of students lost income, and some couldn’t afford to eat so we run a lunch takeaway program for them,” Mr Duckett said.


We usually get about 100 students a day, so the hall is really used a lot by the community.


St Peter’s is one of 19 restoration projects that will receive funding under round six of the Living Heritage Program.

Other sites include Melbourne Athenaeum Theatre, Puffing Billy Locomotives and Rolling Stock in Belgrave and Horsham Town Hall.

Minister for Planning Richard Wynne said the program was about protecting significant sites across Victoria for future generations to enjoy and learn from.

“These are the sites that tell stories about our history and play a major role in rural and regional Victoria’s tourism industry – we’re proud to protect these treasured community assets,” Mr Wynne said.

As Mr Duckett will soon be retiring after acting as the Vicar’s Warden and Chair of Parish Council for six years, he was happy to get the grant approved.

“As my time is coming to an end it was really pleasing to get this finalised, for the church and for the community,” he said.

“It’s an historic site and in regular times we would have many people come to enjoy the church and the hall because they’re very beautiful.”  •

Caption: St Peter’s Vicar Dr Hugh Kempster and Vicar’s Warden Stephen Duckett inside the historic church.

Caption: St Peter’s has a long-running meal program for the homeless and for international students during the pandemic.

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