BAPTISMAL FONT1892 - 2015
Large, limestone, octagonal baptismal font in two pieces. The top of the font is a single piece of limestone, carved into an octagonal shape, with a inverted curve rim on the top. The top of the font has a hollowed out, round bowl, in the centre. Attached to the top rim of the font, is a copper plaque, which is engraved 'THIS FONT IS THE WORKMANSHIP OF/ INMATES OF FREMANTLE PRISON AND,/ WAS PRESENTED BY THEM TO THE/ CONGREGATION OF ST ANDREW’S/ PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH/ - 1892 -'. Carved into each of the eight sides of the font is a three circle motif. The font sits on top of a large, rounded, limestone stand. The stand is octagonal in shape, with a wider, stepped base at the bottom. Carved into each of the eight sides of the base is a long, arched window shape.
This baptismal font was made by Fremantle Prison prisoners in 1892 and donated to the congregation of St Andrew's Church in Perth (located on St George Terrace, Perth). St Andrew's was founded in 1879 and was the first presbyterian church in Western Australia. The last service was held on 25 October 2015, after the church site and the two adjoining properties were sold to Global Premium Hotels. The church is a heritage listed building and therefore remains, however it is no longer used as a place of worship. Therefore, in 2015, 123 years since it has been installed in St Andrew's, this font was donated back to Fremantle Prison.
'THIS FONT IS THE WORKMANSHIP OF/ INMATES OF FREMANTLE PRISON AND,/ WAS PRESENTED BY THEM TO THE/ CONGREGATION OF ST ANDREW’S/ PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH/ - 1892 -'
For most of the Prison's operational life, work was available to prisoners. It was felt that providing them with work where they would gain technical skills would benefit them upon release. Workshops were established on site as early as 1858 and additional workshops were built in 1901-1902 as a result of the 1898-99 Royal Commission, which advocated more work for prisoners. The revenue generated by providing services to outside organisations and private individuals aided the Prison. The most profitable industry was probably the Print Shop, where much work was done for the Government. We know from a series of letters dated 1916 that prisoners were making furniture for the Education Department of WA.
Baptismal fonts serve as a receptacle for baptismal water in which the candidate for baptism is immersed, or washed over, in this ceremony of Christian initiation. In 1892 the inmates of Fremantle Prison made this baptismal font, which they then donated to St Andrew’s Church, located on St George’s Terrace in Perth. St Andrew’s was founded in 1879 and was the first Presbyterian church in Western Australia. This baptismal font was made from limestone in an octagonal shape, interpreted as representing the Eighth Day, the day of Christ's Resurrection, into which candidates enter in baptism. The font bears a copper plaque on its rim, which states, “This font is the workmanship of inmates of Fremantle Prison and was presented by them to the congregation of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 1892.” The font stood in St Andrew’s church for 123 years, until its final service on the 25th October 2015, when the church, and two adjoining buildings, were sold to Gold Premium Hotels. When the church closed, the font was returned to Fremantle Prison.