Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Nestled in the town of Mullewa is what is apply named the Jewel in the Crown of Monsignor John Hawes church designs.
The architecture is of a Romanesque type similar to churches found in the South of France, the exterior has long low proportions reminiscent of the Spanish Franciscan Mission churches.
Monsignor Hawes commenced sketches of the church in 1920 while holidaying in England and the foundations began in 1923. During the time of construction Mons. Hawes was feeling rejected and humiliated by the non acceptance of his design for the Perth Cathedral and the scorn given by Bishop Ryan re the unfinished Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier in Geraldton. The personal, intimate and charming work of the Mullewa Church was to please himself and as he wrote to a friend “my heart is in these stones”. Hawes wanted his church to signify the antiquity, romance and quaintness of the old hillside churches of southern Europe.
The church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was built almost entirely by this priest architect with help from local farmers in the district carting stone from the neighbouring quarry, when the parish could not afford to pay a mason Monsignor Hawes took on the job himself.
On entering this quaint building to the right one can see the baptistery which is lit by natural light, the side altars moulded and decorated in typical Hawes style. The choir gallery at the west end houses a small pipe organ purchased by Hawes in memory of his mother who remained a Protestant all her life.
The nave consists of five bays spanned by transverse pointed arches which support the roof timbering. The dome over the sanctuary is constructed of handmade concrete blocks, on the summit of the dome is a circular lantern with glazed windows which filter natural light over the altar.
The base of the bell tower has a purpose built slit in the wall so that the bell ringer can sound the consecration bell at the correct time. The tower contains seven bells.
Due to an increase in the population the Northern transept “St. Michaels was added in 1962 to blend in with the existing building.
A walk around this delightful church although small it is perfectly to scale, monumental in character, and perfectly in tune with the landscape.
Mons. Hawes had a great affinity with the aboriginal people of Mullewa but they were not comfortable in attending Mass in the local church.
To the East of Mullewa approximately 1.6 kms along the Mt.Magnet road one will find an area of bush to the left which was originally ‘the common’. Care has to be taken traversing this road which is uneven terrain and can be boggy following rain.
A shoulder of rock can be found on the hill slope overshadowed by gum trees, portion of the rock has been leveled to serve as a table for the Mass celebrations.
It is here that Mons. Hawes would gather the local aboriginals with the sound of a bell and encourage the young children to tidy and decorate the altar in readiness for Mass.
Mons Hawes had intended to build a mission style church on this site but this was never built.
Our Lady of Mt Carmel - Mullewa