The Wardle offering plate

Alms Plate

The engraving on the back of the plate says that it was purchased by Captain R.N. ('Bob') Wardle AAVC/AIF in "the street called straight" in Damascus in 1918 and donated to St Philip's in 1960 for use as an "alms plate".

The inscription is: في لفظ اللسان سلام الانسان وفي حفظ اللسان و ظرافة الانسان . [Fï lafẓi alllisāni salāmi aliānsāni. wafī ḥifẓi alllisāni wa ẓarāfuhu.] A Syrian proverb, it can translated literally as: "Peace can be attained by your wise choice of words, and amiability can be attained by limiting criticism of others". You could paraphrase it as: In wise speech there is peace, and gentleness from guarding one’s tongue. (Many thanks to Mohammad N. Ahmad for help with the translation!)

We do not know why or how Captain Wardle gave this plate to St Philip's. He was a strict Methodist and a trustee of the National Memorial Church, Forrest.


Robert Norman Wardle (1895-1979), veterinarian and public servant, was born on 1 July 1895 at Ballarat, Victoria. He was educated at Humffray Street and Dana Street State schools, Ballarat Agricultural High School, and the University of Melbourne (B.V.Sc., 1916). At the Melbourne University he joined the Melbourne University Rifles.

On 6 March 1917 he was appointed captain, Australian Army Veterinary Corps, Australian Imperial Force. Wardle embarked at Melbourne for the Middle East in May 1917. On arrival in Suez, he was posted as a member of the Veterinary Corps attached to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade of the Mounted Division. His work of caring for horses was divided between work the field as OiC of a Veterinary Section and as a surgeon in veterinary hospitals, including at Nazareth.

After a time in private practice (1920-26) at Geelong, Wardle became a veterinary officer (1926-39) with the Victorian Department of Agriculture, He cared for Clydesdale horses especially and toured Victoria with the Better Farming Train, which advised farmers on good agricultural practice. Moving to Canberra in 1939 as director of the division of veterinary hygiene, Commonwealth Department of Health, Wardle concentrated on animal quarantine to keep out foot-and-mouth and other exotic diseases.

Robert married Dorothy Evelyn Rule at the Collins Street Baptist Church, Melbourne, on 25 April 1922. They had two sons. Dorothy died in Canberra on 2 November 1952.

On 12 April 1955, at the Church of St John the Baptist, Reid, Wardle married Patience Australie, daughter of Robin and Pattie Tillyard. The couple bred ponies and fattened steers on Maitai, a 40-acre property near Murrumbateman.

Wardle was president of the Horticultural Society of Canberra (1954-56), the Rotary Club of Canberra (1948-49) and the local division of the Australian Red Cross Society (1950-52), and a member of the Melbourne Cricket Club and the Canberra and District Historical Society. Survived by his wife Patience (Pat) and by a son, Brian, of his first marriage, he died on 21 July 1979 at his Forrest home and was buried in Canberra cemetery. Pat Wardle OAM, BA (Sydney), died in 1992, aged 81. The Canberra and District Historical Society hold a substantial collection of Tillyard-Wardle papers

Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16 , 2002.

St Philip's Anglican Church,
cnr Moorhouse and Macpherson Streets, O'Connor, ACT 2602.