Being a colony of Great Britain, a country in which Christianity as the state religion, it is not surpising that Chirstianity, and in particular that practiced by the Church of England, the state religion, played a major role in the lives of the early colonials. Anglicanism has in fact remained the largest Christian denomination in Tasmania during its two centuries of European settlement. For the first half of the nineteenth century the Church of England was treated by government as the colony's official though not 'established' religion. Robert Knopwood, the first colonial chaplain, carried responsibility for the spiritual oversight of the entire colony until the appointment of a Launceston-based chaplain in 1818.
Communal gathering together at the local church every Sunday was a major event in the lives of the colonials of Van Diemen's Land, and as a result, churches of all denominations were built in towns and villages across the country. Most of these buildings survive today, though in many cases have been put to different uses since the role of the church in society began to change a century ago. The churches featured here are some of the most significant, both historically and architecturally, of the churches in Launceston and outlying areas.
St Andrews Presbyterian (Uniting), Launceston
A fine propertioned stuccoed brick church with well crafted Gothic details and tower on its eastern side supporting a delicate Freestone octagonal spire. The walls are buttressed with angled buttresses on corners. All buttresses topped with pinnacles. Built in 1867, the church is one of the few remaining works of a distinguished Tasmanian architect Henry Clayton.
Location: 36 St John Street, Launceston
St John's Anglican, Launceston
A remarkable eclectic structure of unfinished design, the building is a successful combination of Georgian "gothik" (naive adaption), Byzantine and Gothic Revival, and an art nouveau adaptation of late Gothic Revival design styles.
A large cruciform design parish church of brick, sandstone and concrete,it was built in three main stages. The oldest section (1825) by David Lambe is a naive adaption of Georgian "gothick". The later structure (1901-11 and 1938) chancel transepts and crossing, is a unique mixture of Byzantine and Gothic elements. The nave (1938) is neo-Gothic with art nouveau decoration.
The foundations of St. John s Launceston as a parish date from the arrival of the Revd. John Youl in 1819, in Port Dalrymple. Divine Service (as Sunday services were called) were held under the trees or in a blacksmith s shop; when wet. Youl called his congregation together by striking an iron barrel with a mallet, walking through the settlement in his canonical dress . When it first opened its doors in 1825, the parish church existed under the Diocese of Madras, Calcutta in India.
Location: St John Street, Launceston
Holy Trinity Church, Launceston
The Holy Trinity Anglican Launceston, designed by Alexander North, is red brick and sandstone church built in the Federation Gothic Style and opened in 1902. The Gothic details include gargoyles, turrets, gables, buttresses and a fleche. The stained glass windows include three memorial windows imported from England for the first Holy Trinity Church on this site, built in 1842.
The building is of note for its impressive scale and conscious asymmetry. The eastern facade includes a large rose window with flanking turrets and an arcaded gable, and the roof ridge is crowned by a fleche of original design. Within, the detailing and fittings are of a high order including a splendid font and cover supported on a large wooden canopy carved by Gordon Cumming. Some of the stained glass is by the accomplished Melbourne artist William Montgomery. This was the most avant-garde Anglican church building in Australia at the time of its construction and has a huge chancel and choir built on a cathedral scale. The present narthex was built in the 1980s on the site of an intended nave that was never built due to lack of funds.
Location: Cnr Cameron and George Streets, Launceston
Christ Church and Milton Hall, Launceston
Milton Hall was built in 1842 as St John s Square Chapel in Greek Revival style. It was constructed by the congregation under the Reverend John West, a courageous Anti-transportation Reformer and writer of The History of Tasmania 1852. Christ Church, a Gothic Revival building, was constructed in1883-85whenthecongregationout-grew
Milton Hall. It has a profusion of fine stained glass. Chalmer s Church (on the left) is a unique building in what is called a Florid Gothic style. Opened for worship in 1860 it is a good architectural example of the Free Church of Scotland in Tasmania.
Location: Prince s Square, Frederick Street, Launceston
Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd, Hadspen
Thomas Reibey, a wealthy landowner of nearby Entally estate, later a state politician & premier, had agreed to provide the funds for the construction of the church. The building's design was based on St Mary s parish Church, Lutterworth, England. Reibey had WG and E Habershon of London draw up plans in 1857. Construction, estimated to cost 1000 pounds, began in 1868 with locally sourced stonework by Robert Sleightholm whom Reibey had met on a ship from England.
Midway through construction, a scandal erupted around Reibey and a married woman. Her husband raised the issue with the bishop, but no action by the Church again with the Church of England Synod in England. Nonetheless, the Bishop had refused to construct the bluestone church with 'tainted funds'. Reibey subsequently took libel action but his complaint was dismissed and the Jury stated that the allegations against him were true. Thus the foundations with no roof stood for 93 years, even though both Reibey and his wife Catherine were buried in the graveyard behind it.before t The church was finally completed in 1961. The old and new sections are clearly defined by the different colour of the stone used in construction.
Nile Chapel, Deddington
Built in 1840, this Chapel located at Deddington, Tasmania is on land gifted from Robert Pitcairn. Brothers Robert and Thomas Pitcairn arrived in Hobart, Van Diemen's Land on the ship "Portland" on 10th September 1824 holding letters of Recommendation. Thomas received a "Grant of Land" of 640 acres at Mills Plains, now Deddington, where he took up occupancy in 1826. Robert subsequently received another Grant of Land of 800 acres in 1829 adjoining and it is from this subsequent Grant that he gave an "Allotment upon which was erected the Chapel.
The Chapel was built by Public Subscription on this "Gifted Land" with Land Ownership being transferred to The Residents of Deddington in 1849. From 1865 the Chapel began use as the Local School and continued for this purpose until 1885. It was again used for the same purpose in 1912. The graves present include Colonial Artist John Glover and his wife Sarah (nee Young) and their sons Henry and John Richardson Glover. The Chapel is still in use today.
Location: Deddington Road, Deddington.
St Peter's Church and School, Nile
The Village of Lymington, later re-named The Nile was established by local landowners James Cox of Clarendon and Donald Cameron of Fordon to house their Workers. The Church Building was originally used as a "School on Weekdays and a Chapel on Sundays". The Building was erected by James Cox (1790-1866) and stands on three acres of land also given by him. The Building, then known as Lymington Church, continued to be used until late in the century at which time the Education Department erected a new school. James Cox is commemorated by A Tablet in the Nave.
Location: Church Lane, Nile.
St Andrews Presbyterian (Uniting), Evandale
A much admired example of Greek Revival Architecture, St. Andrews is recognised as the best preserved or restored place of worship in Tasmania. The Governor, Sir John Franklin, laid the foundation stone in 1838, the church was opened two years later. Since its door opened, St Andrew's has served the Presbyterian Congregation of Evandale and its surrounding environs and lately as the Uniting Church of Australia. Its first minister, Rev. Robert Russell, was a young Scot when he arrived in Evandale to commence his parish duties on the 9th April 1838. At that time there was no church building and services were being held in private residences.
Christ Church Anglican, Longford
Sited in an attractive and expansive church yard in the centre of the historic town of Longford, Christ Church was constructed between 1839 and 1844 to the design of Robert de Little and consists of a broad buttressed nave with cast iron columns (added in 1878). de Little (1808-76) came to the colony in 1830 and established himself in Launceston as a builder and architect. The magnificent five-light east window, with Perpendicular Gothic tracery, depicting Christ and the Four Evangelists, was made by William Wailes, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1842 and was probably the earliest figural window in the country. The carved altar in arts and crafts idiom was designed by Alexander North. The sandstone exterior is dominated by an imposing west-end tower which was completed as recently as 1960 through the raising of the stonework by around 5 metres. Location: Cnr Wellington and William Streets, Longford.
Brickendon Chapel, Longford
Part of the world heritage-listed Brickendon Farm village, Brickendon Chapel is an enchanting Victorian Picturesque Rustic Gothic building featuring steep pitched shingle roof, original stained glass windows and the mellow timbers of its huon pine pews. Built around 1856, it has a high pitched shingled gabled roof, belltower and gabled foyer. The chapel is highly decorative with many neo-gothic features including brick buttresses and decorative fascias and stained glass windows.
The Farm Village, of which the chapel is an integral part, was the hub of Brickendon, a 465 hectare grant taken up by William Archer in 1824 on land opposite his brother at Woolmers, where he developed a new and innovative farming enterprise. William developed Brickendon into a mixed farming enterprise with cropping being a major focus, using a convict workforce of up to 50 people who lived in the tiny village he created. By the 1840's Brickendon was highly regarded as one of the best farms in the colony.
Location: Brickendon Estate, Woolmers Lane, Longford
St Andrew's, Westbury
The town of Westbury was envisaged as a major town in North West Tasmania by the early colonial government, as evidenced by the large number of streets surveyed (only a few were developed), and its two large churches - the bluestone Holy Trinity Catholic Church, designed by Henry Hunter, Tasmania's most prolific Victorian architect, and St. Andrews Anglican Church, opposite the village green.
The latter's foundation stone was laid by Lieutenant Governor George Arthur in 1836. The nave was opened in 1842, the church was consecrated in 1851, the tower was added in 1859 and the chancel was completed in 1890. The church is noted for its fine carvings particularly 'The seven sisters' chancel screen. They were all completed by Mrs Ellen Nora Payne who was born and grew up in the village. Location: Lonsdale Promenade, Westbury
St Andrew's Anglican, Evandale
In 1834, plans were finalised and St. Andrew's Church of England was officially opened in 1837 by the Governor of Van Diemen's Land, Sir John Franklin. The building was used as a place of worship on Sundays and a school room during the week days. The new building was constructed with bricks which were obtained from the abandoned works of the Evandale-Launceston Water Tunnel. In addition the roof was covered in shingle.
In 1869, discovery of large cracks were discovered which was caused by faulty foundations, and the church was finally demolished in 1871. The foundation stone for the present church was laid down on 30 November 1871 and building commenced using many of the original bricks.
Location: 6 High Street, Evandale