No. 47 - St James Anglican Church Youngtown - The Bounty of the Harvest

The St James Anglican Church in Youngtown is a remnant of the early colonial settlement of Franklin Village (formerly called Long Meadow). The Franklin Village Church, as it was called, was one of 10 churches planned for the North by Bishop Francis Nixon, the first Bishop of Tasmania.

The foundation stone for the chapel was laid on the 15 April 1845, making it the seventh Anglican Church to be built in what was then Van Diemen’s Land.

The building was erected by convict labour and was opened on 15 April 1845. On that occasion the burial ground was consecrated but the Chapel was only consecrated at a later time. It was a small church with only 14 pews and a narrow aisle with a fireplace at the southern end to keep the congregation warm.

A village school operated in the chapel for a period after 1847. In 1926 the chapel was consecrated as St James Church.

There are annual reports about harvest festivals at this church but the festival of 1924 is described with careful detail. Harvest festivals were commonly reported on in the press and were significant occasions particularly in rural Anglican and Methodist communities. They remind us of the intimate connection with the land these communities once had and are bound up with pre-Christian pagan traditions in which lives were bonded with the earth and seasons and were a fundamental part of the natural cycle of life and death. I have included most of the original report from the Examiner of 1924 because of the sheer beauty which it describes and the labour of love that must have gone into creating this scene:

"The altar was …daintily decked with white flowers; round the east window was a rope made of all kinds of grain and red flowers. The reading desk was surmounted with a sickle made of oats and the front decorated with grain and a basket of red flowers. The lectern was similarly dealt with. At its right was a small table holding a beautiful basket filled with every kind of fruit obtainable. At the entrance to the chancel an arch had been built, which was covered by grain in the ear, and suspended from the arch were bunches of grapes, also apples and pears. At the foot were sheafs of grain. The entrance to the vestry, which is in the middle of the north wall, a framework was built, which was decorated the same as the arch. The font in the entrance to the church was also canopied over and suspended over the font was another basket of every kind of fruit obtainable, and over the canopy was a bunch of beautiful red dahlias. On either wall were baskets decorated with grain and beautiful red gladioli. On each side of the roll of honour was a bowl of phlox (red), and the roll was surmounted by a sheaf of grain. A couple of loaves of bread made in fanciful style were suspended on the north side of the church. Just at the entrance of the church was a stack of hay properly made and thatched by Master Carl Luck. The vegetables were arranged in the aisle, and included every kind of vegetable in season”. (Examiner 27 February 1924)

We seem to have lost so much in our cities of the modern industrial age; most of all our connection to the land, the tenuous nature of existence, gratitude for abundance and most of all our place in the rhythms of nature and the celebration of life, death and rebirth.



Photo: Duncan Grant 2018

Photo: Duncan Grant 2018

Photo: Duncan Grant 2018

Photo: Duncan Grant 2018

Photo: Duncan Grant 2018

Photo: Duncan Grant 2018

Photo: Duncan Grant 2018


SOURCES USED

Examiner Wednesday 27 February 1924

Franklin Village An Early Tasmanian Town Terry Childs 2005




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