No. 38 - St John's Anglican Church Launceston - "That will be quite large enough for Launceston"

St John’s is one of five churches facing onto Princes Square. It is also the second oldest existing church in Tasmania. A report from The Examiner, on the occasion of its centenary, reveals that the idea of separation of church and state was clearly a very different concept in the early 19th century.

“… On January 28, 1825, the foundation stone was laid by Sir George Arthur, then Lieutenant-Governor. The original design was for a building the facsimile of old St. David's, Hobart, but his Excellency, thinking the building too large for the requirements of the northern town, drew his pen across the place, reducing the building to about one-half the original size, with the remark, 'That will be quite large enough for Launceston.' ...”

The consequence was a church that ended up too small for a rapidly growing town and the ramifications of this were to be felt for the next century:

“…This was a fatal mistake, as was only too apparent a few years later. St. John's, like all churches of that period, was built by Government. Convict labour was used, there being no other available. The bricks were made in Princes Square, opposite the church site, and each one has the broad arrow upon it. The lime was made upon the church grounds, oyster shells being brought from the mouth of the Tamar and burned there. The church was entirely a Government institution. The clergyman was appointed by them, pew rents were fixed, and one of the two wardens necessary in those days was nominated by them to look after their interest, and to see that the pew rents were duly paid into the Treasury. The Government likewise paid the organist and executed all repairs. Collections were taken up in the church then as now, but the funds were used for benevolent purposes only. The first clergyman was the Rev. John Youl, who had been appointed in 1818 chaplain to the settlement of Port Dalrymple, and took up his residence at George Town, and was removed to Launceston in 1824. St. John's Church was ready for use in December 1825, and the first services were held during that month within its walls. The church was by no means finished at that time. It was only a square building without tower and with galleries unfinished. Mr Youl died in 1827, and was succeeded by the Rev. James Norman. It was during the latter gentleman's short ministry that the venerable Archdeacon Scott, of New South Wales, visited Launceston, and on March 6, 1828, consecrated the church”.


The report continued to outline the development of the church building:

“…In 1833 the church became so crowded that Government was applied to carry out the original plan. The answer was that they would provide half the money required to complete the plan if the people of Launceston would supply the other half. This was not done, and other denominations starting churches of their own shortly after did away with the immediate necessity of increasing accommodation. The galleries at this time, and indeed from the very first, were utilised for the prisoners and the military. In 1835 an effort was made to increase the accommodation and the south gallery was fitted up, ...but it was only done by some of the congregation offering to pay three years' pew rents in advance”.

By the 20th century the church went through another phase of considerable development. In 1901 plans for the extension of St. John's were undertaken by Alexander North. On February 4, 1902, the foundation stone of the new building- was laid, the ceremony being performed by the then State Governor (Sir Arthur Havelock).  North intended to enlarge the church and between 1901 and 1911, the chancel was widened by three meters, transepts were added, and provision made for a massive tower at the crossing. Reinforced concrete was used for the vaulting of the chancel, transepts, chapel, dome and organ loft, this being interspersed in many places with stone ribs. This is thought to be the first instance of the extensive use of reinforced concrete for vaulting in Australia, with few parallels overseas at the time. The new eastern parts of St John’s were consecrated on 3 December 1911. In 1938 the nave was reconstructed, the original walls being kept intact but raised in height and faced with new brickwork. As it now stands, the church presents an unusual construction of two very different architectural styles. Indeed, it might be fair to say that it is a flawed beauty born out of chaotic evolution.



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

Photo Duncan Grant 2018

Photo Duncan Grant 2018

Photo Duncan Grant 2018

Photo Duncan Grant 2018

Photo Duncan Grant 2018


LINC TASMANIA LPIC147-2-220

St Johns Church Launceston Tasmania Alexander North architectural drawing architecture 1901-1911 church plans drawing  Wiki Commons


https://stors.tas.gov.au/AUTAS001126252949w800


Cover of Souvenir 1911 The Daily Telegraph (State Library of Victoria)

SOURCES

Daily Telegraph Monday 16 November 1925 


A historical record of the parish of St. John, Launceston ; John Edward Mercer, Daily Telegraph 1911


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