No. 43 - The Former Wesleyan Chapel Paterson Street Launceston - "The Word of Life"

The imposing Georgian Church on Paterson Street is an architectural rarity because of the association with its designer Samuel Jackson and being one of a few of his buildings which remain unaltered.

The Church is also important because was the first Wesleyan Church in Launceston. Methodism made its first appearance in the town in 1826 but owing to the shortage of mission funds from England it withdrew two years later. Money that had been collected for the erection of a chapel was instead used for the establishment of a Presbyterian Church.

In 1832 Methodism was revived in Launceston by a local preacher, Mr Francis French who held services on the Windmill Hill. A great pioneer missionary, Rev. Nathaniel Turner, stationed in Hobart, learning of French’s efforts:

“…rode in the saddle at the end of March, 1832, from Hobart, preaching on the Sunday in the town court-house to crowded congregations”. In his Turners words: "the people listened as though they would never again have the chance of hearing the Word of Life." (Examiner 13 February 1932)

This was the beginning of the Methodist Society that developed into the Paterson Street Church. Turner rode regularly from Hobart to minister to this embryonic movement. He managed to obtain a grant of land in Paterson Street from Governor Arthur on which the church now stands. The church opened in 1835 with its first resident minister being Rev. J. A. Manton. It was from this church in Launceston as well as the church in Hobart that Methodism was taken to Melbourne by the Tasmanians who founded that city in 1835. Amongst these was 
Joseph Orton, the first clergyman to preach in Melbourne. Orton had been a strong opponent of slavery in Jamaica, where he was imprisoned for his views. In Tasmania, he was an equally strong critic of mistreatment of aboriginal people. 

In the space of 30 years the church had become too small for the rapidly growing congregation and a new church was built alongside it in 1866, upon which it became a Sunday school. It now serves as hall alongside the Pilgrim Uniting Church in Paterson Street. The Pilgrim Uniting Church will be the subject of a seperate blog entry.

Photo: Duncan Grant 2018
Photo: Duncan Grant 2018

Photo: Duncan Grant 2018

Image from Wesleyan Juvenile Offering - Volume 12, 1855 (Wiki commons)


Examiner Monday 4 April 1932

Examiner Saturday 13 February 1932

Examiner Tuesday 5 April 1932


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