No. 49 - The Wycliffe Chapel Vincent Street Launceston - A Chapel of Ease

The Wycliffe Chapel is virtually invisible today. It is found in a narrow side street of Launceston and its front is a bicycle shop. Although only remnants of the original chapel are visible, it is nevertheless listed on the heritage register. The reason for this is because of its direct association with the Reverend Charles Price.

“There remains little of physical worth with really only part of one facade visible. However, that the building still exists physically acknowledges the social importance of the Rev. Charles Price who amongst many other deeds, built the chapel at his personal expense for his Congregational ministry.” (1)

The two other churches associated with Price, one in Tamar Street and the other at Inveresk, have long since vanished.

The Vincent Street chapel was built in 1848 and is named after John Wycliffe (1320-1384) who first translated into English the Bible used by Independent Congregationalists and Primitive Methodists. It was built from private funds by Price "for the purpose of holding week day evening services for the greater convenience of some aged members of the congregation" of his Tamar Street Independent Chapel. (2) It is therefore an example of a ‘chapel of ease’, so called for its convenience for needy parishioners.

The Reverend Price is a luminary in the story of religion in Launceston. His entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography is worth reading in full, but its concluding words hint at the brilliance of this man:

“…The Launceston community regarded Price as a founder of the temperance movement, the City Mission and the Bible Society. He lectured frequently on scientific subjects to the Mechanics' Institute, which he had helped to found, and it was claimed that 'he would have shone as a mechanic, as a teacher of languages, parliamentary debater, at the bar, or as a preacher of the Gospel'. (3)

The chapel closed in 1900 and during the time it operated, it was used by a number of groups including the Plymouth Brethren. It is fitting that the Wycliffe Chapel is protected a symbol of Price’s legacy. My view is that although the building is largely obscured, enough of it remains for it to be restored at some point in the future because of its important place in Launceston's religious heritage.



Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018


Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018



Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

References

1.https://dmzapp17p.ris.environment.gov.au/ahpi/action/search/heritage-search/record/RNE14640

2. from notes compiled by Patricia Ratcliff for the Pilgrim Uniting Church History Room 1982

3. http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/price-charles-2562


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