No. 78 - Former St Andrew's Anglican Church Perth - 'Not Only an Ornament'

The former Anglican church at Perth is possibly the third building in the town associated with the Church of England. Ernest Whitfield in ‘Early History of Launceston’ states that the first services were held in the police station and that a church was built in 1831. Other sources indicate that this may have been 1836 but there is a record of an ‘Anglican’ church’s consecration at Perth in 1838. This building must have been poorly constructed for it had to be repaired in 1851 and by the 1870’s it had become necessary to build an entirely new church.

In January 1878, Miss Charlotte Youl, superintendent of the Church of England Sunday School was invited to place the foundation stone of a new church. Charlotte Youl was the daughter of Reverend John Youl, the first clergyman in Northern Tasmania, who had ministered in Launceston from 1819 and laid the foundation stone of St John’s in 1824. The Cornwall Chronicle reported on the stone laying ceremony at Perth:

Miss Youl… “addressed a few words to those present, stating that it had originally been intended that the Mayor of Launceston should perform the ceremony, but owing to his illness the duty had devolved upon her. Her father had been the first clergyman in [Northern] Tasmania and had laid the foundation stone of the first church in [Northern] Tasmania, and she hoped that she might live to see the church completed and worship there, and that it might be not only an ornament to the township but a means of saving many souls”.

Designed by Mr Harry Conway, the church was built at a cost of about £1,820 including fittings, and it was opened on January 15, 1879, when it was dedicated to St. Andrew. The Chronicle described the building: 

 "It [is] built of brick and cement, 50 feet long and 25 feet in width, the walls will be 18 feet high to the plate, and the chancel 12 feet by 13 feet 9 inches. It is not intended to build the tower at present, but a porch 4 feet square is to be erected at the north western corner of the building, and the tower will eventually adjoin this and will be 94 feet high. The style of architecture is early English, and from a drawing we have seen we believe that it will be a very handsome building”.

Although the 94-foot tower was never built, the new church was nevertheless solidly constructed and served the ‘Anglican’ community of Perth for almost 130 years until it suffered the all too familiar fate of closure in 2008. St Andrew’s was however fortunate in another respect in that it has undergone a remarkable and sensitive restoration and transformation into a modern home. In August 2017, The Examiner reported on this project by Launceston architect Sam Haberle from ‘S Group’ which morphed it from an “absolute dive” to a home that still honours the building as a church. The link below will take you to a gallery of photographs where you may judge the transformation for yourself.

Link to the photo gallery: Here

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Cornwall Chronicle Friday 18 January 1878
The Mercury Tuesday 18 January 1978
Examiner Friday 18 January 1878
Examiner Thursday 16 January 1879
Examiner 26 August 2017
Geoffrey Stephens, The Anglican Church in Tasmania, 1992
K. R. von Stieglitz, Longford Past and Present 1947

Ernest Whitfield in ‘Early History of Launceston’ - a series of articles which appeared in the Examiner in the 1890's.


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