No. 64 - St. John's Anglican Church - White Hills (1917)

White Hills is a rural area within Greater Launceston which lies about 15 kilometres south-east of the city.

The first Anglican church at White Hills was dedicated to St. Paul and was officially opened on Sunday 14 January 1844. It was a brick building with lancet windows and was situated on a hilltop near the present wooden church. It was built at a cost of £900, assisted by a government grant of £410. The diary of Reverend John Mereweather, the first permanent rector, described the church as “pretty enough with its lancet windows”. However Mereweather complained about the building’s dampness, poor construction and the lack of a communion table.

Although built in 1844, the church was not consecrated until 1857. By the late 1870s problems with the building’s foundations made it unsafe for services. The church was abandoned in about 1882. after this services were held in a nearby schoolroom as well as at private houses.

The foundations of the old church were still visible in 1917 when the church grounds were being prepared for the construction of a new church. In April 1917 the Examiner reported:

“A successful working bee was held in the grounds belonging to the Church of England, at White Hills when nearly thirty helpers including a number of boys who worked well, were occupied in clearing away the rubbish from the old foundation upon which stood a well built church many years ago, and also cutting down the young wattles which were growing very thickly over the graveyard”.

The new timber church was built in 1917 and officially opened on 11 November in the same year. It was was dedicated to St. John. I have not located any newspaper reports describing the church's official opening or consecration. It appears that it was only partially completed in 1917 as the interior of the church was only lined and painted in 1922. 

In 1927 the Examiner reported that the church received a considerable financial windfall following the death of Mr Headly Hardman:

“Advice has just been received by Mr. Robt. Stevenson, one of the wardens of the Anglican Church at White Hills, from the Perpetual Trustees Company Limited, of Sydney, notifying the death of Mr. Headley E. Hardman, which occurred at Darling point, Sydney…. The letter stated that the late Mr. Hardman had bequeathed £2000 as a trust fund for the general maintenance of the church. Mr Hardman was a native of White Hills….”.

The bequest does not appear to have been put to good use for in 1948 local historian Karl von Stieglitz notes that:

“St Paul’s at the White Hills is now a neglected little building with a shingle roof….Many of the tombstones have fallen over and wattle trees are springing up everywhere.”

St. John’s church was sold in 2008 and has been restored in recent years. 

A recent photograph of the restored church - Photo supplied by Mike Dean

A recent photograph of the restored church - Photo supplied by Mike Dean

St John's at White Hills (1996) Margaret Tassell - QVM 1997:P:3306

Anglican Church, White Hills, photo: Marion Sargent (2011) LPIC147/2/81 - Libraries Tasmania

The interior of the church (2008)

St John's Church White Hills. Note the gravestones in the foreground. Others stones are found on the south side of the church. Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018


Examiner, Wednesday 4 April 1917, page 2
Examiner, Tuesday 8 February 1927, page 4
The Mercury, Wednesday 18 April 1923, page 9

Proverbs, B.C. 1969. A History of the Parish of St. Leonards, B.C. Proverbs, Launceston.

K.R. von Stieglitz; A Short History of St Leonards, 1948.

Geoffrey Stephens, The Anglican Church in Tasmania, 1991

John Davies Mereweather, Diary of a Working Clergyman in Australia and Tasmania : Kept During the Years 1850-1853


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