No. 56 - White Hills Methodist Church - A Moonlit Ride Home

White Hills is mentioned as early as 1836 in Methodist records where services probably took place in private homes. Much of the early history of this church is lost but records show that it was built on land donated by Mr John Trethewie. Under the leadership of Reverend Stephenson, a Wesleyan Church was opened on 16 September 1877. A report in the Examiner provides an interesting reminder of the constraints of night time travel in rural areas and the importance of fine weather and the fullness of the moon:

"For a considerable time past services in connection with the Wesleyan Church have been conducted in this district, on the Lenna estate, but owing to an increased congregation it was found necessary to take steps for the erection of a more suitable place of worship…. The opening services were held on Sunday last, when the Rev. Stephenson, of Launceston, preached two sermons, afternoon and evening, to very good congregations…On Tuesday a public tea meeting was held in the Church, and owing no doubt to the very fine weather, and the fact that the night would be moonlight, a large assemblage of people gathered together from Launceston and surrounding districts. The tea, which embraced a selection of the choicest viands, …Fully two hundred persons must have been present, and it was found necessary to have a relay….A start homewards was made at 8:30 p.m., and the Launceston folks reached town about 10 o'clock".

There is very little out of the ordinary in the history of this little church but it did survive to celebrate its centenary. Sadly the last service was held in 2017 before it was sold to be converted into a private dwelling. Hedging has been planted around the cemetery to provide the new owners with some privacy as relatives of the deceased have the right of access to visit graves. The beginnings of renovations can be seen in the photos and I think this might be the last photographs taken of the original old church before it begins another life in a new form.


Update:  The church has been in the news recently being moved onto new foundations in preparation for its conversion into a home. Fascinating photographs of the operation (courtesy of The Examiner) have been added to the bottom of this page.


Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018


The outline of a new building is clearly visible in the foreground - Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

A descendent of the benefactor of the church John Trethewie - Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

       
The church in better days showing the small cemetery - photo Wiki Commons
   
The Examiner 16 February 2018

The Examiner 16 February 2018

The Examiner 16 February 2018

The Examiner 16 February 2018

The Examiner 16 February 2018

The Examiner 16 February 2018

The Examiner 16 February 2018
       
Sources:

Weekly Examiner Saturday 22 September 1877
The Examiner 16 February 2018
Tasmanian Methodism 1820-1975 - Compiled by a committee at the time of the last Meeting of Methodism prior to Union.

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