No. 86 - Hadspen - The Church of the Good Shepherd - Casting the First Stone

The Church of the Good Shepherd at Hadspen took almost a 100 years to complete. At first glance it appears to be the product of the mid 19th century but in fact the building was only completed in 1961.

An Anglican church was planned for Hadspen in the late 1850s. The foundation stone of "The new Episcopalian Church" or "The Reibey Church" was laid on 23 December 1868. This was reported in the Examiner at the time:

“Yesterday the quiet little village of Hadspen presented quite an animated appearance, that having been the day appointed for laying the foundation stone of the new Episcopalian Church. For many years past the inhabitants have had a strong desire to erect a new church but the want of means has precluded them from making an earlier beginning… But the united efforts of the Venerable Arch-deacon Reibey, and several of the residents, sufficient funds have been collected to enable them to make a fair start …”

When the structure was only partly complete a scandal erupted around Reibey. He was alleged to have indecently dealt with a married woman. In 1868 he was accused openly in the synod with attempts to seduce Margaret Blomfield with whose husband he previously had a property dispute. Bishop Charles Bromby refused to accept Reibey's ‘tainted’ money for the building of the church. Reibey subsequently took legal action but his complaint was dismissed and the jury largely held that the allegations against him were true. As a consequence of the scandal all work on the church had ceased by 1870.  At this time the walls were unfinished and it was without a roof; a condition which remained unchanged for nearly 100 years. However Reibey’s career was far from ruined and he went on to become Premier of Tasmania in 1876. Reibey died in 1912 and is remembered with a relatively modest grave stone in the cemetery of the Church of the Good Shepherd.

The church remained in a 'ruined' state and became an attraction resembling a Gothic folly. Anglican services were held in St Stephens, a timber church next to the spectacle of Reibey’s church. In 1957 interest in completing the church was rekindled due to the approaching centenary of the start of its construction. The original architects' plans had been preserved and were closely followed in completing the project. The church was finally finished on 20 May 1961, with the first service held the following day. Some furnishings in the church came from the private chapel at Reibey’s home, Entally House. These included the altar and coverings, a wooden cross, paintings, a stained glass window and a bell that hangs in the church's porch. The Church of the Good Shepherd was consecrated in February 1973 and continues to serve the people of Hadspen. 


The whereabouts of the old timber church of St Stephen's is unknown. I have a single unverified report that it was purchased by the Methodists. This will be followed up and the blog entry updated when that mystery is solved.

The Cemetery

I have included some photographs of gravestones found at the Church of the Good Shepherd. A complete list of burials with photographs of gravestones may also be located at this link:  HERE

A note on the  Photographs

A difference in the colour of the stone work can clearly be seen in the photographs below with the darker stone being laid down in the 1860's.


Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Source: https://stors.tas.gov.au/AUTAS001126251313w800

Source: QVM:1983:P:1313


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

Sources:

Examiner Thursday 24 December 1868
The Anglican Church in Tasmania; Geoffrey Stephens 1992.


Comments

  1. Hi Duncan, a c1960 copy of the original plans and extant record of the unfinished structure have just some into my possession. I have yet to make study of the to see whether Reibey had already reduced the scale of building to something more modest than the plans he had commissioned.
    Regards,
    Ian Boersma
    Launceston

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Ian. That is an intriguing idea. Reibey would have wanted to make a statement and the church, while a beautiful building, is actually quite modest. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a much grander original concept. I am also interested in the timber church which once stood alongside the incomplete church: St Stephen's; and I am interested as to where it was moved.

    ReplyDelete

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