No. 96 - St Andrew's Epping Forest - 'Returned to the Birds'

The former St Andrew’s Anglican church at Epping Forest sits on the edge of the Midland Highway but it is almost completely obscured by trees and most driving past would not know it existed.

The church was consecrated in February 1925 and it was entirely funded by a donation from Captain John D. Foster of the property Fairfield. The consecration service was reported in the Daily Telegraph:

“The Bishop of Tasmania (the Right Rev. Dr. Hay), …conducted the ceremony and their was a crowded congregation. The Bishop knocked at the South door for admittance and was received by the rector and the church wardens after the petition had been read. Mr J.D. Foster requested him in the name of the petitioners to dedicate and consecrate the Church of St. Andrew”.

The report went on to describe the church:

"It is of Gothic architecture in style with concrete walls and leadlight windows and presents a picturesque appearance with its background of green trees….The colors [sic] of the East windows [are] blue and white, and the name of St. Andrew was given to the church at the wish of Mr. J. D. Foster, as St. Andrew’s was the name of his school at Bradfield in the Old Country”.

Captain Foster did not however live to enjoy the fruits of his generous gift to the people of Epping Forest, for he died suddenly in August 1926 at the age of 66. His obituary was published in most Tasmanian newspapers and also in the Pastoral Review:

“Captain John D. Foster, a leading Tasmanian pastoralist, and one of the biggest landowners in the State, died suddenly at one of his properties, Fairfield, Epping, on 25th August. He had not been in good health for some time…. He was educated in England at St. Andrew's College, Bradford, and passed through other colleges to Cambridge University. He returned to Tasmania in 1889, and followed pastoral pursuits… In 1896 Captain Foster transferred to the Midlands, and rented Rosedale, near Campbell Town. Later he acquired Windfall and Fairfield at Epping, and for many years conducted these three properties. He was one of the leading Merino breeders of Tasmania, and had a very fine stud and flocks….He was a generous supporter of all public movements in the Campbell Town district, and in 1924 built and furnished a handsome little church at Epping and presented it to the Anglicans of the district”.

St Andrew’s Church continued to serve the people of Epping Forest until the 1990’s. In 2003 it finally closed and the final service was reported in the Tasmanian Anglican:

“It is only a little church on the side of the highway. Many people in the diocese have probably passed it, but few have stopped in. St Andrews, Epping Forest has been in the midst of the busyness of the Truck Stop opposite, yet to many it has been unnoticed, unimportant.

Built in 1924 and consecrated at the end of that year, the church has served the people of the area over 79 years, but the decline in population, the advent of the motor car and significant problems concerning ownership have meant that the Parish Council of the Northern Midlands reluctantly voted to close this centre and return the building to secular use. A special thanks goes to the cleaning crew, who had to return the building to a suitable state after ten years of only the birds using it”.


The church has since been returned to the birds but has also suffered from some vandalism. It appears to be used for storage for the nearby ‘Truck Stop’. It is sad to see such a generous gift reduced to a shadow of its former self.



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

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Captain J. D. Foster Obituary in the Pastoral Review, 16 September 1926, p 807

Photo taken Approximately at the time of St Andrew's final closure in 2003. Source: The Tasmanian Anglican 

Sources:

Daily Telegraph Wednesday 3 December 1924
Mercury Tuesday 24 February 1925
Daily Telegraph Friday 27 February 1925
Examiner Thursaday 26 August 1926
Pastoral Review, 16 September 1926, p 807

Henslowe, Dorothea I & Hurburgh, Isa (1978). Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania. Mercury-Walch, Moonah, Tas.
https://www.tasmaniananglican.com.au/ta200305-01/

Comments

  1. Now I want to keep an eye out for it next time I drive through Epping Forrest.

    ReplyDelete

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