No. 104 - St Mark's Lake River - 'The Pisa Church'

In 1864 the church at Pisa in the Lake River district was built on land donated by John Gatenby. In 1846 Gatenby purchased the original 5000 acre land grant made to William Young in 1822. The name “Pisa” is derived from the term for pressed earth and straw called ‘pise’ which Young used to build a house on the property. The Gatenbys were to become one of the leading 'pioneer' farming families in Tasmania, establishing landmark properties across the Midlands.

The church of St Mark’s at Pisa was consecrated in 1865 by Bishop Charles Bromby and formed part of the Anglican parish of Cressy. It is unusual that such a small church in an underpopulated region has survived where many others have closed. Its function as a school during weekdays for a long period is probably one reason it has survived but the support it received from soldier settlers and their descendants from the Macquarie Settlement has sustained it.

Frank Rigney records ongoing community support for the church in maintaining it and even saving it from potential disaster. In 'A Midlands Odyssey' he records that because the church is in a very exposed position, it had to withstand strong winds in stormy weather. Noticeable movement of the walls became an issue and consequently the building was braced with interior ties to dampen the movement.

The small cemetery at Pisa is a reminder of the prominent families that settled and developed the Lake River area. These include the Lawrence family of ‘Formosa’ and ‘Billop’ ; the O’ Connor’s of ‘Connorville’ and ‘Benham’, the Gatenby family of ‘Pisa’ and ‘Creekton’; the Fletcher’s of ‘Talentyre’; the Whitfeld’s of ‘Fairfield and the Parkers of Parknook.



Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018


The Cemetery at Pisa

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Memorial to the O'Connor family - 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:

von Stieglitz, K.R., 1947: Short history of Cressy and Bishopsbourne and some notes on the Lake River Pioneers. Launceston. 

Rigney, Frank L. A Midlands odyssey : a journey through parts of the Northern Midlands of Tasmania / Frank L. Rigney F.L. Rigney Campbell Town, Tas 2008

Information Sheet at Pisa Church (dated 2009)


Comments

  1. We saw you there last Saturday morning

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  2. Hello! I was interested in your observation about how quickly headstones weather. It is a pity their is no way to protect them.

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  3. My husband is a descendant from the Lawrence's buried there

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  4. What a really interesting read. Thank you for taking the time to research this! I often wonder about the stories behind these little churches you see in the country. What happened to the communities? How did a church in the middle of nowhere survive? This was great.

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  5. Thank you Megan. Every place has a story. Some are harder to uncover than others. There are many more churches with stories still to be told.

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  6. My Grandparents are here, I went to Church here with my Grandmother, and now it is going to be sold - it is terrible. The history of Tasmania is disappearing.

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  7. The church and cemetery are very well kept. Members of prominent local families are buried here. My hope is that it will be bought by locals to preserve their heritage.

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