No. 121 - St Andrew's Anglican Church Evandale - "Pointing to Heaven"

The first Anglican church at Evandale opened in February 1837 with Governor Sir John Franklin attending the dedication. It was a small structure that also served as a schoolroom on weekdays. The chapel soon became too small for the growing congregation and in 1839 work began on a new church. This brick building opened in 1844 and resembled the Anglican church at Westbury with its large square tower.

The new church however had faulty foundations and it was only a matter of time before it would have to be rebuilt. In 1869 plans were drawn up to replace it with a new church, using the material from the demolished church to minimise costs.

The foundation stone laying ceremony took place on 30 November 1871. According to a report in The Tasmanian the ceremony did not take place at the traditional time of 11 am because:

“There was some delay in commencing, and the stone was not lowered until the masonic and appropriate hour of ‘high twelve’. It was laid at the north-east corner of the building according to the ‘order’ prescribed by the Church for such occasions”.

Less than six months later St Andrew’s had been completed and consecrated. A report of proceedings was recorded in The Tasmanian in May 1872:

“A large number of visitors flocked to the pretty village of Evandale from the surrounding districts, by road and by rail, to witness the completion of the work which was commenced scarcely six months ago…. The style is early English; the body of the church a simple gable supported by buttresses, and fronted on the S.W. angle by a tower and a spire; a Gothic door in the tower forms the main entrance”.

The report went on to describe the consecration ceremony:

“…Long before 11 o’clock every available seat in the church had been taken up, and during the ceremony nearly 300 persons must have been assembled inside, a large number clustering around the door. Shortly after 11 a.m. His Lordship the Bishop of Tasmania…arrived at the church”.

At the dinner that evening, the efforts of Reverend A.N. Mason were commended as a driving force in the building of the new church. The celebration was described colourfully in the Tasmanian:

“ …A most sumptuous dinner had been provided, the tables literally groaning under the weight of the good things provided, every delicacy of the season being represented…After sufficient time had been given to supply the cravings of the inner man, the Reverend Mason [rose] to say a few words…”

In his reply to Mason’s speech, the Bishop said:

“He must congratulated them upon the English-Saxon work they had displayed in their new church… It did them great credit to be able in six months to raise such a building, and with a spire pointing to heaven; let it direct their efforts there also”.

The spire on the tower had been added mainly through the generosity of John Whitehead of Nile. It was considered by some at the time to be an extravagant waste of money and unnecessary and it became known locally as “Whitehead’s Folly”

St Andrew’s spire continues to point to the heavens and its dominant position on the high ground at Evandale gives full measure to it the tower's height. The church is situated alongside Evandale’s Pioneers Park, which contains a number of headstones of ‘pioneers’ of the region. Some of these have been included in the photographs below.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018
Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

        Headstones and Memorials from Pioneers Park

A collection of headstones moved from their original positions. Pioneer Park is an usual combination of a cemetery in a public park which is often used for public functions such as the Penny Farthing Festival and World Championships.

The broken headstone of Harriet Wilson, together with the names of her two young children, Alice and Sophia 

The Memorial to James Cox and family. A link to his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography been placed at the bottom of the page.

A detail from the Cox family tomb

The Cox family tomb

This very simple marker is the grave of Karl von Stieglitz, author and local history whose work was used in this blog entry. A link to his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography is a the bottom of the page.

A memorial to the Cassidy family including the names of four young children

A link to the Viney family tree is at the bottom of the page

The headstone of Walter von Stieglitz in the family plot. He was son of Baron Frederick von Stieglitz, born in Ireland but whose family originated in Bavaria. 


Von Stieglitz, K. R.  Days and ways in old Evandale  [Evandale, Tasmania]  1946
The Tasmania Saturday 25 May 1872
The Tasmanian Saturday 9 December 1871
The Mercury Friday 19 February 1937

Links to Individual listed in the Pioneer 'Cemetery'

James Cox

Karl von Stieglitz

Charles Viney


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