No. 126 - St Barnabas Newnham - "Living Stones"

The first Anglican Church at Newnham was opened on Sunday 4th May 1851 by Archdeacon Robert Davies. The  building seems to have been used as a schoolroom until the 1860’s. The only significant report I have found about the original church dates to an incident in 1863:

“The Church at Newnham was broken into and wantonly and sacriligeously plundered on Saturday night or early Sunday morning. The thief or thieves forced open the door and carried away a bible, a prayer book and a cushion. They also broke five panes of glass in the window of an unoccupied house near the church, formerly the residence of the schoolmaster. A great many leaves from the bible and prayer book were torn out and scattered for some distance along the road to the residence of Mr Walker … there were numerous articles in the church left untouched , viz - school books, maps and surplice belonging to the Rev. Mr Barkway”.
(Cornwall Chronicle Wednesday 18 March 1863)

This church closed in 1887 and almost 20 years were to pass before a new church was opened at Newnham.

The laying of the foundation stone of the new church took place on Wednesday 29 November 1905. The ceremony was performed by Reverend Barkway (the Rector of St Pauls and the same Rev Barkway of the 1863 incident) and attended by a large number of people from the city. The Reverend Barry spoke of Barkway’s role in the original church:

“They had a special object in asking the Rev. Barkway to perform the ceremony that afternoon. Many years ago he used to go to Newnham Sunday after Sunday to hold divine service. These services were discontinued through no fault on his part. The growing needs of the other parts of the town demanding all of the Rev. Barkway’s attention at St. Paul’s. A lapse had occurred during which services were not held but 18 months ago they were resumed, and it had now become apparent that a more suitable building was needed. They had worked with a will, with the result that they were now able to make a start with the present structure. After a consultation with the Bishop of the diocese it was decided to call the new church St. Barnabas. Henceforth it would be known as St. Barnabas Church Hall”.

In Reverend Barkway’s reply he gives some clues about the old church building:

“The unassuming building which for so many years had been used as a place of worship and for school purposes could hardly aspire to take its rank amongst the churches of the land…in the old building on the other side of the road I officiated with pleasure for 27 years”

He exhorted the faithful not to loose their zeal once the building was completed:

“Do we need to be reminded that there is a spiritual building in which each of us has a part. Can we forget St. Peter’s glowing words ‘Ye also, as living stones are being built up into a house for the offering of spiritual sacrifices… As in the material building the skilful mason with hammer and chisel, has to bring a thing of beauty out of the shapeless stone, so must we Christians remember that the church on earth is God’s workroom in which he prepares the living stones for His spiritual house…”

The church was opened and consecrated by Bishop Mercer on Sunday 25th February 1906. St Barnabas has thrived and grown over the years and a new modern church opened alongside the old church in 1968, now affectionately named St Barney’s.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

The bell tower which was used to house the bell donated by the Salisbury Foundry Company. Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018
A photo of St Barnabas' in 1906. The bell tower is under construction. (Weekly Courier 14 July 1906)

Public Notice from the The Cornwall Chronicle Saturday 26th  April 1851 

Examiner  Wednesday  4 Jul 1906 


The Examiner Thursday 30 November 1905
The Courier Saturday 26 April 1851
The Cornwall Chronicle Wednesday 18 March 1863
The Examiner Wednesday 4 July 1906
Weekly Courier 14 July 1906
Henslowe, Dorothea, Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania. Mercury-Walch, Moonah, Tas, 1978.


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