No. 161 - St Andrew's at Lebrina - "We Want a Cemetery for Lebrina"

In 1890 a report in the 'Colonist’ provides the first details about the construction of a new church at Lebrina. Mr Bernard Shaw donated land for an Anglican church and a small building measuring 16ft by 26ft to accommodate 60 people was planned. Alongside the church a new state school was built and both buildings were completed in late 1890.

This close proximity of the school to the church was the cause of a minor ruction in 1893 over the matter of a cemetery. Shaw’s donation of the land was conditional that no burials take place on it given that a school was to be built alongside. The Lebrina correspondent for the Examiner took acceptation at the tactics of the Anglican minister from Scottsdale, the Reverend Breguet:

“This has been quite a season for petitions at Lebrina; indeed it seems to me that some people will go signature hunting as much for mere love of exercise as for anything else…. and again last Friday one of our most prominent residents did the district soliciting signatures. His petition was drawn up in the interests of mourners, and was intended to affect the position of the local burial ground”.

The issue for the Examiner's correspondent was that burials had already taken place on the land and these had been conducted by Reverend Breguet: 


“Mr Breguet, it is thought, understands his business and as we remember it was he who conducted the burial service, and consider how all-assuring the action of a clergyman ought to be, we cannot help wondering where the need comes in for troubling Mr Bernard Shaw. However, it is to be hoped this matter will be settled as soon as possible now that the question has be raised. We want a cemetery for Lebrina”.

Lebrina did get its cemetery as is self evident from the scattering of headstones that surround the church. However, having a regular minister for St Andrew’s was a more pressing problem. In 1891 the Examiner's correspondent drew attention to this issue by relating the following anecdote about an Anglican and Methodist service:

“We at Lebrina would like to see some of our Launceston friends come and preach to us again on Sundays. Not withstanding that most of us take every chance that offers to attend a place of worship, we are not all of us religious in this locality, though some here have shown themselves quite enthusiasts in spiritual matters. I can well remember a certain Sunday, not many months since, on which a friend of mine walked, and not irreligiously, towards the Church of England. As he drew near unto it the sound of earnest voices fell upon his ears, and he knew that the evening service was being read. Seeing that he was very late, he decided not to disturb the worshippers, but, instead, rested him [self] on a fence which lay between the church and an adjacent building [the state school]. He had not been in this position long when the thought was borne in on his mind that he had chosen a most happy and safe spot for a Sabbath afternoon’s meditation. For, presently, out of the Anglican Church, arose the sweet strains of a time-honoured hymn, while at the same time in the structure hard by, was briskly sung a favourite in Sankey’s*. And my friend on the fence was twixt the two choirs. But what a contrast between that time and now! For since that day…we have not had any public Sunday services whatever”.

The establishment of an Anglican church at nearby Lilydale in 1901 resolved the problem of irregular services. But with ministers in short supply in the district, they had to be looked after. An incident at a church fair at Lebrina in 1912 almost resulted in serious injury to Reverend George Rowe, the Lilydale vicar. In a report headlined “Minister’s Narrow Escape”, the Examiner outlined the drama:

“Great business was done, and hours spent in shooting with an air-gun for the numerous prizes. On the first evening of the show the vicar met with a nasty accident from this dangerous little weapon. By mischance it went off unawares, and wounded the gentleman in the finger. It was nothing but the element of luck which saved the vicar from being seriously hurt. The committee recognised this, and the gun was sold at the termination of the fair”.

St Andrew’s settled down into the routine of a typical country church and religious life seems to have passed by without further incident or scandal and it served the community at Lebrina for over a century. Although the church has long been closed and is now a home, it has changed little in appearance and it appears as if it is patiently waiting for an itinerant minister to arrive and conduct an afternoon Sabbath service.


* Sankey - Ira David Sankey (28 August 1840 – 13 August 1908), known as The Sweet Singer of Methodism, was an American gospel singer and composer.


Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Link for the St Andrew's Cemetery: HERE

Sources:

The Examiner Friday 24 October 1890
The Colonist Saturday 1 November 1890
The Examiner Tuesday 25 November 1890
The Colonist Saturday 6 December 1890, page 12
The Examiner Saturday 29 August 1891, page 1
The Examiner Thursday 9 November 1893, page 3
Daily Telegraph Tuesday 1 December 1896, page 2
The Examiner Tuesday 29 October 1912, page 3

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