No. 190 - The Former Union Church at Ringarooma - "Letting the Sittings"

The former ‘Union Chapel’ at Ringarooma is one of the oldest buildings in the district. The area was opened up to farming in the 1860s and the settlement was initially known as Krushka Town before being renamed Ringarooma in 1888.

In 1881 the correspondent for the Launceston Examiner described the newly established settlement at Ringarooma:

“Our township is assuming an imposing appearance, considering that it is only a few months old, i.e., if we take the appointment of a policeman as the era from which we date its existence. The edifices are a church, a store, two blacksmiths’ shops, policeman’s hut, hotel, carpenter’s shop, schoolmaster’s cottage, and several other cottages".

The correspondent added:

“I hear it is the intention of the Government to build a schoolhouse; at present the Union Church is used for that purpose”.

The ‘Union Church’ had been built in 1877 at a cost of £280 for use by all denominations and for use as a school. The church was run by trustees who used a system of ‘pew rents’ to pay for the buildings upkeep. In 1881 the Correspondent for the Examiner remarked that:

“The result of our letting the sittings in our Union Church has proved a success, over £40 worth of sittings have already been taken”.

The correspondent tellingly added that:

“Although the majority of the people in this district belong to the Church of England, we never see a minister of that denomination, and as I have previously remarked, were it not for the Wesleyans holding service every alternative Sabbath, we should be debarred any public worship’.

By the following year, this situation had changed. The Examiner’s correspondent reported that:

“At a public meeting on Saturday… the Rev. Mr. Clampett in the chair, it was decided to secure a site for a Church of England, and four gentlemen were authorised to negotiate with the trustees of the building now occupied by the school with a view to purchase…. [for] about £180, which, in a commercial point of view, is a great bargain at the present value of land in the vicinity. With a trifling outlay on the building it will meet the requirements of the district for some time to come…”

The Union Church was finally acquired by the Anglicans in 1883 to become ‘Christ Church’ and it continued to be used “for some time to come” until 1936, when it was replaced by a modern concrete church. It was then moved to a site behind the new church where it was used as a Sunday school and parish hall.

The new ‘Christ Church’ has long closed and has been turned into a museum. The old Union Chapel has survived and now serves at the Ringarooma local history room. This a fitting purpose for one of the oldest buildings in the town.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

The Examiner Saturday 23 July 1881, page 2
The Examiner Friday 23 September 1881, page 3
The Examiner Saturday 18 November 1882, page 3
North-Eastern Advertiser Tuesday 15 October 1946, page 3

Henslowe, Dorothea I and Hurburgh, Isa Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania. Mercury-Walch, Moonah, Tas, 1978.


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