No. 340 - Wesley Vale Uniting (Methodist) Church - "Sleeping their Long Sleep"

The Uniting Church at Wesley Vale is the third church built by the Methodists in the area. The first church, a “bush chapel”, was opened in May 1866 and built on land donated by Sampson Andrews. Mrs Alexander Findlay, interviewed in 1926, recalled that “the seats were made of blocks of wood with boards nailed across them, and the reading desk was of sawn timber”.

The “bush chapel” was intended as a temporary meeting place until a ‘proper’ church could be built. In 1870, a new church was opened but it too was replaced in 1888 by the Uniting Church building which is still in use today.

The third church opened on Sunday 29 April 1888. The North West Post reported on the opening service and provides a description of the original building:

“A neat compact little building, of 40x20, weatherboard, with galvanised iron roof throughout, well lined within, and lighted by stained glass windows. There is a rostrum platform with a handsome Blackwood railing. The church is situated on a very nice site near the main road, within the graveyard, where many pioneer residents of the locality lie sleeping their long sleep”.

The old Methodist church was retained as a hall and still stands alongside the the ‘new’ church. At some point both buildings have had their weatherboard cladding replaced with ‘brick board’, which detracts from the true age of the buildings. A photograph of the original church reveals how much the appearance of the buildings have changed with the addition of the cladding.

The last recorded burial in the cemetery took place in 1987. The cemetery is now closed and the pioneer residents continue ‘sleeping their long sleep’.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

An undated photograph of the church and hall. Source: Devonport and Surrounds - A Pictorial History - (Facebook Group) Photo posted on 5 November 2018 by Carole N Chris Rataj (origin of source not indicated)

The Cornwall Chronicle, Wednesday 8 September 1869, page 1

Some of the headstones in the cemetery 








Sources:

The Cornwall Chronicle, Wednesday 8 September 1869, page 1
Devon Herald, Friday 27 April 1888, page 2
Devon Herald, Tuesday 1 May 1888, page 2
North West Post, Saturday 5 May 1888, page 2
North West Post, Saturday 29 December 1888, page 3
Advocate, Friday 21 May 1926, page 9

Stansall, M. E. J and Methodist Church of Australasia Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975 : compiled at the time of last Meeting of Methodism prior to union. Methodist Church of Australasia, Launceston, Tas, 1975.

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