No. 396 - The German Town Anglican Church - 'Tasmania's Most Travelled Church'
German Town is is a small settlement about 5km north of St Marys in north-east Tasmania. Little is known about German Town’s former Anglican church but its history is remarkable as it must be one of the most travelled churches in Tasmania!
In 1885 the local correspondent for the Hobart Mercury provides an interesting glimpse of the settlement in its early years:
“German Town, as implied by the name, is inhabited almost, if not quite, exclusively by German settlers, and is picturesquely situated on a spur of the Mount Nicholas range, commanding a beautiful and expansive view of the open sea, which may be distinctly seen glittering, apparently, just below one's feet, and stretching as far as the eye can reach to the horizon… The soil, though excellent for agriculture, is utilised mainly for grazing purposes, cheese-making, as, indeed, it is more or less throughout the whole district… Though at present sparsely populated, German Town is evidently progressive, most of the settlers having, if not pretentious, at least comfortable homesteads, their own, the result of years of hard work, combined with self denying thrift. There is here a public school with teacher's residence attached; the average weekly attendance being about 20. Unfortunately, the school is conducted upon the half-time principle, in conjunction with Falmouth, owing to the number of children attending having fallen below the minimum number required to constitute a full-time school. I may mention that the Rev. Mr. L'Oste, Church of England minister, visits the school periodically for the purpose of imparting religious instruction. Divine Service is also held in the schoolroom at stated times”.
Like the public school, German Town’s Anglican church was similarly ‘shared’ with Falmouth. In fact, the building was relocated from Falmouth to German Town in about 1912. It remained at German Town for a number of years before it was removed to St Marys where it served as a hall behind Holy Trinity Church.
I have not been able to establish a precise date when the church was taken from Falmouth to German Town. A newspaper report from 1905 describes a concert organised by Miss Bena Lohrey to raise funds “for the painting and repairs to the German Town Church”. This is probably a reference to an earlier building used as a church because in 1912 there is another report about fundraising this time to “re-erect a church”:
“A concert, inaugurated by Miss Jessie Lohrey, was held in her father’s new barn at German Town for the purpose of obtaining funds to re-erect the Anglican Church at German Town. Colonel W.V. Legge occupied the chair, and in his opening remarks spoke eulogistically of Miss Jessie Lohrey’s labor of love, she having collected £8 10s. towards the funds and arranged the programme to be given that night”.
In April 1913 there is another report of concert held in Todds’s Hall, also organised by Miss Lohrey, this time for the “purpose of enlarging the Anglican Church at German Town”.It would therefore seem that the Falmouth church was moved to German Town around 1912 and enlarged in the following year.
There are few references to the church after 1913 apart from a report in 1932 of a “donation from the German Town Church of England harvest festival” for the St Marys hospital and a funeral notice from 1947. From the latter it is evidence that the church was still functioning until at least the early 1950’s before being relocated to St Marys some time thereafter.
After being used at a hall for Holy Trinity, the German Town church was again removed in 1984 when it was taken to Derby to be used as part of a recreated village at Tin Mining Centre behind the School House Museum. The “village” was removed in recent years and the German Town church along with it. The ultimate fate of church is not known but its journey is certainly remarkable, having stood at four different locations, with is fifth and final resting place yet to be established!
|The German Town church located behind Holy Trinity as a Sunday School Hall. Source: Booklet - Holy Trinity Centenary celebration 1984.|
|The Tin Mining Centre Village at Derby before it was removed. Unfortunately the church is not visible in this photo. source: http://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/derby-tas|
Mercury, Monday 20 July 1885, page 3
Mercury, Thursday 24 August 1905, page 2
Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 17 January 1912, page 3
Examiner, Tuesday 8 April 1913, page 6
Daily Telegraph, Thursday 10 April 1913, page 7
The Mercury, Tuesday 19 May 1931, page 5
Examiner, Thursday 27 March 1947, page 8