No. 439 - St John's at North Motton - "Into the Spirit of Fun"

North Motton is a small settlement in a dairy farming region on the the Preston Road about 10 kilometres south of Ulverstone. There was once a railway station at North Motton when trains operated between Ulverstone and Nietta. North Motton had two places of worship; a Methodist and an Anglican church.

The first Anglican services were conducted in a barn on the property of Mr Barrett and later on in the residence of Mr Cox. A site was secured for a church in 1888 and the first service in the new church took place on 27 November 1889.

The Colonist and Daily Mail carried reports of the church’s opening and consecration. Bishop Henry Montgomery (father of General “Monty” Montgomery) arrived in Tasmania in October 1889 therefore St John’s must have been one of the first of the 46 churches that were opened during his episcopate. From the newspaper reports it seems as if Montgomery thoroughly enjoyed himself and quickly acquainted himself with local customs:

“Wednesday, the 27th… will long be remembered by the residents of North Motton as a red-letter day, the occasion being the visit of Dr. Montgomery, the new Anglican Bishop, for the purpose of dedicating the new church just erected, consecrating the burial ground, and the formal institution of the Rev. H. Davis as curate of the parish of Forth and Leven”.

“The church itself is a neat building, occupying a good site in the main road, adjoining the State School grounds. It is built in the Gothic style, and has a small belfry. The whole of the windows are of coloured glass, and it is lined with pine, the heavy timber inside being polished blackwood. The seats are of kauri pine, and have solid backs with book ledges attached, and altogether the church is a credit to the place. The contractor for the building was Mr E. Eustace, of Ulverstone, and Mr Bailey, also of Ulverstone, made the seats”.

“The morning was very threatening, but notwithstanding by 11-30 a.m. the church was well filled. On the dais were His Lordship the Bishop, Archdeacon Hales, and the Revs. W. Hogg and H. Davis….The consecration service was then read by the Bishop, at the public request of the minister (Rev. H. Davis) and churchwardens (Messrs. H. Barrett and W. Delaney). Archdeacon Hales next read the article of consecration; the Bishop signed the same, and declared the Church of St. John at North Motton duly consecrated to the worship of Almighty God….The burial ground attached to the church was also consecrated”.

“An adjournment was next made to the skating rink adjoining, and here an excellent dinner had been provided by the ladies of the congregation, to which a large number sat down. During the dinner the Rev. H. Davis asked those present to join with him in according the Bishop a hearty reception to this remote part of his diocese, and this was done in true Tasmanian style. His Lordship replied in a short, humorous, yet feeling manner, which at once established him in favour”.

“In connection with the above ceremonies a bazaar was also held in the rink, and a programme of sports was arranged by a sports committee. Cricket was also indulged in during the afternoon. The chopping and sawing matches, caused most excitement, and no one entered more into the spirit of the fun than His Lordship, the Bishop…”


The 110 year history of St John’s is not particularly remarkable apart from some minor acquisitions and additions to the church. For example the lectern in the church was dedicated as a memorial to Mr. C.T. Chilcott, a Church warden and treasurer while the pulpit was dedicated to those from St John’s who served in the Great War. In 1941 a vestry was built from funds raised by the North Motton branch of the Girls’ Friendly Society.


Following the familiar pattern of many rural churches across the North East, St John’s was forced to close in the 1990’s. Like so many churches, after its sale it was removed from the site and repurposed as part of a house. Rare photographs of its removal were taken by Roxley Shepheard of North Motton and are reproduced below with permission of his grand daughter, Tracey Howard.

St John’s is now located at Tugrah Road south of Devonport and real estate photographs are attached showing the old church’s creative incorporation into a modern house.


Photograph: Mr Roxley Shepheard - reproduced with permission of Tracey Howard


Photograph: Mr Roxley Shepheard - reproduced with permission of Tracey Howard

Photograph: Mr Roxley Shepheard - reproduced with permission of Tracey Howard

Photograph: Mr Roxley Shepheard - reproduced with permission of Tracey Howard

Photograph: Mr Roxley Shepheard - reproduced with permission of Tracey Howard

Photograph: Mr Roxley Shepheard - reproduced with permission of Tracey Howard



The only photograph I have of St John's before its removal (unsourced)


St John's at its new location. Photograph courtesy of Sushames Real Estate (2017)

St John's at its new location. Photograph courtesy of Sushames Real Estate (2017)

St John's at its new location. Photograph courtesy of Sushames Real Estate (2017)

St John's at its new location. Photograph courtesy of Sushames Real Estate (2017)

 Sources:

Daily Telegraph, Friday 29 November 1889, page 4
Colonist, Saturday 7 December 1889, page 4
Advocate,Tuesday 14 November 1939, page 6
Advocate, Tuesday 21 January 1941, page 4
Advocate, Monday 28 November 1949, page 8

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

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