No. 457 - St Barnabas' at Sheffield - "Good Value For Money"

Sheffield is a country town in northern Tasmania approximately 25 kilometres south of Devonport. The area was explored by the surveyor Nathaniel Kentish in 1842 who was trying to find a route from Deloraine through to the north west coast. The area was subsequently opened up to settlement and by 1862 plots of land had been sold and the settlement of Sheffield had been named. According to J R Skemps’ ‘A History of the North West Coast’, in 1861 the first licence for a public house, the Sheffield Inn, was taken out by James Poulett, a native of Sheffield in England, and probably gave the town its name.
Sheffield has been well represented by various religious denominations including Presbyterian; Catholic; Anglican; Baptist; Brethren; Methodist and the Salvation Army. This blog entry look at Sheffield’s first Anglican church which was established in 1891 and closed in 1978 when it was replaced by a modern modern building in a different part of the town. The old church still exists and has been converted into a house.

Before a church was build Sheffield’s Anglicans worshipped at Roland Hall. In the late 1880’s fundraising began for the construction of a place of worship. The church’s foundation stone was laid on Sunday 15 February 1891. The building was completed by April and its consecration and dedication, as St Barnabas, took place in June. The North West Post reported:

“A new Anglican church was solemnly dedicated to the worship of God on Thursday afternoon. The building is centrally situated, and is 40ft by 23ft, is entered through a porch, and a platform, which will do duty as a chancel has been erected, but the latter will be added as soon as funds permit. The erection of the building has been quickly and faithfully carried out by Mr H. Piper, of Latrobe, under the supervision of Mr H. Winter, as clerk of works. The building has cost £257, and with seats, &c, the total will be about £300, and apparently good value for the money has been obtained….. The interior of the building is very warmly constructed, being wainscoted and pine-lined throughout. There was a large attendance at the opening ceremonies, which were conducted by His Lordship, bishop Montgomery, assisted by the Rev Canon Adams (of Hagley), Canon Icely (of sheffield), Revs W. Hogg )of Latrobe), J.G. Morning (of Deloraine) and Mr H. Winter (lay reader, Railton)….”

The Daily Telegraph reported on further services held over the weekend:

“On Sunday three services were held in St. Barnabas Church. Morning prayer, with a sermon from the Bishop. In the afternoon the rite of confirmation was administered to four candidates. This was the first confirmation ever held in the district, and the church was crammed from end to end, and a large number were unable get in. Another largely attended service was held in the evening, the Bishop being again the preacher. The next day was given up to a characteristic institution of the district — a public tea. It commenced at 2 and was kept up till 10, and well attended. The ladies had prepared splendidly, and a great many cakes, etc., were sold at the close. From a financial point of view the Bishop's visit resulted in close on £40 being added to our funds. The Church of England has at last taken deep root in Kentishbury. Some 50 persons attended the special meeting for the election of church officers, and a strong committee of seven were appointed. One of their first acts has been to take steps to secure a splendid site of eight acres for parsonage and grounds”.

Over the next half century St Barnabas thrived. A chancel was added to the church in 1911 and dedicated in that year. In 1927 a vestry was added. However, by the 1970’s the old church was no longer considered adequate for the needs of a modern congregation. In 1978 the church was replaced by a very modern structure that still serves the Anglican community of Sheffield. The old church, which stands on the corner of Main Street and Claude Road, has been sensitively converted into a house which has retained the facade of the church thus maintaining Sheffield’s historic streetscape. A follow-up blog entry will look at the new St Barnabas’ at Nightingale Avenue.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

The location of the Sheffield area in Northern Tasmania (

St Barnabas' before its conversion into a house.  source:  Geoffrey Stephens


North West Post, Saturday 13 June 1891, page 2
Daily Telegraph, Saturday 20 June 1891, page 5
Tasmanian, Saturday 27 June 1891, page 4
Launceston Examiner, Saturday 20 June 1891, page 2
Advocate, Friday 13 June 1941, page 4

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

Stephens, Geoffrey and Anglican Church of Australia. Diocese of Tasmania, (issuing body.) The Anglican Church in Tasmania : a Diocesan history to mark the sesquicentenary, 1992. Trustees of the Diocese, Hobart, 1991.


Popular posts from this blog

Welcome to Churches of Tasmania

No. 624 - Dunalley - St Martin's Anglican Church - "In grateful memory of the men who fought in the Great War"

No. 592 - Gretna - St Mary the Virgin - "Worthy of Imitation"