No. 469 - The North Motton Methodist Church - "Read By All Men"

North Motton is a village and dairy farming district on the Preston Road about 10 kilometres south of Ulverstone. North Motton was one of only four locations in the greater Ulverstone region where the Primitive Methodists built churches; with other churches built at Gravel Hill, Norfolk Creek and Penguin.

In 1865 a handful of Primitive Methodist families settled in the North Motton district including Nathan and Sarah Brothers, John and Ann Eagle, Isaac Brett and the Revell family. The first church service was held in the house of John Hudson. In 1867 Reverend W.H. Walton was appointed to the Penguin Mission and preached to scattered settlers from Leven (Ulverstone) to Emu Bay (Burnie). Following the appointment of Henry Robinson to the Mission in 1875, a church was built a North Motton.

Land for a church was donated by John Hudson while Nathan Brothers collected money for the construction of the building. The Cornwall Chronicle carried a report about the church’s opening on 3 September 1876:

“The time has arrived when the building is completed, neat in architecture, ornamented by a porch, and preserved by being painted, the whole having a neat and inviting appearance. The Rev. T. E. Owen Mell [A Congregational Minister] preached the opening sermons; they were rich in thought, pleasing in delivery, and very profitable to the large congregation, who on retiring regretted that time did not permit the preacher to continue longer the power of his eloquence. It gratifying to know that through the strenuous efforts of local friends and also through the assistance of others beyond the district that the debt remaining unpaid is only six pounds. It is also a matter of much satisfaction to see such men as the Rev. H. Robinson and the Rev. T. E. O. Mell unite together to forward the great work in which they are both engaged, and to wage war against man's greatest enemy.…”

In 1877 the church was used by the Department of Education for a day school and a Sunday school was also established around this time. In 1885 the church was enlarged due to the growing population of the district and was joined by the Tongs, Chicott, Coleman and Walker families. By 1902 it had become necessary to build a new church by which time the Primitive Methodists had combined with Wesleyans in the Methodist Union. The foundation stones for the new building were laid in December 1902 and the occasion was reported by The North West Post:

“Methodism and North Motton have grown up together, the pioneers of this rising and prosperous district having been active adherents of that section of the Christian Church. The rapid growth and expansion of that part of West Devon has caused the old Methodist Church to become uncomfortably small for the ordinary services, and it was decided to build a much larger one on the land adjoining, at an estimated cost of £400. The contract for the erection of the building was let some time ago to Mr Manser for £385, and the work has been pushed on as rapidly as possible”.

“On Wednesday afternoon there was one the largest gatherings seen at North Motton to witness the laying of three memorial stones by Messrs J. Eagle, W. Hudson, and D. Brothers, the assemblage including a very strong contingent from Ulverstone and surrounding districts. Upon arrival it was found that the contractor had got the framework of the building into position, and some Idea could be formed of the capacity of the new church. The inside measurement of the church itself will be 40ft x 26ft, with 14ft 3in studs, while there will be a vestry 23ft x 8ft. A vestibule will run across the front of the building, with a door at either end, and it was in the front wall of this vestibule that the memorial stones were to be laid. Each freestone block bore the name of the person laying it, and the date, and, being built into the front foundation of the building, will remain in view to be seen and read by all men, as pleasant reminders of a great day”.

A distinctive feature of the church was a double porch in front, each 5ft wide, as well as three lancet pointed windows on either side of the church, and one double window in the gable. The church could seat 200 people on varnished kauri pine panel-backed seats. The church was officially opened on Sunday 22 March 1903. A hall for a Sunday school was opened on 15 October 1933.

Nothing of the church remains apart from a wall which stood in front of the church and the cemetery which contains the headstones of many of the early members of the church. The cemetery also has a headstone in remembrance of Chrissie Venn, a 13-year-old girl whose unsolved murder in 1921 was a sensation at the time. Her ghost is claimed to haunt the area of her murder.

The North Motton Methodist Church - Photo kindly supplied by Ivan Badcock

The site of the church and the adjoining cemetery

The headstone of Chrissie Venn - source: https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2494571/north-motton-methodist-cemetery

The location of the North Motton District - Source: placenames.tas.gov.au

Sources:

Cornwall Advertiser, Tuesday 19 September 1876, page 2
The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Saturday 6 December, 1902 page 2
Examiner, Saturday 6 December 1902, page 13
The North West Post, Tuesday 9 December 1902 page 4
The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Saturday 6 December 1902 page 2 
The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Wednesday 25 March 1903 page 2
The Mercury, Wednesday 1 April 1903, page 6 
Daily Telegraph, Monday 30 March 1903, page 3 
Advocate, Wednesday 1 September 1926, page 4 
Advocate, Monday 7 September 1936, page 2 
Advocate, Wednesday 9 September 1936, page 6

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.


Comments

  1. Do you know where the ghost tree was/is where chrissie venn body was

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sorry, can't help you with that one.

    ReplyDelete

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