No. 522 - Deloraine - The First Anglican Church and School House on Emu Bay Road

Settlement of the district surrounding Deloraine dates back to 1825 when some of the first land in Van Diemen's Land became available through the purchase of government leases. Settlement was slow until the 1850s when the government started selling land outright for £1 an acre. This resulted in a dramatic increase in population which led to Deloraine becoming a municipality by 1863.

St Mark’s Anglican church it is situated above the east bank of the Meander River and dominates Deloraine’s skyline. It opened in 1859 but it is not the first Anglican church built at the town. The first church opened in 1845 on a site on Emu Bay Road on the west bank of the Meander River.

The year 1845 was a busy one for for Bishop Nixon the newly appointed and (and first) Bishop of Tasmania. In April 1845 Nixon opened a new church at Franklin Village which was followed by the consecration of St Matthias at Windermere the next day. Before the month was out he opened another church at Bishopsbourne, consecrated a burial ground at Carrick, before laying foundation stones of new churches at Port Sorrel and Deloraine.

The Bishop’s travels were not without incident. The Hobart Courier reported:

“A constable, named Baldwin, …was stopped in the bush on Friday evening by two armed men. He was on his way from Port Sorell to Deloraine with despatches from Bishop Nixon, and was met by the men in question about eight miles from Deloraine. They stripped him of his coat, waistcoat, shirt, and boots, leaving nothing but his hat and trousers. The despatches were in the hat and arrived safe”.

Bishop Nixon arrived in Deloraine in time to complete the foundation stone laying ceremony of the town’s first church on Tuesday 29 April 1845:

“On Friday the Bishop assisted by the Rural Dean, the Rev. John Bishton… laid the foundation of the Church and school house at Deloraine. The contractor has agreed to complete this building within three months”.

The original small wooden church was to serve the Anglican’s of Deloraine for a little over a decade before it was replaced by St Mark’s which opened in March 1859. The old church continued to be used as a Sunday school premises until 1890 when “the unsightly old building” was pulled down. It was replaced by a new Sunday school building on the same site of the old church (see photo below of the new building to the left of the Don Store). Sunday school was held on the Emu Bay Road site until St Mark’s Parish Hall was built in 1916 on the east side of Meander river below St Mark's church. The Emu Bay Road Sunday school building was later sold and converted into business premises. Remnants of this building still remain hidden behind the facade of a modern building. 

Deloraine's first Anglican church built in 1845. The photo was taken in about 1859. Libraries Tasmania. Detail of a photograph: Photographic Carte-De-Visite Collection (NS1442)

St Mark's Sunday School (1890) built on the site of Deloraine's first Anglican Church. Source: J.Harvey (photographer) c.1900 - State Library of Victoria H2009.100/37 - Detail of original photograph
A1883 Photo with the original church and school room circled - Source: Besse and Edwards QVM 

St Mark's Sunday School (1890) built on the site of Deloraine's first Anglican Church - Source: J.Harvey (photographer) c.1900 - State Library of Victoria H2009.100/37 - Detail of original photograph

Detail of an 1886 map of Deloraine showing the location of the old church and Sunday school. Source: Libraries Tasmania AF819-1-74

Bishop Nixon's program for April 1845. Source: Launceston Examiner
St Mark's which replaced the original church on Emu Bay Road. The photo was taken  before extensions  wew made to the church in 1878 - source Linc Tasmania SD_ILS:673127


Courier, Tuesday 15 April 1845, page 2
Launceston Examiner, 23 April 1945, page 1
Courier, Thursday 8 May 1845, page 2
Daily Telegraph, Thursday 9 May 1889, page 4
Cornwall Chronicle, Wednesday 14 May 1845, page 4
Colonist, Saturday 16 August 1890, page 24
Daily Telegraph, Saturday 3 February 1894, page 6
Daily Telegraph, Monday 21 August 1916 p 8


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