No. 536 - Henry Reed's Chapel at Dunorlan - "Quite an Ecclesiastical Appearance"

Dunorlan is a farming district situated approximately 15 kilometres north of Deloraine at the junction of Dunorlan and Weegena Roads. At one time it had a railway station on the North-Western Line. In 1829 Captain Moriarty was granted 2500 acres of land in the district and named it Dunorlan. In 1846 Henry Reed purchased Dunorlan and subdivided the estate into 13 farms which he leased to tenants. Reed already owned significant amounts of land at Wesley Dale near Chudleigh. As one of Australia’s wealthiest men, Reed was also a noted philanthropist and Christian evangelist.

Henry Reed returned to England in 1847 and his significant landholdings and business interests were managed in his absence until he returned to Tasmania in 1873. During his time in England he funded the building of a chapel and school on the Dunorlan estate to address the spiritual needs of his tenants and their families. In 1863 when the Dunorlan chapel opened, it fell under the control of the Wesleyan Methodists. It was officially opened on Sunday 17 May 1863 with a morning and afternoon service led by Reverend J. Hutchinson of Launceston.

No image of the chapel exist but I have found a single description of it in a report in the Cornwall Chronicle in 1871 on the occasion of the ‘Sabbath School” anniversary and annual tea meeting held at the chapel:

“The chapel is remotely, but pleasantly situated, having quite an ecclesiastical appearance. It is built in the cruciform style, and embraces chapel, schoolroom, and residence — all, as it were, under one roof, with a small Gothic lanthorn for bell; there is, also, ample accommodation for vehicles and horses”.

Apart from a handful of references to services at the chapel little else is known about it. It was used by the Wesleyan’s until 1884. Four years after Henry Reed’s death in 1880 and for reason’s unknown, the trustees of Reed’s estate gave notice to the Wesleyan’s that the church would be required by the trustees on 1st January 1885. The Wesleyan’s then took immediate steps to build a new church, which was known as the Forest Hall Methodist Church.

The Dunorlan Chapel no longer exists and it is not known when it was demolished. For illustrative purposes I have used a photograph of one of Henry Reed’s cottages that was built for the tenant farmers. My assumption is that the ‘cruciform’ shaped chapel and schoolhouse may have been built in a similar style.

No image of the Chapel and schoolroom exist. This photograph shows one of Henry Reed’s cottages that was built for the tenant farmers. Possibly the ‘cruciform’ shaped chapel and schoolhouse may have been built in a similar style as the cottages. Photo from A.J.R Hall, The History of Dunorlan
Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 12 May 1863

The maps shows location of Dunorlan near Deloraine.  Source:


Cornwall Chronicle, Friday 13 January 1871, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Tuesday 12 May 1863, page 1
Launceston Examiner, Saturday 23 May 1863, page 4
Launceston Examiner, Saturday 7 January 1865, page 5
Cornwall Chronicle, Friday 14 January 1870, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Monday 8 September 1884, page 2

Hall, A. J. R.  The history of Dunorlan / A.J.R. Hall  Regal Press [Launceston, Tas.]  1984


  1. Whilst we are on the subject of Dunorlan I have been looking for the Dunorlan Agricultural College for many years. My Great Uncle attended this college but no one can give me any clues as to it's where abouts. My belief is that the property "Bengeo" may have been the college during the years 1921-1926 when at a rough guess I would think my G Uncle may have atteneded. He then married a Deloraine girl in 1827. His name was Perival Frampton and her name was Linda Williams (previous married name was Scott) The building was in close proximity to the rail way and as he loved acting he could have trained into Deloraine where he may have met Linda at a performance.They had no family.

  2. The only agricultural college I am aware of in the area is the Deloraine State Agricultural College established in 1913.

  3. Thank you. My gg grandparents, Jacob Elson & Mary Elizabeth Devlin, were married in the Wesleyan chapel at Dunorlan on 30 Sep 1864. I'd be interested to know the name of the Wesleyan minister in 1864, as it's a bit hard to decipher on their marriage registration - Looks like Robert Smith Casely?

  4. There was a Rev. R.S. Casely at the Wesleyan church ay Deloraine in 1864.

  5. There is a small chapel on the Bengeo property, still standing today.

  6. The Launceston Examiner, 11 Nov 1926, reported about the annual SS Anniversary. Some origins of the church were noted, including a reference to original families of the Church. W Wyatt, Wellard and Oliver. All well known families of the area at that time. "Oliver" refers to my ancestors, William and Isabella Oliver, who were one of the tenant farmers of Henry Reed.


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