No. 544 - Osterley - St James the Less - 'Missed Deeds'

Osterley is a small rural settlement in the Central Highlands situated approximately 15 kilometres north of Ouse. The area was first settled in the late 1870’s. At this time the region was known Native Tier before changing to Osterly (originally no second "e") in 1892. It is probably named after Osterley in London. At its peak Osterley had a school, post office, police station, a sawmill, a public hall and a church.

Anglican services at Osterley were first held in the State school. In 1892 a report in the Hobart Mercury traces the origins of Osterley’s Anglican church to 1890:

“About 18 months ago the idea of erecting a place of worship for holding Church of England services in was first mooted, and since that time much has been done in the way of collecting funds for erecting the building. Eventually tenders were called and the work entrusted to Mr. A. Condon, of Trafalgar-place, Hobart. About three weeks ago the foundation was commenced, and on Saturday last the foundation-stone was laid by Mr. Thomas Jones, of Berridale, in the presence of a very large number of residents of the district. The incumbent, the Rev. C. W. H. Dicker read the prayers, and Miss Harrex, of the Ouse, officiated at the organ. Later in the day a tea meeting was held in the State schoolroom, which was remarkably well attended. A dance followed and the light fantastic was kept up until daylight”.

The church’s completion in mid 1892 coincided with the official change of the settlement’s name to ‘Osterly’. The Hobart Mercury reported:

“We have recently had the name of this place changed from Native Tier and now rejoice in the illustrious cognomen of Osterly. This step was decided upon when the Post Office was established a couple of months ago. The change was very necessary as there are other Native Tiers, and it was no unusual thing to find letters going astray”.

The opening of the church on 24 June was marred by an unusual problem. The report in the Hobart Mercury continued:

“The new Anglican Church which was built a little while ago by Mr. Condon, of Hobart, was opened by the Bishop of Tasmania on Friday, 24th inst. A very large number of people had come in from the outlying districts, but were disappointed as they expected to see the consecration service. However this was, as the Bishop announced, impossible, owing to the lawyers not having the deeds ready. A procession headed by the State School children started from the school and marched up to the church, where the youngsters, forming two rows, lined the pathway on each side. The church, which was packed, looked very nice, having been painted and decorated by the Rev. C. W. H. Dicker and his brother. After the service, during which about 24 candidates were confirmed, the procession re-formed and marched back to the school, where luncheon had been provided by the ladies. In the evening a tea and concert were given, and then the young folks, aye, and many of the old ones too, regaled themselves with dancing in a barn, kindly lent by Messrs. P. and F. Harrex, until daylight next morning".

The church was officially consecrated as “St James the Less” by Bishop Montgomery on Thursday 5 October in the following year.

St James the Less and its surrounding cemetery are heritage listed. It is a rare example of a corrugated iron church in the Federation Gothic style. As such, it may be the oldest surviving church of this type in Tasmania. Sadly, in 2019, the Bishop of Tasmania’s lawyers are once again engaged with the matter of the title deeds of St James the Less.



Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

The church spire has been removed has been placed in the cemetery. Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

The location of Osterley in the Central Highlands. Source: placenames.gov.tas.au

Source: Tasmanian Mail, October 1911

The Historic Cemetery 

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Sources:

Mercury, Saturday 19 March 1892, page 1
Mercury, Tuesday 28 June 1892, page 3
Mercury, Thursday 30 June 1892, page 3
Launceston examiner, Thursday 5 October 1893, page 4

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

Comments

  1. Very interesting read! I'm pretty sure I'd be related to the Pearce's... My grandmother Margaret Triffett was a Pearce and she lived in the old school house just up from the Cemetery

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