No. 562 - Hagley Uniting Church

Hagley is a rural town in Northern Tasmania situated approximately 20 kilometres southwest of Launceston. Three religious denominations once had a presence in the town and four churches were built: the Anglican church of St Mary’s; a Presbyterian church (which is now a house) and a Wesleyan Methodist chapel built in 1859. This was replaced by a modern church built in 1957 which it sits alongside the old chapel. The history of the original Wesleyan chapel can be read here [No. 72] This article focus is on the 1957 building which became a part of the Uniting Church in 1977. Most of the information used in this short history was provided by Ivan Badcock whose extended family has had a strong connection with the former church.

A new Church at Hagley had been under consideration for some years but it was not until 1955 that active planning got underway. In 1955 the Rev. Duncan Kennedy and Mr. C. Pryor (architect) presented a plan for a new church at an estimated cost of £6000. This was accepted by the Trustees in March 1956.

A decision was made not to relocate the old church resulting in the purchase of a further strip of land on the eastern boundary. The foundation stone for the new church was laid on 6 April 1957 by the Rev. Turner.

The Church Trustees in 1956 were – C. & P. W. French, E. Murfett, R.H. Heazlewood, E. & J. Badcock, L. Clarke, R. Richardson, B.L. Heazlewood, and N. Smith.

The furnishings for the new Church were donated by various members of the congregation:
The Pulpit In memory of the late Mr. & Mrs. H.E Murfett
Pulpit Chair In memory of the late Mr. & Mrs. Jabez Scott
Communion Rail In memory of four generations of the Richardson family
Communion Table In memory of Mr. & Mrs. R.R. French and family
Baptismal Font In memory of the late Mr. & Mrs. Henry Badcock
Church Carpet P.W., E.G., W.A. & T.C. French and their families
Electric Light Fittings Mr. & Mrs. J.H. Badcock
Pulpit Bible In memory of the late Samuel French Badcock
Furnishings – Porch Hagley WAOM in honour of their Silver Jubilee
Furnishings – Vestry Mr. & Mrs. L.G. Clarke & Family
Hymn Board Mr. C. Pryor, Architect
Visitors Book Miss Dulcie Heazlewood
Hymn Book Cupboards In memory of the late Mr. & Mrs L.M. Hingston
Pews Max Heazlewood, E.M. Badcock, Ian Badcock
Mrs. M.C. & Miss Florence Heazlewood
E.G. French, C.H. French, W.A. French (2 seats),
Mr. & Mrs B. Dobson, L. Heazlewood,
B. Heazlewood, J. Badcock, N. Smith,
V. Smith, Mr. & Mrs. E.H. Murfett, L.G. Clarke
P.W. French, Mr. & Mrs. Bendall, Mrs. O'Connor,
R. Heazlewood
Palm Stands & Vases Miss Freda Badcock
Cross Mr. C. French
Offering Plates Mr. J.H. Badcock

The opening of the new church took place on Saturday 14th December 1957 and a report of the occasion was published in The Tasmanian Methodist:

“When the President-General (the Rev. Dr. A. H. Wood) knocked upon the door of the new brick church at Hagley there were nearly 700 people present to share in the ceremonies. To the folk of this small township, situated on the Bass Highway, 17 miles from Launceston, it was a very great occasion, representing the culmination of nine years of planning, and 12 months of building.

To all who came it was their first opportunity to view the completed structure of a building that has provoked a great deal of interest and comment, for the building is a complete departure from the orthodox, being hexagonal in shape. However, now that it is finished, and the interior most beautifully furnished, all would vote it is a very lovely sanctuary, where it is not difficult to feel the presence of God.

Into the large glass windows, that front the Bass Highway and look towards the railway line have been fixed large metal crosses which, picked out in white, are visible for long distances, a constant reminder to those who pass by that the Cross is at the centre of our faith.

The interior of the building has been beautifully decorated and furnished, with the emphasis on beauty and simplicity. The pews which are of Tasmanian hardwood and polished with a natural polish, are grouped in an arc around the sanctuary, which has the communion table, surmounted by a Cross at its centre. Across the front of the Church are the pulpit, the sanctuary and the choir, set in a small recess in the side wall – a reminder of the three elements of worship – the ministry of the Word and Sacraments, and praise to our God. The entrance, aisles and sanctuary are carpeted with a cathedral blue fleur-de-lis carpeting.

Another feature of the building is the fellowship room at the rear, which room will serve also as a vestry. Complete with grey Westminster, it is furnished with modern table, two dozen unholstered nest-a-bye arm chairs, and two convection heaters. In this lovely and restful room the Church will meet for fellowship and to transact its business.

The solid brick building was the scheme of Mr. Clarrie Pryor, a member of the Margaret Street Methodist Church and Launceston architect, and was built by a Launceston firm, under the supervision of Mr. Geoff Lewis. Both co-operated with and assisted the Trustees greatly with the planning and building. The contract price was £8,512, and with furnishings and sundry costs, the structure represents an outlay of nearly £11,000. A great saving to the Trust was the fact that all the furnishings for the Church and fellowship room were donated by various families and individuals – many given in memory of the generations that have worshipped at Hagley for more than a century. By direct giving, and through fairs, which in the last five years have raised nearly £2,500, all but £3,000 has been raised, and two-thirds of the debt has been covered by interest free loans to the Trust by members of the Church. These are remarkable figures when one keeps in mind that there are only 55 members at Hagley, and these represent 20 families.

On Saturday, 14th December, the President-General knocked upon the door, and as he requested entrance, the door was slid into the wall by the secretary of the Trust, Mr. Ray Richardson, and the Church was opened. The congregation joined with Dr. Wood in a very impressive dedication service- those who could not gain admittance to the new building followed the service through amplifiers both in the old building, and in the open air. Preaching from the text, “ A day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside”. Dr Wood sought to inspire in the congregation a realisation of the privileges and benefits to be gained through the worship of our God …”


The church held its final service 31 January 2016. Low attendance and high maintenance costs were cited as reasons for its closure.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018. - The old church alongside the new

Sources and links:

Hagley Wesleyan Methodist Chapel now Uniting Church in Australia (Compiled by Ivan Badcock – January 2016)

Links to news items related to the sale of the church and the impact of the sale on the cemetery:


Comments

  1. Very sad.....but if that is all I can come up with, that is also sad, because God does not live in buildings made of stone but in the hearts of his people. Yes I too can be caught up in the nostalgia of it all ,especially to hear this beautiful church was closed in recent years. I have always admired this magnificent building in it's beautiful rural setting with the great Western Tiers in the background whenever I drove by. I used to think what a privilege to worship our Lord surrounded by the beauty of His creation. Let us hope and pray that this building will once again be used to His praise and glory and that His people will find peace, purpose, direction, fulfilment and Joy as never before.

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