No. 572 - Gunns Plains - St Mark's Anglican Church

Gunns Plains is a farming district approximately 25 kilometres south of Ulverstone. It is noted for its impressive limestone caves which are a tourist attraction. The district is named after Ronald Gunn, a botanist and explorer, who discovered the caves in the late 1850’s.

Gunns Plains is one of very few districts in the North West where only the Anglican’s established churches. The Anglican’s built not one but three churches. A previous article on Churches of Tasmania told the story of the first two churches which were built in 1900 and 1908. [No. 560] Both of these buildings also accommodated local State schools.

 After the closure of the church built at the northern end of Gunns Plains services continued to be held in the ‘church-school’ located at the southern end of ‘Plains’ until the late 1920’s. Following the sale of this building in the 1930’s the proceeds were used to acquire land in central Gunns Plains. In 1939 a small weatherboard church was built by Mr L Bott of Castra. Although the building incomplete, the first service was held in January 1940. The Advocate reported:

“The first service in the new Church of England was held yesterday afternoon, the Rector (Rev. B. S. Hammond) officiating. Although not completed, the construction of the church was sufficiently advanced to enable the service to be held, and there was a large congregation. When the building is completed, and it is free of debt, it will be handed over by the building committee to the churchwardens, who are still to be elected. A dedication service will then be arranged at which the Bishop of Tasmania (Pr. R. S. Hay) will officiate. In a special address yesterday the Rector took his text from Jacob's dream: "This is the House of the Lord. This is the Gate of Heaven." Although there had once been a Church of England at Gunns Plains, he said, it was some years since members of the faith there had had a house of worship. They were to be congratulated on the step they had taken, and the very fine church they were providing. It would serve as a house of worship and instruction for them and their children, and would give them spiritual comfort in having a place in their district in which they could approach God”.

St Mark’s was dedicated on 21 January 1941 by Bishop Robert Hay. The church served the Gunns Plains’ Anglican community for a little over 50 years with the last service taking place on 16 June 1994. The church was subsequently sold and developed into a Bed and Breakfast establishment.

St Mark's at Gunns Plains (undated) - Courtesy of Ulverstone History Museum


The interior of St Mark's (2007) : source: house.speakingsame.com

The interior of St Mark's (2007) : source: house.speakingsame.com

St Mark's after its conversion into a B&B (2018) - Source: Bonzle.com - Photograph contributed by Geoff Davey


Sources:

Advocate, Saturday 20 January 1940, page 6
Advocate, Monday 22 January 1940, page 6
Advocate, Monday 6 October 1941, page 4
Advocate, Friday 10 October 1941, page 4

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

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