No. 596 - Hamilton - St Peter's Anglican Church

Hamilton is small historic town on the Lyell Highway approximately 70 kilometres from Hobart. The origin of the town’s name is unclear although it was named by Governor Arthur, either after Hamilton on the Lower Clyde in Scotland or in honour of his friend William Henry Hamilton. From the time the area was settled almost 200 years ago only two churches have been built in the town; a Catholic church, which has closed in recent years, and St Peter’s Anglican Church.

In writing this article I have exclusively used Dorothea Henslowe’s “Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania” as the source of the history of St Peter’s Church. This is appropriate and a tribute to Henslowe whose ashes are interred at St Peter’s. Dorothea Henslowe was once described as the ‘mother’ of Battery Point for her contribution to the preservation of the heritage of Hobart’s historic ‘village’. She was vice-president of the Battery Point Progress Association, and was president for 11 years of a committee which purchased a former Methodist Church in the 1960's to prevent its demolition and replacement by a service station. The Church became the Battery Point Community Centre. In 1978 she published a book, a history of Anglican church buildings in the Tasmania. This authoritative and painstakingly researched work is always my starting point when researching Anglican churches. Dorothea was the daughter of Anglican minister, Reverend Walter Henslowe, who was rector at St Peter’s from 1925 until 1934, the year of the church’s centenary. Reverend Henslowe’s passing in April 1935 was hastened by the death of his wife Frances who died in January 1935. Both of Dorothea Henslowe’s parents are honoured in a memorial window which she and her sister placed in the church. The windows were dedicated in June 1935 in a service led by Bishop Hay.

Of St Peter’s, Dorothea Henslowe wrote:

“The church was begun in 1834 but, when partly built, the walls had to be pulled down as they were unsafe. The church is of freestone and has a tower with a place for a clock, but one has never been installed. Strangely there is no door other than the west door under the tower. Half the cost of the building was provided by the Crown, partly through the ‘dog tax’, as was the case with several other churches. When Bishop Broughton, the first and only Bishop of Australia, visited Tasmania in 1838 he consecrated seven churches, St. Peter’s, Hamilton being the first on 8th May. The organ was bought for £80 in 1885. The architect was Edward Winch* of the Colonial Architect and Engineer’s office and William Sibley was the contractor. The plans for St Peter’s were given to the Diocesan Registry by the Public Work’s Department in 1921 and are now in the State Archives. The stained glass windows, except for the east window, were put in from 1934 onwards and two of them and the blackwood panelling (in 1935) are in memory of the Reverend Walter Henslow and his wife”.

As a footnote to Dorothea Henslowe’s short history of St Peter’s written in 1978, I can only add: St Peter’s faced closure in 2017 but was reprieved from being sold as a result of community resistance. Hopefully the church will endure to celebrate its bicentenary in 2034.

*plans for the church were later modified by John Lee Archer.

All photographs are my own unless otherwise indicated.

Dorothea Henslowe (1896-1994) Courtesy of

St Peter's Historic Cemetery - A few of many interesting of the older headstones:

Headstones and memorials to the Henslowe's - courtesy Gravesites of Tasmania

A complete listing of names and photographs of headstones in the Anglican Cemetery can be viewed on this link to Gravesites of Tasmania

Sources and links of interest:

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

Mercury, Friday 29 June 1934, page 6
The Mercury, Wednesday 9 January 1935.  page 5 (obituary)
The Mercury, Wednesday 17 April 1935,  page 12 (obituary)
Mercury, Monday 9 May 1938, page 3

Further information about the remarkable Dorothea Henslowe (1896-1994):


  1. Hi
    thank you for interesting notes on St Peter's Church at Hamilton. For our family story, we are looking for the location and perhaps a picture of the gravesite of Helen [Lamont] Millar/Miller who died there on 12 Aug 1863 (b 1794 Edinburgh Scotland). She arrived in 1854 on the ship 'Northumberland' with daughter Margaret to live with daughter Ann and son-in-law George Cooper.
    with thanks

  2. Hi Laurel. You can view a photo of Helen's headstone on this link :
    Regards, Duncan


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