No. 599 - Black Hills - St John's Anglican Church (1903-1955)

Black Hills is a rural district approximately 10 kilometres north of New Norfolk. The area was settled in the 1850’s and its rich soils supported vegetable farming. By the early 20th century timber mills were in operation. In the 1940’s a proposal was made to rename Black Hills “Oberlin” after Reverend John Oberlin-Harris who was the districts first Anglican minister and who initiated the construction of a church in 1900.

Anglican services were held at Black Hills at least as early as 1898 as is evident from the following report in the Hobart Mercury:

“Everyone will regret to hear Rev. J. Oberlin-Harris met with an accident this morning. He had just started riding for the Black Hills, when some noisy dogs rushed from a yard and startled his horse so that it began to "buck." Mr. Harris was bumped so heavily on the saddle that be was forced for self-protection to throw himself off. He was assisted home by some friends who fortunately came upon the scene”.

Little is known about St John’s church which seems to have had a somewhat tentative existence. The church was built in 1900 and mostly financed by Mrs A.H. Sharland on land donated by Isaac Triffitt. St John’s was consecrated by Bishop Mercer in September 1903.

For reasons unknown services at the church ceased in 1916 and the building fell into a state of disrepair over the next sixteen years. Occasional services continued at the Black Hills State school. In February 1933, as a result of the efforts of Reverend Brammall, St John’s was reopened after it had been reroofed and new windows installed. A second-hand organ was donated by the Anglican congregation at Molesworth in 1935.

Regular services were held until the late 1940s after which the congregation dwindled and the church once again closed. In 1955 it was removed to nearby Magra onto a site near the State Primary school. By the 1990’s services ceased and the building was sold and removed once again in 1999. The church is now located on the Hamilton Road and is known as “The Blue Chapel” which is currently in the process of being restored to its former glory and third life as part of a local pottery business.

St John's at Black Hills (undated) Source: Greg Kirk - Facebook Group: Photographing Old Churches in Australia 

The former Black Hills church in the process of being restored with a new roof and windows and the spire still to be replaced. Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

The former Black Hills church in the process of being restored with a new roof and windows and the spire still to be replaced. Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

St John's at Black Hills (1933) The Mercury

The location of Black Hills in the Derwent Valley -


Mercury, Friday 29 April 1898, page 3
Mercury, Monday 30 January 1933, page 3
Mercury, Monday 27 February 1933, page 3
Mercury, Wednesday 1 March 1933, page 12
Huon and Derwent Times, Thursday 25 July 1935, page 6
Mercury, Saturday 13 March 1948, page 5
Mercury, Tuesday 20 July 1954, page 15

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

Links of Interest:

The Blue Church - Pottery


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