No. 624 - Dunalley - St Martin's Anglican Church - "In grateful memory of the men who fought in the Great War"

Dunalley is village on the Arthur Highway approximately 60 kilometres east of Hobart. It stands on the narrow isthmus connected to the Forestier Peninsula. The Denison Canal runs through the village and connects Blackman Bay and Fredrick Henry Bay. Dunalley was badly affected by bushfires in January 2013 with the town losing over 60 buildings including the Police Station and school. St Martin’s is the only public building left standing after the fires.

St Martin’s Anglican has recently featured in the news following its sale. It is one of over 50 churches to be sold to meet the Anglican Church’s commitment to the National Redress Scheme.

St Martin’s is an unusual church into two respects. Firstly, it is constructed from stone from the former Government stores at the old Coal Mines penal station at Saltwater River, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Secondly, the church was built as a memorial to the men of the district who fought and died in the Great War. As such, the building is effectively a war memorial, which probably makes this church unique in Tasmania.

The foundation stone for the Dunalley “Memorial Church” was laid on 20 February 1924. The inscription on the stone read:

"To the greater glory of God, and in grateful memory of the men who fought in the Great War, 1914-1918” .

At the opening and consecration of the church in February 1925, the Hobart Mercury published a detailed article about the occasion, most of which which is reproduced here:

“The Church of St Martin, a substantial little stone building at Dunalley, which has been built by public subscription, was opened and consecrated by the Bishop of Tasmania (Dr R S Hay)… Standing on an elevated and conspicuous part of the township, overlooking the waters of Blackman’s Bay and the canal, it forms a memorial to the men of the district who fought in the War….For nearly a century the fine freestone from which it is built has formed part of prison buildings erected by an early Government at Saltwater River, on the opposite side of Norfolk Bay, from where it was freighted across last year. A generous gift from Mr. George Long and family at Dunalley, some 221 tons of it has been cleaned and entirely refaced, and besides lending an attractive finish it renders the church a solid and permanent building. The contractors for the church were Messrs. Norman Wright and Son, the well known builders of Claremont. In addition to erecting it, they furnished the building with the usual articles which were made at the workshops by Mr. Wright”.

“The dimensions of the church taking the outside measurement are 48 feet in length and 23 in width, exclusive of a porch and vestry, …There is an iron roof painted grey. The altar is at the eastern end of the interior, while facing the west is a handsome stained glass window a present of the Scrimger family. It is well lighted and ventilated. In addition to the window there were several donations which have assisted to make the church look attractive…The erection of the building cost £750 This amount with the exception of £66, has been raised by subscriptions within the district…”.

"The church was crowded for the consecration ceremony. After performing the customary rites, in which he was assisted by the Rev L. Stewart Wall, of Sorell, the Bishop of Tasmania congratulated the people on the success of their undertaking, which, he said, was deeply appreciated by the Diocesan authorities and the clergy throughout the State….The church would be a permanent memorial to the men who had laid down their lives for their country and a constant reminder of the presence of God…..the church had the appearance of lasting for all time. He sincerely hoped that while it stood they would never forget the sacrifices made by the men of Tasmania and those of the Dunalley district in particular during the war on behalf on the Empire”.


The church will become a private residence from the end of January 2020. The sale brought to an end negotiations between the Anglican Diocese and a Dunalley community group, the Dunalley Heritage Fellowship, who had offered to purchase the building for $50,000. Although it is lost now as a public facility for the community, hopefully it will be preserved and the commitment to remember and honour the men from the district who fought and died in the Great War will never be erased.

*The photographs used in this article are courtesy of Roberts Real Estate, Sorell. Real estate photographs have become a valuable historical source, providing a quality record of a heritage buildings appearance before it is sold and altered.
Photograph courtesy of Roberts Real Estate Sorell (2019)

Photograph courtesy of Roberts Real Estate Sorell (2019)

Photograph courtesy of Roberts Real Estate Sorell (2019)

Photograph courtesy of Roberts Real Estate Sorell (2019)

Photograph courtesy of Roberts Real Estate Sorell (2019)

Photograph courtesy of Roberts Real Estate Sorell (2019)

Photograph courtesy of Roberts Real Estate Sorell (2019)

Photograph courtesy of Roberts Real Estate Sorell (2019)

Photograph courtesy of Roberts Real Estate Sorell (2019)

The source of the stone used for St Martin's - Commissariat Store without jetty, c.1913 (AOT 30/3413)  

Sources:

Mercury, Tuesday 26 February 1924, page 4
Mercury, Wednesday 1 October 1924, page 8
Mercury, Monday 16 February 1925, page 2
Mercury, Thursday 11 July 1929, page 3
Mercury, Monday 3 February 1930, page 3
The Mercury, December 11, 2019

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





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