No. 668 - Wynyard - St Stephen's Anglican Church - "Delays and Disappointments"

Wynyard is a town on the northwest coast approximately 20 kilometres west of the city of Burnie. The area around Wynyard was originally named Table Cape by the explorers Bass and Flinders. The name was changed to Wynyard in the 1850s, in honour of Edward Buckley Wynyard, Lieutenant-General of the New South Wales Corps. In his capacity as commander of troops in New South Wales, Van Diemen’s Land and New Zealand, Wynyard visited Table Cape in 1850-1. Until the 20th century Wynyard remained a small town with a population of less than 500.

The focus of this article is on the last of the three Anglican churches established at Wynyard. The first small church was built in the mid 1850s and this was replaced by a larger building in 1873. [see No. 652] This replaced in 1920 by the present brick ‘English style’ church.

The construction of a new Anglican church at Wynyard became possible following the death of Mr. Edward Stutterd in 1907. Stutterd, who had never married, left a bequest of £1000 for the construction of a substantial new church. Edward Stutterd was a prominent Wynyard businessman and was active in local politics. He was also one of the leading cricketers in the State, playing against the visiting English XI in 1888.

Following Edward Stutterd’s death, little was done to advance the construction of the proposed new church until Reverend E. A. Salisbury became rector in 1918:

“Then the parishioners were called together, the matter placed before them, and an earnest start made….The rector has thrown his heart into the business…[and] the latent generosity of the members of the church has been awakened…”.

The foundation stone of the new church was ceremonially laid on 1 July 1919. However, a full 18 months were to pass before the building was completed. Construction was hampered by problems relating to the supply of material and a dispute with the bricklayers which resulted in the suspension of building work for a period of two months.

On Thursday 2 December 1920, St Stephen’s was at last officially opened and consecrated by the Bishop of Tasmania, the Right Reverend R.S. Hay. The Advocate reported:

“In glorious spring sunshine and in the presence of a large attendance from near and far districts, the opening and consecration services of the new church of St. Stephen's, Wynyard, were carried out yesterday, and whatever the delays and disappointments experienced previously, the unqualified success of the whole proceedings must have more than compensated the rector (Rev. E. A. Salisbury) and his parishioners for the days of waiting. The seating accommodation was not sufficient for all who desired to be present at the opening ceremony, and many had to be satisfied with a view of the Bishop and clergy in their procession to the west door….”.

In an earlier report the Launceston Examiner drew attention to the church’s furnishings:

“It should be realised that the bricks and mortar, the timber and iron, the floors and seats are not all that is required in a new church. The furniture of a church is a very big item, and when a visitor at the local rectory has the privilege of seeing the beautiful furniture that has been presented to the church, and all of it constructed of Tasmanian timbers, he wonders why it is so often found necessary to send - over the sea, for interior material when such excellent timber is to be found in our own little island. The pulpit is built of figured hard-wood. The timber has been seasoning for ten years, and is an excellent illustration of what can be done with Tasmanian timber. The altar is a very fine piece of work, the front being beautiful openwork carried out on the Cathedral plan-all figured hardwood, or…"Tasmanian oak." The Bishop's and other chancel chairs, all of the same timber, are splendid pieces of furniture. …The stained glass window over the altar is a memorial of the 103 soldiers of this district who gave their lives in the war. Another memorial window is being erected in the western wall to the memory of the late Mr. Edward Stutterd, whose handsome bequest made the new building possible….”.

This year St Stephen’s will celebrate the centenary of its opening. Up until last year the church was listed as one of 107 properties listed to be be sold to meet the Anglican Church’s commitment to the national redress scheme. Fortunately the church has been recently removed from the list.

The second church built in 1873, which can be seen in the photographs of the foundation stone laying ceremony (below), was removed to Natone where it became St Michael’s Church of England. I have yet to find out what became of the old church after the closure of St Michael’s at Natone.

* All the colour photographs used in this article are my own.

The foundation stone laying ceremony in July 1919 (Weekly Courier)

The foundation stone laying ceremony in July 1919 (Weekly Courier)

The foundation stone laying ceremony in July 1919 (Weekly Courier)

The second Anglican church at Wynyard - which was moved to Natone (minus the tower) in 1920 to become St Michael's.  Source: Libraries Tasmania


Mercury, Tuesday 13 August 1907, page 8
Examiner, Saturday 3 May 1919, page 5
Examiner, Monday 16 June 1919, page 3
Examiner, Friday 4 July 1919, page 3
Weekly Courier, Thursday 10 July 1919
Advocate, Monday 26 January 1920, page 2
Advocate, Friday 26 March 1920, page 2
Examiner, Thursday 20 May 1920, page 2
Advocate, Friday 21 May 1920, page 3
Examiner, Saturday 20 October 1920, page 4
Advocate, Friday 3 December 1920, page 3
Examiner, Friday 3 December 1920, page 2
Advocate, Saturday 4 December 1920, page 3
Examiner, Saturday 14 February 1951, page 9
Advocate, Saturday 9 October 1954, page 13
Advocate, Monday 11 October 1954, page 6


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