No. 692 - Lachlan - St George's Anglican Church (1912-1975)

Lachlan is a small settlement situated on the Lachlan River, approximately 6 kilometres south of New Norfolk. The settlement, which was established in 1839, is named after Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

In the previous article on ‘Churches of Tasmania’ I described the establishment of two places of worship at Lachlan by Molesworth Jeffrey; the first in the late 1840s and the second in the mid 1860s. [see No. 691] The latter church was destroyed by a fire in December 1930. By this time the old church was in a derelict state and had stood unused for over 20 years, having being replaced by St George’s Church of England built in 1911. This article’s focus is on the third and last church built at Lachlan.

The earliest report of plans to build a new church at Lachlan was revealed by Hobart’s Daily Post in December 1910:

“The residents of Lachlan are busy devising ways and means to build a new church. The services have for many years been held in a building lent by the late Mr. Jeffries, but this is not now available. Mr. R. Timbs is the hon. secretary, and Mr. R.W.G. Shoobridge, of Valleyfield, has promised to donate £1 for £1 for all the money which can be be collected for the purpose. This generous offer should stimulate those engaged in the effort”.

The report does not state why the old church was no longer available or mention where the Anglican community worshipped at this time. Molesworth Jeffrey had died in 1900 and his property at Lachlan had been sold but it is also likely that the nearly 50 year old church was in a state of disrepair and no longer suitable as a place of worship.

Shoobridge’s generous offer did indeed ‘stimulate’ fundraising and by October 1911 sufficient funds had been raised to start construction. The Hobart Mercury’s report on the foundation stone laying ceremony on Wednesday 25 October also provides some additional information about the new church:

“In the course of his address, Archdeacon Whitington apologised for the absence of Bishop Mercer, who was unable to be present owing to his condition of health. The Archdeacon reminded the parishioners that the church should be a continued remembrance to them of the presence of God, and that it was a rich blessing to those amongst whom it was built. The architect (Mr. Alan Walker) was present and during the ceremony handed the Archdeacon the handsome silver trowel with which he laid the stone. The land upon which the church is erected was given by Mr. John Blake, of Lachlan. It is very conveniently situated, and in a much more central position than the present church. The building, when completed, will have cost £300. Of this amount £150 has been donated by Mr. R.W.G. Shoobridge, whose great liberality to the Now Norfolk district will always be remembered….”.

By the following year the church had been completed and was opened and consecrated on Sunday 5 May 1912. The Hobart Mercury reported:

“The new church of St. George’s, Lachlan, was consecrated by Bishop Mercer on Sunday afternoon in the presence of a crowded congregation, a large number being unable to obtain admission. The consecration service sat apart for such occasions was fully followed. The Bishop and the rector (Canon R. J. de Coetlogon) entered the church by the west door, preceded by the churchwardens of Lachlan (Messrs. R. Timbs, Mapley, Gobbey, and Geard, sen.)…The rector then read the petition for consecration, and the Bishop gave his formal consent. The reading desk, lectern, and altar were duly consecrated, and the church was solemnly set apart for the celebration of the holy sacraments, the preaching of God’s word, and all the other ordinances of the church. The final sentence of the consecration was read by Mr. Shoobridge and signed in the presence of the congregation by the Bishop….St. George's church is a really beautiful building, reflecting great credit on the architect (Mr. Alan Walker, of Hobart), and has been well and carefully built by the Messrs. Fyle, Bros., of New Norfolk…”.

A further point of interest about the church is that in 1917 it received one the original bells from St Matthew’s Church at New Norfolk. These had been removed from St Matthew’s due to structural problem’s with the church’s tower. The peal of 8 bells had previously been removed from Port Arthur’s ‘convict church’ when the penal settlement was closed in 1877. They were sent to the New Norfolk “Insane Asylum”, an institution with which Port Arthur had strong links. In 1897 they were lent to the New Norfolk Municipal Council and hung in St Mathew’s church tower. In 1906 the bells were split up and distributed to churches and other institutions in the Upper Derwent Valley, including the New Norfolk Convent, the Fire Brigade (where it was used for fire warnings), Lachlan Park Hospital and churches at Bushy Park, Molesworth, Maydena and St George’s at Lachlan. All but one of the bells have now been returned to Port Arthur.

St George’s closed in the 1970’s and the building was sold and subsequently restored and converted into a house.

Photograph courtesy of Rupert Sandy
 
The church in 2009 - Roberts Real Estate


Sources:

Daily Post, Monday 5 December 1910, page 2
Mercury, Thursday 26 October 1911, page 3
Mercury, Tuesday 7 May 1912, page 5
Daily Post, Thursday 14 June 1917, page 8
Mercury, Tuesday 15 December 1936, page 7

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