No. 972 - Montagu - St George's Anglican Church (1878-1999)

Montagu is a small rural settlement approximately 16 kilometres west of Smithton. It was established by the Van Diemen's Land Company to house men working on its "Woolnorth" property. The settlement takes its name from the Montagu River, after John Montagu, Colonial Secretary of Van Diemen's Land from 1834 to 1842.

The first mention of plans to build an Anglican church at Montagu date back to December 1877, as reported by the Launceston Examiner:

“At the Montagu the Rev. Mr Atkinson handed in the plans and specifications of the church about to be built at that settlement for the approval of the residents. It is a very pretty design. Tenders for its erection on a section of land given my Mr John Williams are called for, …”.

Building of a timber church was completed within three months and the building was officially opened and consecrated by Bishop Charles Bromby on Tuesday 2 April 1878. The Weekly Examiner reported:

“The Bishop left Circular Head, on Monday last, April. 1, for the Montagu…. in a chaise cart, leaving Stanley at 2 o’clock and arriving there at half-past four o'clock that afternoon. His Lordship was accompanied by three churchwardens of St Paul's, a portion of the choir from that church, and several other ladies and gentlemen. A few miles on this side of the Montagu the Bishop was met by some of the residents to give him a welcome to the settlement. On Tuesday, 2nd April, at 11 in the morning, the new church was opened for Divine service by the Bishop assisted by the Rev A. H. Atkinson, A.B., Incumbent of St. Paul’s. The church was consecrated and named St George’s, and fourteen young people received the rite of confirmation”.

“The building is a very pretty design and well built, with an exceedingly pretty chancel lined with pine. It is capable of containing about 150 persons, and about 120 were present at.the opening. The Bishop also held a service in the afternoon and delivered a most impressive address, chiefly to the young people, which was listened to with marked attention by all. Miss Edith Emmett presided at the harmonium. At midday the parishioners met and appointed Mr John Williams, the oldest resident at the Montagu (to whose liberality the residents are indebted for an acre and a quarter of, ground, on which the church has been erected), and his son Henry, churchwardens; Mr. G. H. Saward being appointed the minister’s warden. The building cost about £170. A collection was made during the services, and £6 2s 1d added to the funds. Some children were also baptised by his Lordship. The Bishop and party returned to Circular Head on the Wednesday following, no doubt as well pleased with his visit to this remote part of his diocese as it was pleasing to the inhabitants”.


In 1948, St George’s 70th anniversary was celebrated and the church was thoroughly prepared for the occasion:

“During the past few weeks much has been done to beautify the Church of St. George,…Working bees were held by the men of the congregation to renew fencing, tidy up the church yard and to re-hang the church bell. Women of the congregation made new kneeling pads and thoroughly prepared the church for the 70th anniversary services. On Sunday, 18th April, the Ven. Archdeacon H .B. Atkinson dedicated a beautiful blackwood altar, the gift of the congregation, to the Glory of God, and in memory of the pioneers who built St. George’s Church, ….The Archdeacon also dedicated a brass altar cross and a pair of brass candlesticks in memory of the late Rev. Albert H. Thompson, and a pair of brass vases, the gift of Mrs. T. Wilson and Mrs, S. Hingston. …Present in the congregation was Mrs. Henry Reid, of Irishtown, believed, to be the only person living who can remember the services of April 2nd, 1878, when Bishop Bromby consecrated St. George’s Church and cemetery”.

While St George’s celebrated it centenary in 1978, services at the church were only to continue for a further two decades with the final service taking place in February 1999. The church was subsequently sold and removed to Hawley Beach and is now used as a wedding chapel in the grounds of Hawley House.


St George's in 1905 - The Weekly Courier


A recent photograph of St George's, now a wedding chapel at Hawley Beach - photo credit: www.easyweddings.com.au


Sources:

Launceston Examiner, Monday 24 December 1877, page 3
The Mercury, Wednesday 6 February 1878, page 3
Weekly Examiner, Saturday 13 April 1878, page 4
The Weekly Courier, Saturday 1 April 1905, page 24
Circular Head Chronicle, Wednesday 28 April 1948, page 6

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






 

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