No. 980 - Glenfern - St Mary Magdalene - Anglican Church (1908-1954)

Glenfern is a rural community about 10 kilometres southwest of New Norfolk. The district was previously known as Dry Creek until the 1880s when a State school and post office were established at the settlement. St Mary’s Anglican church is the only place of worship built at Glenfern.

One of the earliest descriptions of the settlement was published in the Hobart Mercury in 1903:

“The district known as Glen Fern is situated on the creek of the same name, and extends up the stream for a distance of four or five miles from the State School, which is six miles from New Norfolk, in a westerly direction. The creek is supported on both sides with high ranges, but rich valleys, varying in width, prevail, on which fully two dozen settlers are enabled to make comfortable livings. Most of them combine the two industries of fruit and hop growing, but none of the areas are very large. The only public building is the State School, wherein divine service is conducted occasionally by a Church of England clergyman. The post office is attached to the residence of Mr F. J. Triffitt, the mail service being a bi-weekly one from New Norfolk”.

In 1907 construction of an Anglican church began. It was a concrete and cement rendered building that was built at a cost of £170. St Mary’s was officially opened and consecrated by Bishop Mercer on Wednesday 8 July 1908:

“Bishop Mercer paid an official visit to this portion of his diocese to-day for the purpose of holding confirmation services. He arrived by the morning train, and after dining with the rector was driven to Glen Fern, where the first service was held. The Rev Mr Richard presented 14 candidates for the rite of confirmation. This was the first service of its kind held in the pretty little church of St Mary’s, and hardly standing room was available, so large was the congregation”.

Little else is known about St Mary’s and less than a dozen reports exist concerning activities connected with church. In 1951 a report on church attendance in the New Norfolk district notes that at Glenfern, “where there was once a settlement of enthusiastic church workers, only one family of people interested in the church remained”.

Within a few years of this report, services ceased at St Mary’s and the church was closed. In 1967 St Mary’s was amongst 1400 buildings destroyed by the bushfires which swept across the south of Tasmania.

St Mary's at Glenfern in 1908 (Tasmanian Mail) -  Photographer: C. Brown

Sources:

The Mercury, Friday 25 September 1903, page 6
The Mercury, Thursday 13 July 1905, page 8
Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 6 May 1908, page 8
The Mercury, Thursday 9 July 1908, page 8
The Mercury, Friday 24 July 1908, page 2
Tasmanian Mail, 14 November 1908, page 22
Mercury, Tuesday 24 July 1951, page 6

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





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