No. 1021 - Westbury - Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (1840-1866)

Westbury is a historic town situated approximately 30 kilometres west of Launceston. It was surveyed in 1828 and was developed as an administrative centre for the district. For most of its history Westbury has been served by only three religious denominations. The town’s Catholic, Anglican and Uniting (Methodist) churches all date back to the first half of the 19th century.

The Uniting Church located on William Street is the second Methodist church built in the town. It replaced the original Wesleyan chapel which was built and opened in 1840. The origins of Methodist activity in Westbury is outlined in Reverend Max Stansell’s book, Tasmanian Methodism:

“On 11 July 1937 Rev. J.A. Manton of Launceston was requested to visit Westbury with the idea of establishing a preaching place. Within a few months of his visit a Methodist Class was formed. One acre of ground was granted by the Surveyor-General under a Location Order to Revs. J. Orton, J.A. Manton and W. Simpson at Westbury on 15 November 1837. On this land in the year 1840 a chapel was built costing Two Hundred and Fifty Pounds. Although in 1851 the building proved to be too small for the congregation, steps to enlarge the structure was not taken until 1857”.

Before the chapel was built services took place in the local courthouse and later in a building at the rear of Mr Thomas White’s store. Additional land for the new church was purchased on William Street in 1865. In his book ‘Then and now in old Westbury’, Karl von Stieglitz writes:

“This was a brick building, all the materials used were given and all the work was done by voluntary labour. During the ministry of Rev. William Lowe, two wings were added”.

The only image of the original chapel is a sketch from 1853 which shows the building before the 'wings' were built. A more recent colour photograph shows the chapel alongside the new church. After the new church opened in 1866 the old chapel was used as a Sunday school and a parish hall. It was demolished in the 1970s and replaced with a new hall.

Cover photograph. See details below.

The original Methodist chapel existed was used as a parish hall before it was demolished. Photograph from the Tasmanian Archives online collection LPIC33-1-62

The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel at Westbury (1853) Courtesy of the Mitchell Library, New South Wales.

 Westbury Uniting Church with the original church alongside. The photograph from the Tasmanian Archives online collection LPIC33-1-62


Stansall, M. E. J. and Methodist Church of Australasia.  Tasmanian Methodism, 1820-1975 / [by M.E.J. Stansall ... et al]  Methodist Church of Australasia Launceston, Tas  1975

Von Stieglitz, K. R.  Then and now in old Westbury : with notes on Exton, Hagley and Carrick / compiled by K.R. von Stieglitz  K. von Stieglitz [Evandale, 1946]


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