No. 1086 - Virginstowe - Baptist Church (1917-1930)

This is the fourth in a series of short articles about minor churches that have left little trace in the historical or photographic record. Among the objectives of this blog is to create a definitive catalogue of all churches and other places of worship that have existed in Tasmania since settlement. My hope is that the publication of basic details about these buildings might result in further information and photographs coming into the public domain.

Virginstowe was a location south of Port Sorell and about 5 kilometres from Sassafras. The settlement had a school (built in 1915) while Baptist church services were conducted in the local hall. Virginstowe no longer exists and the area is now covered with plantations and a State Forest Reserve.

Virginstowe’s hall effectively became the settlement’s Baptist church. The church owes its existence to Reverend Vincent George Britton of Latrobe who initiated Baptist services at Virginstowe in 1917. With Britton’s departure from the Latrobe district in 1930, services at Virginstowe ceased.

In July 1917 the North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times reported:

“Pastor Britton, of the Baptist Church of the Latrobe district, has decided to hold services in the Virginstowe Hall once a fortnight for the benefit of the surrounding people”.

The venture was clearly a success for over the following decade there appear numerous reports of Baptist activity at Virginstowe. For example in February 1920 the Advocate reported:

“The service on Sunday morning at Virginstowe was conducted by Rev. V. G. Britton. This little congregation always has a bright and cheerful service, as several Sassafras residents travel two or three miles for the privilege of taking part….”.

In March 1927 the Launceston Examiner reported:

“On Sunday night the harvest thanksgiving service in connection with the Baptist church was held at Virginstowe in the hall, which was packed. The building was adorned with fruit, grain, flowers, and berries. Rev. V. G. Britton gave a forceful address… appropriate hymns were sung. Miss Sidwell presided t the organ”.

In January 1930 Reverend Britton departed the Latrobe for Deloraine. The Advocate reported:

“Parishioners wished to show their appreciation to him in a practical way, and…presented Mr. Britton with a well-filled wallet of notes [and] also… a presentation on behalf of the Virginstowe parishioners.

Britton’s departure brought an end to Baptist services at Virginstowe. By this time the settlement was in terminal decline with closure of the school and the sale of the hall in 1934. After its sale the building was removed to Port Sorell where it was converted into a caretakers residence.

Reverend V. G. Britton (The Mercury)


North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, tuesday 10 July 1917, page 2
Advocate, Tuesday 3 February 1920, page 2
Examiner, Tuesday 8 March 1927, page 2
Advocate, Friday 31 January 1930, page 4
Advocate, Monday 20 March 1930, page 4
Mercury, Thursday 29 September 1949, page 2


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