No. 1136 - Hobart - Memorial Uniting (Congregational) Church (1872-2003)

Hobart’s former Memorial Congregational Church, situated at the corner of Brisbane and Elizabeth Streets, was constructed in 1870 to replace an earlier church built in 1832. [see No. 1081] It was named the ‘Memorial Church’ to commemorate the introduction of Congregationalism to Tasmania. In 1830, Reverend Frederick Miller, Australia’s first Congregational minister arrived in Hobart. Miller’s recruitment from Britain was the result of financial assistance provided by Henry Hopkins, a prominent local businessman.

Fifty years after after Miller’s arrival in Hobart, a memorial foundation stone for the new church was ceremonially laid by Henry Hopkins on 16 August 1870. The date coincided with Henry Hopkins’ 83rd birthday.

Two years later the church was completed and was officially opened on Thursday 7 November 1872. In the week before the church opened, the Hobart Mercury published an article outlining the events leading to the church’s construction:

“When the subject [of the need of a new church] was laid before Mr. Henry Hopkins, he agreed to give £300, on condition that five persons in the congregation would give each £100. This was done, and in course of time other donations were received, until the amount at the beginning of 1869 reached £3,000. [An] adjoining property, extending from the chapel boundary to Elizabeth-street, on which the new church has been erected, was purchased for £1,149. Having obtained the site, they resolved that the new church should be an ornament to the city, and although the tenders exceeded in amount what they expected, they girded themselves for the work, and have now the pleasure of seeing as the result one of the handsomest churches in these colonies. The total cost, including the land, will be about £8,000….”.

The Mercury’s article proceeds to describe the almost completed building:

[The church] … “is situated on an elevated position, and can be seen from any part of the city. Its exterior appearance is grand and imposing, the design being a very elegant one. It is built of sandstone of a pinkish brown or reddish brown colour. This stone is of fine quality, and said to be very durable. The stonework of the windows and the dressings are white, and the contrast between the two kinds of stone used in the building is very pleasing. The principal entrances are in Brisbane-street, the frontage being about 90 feet. There is a tower and spire 120 feet in height, and very elegant, and the excellence of the design is well shown from the fact that the tower and spire, while forming entrances to the body of the church, and containing staircases to the gallery, do not diminish the space in the interior of the building. In the front there is a large handsome window. It is of stained glass, beautifully designed and ornamented, and bearing the inscription on the lower panes, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." There are also four windows on each side, some of them with a quarter-foil over the two side-lights, and others with cinque-foil and six-foil, while the borders will be of different colours—blue, yellow, purple, and green. There are also two vestry windows with blue borders, three apse windows with yellow borders, and a number of small windows, the colours of the borders in each case being varied. The whole of the windows, except the front and transept, are of cathedral glass, and were made by the well-known firm, Messrs. Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon, of Melbourne….”

“…The stone carving and various arrangements of the interior are much admired for their elegance and purity. The roof is about fifty feet in height. It is of a single span, without supporting pillars, but the ribs are well braced and rest upon carbels, or capitals of pilasters, situated on a line with the springing of the arches of the windows. The roof is groined and tessellated. The seats are polished, and are very comfortable. The architect was F. Butler, Esq., the contractor, Messrs. Shield, of this city, and the honorary clerk of the works, S. Grant, Esq….”.

The Memorial Church is perhaps the finest achievement of its architect, Francis Butler. Butler had also designed St Anne’s Anglican church at Dysart and a Congregational Church School House at Battery Point. The church’s builder, Rippon Shield, was owner of one of Hobart’s largest brickworks. Other notable places of worship built by Shield include the Ebenezer Chapel (later Queen's College), St. Mary's Cathedral and the Friends’ Meeting House on Murray Street.

With the establishment of the Uniting Church in 1977, the Memorial Congregational Church was renamed the Memorial Uniting Church. The final service at the church was held on Sunday 28 September 2003.

In 2006 the building was acquired by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 2010 it was taken over by the Korean Full Gospel Church. It has recently been renamed the Hobart Full Gospel Central Church, acknowledging the growing multicultural nature of the congregation. The church is an affiliate of the ‘Australian Christian Churches’ (Assemblies of God).

Photo credit: Brick and Castle Real Estate, Hobart ( 2020

Photo credit: Brick and Castle Real Estate, Hobart ( 2020

Photo credit: Brick and Castle Real Estate, Hobart ( 2020

Photo credit: Brick and Castle Real Estate, Hobart ( 2020

Photo credit: Brick and Castle Real Estate, Hobart ( 2020

Photo credit: Brick and Castle Real Estate, Hobart ( 2020

Photo credit: Brick and Castle Real Estate, Hobart ( 2020

The Memorial Church with the original church visible on the right (demolished 1911) Source: Libraries Tasmania - Item NS392-1-752

The Congregational Church c.1912 - The new Memorial Hall which opened in 1912 is visible to the righ of the church. Source: Libraries Tasmania - item number NS1553-1-344


Mercury, Wednesday 17 August 1870, page 3
Tasmanian Times, Wednesday 17 August 1870, page 3
Mercury, Tuesday 5 November 1872, page 3
Mercury, Friday 8 November 1872, page 2
Tasmanian, Saturday 9 November 1872, page 13
Tasmanian News, Tuesday 5 March 1901, page 3

Sharples, Theo E. and Congregational Union of Tasmania.  Congregationalism in Tasmania, 1830-1977 : a brief history / compiled by Theo E. Sharples  Congregational Union of Tasmania Hobart  1977


Popular posts from this blog

Welcome to Churches of Tasmania

No. 624 - Dunalley - St Martin's Anglican Church - "In grateful memory of the men who fought in the Great War"

No. 592 - Gretna - St Mary the Virgin - "Worthy of Imitation"