No. 1151 - Tea Tree - Independent Chapel (1840) and Old Cemetery

Tea Tree is a partly rural settlement approximately 5 kilometres east of Brighton and about 20 kilometres north of Hobart. The name comes from a native bush which was gathered by the early settlers to make medicinal tea. In the early years of settlement the area was known as ‘Tea Tree Brush’ and ‘Tea Brush’.

Theo Sharples [Congregationalism In Tasmanian 1830-1977] states that an independent chapel was built at Tea Tree in 1839:

“Mr Beazley (Home Missionary) also visited the Tea Tree area where a chapel, opened in 1839, and a Sunday School flourished until, with regular services at Kempton, as Green Ponds township came to be known about 1838, the minister could no longer attend regularly at Tea Tree. The chapel had to be supplied by whomever available and, with the drift of population from the district, it fell eventually into disuse”.

A search of newspaper records for 1839 reveals nothing about the chapel. However, the 1841 Annual Report of the Home Missionary and Christian Instruction Society, reveals more precise information about the building:

“The congregations are in most places on the increase; … Your Missionary [Mr. Beazley] is received in every place with great kindness and cordiality. At some of his stations chapels are being erected, or about to be erected: at the Tea Tree Brush, Mr. V. Griffiths has given an acre of land, and subscriptions have been raised for the erection of a chapel upon it…”.

Valentine Griffiths was the owner of Woodlands, the largest property at Tea Tree, with 4000 acres acquired in 1823. The property, which was bounded by the Strathallan Rivulet, was also the site of a cemetery, predating St Mark’s cemetery at nearby Pontville. It possible that the independent chapel, the site of which is not known, may have been in close proximity to the old cemetery. It is also possible that Griffiths may have granted the land for the cemetery which was in use from about 1830.

The ‘Tea Tree Brush’ Chapel appears to have been operational until 1845. The Home Missionary and Christian Instruction Society’s report for that year records:

“Mr. Beazley continues to visit as formerly the Tea Tree Brush, Bagdad, the Hunting Ground, and the Broad Marsh… from these good services has resulted, and at which the committee can but rejoice”.

Little else is known about the ‘Tea Tree Brush’ chapel and nothing remains of the building.

As a footnote to this article, I have included a report about the old Tea Tree cemetery, which may have had a loose association with the independent chapel. The following report, published in the Mercury in 1928, describes the old cemetery which had been abandoned and become unkempt:

“A lack of reverence for sacred things is becoming more apparent. Especially does this apply to many of our old graveyards. "Sacred to the memory of." So begin the inscriptions on most of the tombstones in them. But to what extent are they mostly respected?

A glaring instance of this irreverence may be seen in an old disused cemetery on the Summerville estate, Brighton, on the left-hand side of the Brighton-Tea Tree main road. Unfenced and uncared for, this ancient burial ground is the last resting-place of over 20 persons - fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, etc.

"Of your charity, pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Thomas Stanfield, who departed this life 25th February, 1840. Aged 48 years. R.I.P. This inscription is on what was at one time a beautiful vault, now tumbling to decay. Another vault, equally beautiful in days gone by, affords shelter for sheep in stormy weather, and bears the following inscriptions :-"Daniel Reynolds, died 18th December, 1831. Aged 5 years." "David Reynolds, died 12th August, 1834. Aged 40 years, who was a kind father and an affectionate husband."

"James Campbell, died 20th September, 1861. Aged 74 years.”

“E’en as he died a smile was on his face,

And in that smile affection loved to trace,

A cheerful trust in Jesus's power to save-

An aged pilgrim's triumph o'er the grave."

"Alfred Roach, died 4th September, 1837. Aged 3 months and 14 days. Also John Walker, died 9th June, 1837. Aged 62 years.

"It is a placid sleep!

Who would deplore it?

Trance of the pure and blest,

Angels watch o'er it."

Perhaps the most pathetic in that of Sarah Chaplin, died 16th August, 1839. Aged 24 years. “Leaving a husband and 5 children to mourn their loss.” Certainly the most unique inscription runs as follows:- "William Lowe, sawyer, who was treacherously shot by his mate, William Cole, May 6, 1835. Aged 19 years."

Another sad circumstance must have attended the deaths of James Lamprill on January 23, 1843, and John Lamprill on January 21, 1843, at the ages of 4 years 4 months and 2 years respectively.

Others who found a last resting-place there were:- Thos. Green, died 11/10/34, aged 24 years; Mary Ann Brown, 25/2/36, 50; Alice Hughes, 29/10/07, 58; Alice Hughes (daughter), 10/3/50, 5½; Thos. Hughes, 11/4/70, 66; Chas. Collis, 7/3/42, 65; Essey Collis, 11/6/66, 3 years and 4 months; Mary Ann Waite (unable to give date of death and age owing to stone having sunk into the earth); Peter Devereaux, 14/7/86, 70; Mary Devereaux, 1/11/83, 50; Michael Purcell, 30/7/63, 6 years and 2 months; and William Purcell, 3/8/77, 16 years, and 2 months.

This old cemetery contains other graves, but slight traces of them alone remain to bear evidence of sad neglect. Some considerable time and trouble were taken in obtaining the above particulars, but the writer will be amply repaid if the necessary public attention is thus drawn to the matter”.


Unfortunately nothing now remains of the cemetery. However, before the cemetery was redeveloped, many of the headstones were removed and placed in the cemetery at St Mark’s at Pontville.



The remains of the old cemetery at Tea Tree c.1950 - Photographer R.C. Harvey - Libraries Tasmania (NS1029-1-98)



A map of Tea Tree showing the location of the old cemetery (centre) - Archives Office of Tasmania Map - B/59A - Brighton, Strathallan Rvt, Jordan Rv, Tea Tree to Brighton Rd, various landholders


Sources:

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

The Courier, Friday 6 February 1841, page 4
Colonial Times, Tuesday 9 January 1844, page 2
Launceston Examiner, Wednesday 19 February 1845, page 5
Mercury, Saturday 11 August 1928, page 14

https://teatreecommunity.com/index.php/history/8-history/6-about-the-district










 

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