No. 1158 - Little Swanport - The Lisdillon Church (c.1865)

Lisdillon is an historical farming property at Little Swanport on the East Coast. It was established in the 1830s by James Radcliff, who settled on a 2560 acre land grant. The name Lisdillon is probably derived from a locality near Londonderry.

By 1838 Radcliff had established a farm on the northern portion of his grant. About 3 kilometres south of the farm Radcliff developed an extensive salt works on coastal site. The works included a boiling house, windmill as well as supporting infrastructure.

In 1854 Lisdillon was acquired by John Mitchell. John Mitchell had arrived in Tasmania in 1837. A surveyor by profession, he was appointed superintendent of the Port Puer boys’ prison-reformatory at Port Arthur. After settling at Lisdillon, Mitchell was elected to the House of Assembly, representing the Glamorgan region.

By the 1860s Mitchell developed Lisdillon into a thriving village. The settlement had a general store, a post office as well a building used as church and school. As staunch supporter of the Church of England, the church was built by Mitchell in about 1865.

In 1877 the Lisdillon community was described by a visitor to the East Coast:

“Lisdillon, [is] a private township, the property of John Mitchell, Esq., M.H.A. The interests here are both agricultural and pastoral,…Mr. Mitchell’s efforts during the past 25 years to make his homestead as English in appearance as possible has not been unattended with success. The farming operations embrace all kinds of cereals, roots, and hops….There are unquestionably more farm and bush hands employed at Lisdillon than on any other estate along the East Coast. Excellent four roomed stone cottages have been erected for the accomodation of the work people, which now number some 120 persons — men, women and children. Able bodied labourers are paid at the rate of £30 per annum, with rations, cottage and garden rent free, and some of the men with large families have the privilege of keeping a cow. The time and money here expended in ringing timber, and clearing the land for the plough must have been considerable….There is a public school at Lisdillon, with an average attendance of nearly 30 children….”.

After John Mitchell’s death in 1880, Lisdillon remained in the Mitchell family until 1920 when it was purchased by Sir Henry Jones (manufacturer of IXL Jams), for his son Henry A. Jones.

The Jones family continued to maintain the church which fell within the Swansea Anglican Parish. In 1934 the Hobart Mercury reported that Jones (junior) intended to formally transfer ownership of the church to the parish. The report records that at a Parish meeting in June 1934:

“Mr. Shaw reported that he had received a letter from Mr. H. Jones, of Lisdillon, stating that he was willing that the Lisdillon Church building and a substantial piece of land should be transferred to the local church properties. A vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Jones for his generosity”.

A further report in September 1936 indicates that the transfer of the Lisdillon church property to the parish had been completed. A Parish meeting discussed:

“Repairs to be carried out to the church at Lisdillon. It resolved to send a letter of thanks to Miss S.E.E. Mitchell for her generosity for the transfer of the property given by Mr H. Jones, and for the survey of the land. A working bee has started fencing the land recently, and it is hoped to complete repairs to the building shortly”.

The church continued to be used for services until the 1960s. In about 1966 it was sold to to Mr Edmond Smith who used the church to house a small museum. The property has since changed hands several times. Most of the contents of Edmond Smith’s museum was donated to the East Coast Heritage Museum in Swansea.

'Little Church at Lisdillon taken by Mr Chester 1893'  Source:

The Lisdillon Church in 2020 - Photograph courtesy of Petrusma Property

John Mitchell MHA - TAHO


Tribune, Thursday 4 October 1877, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Wednesday 17 November 1880, page 2
Mercury, Wednesday 8 October 1884, page 1
Mercury, Wednesday 20 May 1903, page 6
Mercury, Saturday 18 September 1920, page 6
Mercury, Tuesday 26 June 1934, page 2
Mercury, Tuesday 15 September 1936, page 5

Former Times, The Glamorgan Spring Bay Historical Society Inc, "The Mitchell Family", Issue 11, October 2016.

Henslowe, Dorothea I. and Hurburgh, Isa. Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania / by Dorothea I. Henslowe ; sketches by Isa Hurburgh, 1978

James Radcliff -


Post a Comment

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"