No. 1211 - Rokeby - St Matthew's - Two Parsonages (1857-1919 and 1886-1967)

This article is one of a series about buildings associated with some of Tasmania’s most significant churches. These buildings include Sunday schools, parish halls, convents, schools and residences of the clergy. Ancillary buildings are often overlooked and rarely feature in published histories. My aim is to create a simple record of these buildings, including those that no longer exist.

Rokeby is an eastern suburb of Greater Hobart on the east bank of the Derwent River. It remained a small village until the State Government’s Housing Department built a large public housing estate in the 1970s. Rokeby is named after "Rokeby House”, built by George Stokell in 1830, which in turn remembers the village of Rokeby in Yorkshire.

St Matthew’s Anglican church was designed by convict architect, James Blackburn. The foundation stone was laid on June 30, 1840, by the first Archdeacon of Tasmania, William Hutchins. Due to the church being unfurnished it was only officially opened and dedicated by the first Bishop of Tasmania, Francis Russell Nixon, on September 24, 1843. Nixon consecrated the church and cemetery on 26 July 1855.

In 1857, the first of two parsonages were built for the church. It was built of stone for the incumbent minister, Reverend Robert Wilson, who occupied the house until 1870. The gothic style house was built at a cost of £700. The photograph of the parsonage was taken in 1911 by which time the building was in a ruinous state. The building was still standing in 1919 and was demolished some time after this.

The second parsonage was built on the Clergyman’s Glebe, 10 acres of land at the rear of the Burial Ground. The foundation stone for the building was laid by Bishop Sanford on 17 July 1886. It was a wooden building designed by architect Robert Huckson and was built at a cost of £600 by the contractor Mr J. Burton. The Hobart Mercury published the following description of the building:

“The parsonage, which is two-storied, and in the "early English style," commands a magnificent view of the whole of Ralph’s Bay and the South Arm, and is sheltered from the prevailing winds by the ranges of hills behind. The building is of weatherboard, and contains eight rooms. besides larder, bathroom, and kitchen. The dining-room is situated on the ground floor and will be when completed, a very comfortable room of 14 ft. by 14ft. The drawing room, which is 16ft. by 14ft., is also on the ground floor, and has a large bow window, facing to the west, under which the stone, the ceremony of laying which took place, is situated, There are five bedrooms upstairs, also a minister’s study and servant bedroom. There will be a verandah back and front, Which make a very welcome addition to the comfort of the future inhabitants of the new building….”.

The Reverend C. Rhodes Hall is known to have occupied the building from 1890 to 1898. After this time, there was no clergyman in residence and the building was tenanted. Eventually the parsonage was sold and became a private home known as “the Pines”. The Pines was one of a number of buildings in the Clarence district destroyed in the 1967 bushfires.

The first parsonage at Rokeby. The Archives Office of Tasmania. Photo: W. Williams

The second parsonage built in 1886. Photo courtesy of Lois Bayley


Sources:

Colonial Times, Thursday 15 November 1855, page 2
The Courier, Tuesday 5 May 1857, page 2
Mercury, Monday 19 July 1886, page 3

Interpretation signage at the site of St Matthew's Church Rokeby. (https://www.tacplaci.org.au/copy-of-rht-7-site-of-oakleigh-c-1)



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