No. 1224 - Hobart - Anglican Synod Hall and St David's Cathedral Sunday School (1879-1966)

This article is one of a series about the history 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.

Hobart’s Anglican Diocese Synod Hall stood between Harrington Street and Victoria Street, behind St Joseph’s Catholic Church. Apart from being the Diocese’ Synod Hall it also housed the Cathedral Sunday school. The building was also the first home of the Collegiate School established in 1892. In later years the Synod Hall was used by community organisations for meetings and social events.

When the construction the hall began in 1878 it was intended that it serve as a memorial to the work of the first Bishop of Tasmania, the Rt. Rev. Dr. F. R. Nixon. The hall was designed by Henry Hunter and was built on the site of an earlier school building.

The foundation stone was ceremonially laid by the Bishop of Tasmania, the Rt. Rev. Dr. C. H. Bromby, on Saturday 29 June 29, 1878. The Mercury’s report of the event includes a detailed description of the building :

“On Saturday afternoon the ceremony of laying the memorial-stone of the new building, to be used for the St. David's Cathedral Parish Sunday School, and Synod Hall, on the site of the former School in Harrington-street, took place in the presence of a large number of parishioners and other visitors. For some years considerable inconvenience had been experienced by the want of increased accommodation for the Sunday School, …it was not till twelve or eighteen months ago that the movement for a new building took definite shape and a committee was formed to promote tho object.

Since then donations to the building fund have been collected, and the amount was sufficiently liberal to encourage the committee to obtain architectural designs from Mr. Henry Hunter, and a contract has entered into with Mr. William Andrews to erect the structure, which was commenced in January last, so that the work is by this time considerably advanced, although not so much so, as it would have been but for the scarcity of labour and the great work involved in the foundations which were necessarily very deep owing to the builder having had to follow the rock…The style of the design is of a simple early English character, embracing schoolroom, class rooms, and Synod Hall on the ground floor, with rooms above, for the residence of the hall-keeper. The main building is to be of stone from Mr. Andrews' quarry at Stringy Bark Hill.

The schoolroom 60 ft. by 28 ft., class-room, off the schoolroom, 24 ft. by 16 ft., with separate yards for boys and girls. The dimensions of the Synod Hall will be 44½ ft. by 28 ft. Two front elevations and entrances are embraced by the plan, one on Harrington-street, and the other on Victoria-street. The inside height of the buildings will be 25 ft., and the height of the belfry 56 ft. The work is to be completed by the end of the present year, and there will be accommodation for five hundred children. The number of scholars at present belonging to the school is about 300, with 100 in the branch school at Wapping….”.


The hall was completed at a cost nearly £3,000 and opened by the Bishop Bromby on July 20, 1879.

The Synod Hall was demolished in the 1970s after plans to save the building failed.

The Synod Hall and Cathedral Sunday School


Sources:

Mercury, Monday 1 July 1878, page 3
Tribune, Monday 1 July 1878, page 2
Mercury, Monday 21 July 1879, page 2
Mercury, Monday 4 July 1938, page 8


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